WSOP Final Table Diary, Vol. 2: How Is Anyone Going to Beat Ensan?

July 16, 2019
WSOP Final Table Diary, Vol. 2: How Is Anyone Going to Beat Ensan?

Day 2 of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event‘s final table kicked off at 7 p.m. PST, and we were there for all of it. This day will solidify the top three players in the 50th WSOP’s grandest of tournaments.

In case you’re wondering how we got here, please check out the Day 1 diary from yesterday. Here are the remaining players on the table (in order of chip count):

  • Hossein Ensan
  • Garry Gates
  • Kevin Maahs
  • Alex Livingston
  • Dario Sammartino

Without further ado, here are the sights and sounds from last night’s broadcast.

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WSOP Final Table: Hour 1

7 p.m. PST – We tune our television to ESPN, the purported channel to watch the final table, only to find that ESPN has shrewdly elected to stay with the Dodgers-Phillies game.  Clearly, the baseball game, a barn burner with the Dodgers leading 14-1 in the eighth inning, means more than a contest for the richest prize in poker.

So, we find a way to watch using the ESPN app.

7:10 p.m. PST – Sammartino shoves all-in with AdJs with his small stack. Unfortunately, he runs headlong into Ensan’s pocket 10s. However, a jack on the flop and a jack on the turn kept the Italian in the running for the bracelet. Ensan gives away some of his stack, but he’s still in good shape.

The double-up for Sammartino helps, but he remains the short stack.

7:12 p.m. PST –  The first commercial break causes the ESPN app to decide that our subscription is insufficient to continue watching the final table. We then proceed to PokerGO, and pay for a $10 monthly subscription, only to find that we’re blocked out.

So, we consign ourselves to wait for this cosmically important 12-run game to resolve.

Finally, no more baseball

7:35 p.m. PST – Aaannnd…we’re back. Apparently, no worse for wear. We refused to read any advance chip counts from in order to maintain the integrity of the diary.

All five players are still seated, although it appears that Ensan has pressed his advantage to increase his stack above 235 million. Livingston is now the short stack with 28.1 million.

7:43 p.m. PST – Sammartino bluffs Maahs off a small pair to win a modest pot. It bears mentioning that the views using Sammartino’s mirrored sunglasses are an excellent bit of camera work.

7:51 p.m. PST – With the game down to five-handed, it’s clear that players’ ranges are widening, both for raising and for calling. As is often the case, real poker breaks out in the closing portions of this event…even if it’s taken a week and a half to get there.

7:57 p.m. PST – Ensan takes a 37-million chip pot off Gates, his nearest competitor. Ensan is pulling away a bit, but there’s a lot of poker left to go.

Still, he has the stack now to call off many marginal hands. In other words, he’ll be difficult to bluff, and he can afford to make a few minor mistakes if need be – a luxury the other players don’t have.

WSOP Final Table: Hour 2

8:04 p.m. PST – Maahs takes down a pot with pocket Kings after a sizeable preflop raise. Maahs’ rail has dubbed him the “Tank Commander,” presumably in reference to his plodding pace of play. Oh well, it’s good to have support through thick and thin, we suppose.

8:11 p.m. PST – Livingston wins a significant pot from Gates, serving as a not-quite double up. Gates, whose stack is still second in size, has lost almost half its amount since the beginning of the evening. He now has less than 95 million behind, and maybe in some trouble.

8:38 p.m. PST – There’s nothing to report, really. Quite simply, Ensan’s chip lead is so profound that the other four men seem to be fighting mere skirmishes. Even though he hasn’t been bulletproof, the German player is in no danger of any sort of reversal.

8:49 p.m. PST – A possible chink in the armor for Ensan? Livingston makes a flush on the turn and nearly gets the chip leader to pay him off with a 22-million chip river bet. Ensan tanks and eventually folds, avoiding the value bet. However, Livingston is out of the cellar now, and a hair away from second place in chips.

WSOP Final Table: Hour 3

9:08 p.m. PST – The break features another segment with Kara Scott, Maria Ho and Phil Hellmuth. All three spend some time breaking down the key hands from the evening’s events.

Then, the broadcast team announces that this year’s Poker Hall of Fame entrants are Chris Moneymaker and David Oppenheim. Both men are deserving, although Ted Forrest does seem a notable omission.

9:32 p.m. PST – Nothing much to report, really. The truth is that, with so many chips in play and everyone fairly deep, we’re in the doldrums of the tournament right now. Obviously, with so much money at stake, these guys are going to take their time. Especially Maahs.

9:58 p.m. PST – Still no bustouts tonight. The same five continue to play. Gates has had a rough go of things, though. He drops into third place after Ensen bets into him on a four-diamond board; neither player had a diamond.

WSOP Final Table: Hour 4

10:10 p.m. PST – Gates’ day has been an unqualified nightmare. He has gone from second in chips to the short stack. Meanwhile, Alex Livingston is now in the second position and has more than 100 million in his stack.

10:24 p.m. PST – Maahs shoves all in with ATh. Ensan, as usual, wakes up with a hand – in this case, pocket 9s. Maahs does not improve on the flop or turn, and a 4 on the river sends the “tank commander” home. Kevin Maahs busts out in fifth place and wins $2.2 million.

Broadcasters Lon McEachern and Norman Chad barely conceal their glee that the broadcast will no longer suffer from Maahs’ incessant tanking on every decision. Ensan now has over 300 million in chips.

10:51 p.m. PST – After an evening of relatively little action, the end comes fairly quickly.

Gates’ terrible, no good, very bad day comes to a screeching halt. He wakes up in the small blind with pocket sixes and jams his remaining stack into the pot.…only to run into Livingston’s pocket queens in the big blind.

A clean runout does not change things, and the remainder of Gates’ chips go to Livingston. A shame – Gates is clearly the fan-favorite, but he’ll have to console himself with the fourth-place prize. Gates busts out in fourth place and wins $3 million.

WSOP Final Table Day 3 preview

So, we’re down to three players. Each man will win at least $4 million for his effort, and we won’t stop tonight until someone has all the money.

The real question is whether or not Ensan can be caught. He is sitting with 326.8 million in chips, or 63.5% of the chips in play.

There’s no question that Sammartino and Livingston are talented poker players. Both have the ability to come roaring back.

But, it’s hard to believe that our next world champion won’t be a 55-year-old German immigrant from Iran. Regardless, make sure to watch tonight, as it will be a historic evening, no matter how it goes.

(Featured image courtesy of WSOP)

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