Hailing from Marlton, New Jersey, Josh Beckley is a 24-year-old poker pro with $219,526 in lifetime cashes prior to this year's World Series of Poker Main Event. He previous career best was worth $98,348 for winning the 2014 Parx Casino Big Stax VII $1,500 Event. His other five-figure scores include $53,564 for third in the 2015 Parx Casino Big Stax X $300 No-Limit Hold'em, and $33,932 for fourth in a $1,500 no-limit hold'em event two weeks later.
"It means a lot because it's my career," Beckley told PokerNews about what this achievement meant to him. "I get a feeling of accomplishment. I started when I was 16 playing $1/$2 home games with friends. I started playing tournaments in August 2014 and I won one for $100K. Since then, I've been playing [pot-limit Omaha] and $5/$10 [no-limit hold'em], but, very recently, I've been playing only tournaments."
Getting started at such a young age like Beckley did has allowed him to build up an expansive portfolio of poker knowledge. Although he's only 24 years old, he's been playing the game for eight years. This is something he points to.
"I just experienced so many hands since I was 16," he said. "I've played very often and learned from every session. I didn't have any mentors who helped me learn."
Even with a solid eight years of grinding under his belt, the most important months for Beckley are the ones ahead, as he now has nearly four months to prepare for the biggest final table of his life. But, he doesn't seem too worried about his poker game and would rather look to relax a bit.
"I don't really have a plan [for the next four months]," Beckley said. "I'm going to go on vacations somewhere nice with friends. I'll be playing in the interim after vacation."
When November 8 rolls around, Beckley will return to play with 11.8 million in chips, or 29 big blinds. That puts him seventh out of the remaining nine competitors, but being on the shorter side is something Beckley's had to deal with before in the tournament.
"I think one double up, and I'm in good shape," he said on playing with a short stack. "I was very short a couple of times in the last couple of levels. I think I choose my spots well and got it in as good as I can."
As the tournament got deeper and deeper and the final table loomed, Beckley was positioned at the table that featured big chip leader Joe McKeehen. McKeehen had a stranglehold on the table and was liberally applying pressure to the shorter stacks. Beckley seemed to recognize the spot he was in and knew he had to attempt to make some moves.
"I believe I was [playing back at Joe the most]," he said of playing against McKeehen in the later stages of the tournament. "I knew he was playing most of his hands, so I wanted to play back. Unfortunately, I didn't catch many flops when I did that. I've played with Joe a bunch at Parx. I knew that I was short-stacked so I had to make a move or else I would be blinded down and someone would have to call me with any two cards. I didn't want to be in that situation. You need to take into account that he is playing a wide range, and certain hands are above that range and you have to try to get it in good with those. Of course, it's more comforting to see a flop. If there's a min-raise, I prefer to call with most hands unless I think I can take it down preflop."
Stay tuned to PokerNews as we follow Beckley and the other 2015 November Niners leading up to the WSOP Main Event final table later this year.