By Paul Hewson
It's been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This piece of wisdom can be traced back to the English author Charles Caleb Colton – who, as it turned out, was an avid gambler. Colton kept a residence in Paris and frequented the Palais Royale, where he was said to have earned a small fortune – before losing it all and spending his last years supported by his family.
If Joe McKeehen ends up squandering the fortune he just made at the World Series of Poker, he's got his family to fall back on, too. That's about where the similarities end between McKeehen and Colton. While Colton was something of a bon vivant, with a nasty habit of leaving his creditors high and dry, McKeehen is by all appearances a level-headed, forward-thinking person who's much more likely to benefit the people around him. He's the one we should imitate, sincerely.
Games People Play
We're still learning about who Joe McKeehen is. Poker players aren't scouted from childhood like professional athletes, with their lives made open to the public and every move scrutinized in granular detail. We know that McKeehen was born on June 28, 1991, and that he continues to live with his family in North Wales, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. His father Brent and his mother Gina both went to Penn State; Gina was a programmer, and Brent delivers coffee.
Here's something people shouldn't imitate: Brent allowed his son to start an online poker account under Brent's name, before Joe turned 18. Joe had grown up playing card games like cribbage and board games like Monopoly, so the family was, in Joe's words, “cautiously optimistic” that he would be successful at poker.
Stay the Course
They weren't stupid, though. The McKeehens sent Joe to nearby Arcadia University to study math. He received an Actuarial Science degree in 2013. While at Arcadia, McKeehen spent a lot of time playing live poker; he played at the Turning Stone Casino in New York and Parx Casino in Greater Philly among other locations. He earned his first five-figure cash on the Heartland Poker Tour in 2011, then took first place in a $2,150 no-limit Hold'em event at the PCA the following year, earning a cool $116,230 for his efforts.
McKeehen would go on to cash another 37 tournaments after earning his degree, including a massive $820,863 for finishing second in last year's Monster Stack event at the WSOP. The rest, as they say, is history. McKeehen plans to continue playing poker and supporting his family, just like he was doing before. To use another of Colton's quotes, in life we shall find many men that are great, and some that are good, but very few men that are both great and good. Let's hope McKeehen continues to operate in that last category.