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The 2015 WSOP November Nine kicks off on Sunday with nine players looking to achieve poker immortality. Joe McKeehan takes the chip lead into the final and is the present favorite to win it all.

Anyone that’s studied the history of the November Nine knows that the chip leader has won the title only once in its history. That leaves the door wide open for another player to rise up and make their claim to the title. Today, I look at the November Nine and give my picks on who will take it all.

Below are your 2015 November Nine, their seat positions and their starting stacks when play resumes on Sunday:

Seat 1: Zvi Stern – 29,800,000 (74 bb)
Seat 2: Pierre Neuville – 21,075,000 (52 bb)
Seat 3: Joshua Beckley – 11,800,000 (27 bb)
Seat 4: Max Steinberg – 20,200,000 (50 bb)
Seat 5: Thomas Cannuli – 12,250,000 (30 bb)
Seat 6: Joe McKeehen – 63,100,000 (160 bb)
Seat 7: Patrick Chan – 6,225,000 (15 bb)
Seat 8: Federico Butteroni – 6,200,000 (15 bb)
Seat 9: Neil Blumenfield – 22,000,000 (55 bb)

McKeehan Takes the Lead and Momentum into November Nine

Joe McKeehen will start the November Nine with 63.1 million, approximately 32.8% of the chips in play when action starts on Sunday. If that wasn’t enough to make him the favorite heading into the final, he also picked up some momentum two weeks ago by winning the Main Event of the Wynn Fall Classic.

While his recent win only earned him $90k in prize money, it does show that McKeehan’s skills are sharp as he heads into the November Nine. This win couldn’t have come at a better tie and the potential momentum could carry him to the title, but I am not fully convinced he will be the 2015 WSOP Main Event Champion.

McKeehan is not the only person to take down an event in the months leading to the November Nine. Joshua Beckley won a circuit ring back in September at the West Palm Beach stop. This was his first career circuit ring and shows he has the ability to finish a tournament, but the November Nine is a different beast than a Circuit ring event. Beckley will have to get busy early, as he is the third shortest stack when play resumes.

Chan and Butteroni Will Need Luck to Climb Out the Cellar

Patrick Chan and Federico Butteroni are the two short stacks when play resumes on Sunday. Both have 15 big blinds and are in the worst possible spot on the table. McKeehan is to Chan’s right and Buttteroni is two spots down from McKeehan. They will need to pick up a big hand early or hope that McKeehan isn’t very active in the opening levels if they hope to pick up some chips.

Based on overall experience, I would give Chan the best shot of climbing out of the cellar but again, he will have some work to do to get there. Right now, I feel Butteroni will finish 9th with Chan finishing no higher than 7th.

Neil Blumenfield Becomes the Last Senior Standing

Neil Blumenfield and Pierre Neuville are the two senior citizens playing in the November Nine. At 72, Neuville can become the oldest winner in Main Event history. Blumenfield at 61 can become the oldest winner in the November Nine era. Jennifer Newell wrote a great piece on Neuville and while I agree that he will be a great ambassador for poker, my gut tells me Blumenfield will finish higher.

Logically, it would seem that Neuville would have the advantage. He has much more experience, has played at WSOP final tables and has three times the lifetime earnings of Blumenfield. However, looking at what they’ve done since the November Nine, I feel that Blumenfield will have the better showing at the final table.

After making the November Nine, Blumenfield went deep in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event, finishing 29th. In September, he finished 8th in the Heartland Poker Tour Reno event. Last month, he went deep in the 2015 Coco Poker Open Main Event, finishing 28th. Neuville has a single cash in an EPT Hyper Turbo Bounty in August for less than $1,000.

Blumenfield has all of his own action and from what I have seen and heard from him leading up to the November Nine, he seems to be ultra relaxed. More appropriately, I feel he has nothing to lose. Neuville probably doesn’t have any financial pressures but he does have the pressure to perform based on his statement after receiving his lifetime achievement award.

As things stand presently, I feel that Neuville will finish somewhere around fourth and I think Blumenfield will battle heads-up for the bracelet.

Steinberg’s Experience May Win the Bracelet

Out of all the players at the November Nine final table, I believe that Max Steinberg is best equipped to make a run to overthrow McKeehan. He has the big game experience. He won a WSOP bracelet in 2012 and had runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2013. He also finished runner-up at Legends of Poker in 2012.

In 2013, he finished 131st in the Main Event and now is center stage with 50 big blinds. He has plenty of room to play his game and pick his spots to move up the leader board. Out of everyone at the final table, I feel that his game has the best shot of overcoming McKeehan’s massive chip lead. No offence to Zvi Stern, but there isn’t anything in his history or what I have watched from his play to convince he will win the bracelet.

In the end, I believe it will be Steinberg and Blumenfield for the title with Steinberg walking away with everything.

Steinberg – Blumenfield – McKeehan Are Your Top Three Finishers

When the Main Event concludes on Sunday, I believe that Max Steinberg will walk away with the bracelet and the $7.68 million in prize money. I anticipate a spirited heads-up match between Blumenfield and Steinberg with the potential to go into the early morning hours of November 11.

Below are my estimated results for the 2015 November Nine:

1. Max Steinberg – Bracelet and $7.68 M

2. Neil Blumenfeld – $4.46 M

3. Joe McKeehan – $3.39 M

4. Pierre Neuville – $2.61 M

5. Zvi Stern – $1.91 M

6. Joshua Beckley $1.42 M

7. Patrick Chan $1.20 M

8. Thomas Cannuli $1.09 M

9. Federico Butteroni $1.001 M

Granted, all this is speculation and things can change in a single hand. Just ask Ben Lamb. In 2011, he went from 2nd in chips with 3 left to eliminated in three hands. Anything can happen and typically does during the final table.

What do you think? Do you agree with my picks or do you think I should stick with gerbil jokes? Leave a comment on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.