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With 27 players remaining in the 2015 WSOP Main Event, the poker world watched as Daniel Negreanu tried to make his way to the November Nine. Negreanu’s run ended in 11th place when a miracle river queen gave Joe McKeehen a suckout straight. Afterwards, the poker world mourned Negreanu’s knockout and some believe that there’s no reason to tune in to watch the November Nine.

If you’re among those of that opinion, you need to take a second look at this November Nine. While we don’t have a big name pro at the final table, there are tons of interesting stories and the game may actually be better off without Negreanu at this final. Below are nine reasons why Daniel Negreanu missing the November Nine might actually be GOOD for poker.

Lifetime Achievement Award? Not Done Achieving Yet!

Pierre Neuville was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 European Poker Awards. He said at that time that he hadn’t achieved the award yet and the best was still to come.

The 72-year-old former board game company executive proved prophetic with those words as he now is competing for the richest prize in poker. Prior to the November Nine, he had $2.17 million in earnings. He is a two-time EPT Main Event runner-up and finished second in the $5,000 NL Six-Max at the 2014 WSOP.

Neuville is proving that age is just a number when it comes to poker and looks to win his first major poker title by taking the Main Event. He has 21.07 million in chips, good for fourth when they return in November.

Did You Forget About Our Bracelet Winner?

Sitting fourth in chips heading into the November Nine is Max Steinberg. Steinberg is the lone bracelet winner at the final table having won a $1,000 NL Event in 2012. He also has runner-up finishes in bracelet events in 2010 and 2013.

Prior to the November Nine, he had amassed $1.9 million in tournament earnings that included a runner-up finish in the WPT Legends of Poker Main Event in 2012. In 2013, he finished 131st in the Main Event and has now taken the next step with making the November Nine. Now he hopes to take the ultimate step and become immortalized as the 2015 World Champion of Poker.

Will McKeehen Break the Chip Leader Curse?

While Joe McKeehen is the chip leader heading into the November Nine, there’s no guarantee that he will be able to seal the deal and take home the bracelet. In its seven previous installments, only once did the chip leader actually take home the bracelet.

McKeehen will start the final table with 63.1 million, more than double the next closest opponent. This is the largest lead ever by a chip leader heading into the November Nine.

Jonathan Duhamel, the 2010 champion is the only player to start as chip leader and win the Main Event bracelet. He is also the only other player in history to start with more than 60 million in chips.

McKeehen will start as the favorite to win the Main Event but can he survive the chip leader curse and take the bracelet?

All Your Chips Are Belong to Blumenfield

Neil Blumenfield is in a perfect position to make a run at the November Nine bracelet. A long-time executive in the software industry, he isn’t worried about the money when it comes to the November Nine.

He is the current President and COO at Elastic Intelligence, Inc and while he could certainly find a use for $7.68 million, he is in good shape regardless of what happens. This means that the 61-year-old can sit back and play his game while trying to win poker’s grandest prize.

At 61, Blumenfield is one of the oldest players to ever make the November Nine but the long days required in poker tournaments don’t seem to faze him. Looking at his resume, the majority of his cashes are deep runs or final table appearances.

He last cashed in the Main Event in 2012, finishing 285th. This final table appearance is easily the largest score of his poker career. He will return in November third in chips with 22 million

Meet the Faces of NJ Online Poker

Thomas Cannuli and Joshua Beckley are both online poker players in New Jersey and their appearance in the November Nine will prove a positive story for the fledgling United States legalized iGaming industry.

Cannuli is primarily a cash game player while Beckley is a tournament regular on partypoker NJ and Sitting sixth and seventh respectively in chips, poker sites in New Jersey would be wise to scoop them up and use them as the new faces of online poker in the state.

Observe the Sabbath and then Take Everyone’s Chips

Zvi Stern is looking to become the first Israeli born poker player to win the WSOP Main Event. He is the second player from Israel to make the November Nine. Amir Lehavot was the first to do so and finished third in the 2013 Main Event.

The 36-year-old Stern is among the least experienced at this final table but he starts second in chips with 29.8 million. Those among you that are religious know that those from Israel are considered “God’s children,” meaning that Stern may have all the rail he needs to take him to a bracelet victory.

Will There Be Another Short Stack Miracle?

Patrick Chan and Frederico Butteroni have the unenviable tasks of being the short stacks at this November Nine final. Chan has 6,225,000 while Butteroni holds 6.2 million. While anything can happen at the final table, starting the November Nine final with less than 8 million in chip has virtually guaranteed finishing in one of the bottom two spots in the past.

Last year, Martin Jacobson started the November Nine in eighth chip position but was able to make an incredible comeback to win the bracelet and $10 million. However, he started with more than Chan and Butteroni have combined.

While both have stacks of 15 big blinds, they have to wins some pots early to have a shot. With eighth place only paying an extra $96,000, don’t be surprised to see one or both of these players gamble early to gain chips. If they double early, the whole dynamic of the final could change.

Pro Poker Lobbyist Should Take Advantage of this November Nine

Have you looked closely at who made the November Nine? As pointed out earlier, Thomas Cannuli and Josh Beckley are from New Jersey. Patrick Chan is from New York. Neil Blumenfield and Max Steinberg are from California and Joe McKeehen is from Pennsylvania.

Notice a pattern here? Every American in the November Nine is either from a state where online poker is legal or one that is considering the issue. Knowing this, it is time for pro-iPoker lobbyists to scoop these players up and use them as the face of online poker legalization in the United States.

Cannuli and Beckley already play online in New Jersey and Chan reportedly still travels overseas to play, so he would be on board. Blumenfield is in the software industry, so he knows the value of online poker in terms of being a player and as an executive. Finally, there should be no reason that McKeehen and Steinberg wouldn’t stand up for online poker.

Patch ’em up, get them to do some positive promos and maybe even put them on the PokerStars “Let California Play!” pro tour. Let these players become champions of the online game in addition ambassadors of the live one. Opportunities like this one don’t come along every year, so lobbyist should strike while the irons hot.

Daniel Will Still Be There – And Should Be on Commentary

If you are thinking about skipping the November Nine because Daniel Negreanu will not be there, you might miss out on an exciting evening that will include the 11th place finisher.

Most of you may remember that Negreanu has been part of the November Nine broadcasts in the past. With his deep run in this year’s Main Event, there’s no reason to believe that ESPN won’t beg him to be part of the broadcast.

Personally, I would like to see them replace Antonio Esfandiari with Negreanu for this year’s November Nine broadcast team.

Let me be clear, I have nothing against Antonio. Rather, Negreanu has unique knowledge of these players and he can make calls about what they are doing based on what he’s experienced with them.

I think this would make for fantastic television and could entice players to watch that might not have normally. If ESPN were to use him and advertise in advance, it could help ratings.

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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.