3 men left battling to be World Series of Poker champion

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Well-heeled Max Steinberg who has made tailored suits his trademark at poker tables populated with hoodies and sneakers won’t need to find another suit for day three of the World Series of Poker finale.

Steinberg was the last player eliminated before play resumes Tuesday with the last three men vying for a $7.6 million top prize and the no-limit Texas Hold ‘em poker championship’s title.

Joe McKeehen of Pennsylvania still holds a sizeable lead with 128.8 million worth of chips followed in second by Neil Blumenfield of San Francisco with 40.1 million and Josh Beckley from New Jersey with 23.7 million.

Steinberg had found himself in last place with the shortest stack of chips when he went all in Monday with an ace-jack against chip-leader McKeehen who, it turned out, had an ace-queen.

Steinberg seemed surprised by the support he received from fans, noting after his elimination that sports book bets at the Rio All-Suites casino-hotel that he would win the whole thing increased his odds to be a 2-1 favorite, he said.

“Which is absolutely absurd. It doesn’t make any sense at all. So, clearly people wanted me to win, and I’m really grateful for that and I put my best foot forward,” he said.

The poker pro turned daily fantasy sports player had taken a break from the green felt before the World Series of Poker’s Main Event to focus on the explosive online fantasy sports games.

“Poker is always a passion for me, so I will definitely be playing it. As for whether I’ll be playing it more, I don’t know yet,” he said.

Before Steinberg’s fall, it was Ofer Svi Stern of Israel and Thomas Cannuli of New Jersey losing their chances at the title.

All nine men outlasted 6,420 entries and several days of gameplay this summer before returning four months later to the state on Monday.

The man with all the chips at the end of Tuesday, wins it all.

No limit Texas Hold ‘em involves each player getting two cards unseen by the rest of the table and five community cards, the first three on the “flop,” the fourth on the “turn,” the fifth on the “river,” with betting between each.

Stern had held a long-running perch in second place and infuriated World Series of Poker viewers with his lengthy contemplation of most hands, until he swapped places with Josh Beckley, who won a face-off with a pair of aces.

“I do realize sometimes it may seem like it takes too long. But if you need to take a moment to make the right decision you should take it,” he said. “You have a lot at stake.”

With his poker chip stack dwindling, Stern bet most but not all of his stake holding an ace-jack when fedora-wearing Neil Blumenfield with an ace-king pushed Stern to go all-in.

Stern watched arms crossed from the sidelines in front of coach and 2014 WSOP champion Martin Jacobson when Blumenfield clinched a pair of kings, and the hand, when the second-to-last card was turned over.

Stern held up a “fear the fedora” fan T-shirt Blumenfield had playfully given him earlier before giving the other players hugs and handshakes and departing the Rio All-Suites casino-hotel stage.

Despite having a pair of aces, Cannuli was out in sixth place, leaving with $1.4 million in just the second hand of night two of the World Series of Poker’s premier championship. “That’s just the game. It’s part of the game. You have to respect the game and that element that you could get unlucky and not be a whiny baby about it,” he said.

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Freelancer Dan Michalski in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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