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Casino City’s Friday Five: 50th WSOP edition

19 July 2019

By Dan Ippolito
The most prestigious poker tournament of the year has come and gone yet again. The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas was home to the 50th edition of the World Series of Poker, which came to a record-breaking end earlier this week when Germany's Hossein Ensan was the last man standing over a massive field of 8,569. The Main Event also saw its share of controversy, wild hands and poker legends going down in their bid to win the coveted bracelet.

Casino City's Gary Trask was at the Rio last week, so we'll dedicate this week's Friday Five to his recaps from the WSOP, and we start with a big day of eliminations:

5. WSOP Main Event eliminations come fast and furious on Day 4
Day 4 of the $10,000 WSOP Main Event began with 1,286 players left in play, but not many survived for too long.

More than 60 players were eliminated within the first 10 minutes. One hour into the day, the 1,286-player field that started the day had dwindled down to just over 1,000. At 3:30 p.m., just 10% of the entire starting field (860) remained, and by the time the second break of the day came along at 5 p.m., a total of 598 players had been eliminated and only 688 people were still alive and chasing poker history.

"It always hurts to get eliminated, but after surviving last night's pressure cooker, I can't complain," said Mathieu Rabalison, an accountant from Paris, who plays part-time and was one of the players that got bounced in the first hour on Tuesday, earning a cash in his first Main Event appearance. "I only had 10 big blinds at the end of play last night. I could have easily got eliminated without cashing. But I survived. That's what this tournament is all about. Survival."


4. Moneymaker falls short in Main Event
Winning the Main Event of the 50th edition of the World Series of Poker after gaining entry via an $80 online satellite tournament was too much for even Chris Moneymaker to pull off.

The 2003 Main Event champion was bounced on Day 4 in 687th place for $20,200.

Even though Moneymaker was eliminated, the 43-year-old was happy with his performance, and the fact that he made his deepest run in a WSOP event since 2007 wasn't an accident.

“I’ve been working hard on my game,” he told Casino City during a brief chat in the hallways of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. “I’ve been an ambassador for the game for a long, long time, but I want to be remembered as a pretty good poker player, as well.”

It's pretty certain that Moneymaker won't have to worry about being remembered as a "pretty good poker player." Just a few days after Trask spoke to Moneymaker, it was announced that he had been elected to the Poker Hall of Fame.


3. Top 10 news items and nuggets from the WSOP Main Event final table
The Main Event final table kicked off with the final nine players on Sunday night, and there was a lot going on both on and away from the table. Trask recapped the evening and captured some of the buzz, including a rash of tanking and a dealer-error controversy involving Dario Sammartino.

As for the tanking, from the very start of the action on Sunday night, Kevin Maahs' play was slow, deliberate and difficult to watch. He was continuously asking the dealer for chip counts and tanking before folding rags. Even though he knew what he was doing, he must’ve known there would be some consequences for tanking.


On Saturday night, with 11 players remaining in the Main Event, a major controversy arose when a dealer error ignited Sammartino.

Sammartino was second to act and raised to 1.7 million with pocket 10s. Marchington re-raised all-in from the small blind, and Sammartino asked for a count on the raise. The dealer announced it was 17.2 million when, in fact, it was 22.2 million. Sammartino moved a stack of chips to signal a call before the correct amount was announced. WSOP VP Jack Effel told Sammartino that he is responsible for his action and must play the hand out since he called. Obviously, Sammartino wasn’t thrilled with the decision, but couldn’t do anything about it.


2. Young millionaires Su and Marchington show class and dignity in defeat at Main Event
Both Timothy Su and Nick Marchington were among the first three to bust at the WSOP Main Event final table.

Each player commented about their immediate plans following the tournament exit.

“The celebration tonight is going to be some sleep,” said the 21-year-old Marchington, who fell short in a bid to become the youngest player to win the Main Event when he bowed out in eighth place, good for $1.25 million. “And after that I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll go and get something nice to eat with my family. But, yeah, for now it’s a good night’s rest.”

“I haven’t really thought that far ahead,” the 25-year-old Su said when asked what the first thing he will buy once he cashes the $1.525 million he earned by finishing in seventh place out of a massive field of 8,569. “The plan right now is to fly back to Boston and go back to work on Wednesday or Thursday.”

After winning over $1 million, it’s pretty surprising one of the first things on his mind was heading into work this week.


Trask pointed out that the manner in which the two handled themselves last week at and, more notably, away from the table was quite impressive.

Polite and wise beyond their years. Let’s hope we see more of “kids” like Su and Marchington on the big stage soon. Poker will be a better game for it. That’s for sure.

1. The 2019 Main Event champion is crowned
Hossein Ensan won the Main Event of the 2019 World Series of Poker late Tuesday night, earning $10,000,000 and poker's most prestigious prize: the WSOP Main Event bracelet.

Ensan is the second German champion in WSOP history (the first was Pius Heinz, who won the 2011 Main Event) and the first non-U.S. player to win since Sweden's Martin Jacobson prevailed in 2014. He is also the third Iranian-born Main Event winner, after Monsour Matloubi (1990) and Hamid Dastmalchi (1992).

The 55-year old Ensan is the oldest player to win the Main Event in 20 years. Noel Furlong was 61 years old when he won in 1999.

"This is the best feeling in my life," Ensan said after the event with a huge smile. "Unbelievable! I am so happy I’m here with the bracelet in hand. What can I say?"

This was the second-largest Main Event of all time, with 8,569 players. (The all-time record is 8,773 in 2006.) The massive field created a prize pool worth $80,548,600, and the eventual winner would earn $10,000,000.

Casino City’s Friday Five: 50th WSOP edition is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
 

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Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at daniel@casinocity.com, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.
Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at daniel@casinocity.com, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.