WSOP Main Event Final Table Day One Live Blog (July 14, 2019)

11 min read

The most exciting final table in poker – the WSOP Main Event – kicks off tonight at 7 pm PT. One of the nine remaining players will take home an insane amount of cash – $10 million, and become the 50th poker world champion in history. Check back here for live updates and commentary throughout the evening to get the scoop on what’s going on during the first night of the final table.

WSOP Main Event Gary Gates poker
Which one of these nine players will be crowned world champion? (Image:

Nine players remain in poker’s most prestigious event. Sunday’s session is scheduled to play down to six and then those players will come back on Monday at the same time to play through three more eliminations. On Tuesday, beginning at 6 pm PT, we’ll put a wrap on the 2019 World Series of Poker.

WSOP Main Event Final Table Chip Counts

  1. Hossein Ensan (Germany) 177,000,000
  2. Garry Gates (United States) 99,300,000
  3. Zhen Cai (United States) 60,600,000
  4. Kevin Maahs (United States) 43,000,000
  5. Alex Livingston (Canada) 37,800,000
  6. Dario Sammartino (Italy) 33,400,000
  7. Milos Skrbic (Serbia) 23,400,000
  8. Timothy Su (United States) 20,200,000
  9. Nick Marchington (United Kingdom) 20,100,000

Millions of dollars and poker glory is at stake beginning tonight at the Rio in Las Vegas. Each player at the final table is now a guaranteed millionaire. But the pressure is going to be on these soon-to-be wealthy men as they chase the dream of being crowned the 50th poker world champion and, of course, life-changing money.

Place Payout
1st $10,000,000
2nd $6,000,000
3rd $4,000,000
4th $3,000,000
5th $2,200,000
6th $1,850,000
7th $1,525,000
8th $1,250,000
9th $1,000,000

Check back at 7 pm PT for the start of our live blog, and stick around throughout the evening for exciting commentary on poker’s most important final table.

WSOP Main Event Final Table Live Blog Feed

(Please refresh your browser for new posts regularly throughout the Main Event final table coverage)

(11:05 pm PT) – Cai Out in 6th, That’s a Wrap for Tonight

After the final table started off with fireworks – two quick eliminations – play slowed throughout much of the rest of the night. But on the final hand of the day, Zhen Cai moved his short stack in with A-K and was off to the races against Kevin Maahs’ pocket nines. The board was of no help to Cai and he was eliminated in sixth place for $1,850,000.

So, that’s a wrap on Day One of the 2019 WSOP Main Event final table. We’ll have a recap of the evening’s action in the morning and then we’ll be back tomorrow night starting at 7 pm PT for some more live blogging.

(10:30 pm PT) – Livingston Mucks…Queens?

Alex Livingston just made one of the strangest lay downs I’ve seen in a while. He raised to 2.8 million with queens and was called by Dario Sammartino. Garry Gates, in the big blind, raised to over 13 million and Livingston folded.

Livingston started the hand with 50 million chips. It’s almost never the correct play to fold queens to a three-bet, in a tournament or a cash game. That might be the tightest fold I’ve ever seen. If the other players find out that he folded queens, they’ll know he can be easily bluffed. The quality of play at this final table hasn’t been great, to say the least. If you aren’t going to call a three-bet with queens, why even waste your time looking at your cards in the first place?

(10:24 pm PT) – Norman Chad Has a Point

“How did people know what they looked like before mirrors?” Norman Chad asked on the ESPN broadcast. You know what, the man has a point. I suppose they knew by the reaction of other people. If others looked and laughed at you funny, you obviously weren’t an attractive person. If they gawked at you, you must have been.

This has nothing to do with poker other than it’s nice to see the commentators spicing up this otherwise slow final table.

(10:18 pm PT) – Ensan Most Impressive Player

While I recently mentioned that the bluffing and great play was at a minimum, I’m very impressed with the quality of play from Ensan. He’s playing his big stack perfectly and just showed it again by three-betting with K-3 suited pre-flop. He got a fold and continues stacking chips, increasing his lead.

(10:06 pm PT) – Maahs Continues Wasting Everyone’s Time

Zhen Cai moved all-in on a bluff on a 6-5-2 board and habitual tanker Kevin Maahs contemplated his move with A-J. With no pair and no backdoor draws, Maahs had an easy decision to fold even though he actually had the best hand. The call would have been for most of Maahs’ chips so he would have been crazy to call.

Still, he tanked for a few minutes for no reason whatsoever, knowing full well he was going to fold. Another player at the table who said he had “heard reports of tanking” with weak hands from Maahs finally called the clock. Maahs mucked his cards a few seconds later. For the umpteenth time, tanking is not good for poker when the even is televised around the world.

(9:52 pm PT) – Light on Bluffs

Through the first three hours tonight, I’m a little disappointed in the lack of bluffs at the final table. Typically, you see a few nice bluffs by this point at the Main Event final table, but not this year. The players aren’t completely playing ABC Poker, but I wouldn’t exactly call this poker masterpiece theater either.

Perhaps, Nick Schulman was onto something when he said the Main Event is “soft.” Then again, is Nick Schulman ever wrong about anything poker-related?

(9:45 pm PT) – Personalities Lacking at Final Table

Maybe I’m just so jaded by last year’s exciting final table, but the personalities at the 2019 WSOP Main Event final table are, sadly, lacking. Give me Tony Miles, John Cynn, and Joe Cada. I could watch that final table any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Or, even better, throw in Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, and Tony G. It’s nothing personal against the nine players at the final table. I’m sure they’re all good dudes. But I just can’t imagine the casual poker fan is all that enthusiastic about what they’re watching tonight.

(9:37 pm PT) – Marchington Picks Wrong Time to Bluff, Out in 7th

Chip leader Hossein Ensan opened with pocket kings and then small stack Nick Marchington moved all-in with a suited A-7. Obviously, Ensan made the easy call and his hand held up.

Marchington is our seventh place finisher ($1,525,000). They’ll keep playing for a while more despite being down to the final six.

(9:35 pm PT) – Still Playing Deep

You don’t find many final tables where this deep in the event you have two players who are so deep-stacked. Gates and Ensan started with the top two stacks and still remain in that position, both with more than 120 big blinds. That means we can expect long days ahead.

(9:02 pm PT) – Break Time

We’re at the first break of the day so we’ll be back with more commentary here at CardsChat in about 20 minutes.

(8:57 pm PT) – Ensan is a Legit Poker Player

I had heard about how solid of a player Hossein Ensan was before the final table. And I’m seeing the proof of that today. He came in with a massive chip lead and is playing outstanding poker.

In a hand against Zhen Cai, one of the smaller stacks, he flopped top-two on a K-6-J board. In position, he bet about half pot and was called. The turn was the A and both players checked. A meaningless 2 on the river came and Cai led for 8.5 million, about 60 percent of the pot size. Ensan made the call and found out Cai had A-6 for a better two-pair. Most players double Cai up there, so mad props to Ensan for losing the minimum.

(8:39 pm PT) – Gates Quiet

Garry Gates is clearly the fan favorite, but his fans haven’t had much to cheer about even though he still has a big stack. Gates has been surprisingly quiet and has played tight thus far through the first 90 minutes at the final table. What I’ll be looking for most the remainder of today’s session and going forward is on Gates’ aggressiveness. The fans came to see him play, so let’s hope he becomes more aggressive and chooses to play more pots.

(8:19 pm PT) – Commentary Has Been Top-Notch

While I’m awaiting Maahs to make an obvious decision to fold (whew, he finally mucked his cards after tanking for what seemed like an hour), I wanted to give a shout out to Norman Chad, Lon McEachern, and Jamie Kerstetter. Nearly 90 minutes into this live broadcast and the commentators are on top of their game.

I know everyone loves Nick Schulman – I do too – but he isn’t the only talented poker announcer.

(8:03 pm PT) – I’m Not Only One Complaining About Maahs

ESPN announcers Norman Chad and Jamie Kerstetter share in my opinion that Maahs is destroying the broadcast with his habitual unnecessary tanking. And, no surprise, Maahs isn’t getting much love from Poker Twitter.

(7:56 pm PT) – Maahs Continues Weird Behavior

Maahs seems like a nice enough guy, so I hate bagging on him. But he has an unhealthy obsession with asking opponents for their stack size. And, perhaps a tell other players will pick up on, he seems to only do it when his hand is weak. Interesting.

(7:46 pm PT) – Maahs Slowing Down Action

Everyone at the table is playing fast except for Kevin Maahs and I’m not really sure why he’s slow to act. In situations where he has an obvious fold, he still pauses for 15 seconds and makes everyone wait for him to make his decision, which he already had decided before stalling.

Tanking during a televised event is bad for poker. If you have K-4 off-suit and you’re facing a pre-flop three-bet, quickly muck your hand. There’s no point in tanking in a situation such as that which we just saw from Maahs.

(7:42 pm PT) – Down to Seven

Timothy Su just moved in under-the-gun with pocket threes for 17 big blinds. That’s a pretty loose play given the massive pay jumps. It’s hard to believe these players don’t seem to be focused on moving up the pay ladder and it’s quite refreshing to see from a fan’s perspective.

Su got called by the chip leader – Ensan, who held A-J. A jack landed on the flop and Su was eliminated in eighth place ($1,250,000).

Every other player left has made at least an extra $500,000 since the start of the day in less than an hour of play. Not too shabby.

(7:35 pm PT) – Annoying Commercials

Look, I get it that ESPN has bills to pay. So, I’m not complaining so much about the excessive commercial breaks every few hands. But why not keep the action running while away on commercial break? If something major happens while at commercials, they can replay the hand for us when they get back. It sure would help shorten the day.

(7:25 pm PT) – Crowd on Gates’ Side

Early on here at the final table, it appears the crowd is a bit less rowdy than in year’s past. But there’s no question Garry Gates is the fan favorite and has the largest rail.

(7:13 pm PT) – Marchington Earns a Full Double-Up

Fireworks right off the bat here at the WSOP Main Event final table! Zhen Cai opens with an un-suited A-Q and then Nick Marchington shoves the smallest stack (19,600,000) with pocket tens. Maahs made the call and off to the races we went.

The board ran out 10-4-3-8-Q to give Marchington an early double-up.

(7:10 pm PT) – Sammartino Shoves All-In on Second Hand

Well, that didn’t take long. On just the second hand dealt, Milos Skrbic raised to 3 million with K-6 suited and Dario Sammartino then shoved all-in with pocket eights for around 33 million chips. Of course, Skrbic folded but kind of surprised to see an all-in shove so early with a small pocket pair given the massive pay jumps coming up.

(7:04 pm PT) –  Pre-Game Festivities

ESPN’s Main Event coverage is underway with Lon McEachern, Norman Chad, and Jamie Kerstetter providing some pre-game analysis. I love Jamie and think she does a phenomenal job in the booth but she seemed rather nervous being on camera at the beginning. No worries though, I know she’ll calm her nerves and settle in.

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