Welcome back to our “throwback” to the way we used to do reporting on tournament poker, through what was called “live blogging.” Over the span of tonight’s show (broadcast on ESPN beginning at 10PM Eastern Time), we’ll offer some insights to the second night of action at the WSOP Championship Event, which may turn out to be a bit shorter than last night’s action.

After the nine man final table blitzed through three eliminations in slightly more than two hours, the folks at the WSOP (and presumably the powers that be at ESPN) decided they needed to give the fans a bit more poker action. Instead of stopping at six players as had been previously planned, they played onward to another elimination or the end of that current level, whichever came first. What came first was the elimination of Zhen Cai (the Poker News Daily Crystal Ball choice for champion – going to have to send that in for a tuneup!) by Kevin Maahs, setting up tonight’s five handed play.

To get you ready, here’s how they will line up on the table:

Seat 1: Hossein Ensan, 207.7 million
Seat 2: Dario Sammartino, 23.1 million
Seat 3: Kevin Maahs, 66.5 million
Seat 4: Garry Gates, 171.7 million
Seat 5: Alex Livingston, 45.8 million

Level 38 is where we will start tonight, with a fresh two hours on the clock and the blinds at 600K/1.2M and a big blind ante of 1.2 million.

And off we go!

10:05PM

Took us a bit, but ESPN isn’t broadcasting the tournament right now. It is currently running on ESPN News because of previous programming commitments on “the worldwide leader.”

Adjust your televisions accordingly.

10:10PM

Blind on blind violence. Ensan completes, Sammartino moves all-in and Ensan calls.

Sammartino: A-J
Ensan: pocket tens

Flop: A Jack in the window!
3-Q-J

Another Jack on the turn!

And a river seven seals the double for Sammartino!1

10:17PM

The commentary from Lon McEachern, Norman Chad and Jamie Kerstetter is all about how relaxed these men are…wouldn’t you be “relaxed” if the worst you would do by the end of the night is walk out of the Rio with a minimum $2.2 million? Sometimes you got to wonder about the commentary being a bit too “Captain Obvious” for people.

Furthermore, it seems the pace of play is a bit better than last night. Even the “human rain delay,” Maahs, has picked up his action a bit, perhaps due to warnings from the TDs and the ESPN honchos? He only once has asked someone for their stack size, something he was doing every hand on Sunday night.

10:41PM

And we’re back on ESPN, right after Ensan bluffed the entire table to increase his stack to 235 million chips (or so…). The other players are in fear of the mountain of chips that the German pro has put together.

10:53PM

Gates doesn’t seem to have the same spirit that has been carrying him to the final table. Not sure if it is the attention from the poker world (Gates is quite beloved by many), but he seems like he’s not having the same fun and it’s having an effect on his play. Hopefully he hasn’t had the mojo abandon him.

Livingston just made a hand to get back up to be nearly equal to Sammartino, but one of these men is going to have to do something soon. They are in that dreaded 20 big blinds zone and, with Gates and Ensan building monuments to the chip gods, they need to get back into the mix.

10:58PM

And right on cue, Gates makes a bad play.

Off the button, Gates raises with an A-10 (good raising hand five handed) and Ensan looks him up with a K-9. King on the flop puts Ensan in the lead, but he check calls two bets on the flop and turn from Gates. A ten on the river gives Gates a piece of the board and hope that was soon shattered.

Ensan leads out on this river and Gates, surprisingly, pushes out a THREE TIMES raise over Ensan’s river bet. Ensan reads this for weakness, calls, and takes the pot to expand his already massive lead.

Let’s go ahead and say it now…this is Ensan’s tournament to lose..

11:23PM

Would love to have some commentary, but it has been raise it, take it, since Ensan took the hand from Gates. Sammartino and Livingston still on life support, which they can’t maintain much longer. Maahs is just annoying everyone and looking to ladder up.

11:45PM

Looks like everyone is comfortable just heading to the next level. But Ensan is in a dominant position, Gates has spread some chips to Maahs and Livingston and Sammartino is looking to join the party. Chip counts forthcoming…

11:55PM

As the players have headed to a break, let’s take on a subject that seems to be raising its ugly head at this WSOP Championship Event final table: behavior of your rail.

Apparently at the close of action last night, the rails for Maahs and Zhen Cai, who was eliminated by Maahs, had what has been called by the announcers an “altercation.” Apparently someone said something, somebody got upset, and the squabble was on. Tonight it is Livingston’s rail, who seem to think (and ESPN lets them do it) that saying “Fold that s**t” is supporting their player.

Folks, let’s try to have some class. Support your player, cheer him, but don’t demean the others that have worked their ass off to reach this point in the biggest tournament in the world. It would be a shame to tarnish it by having people thrown out for hooligan acts more common with soccer barbarians.

With that out of the way, here’s your chip counts at the break:

Ensan, 251.7 million
Gates, 87.1 million
Livingston, 86.4 million
Maahs, 57.1 million
Sammartino, 32.5 million

12:41AM

Sorry, dozed off there. That’s how little action is going on. And with everyone other than Ensan around the same stack, they aren’t going to make any moves that will jeopardize their game. Get your cocoa, kids…it’s going to be a long night.

12:56AM

Nothing going right for Gates. He has lost over 100 million chips during Night Two of the final table. And the other players just seem to be hitting their stride…Gates may be done.

1:28AM

FINALLY! Some action!

After the blinds moved up to 1 million/2 million with a two million big blind ante, Ensan moved it up with a min-raise. Maahs ponders for a bit, then moves all in. Ensan doesn’t waste a minute:

Ensan: pocket nines
Maahs: A-10

A J-5-3-J-4 board runs out and the rich get richer as Kevin Maahs heads to the rail in fifth place.

Kevin Maahs – Fifth place ($2,2,00,000)

1:30AM

It isn’t like Ensan needed those chips. He’s now over 300 million; the remainder of the table – Gates, Sammartino and Livingston – barely have 200 million amongst each other. And Ensan has yet to make a misstep.

1:53AM

And after what seemed like an eternity with no action, the night is over.

With only 15 big blinds left in his stack, Gates pushes all in from the small blind and Livingston immediately makes the call. Gates has a pained expression as he sees what he feared:

Gates: pocket sixes
Livingston: pocket Queens

Looking for a six to save his tournament, the 5-2-7-10-10 board helps neither player and eliminates Gates in fourth place.

Gary Gates – Fourth place ($3,000,000)

And with the departure of Gates, the night’s action is complete and the three players who will determine the champion on Tuesday night line up like this:

Hossein Ensan, 326.8 million
Alex Livingston, 120.4 million
Dario Sammartino, 67.6 million

Come on back tomorrow night and we’ll try to wrap this up, hopefully in a decent time frame!

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