10 days of tournament play in 2019 WSOP Main Event have all boiled down to this. The end of day 7 brought with it, an unrecognisable list of chip counts as the former leaders fell away and a new leader emerged from the pack to march into a commanding chiplead.
We now have a strong favourite for the title, but anything can still happen in poker’s most prestigious event.
Here are your nine finalists:
Seat 1 – Hossein Ensan (GER) – 177,000,000 (177BB)
Former EPT Prague winner Hossein Ensan had a perfect day 7, seizing the chiplead after repeated clashes with day 6 chip leader Nick Marchington before dinner. Then a 40,000,000 chip-pot sent Ensan over the 100,000,000 mark and set the tone for the rest of the day. Once in front, the German pro began battering his opponents with persistent pressure. Ensan continued to chip-up before a huge pot against Timothy Su extended his chiplead substantially. Ensan is one of the more experienced finalists with almost $2.7 million in live cashes to his name and a major title on his resume and will begin the final table 78,000,000 clear of his nearest challenger.
Seat 2 – Nick Marchington (UK) – 20,100,000 (20BB)
If he had not played a single pot with Ensan all day, we may be talking about Marchington as our chip leader. So often, he won chips from other players, only to lose a chunk to his day 7 nemesis, Ensan. Marchington is primarily an online player and only has $12,000 in recorded live cashes, however, his aggression during day 7 showed the qualities of an aggressive player who was not afraid to take risks. He will bring 20,100,000 (20BB) to the final table.
Seat 3 – Dario Sammartino (ITA) – 33,400,000 (33BB)
With $8 million in live cashes and numerous WSOP final tables behind him, Sammartino is arguably the most accomplished player at the table. He had a very busy day 7 and was up to 60,000,000 in chips around halfway through the day, only to lose a third of his stack after running tens into the queens of Marchington. He slid back a little during the final level too but will still be a big threat at this final table.
Seat 4 – Kevin Maahs (USA) – 43,000,000 (43BB)
After spending large parts of the day struggling with 15-20BBs, Maahs made a late jump in the chip counts courtesy of picking up aces against Milos Skrbic’s ace-queen. That double up put him in the 35BB region, and he quickly got busy thereafter, increasing his holdings by the end of play. With only $61,000 in live cashes, Maahs is something of an outside bet in terms of winning the event, but now has the chips to begin making his claim with.
Seat 5 – Timothy Su (USA) – 20,200,000 (20BB)
Timothy Su’s story is one of what could have been. With only a few thousand in live cashes to his name, the day 5 chipleader has been a powerful stack in the days since he took the lead, but one huge loss to today’s eventual chip leader changed everything. Su had been sitting on 87,000,000 before calling off Ensan’s huge river bet in hand 101 and losing over half of his stack. From there, he continued to slide until bagging time and while he still has a chance, he has seemed a wounded player since that huge pot.
Seat 6 – Zhen Cai (USA) – 60,600,000 (61BB)
Cai has had a busy day at the tables and is one of the bigger threats to Ensan’s position going into the final phases of this event. Cai has a WSOP Circuit ring to his name and $214,000 in live cashes, which shows he is no stranger to tournament success. Cai chipped up through day 7 with controlled, well-timed aggression rather than one huge pivotal pot, a fact which underlines his credentials as a realistic challenger for the title.
Seat 7 – Garry Gates (USA) – 99,300,000 (99BB)
Not exactly a professional by trade, having worked behind the scenes for PokerNews and PokerStars for many years, Garry Gates does still bring some tournament pedigree with him, having accumulated $243,000 in lifetime cashes.
Gates has a large section of the crowd cheering him on and might feel the stars are aligning for him after spiking the river to stay alive on day 7 with ace-king against kings. He busted Henry Lu in 11th place towards the end of the day to vault up to 2nd in the chip counts.
Seat 8 – Milos Skrbic (SRB) – 23,400,000 (23BB)
Serbian Milos Skrbic will be one of the more experienced players to take his seat at the final table, bringing almost $1.7 million in live cashes to the fray. Skrbic spent most of the day cruising along comfortably before a failed bluff-shove cut his stack in half in the latter part of the day. He remained composed however and rebuilt to put together a playable stack.
Seat 9 – Alex Livingston (CAN) – 37,800,000 (38BB)
Despite struggling as a short stack just an hour from the end of day 7, Livingston will come into the final table with a very playable stack. The recipient of an errant bluff-shove by Skrbic, Livingston saw his stack jump up to the middle of the field, before a won flip against Robert Heidorn brought the field down to 9 and ended play for the day. This helped Livingston improve to almost 40 million chips, and with $733,000 in live cashes to his name, he has the experience to push on at the final table.
Day 7 fallers
Bracelet winner Yuri Dzivielevski was unable to survive the first half of the day, falling in 28th place for $261,430. Japan’s Hiroki Nawa had been the last Asian player standing, but eventually bowed out in 25th place for $324,650.
Day 3 chip leader Preben Stokkan followed soon after in 21st place. The Norwegian picked up the same prize as Nawa for his finish. Australia’s final hope for this year, Warwick Mirzikinian also picked up the same prize when he followed Stokkan to the rail in 20th place.
888Poker qualifier Mihai Manole put on an admirable display in this year’s Main Event, but could not get past the final two tables, busting in 18th place for $400,000. Henry Lu was the final bracelet winner left in the field, having won the $1,500 NLH back in 2012. He takes home $800,000 having fallen in 11th place at the end of day 7.