The tables have been packed up, the players have scattered to the far corners of the four winds and the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino is no longer the domain of the poker world. The 2019 World Series of Poker has closed its doors on its Las Vegas run (remember, there’s still Rozvadov this fall) and, with it, the 2019 WSOP Championship Event. To put a final note on the WSOP, let’s look at how the Poker News Daily Crystal Ball did in predicting the outcome. Overall it wasn’t bad, but it was a BIG swing and a miss as far as the winner!
Ninth Place – Milos Skrbic (predicted – Eighth Place)
Didn’t miss this one by much, but it was a pretty easy prediction. Skrbic was one of the short stacks coming into the final table and, in the early part of the first night of action at the final table, he looked like he might make a run. He quickly came back down to earth, however, and started to make moves at the wrong people. When he was in the big blind and shoved over Gary Gates’ small blind bet, you could almost see the writing on the wall. A-Q versus A-J and Milos was out the door in ninth place.
Eighth Place – Timothy Su (predicted – Seventh Place)
Another situation where it was a pretty easy prediction. Su was the healthiest of the shorties (along with Skrbic and Nick Marchington), but that didn’t mean that he was by any means in great shape. He decided to take a shot at chip leader (and eventual champion) Hossein Ensan with pocket treys, but he really didn’t have the ammunition to push Ensan off his hand. Pocket treys against Ensan’s A-J, a Jack on the flop and another on the river for good measure sent Su to the rail after an excellent run.
Seventh Place – Nick Marchington (predicted – Ninth Place)
Marchington actually had a great run after coming in as the shortest stack on the table. He was able to increase his stack nicely, but then youthful exuberance got the better of him. After Ensan (who was in the lead courtesy of another “youthful exuberance” move from Marchington) opened the betting – as he was doing on EVERYONE – Marchington decided to make a stand with an A-7 and found he chose the wrong moment to do that. Ensan’s pocket Kings were never threatened and Marchington, despite coming in with the shortest stack, had moved up a couple steps on the ladder.
Sixth Place – Zhen Cai (predicted – First Place)
The biggest misstep from the Crystal Ball of the entire 2019 WSOP Championship Event final table. Cai just never seemed to get any mojo going at the table, constantly running hands he would have LOVED to have seen a flop with into big hands from him opponents. His elimination was the perfect mirror of this: Cai’s Big Slick running into Kevin Maahs’ pocket nines and the board running out blank for Cai. He deserved better than this, as Cai was a very strong player and, if he had ever amassed some chips, could have perhaps mounted a stronger run at the title.
Fifth Place – Kevin Maahs – (predicted – Fifth Place)
And we hit one! Maahs was arguably the most aggravating player on the final table, with his constant tanking and asking for chip counts, but he did play the game well when he was in hands. He just happened to run into the freight train that was Ensan, this time losing a race with A-10 against Ensan’s pocket nines to end his run in fifth place.
Fourth Place – Gary Gates (predicted – Third Place)
Once again, just missed this one. Gates was by far the most fun player to watch on the final table, enjoying every moment that he was there and battling for an improbable World Championship. He also rode the biggest rollercoaster; after coming into the second night of play in second place behind Ensan with 177 million chips, he would watch as those chips slipped through his fingers to his opponents. Still, it was good to see one of the “good guys” of the poker industry take a shot and make his mark like Gates did.
Third Place – Alex Livingston (predicted – Sixth Place)
The second biggest miss by the Crystal Ball. Livingston caught a lot of flak for his pocket Queens fold against Gates on the first night of the final table, but he stuck around and challenged Ensan at one point in the final evening of the tournament. And it is arguable that bad luck was the reason for his departure. When you’ve got an A-J in three-handed play, you’ve got to think that you’ve got a pretty damn strong hand. Unfortunately, he ran into Ensan’s A-Q and never caught up.
Second Place – Dario Sammartino (predicted – Fourth Place)
Sammartino was the spice that the final table needed. Even though he jousted with tournament officials and yo-yoed up and down the ladder during the play at the final table, he locked in with some outstanding play at literally every point of the final table. He actually did something that nobody did at the final table – took the lead from Ensan – but he just wasn’t able to sustain it into a championship. And let’s be honest…Sammartino’s attire made him the most dapper of the final nine players!
First Place – Hossein Ensan (predicted – Second Place)
What can be said about Ensan that hasn’t already been said? He was a beast through the final four days of the tournament (going back to the Day 7 action that brought about the final table) and he never seemed to make a mistake on his way to the title. He was a steamroller that nobody figured out and he simply crushed anyone in his way of the championship. Now will come the questions of what kind of World Champion he will be – at 55 years old (the oldest champion since 61-year old Noel Furlong in 1999), will he continue to traipse the world and its poker tournaments? Or, with a fresh $10 million in his pocket, will he be more willing to spend the time home in Germany?
It was a great tournament, an entertaining final table (Maahs, get the tanking under control!) and a deserving champion. Now that the doors are shut on the Vegas version of the 2019 WSOP, it is off to Rozvadov to see how history unfolds there!