“Getting 7,800 People in One Tournament is a Big Accomplishment”


One of the highlights of this year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas was the $1,500 buy-in Monster Stackevent, which drew a crowd of 7,862 entrants. Finishing second, and amazingly edging out nearly the entire field, was Joseph McKeehen (pictured), who is known as dude904 on PocketFives and calls North Wales, Pennsylvania home. McKeehen earned $820,000. Right before we talked to McKeehen, he won a $1,650 Heads-Up event at Borgata in Atlantic City for $37,000.

He said of finishing second in the Monster Stack a few months ago, “It was too much money for me to be sad. I was ecstatic. Of course I wanted to win, but oh well. I played really well and think my opponent did too. The money is life-changing.”

McKeehen was already playing poker for a living before his Monster Stack cash, but as a result, he has been able to stop selling as much action. He added, “I’m still playing the smaller buy-in events I was before the win, but I’m looking to play more Main Event-type tourneys like WPTs and $5Ks like the one at Seminole Hard Rock.”

Players in the Monster Stack started with 15,000 in chips and the blinds originated at 25-25, going up every hour. McKeehen said that he bought in at the last possible moment and had a starting stack of 50 big blinds. Although the late start was due to his flight beginning an hour before midnight, he told us, “I wouldn’t ever register that one on time. 600 big blinds are too many. There are a lot of fish, but I think if I am playing so absurdly deep-stacked like that, I’m more likely to spew off to them instead of win a lot of chips.”

As you might expect, McKeehen is an advocate of Monster Stack-type events, although he doesn’t want to see them rolled out regularly. He explained, “Even though I haven’t had any success in the WSOP’s regular structures, I know they are very good structures and don’t really need to be changed. Having a gimmick-type event like this once or twice is a great idea though. 7,800 people in one tourney is a big accomplishment.”

If you take a look at McKeehen’s Hendon Mob results, you’ll notice quite a few of the recent ones come from Parx Casino outside of Philadelphia (pictured). If regulated online poker were to come to his home state, Parx would likely be one of the industry leaders.

“I hope online poker comes to Pennsylvania,” he commented. “It might end up being bigger than New Jersey. We don’t have the live venues like in Atlantic City, but it’s still a big state. The dream would be for a few states to legalize play and then connect where we could all play against each other.”

He’s eighth on the all-time money list for Pennsylvania, according to the Hendon Mob, with $1.1 million in live winnings. He has another $1.1 million in winnings in his PocketFives profile from online tournaments, including a win in the Full Tilt $150,000 Guarantee in 2010 for $52,000.

McKeehen got his start in poker by watching the WPT on television. “I thought I was pretty good, so when I was growing up, I played a lot online. When Black Friday happened, my options were limited, but I was in school, so I decided to play live poker on the side while I stayed in school and got my degree. I found a few 18-and-older places to play like Turning Stone, Florida, and the PCA. Luckily, I had a lot of success live, so I got to build a strong bankroll. I was pretty sure I was going pro as soon as I finished. I didn’t have an interest in a real life job.”

Check out PocketFives’ Pennsylvania poker community for the latest news and discussion from Pennsylvania players.

Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.