June 26, 2019 (Las Vegas) - Kainalu McCue-Unciano is the winner of the World Series of Poker 2019 Monster Stack. The $1,500 Monster Stack drew 6,035 entries and a prizepool of $8,147,250. McCue-Unciano topped the field and took home the $1,008,850 first prize along with his first WSOP gold bracelet.
McCue-Unciano says he’s going to celebrate at Disneyland. He was already planning a trip to Disneyland, but now says it will be a little more fun.
In the moments after his win, McCue-Unciano seemed overwhelmed as reality set in. McCue-Unciano is the third player from Hawaii to win a WSOP bracelet and it seemed to mean a lot to him. He also moved up to second on the Hawaii all-time money list. When asked about it he took a moment.
“Everyday I told myself that I would do it. It’s just an unreal feeling. It’s kicking in slowly, it’s crazy. It’s a crazy feeling,” he said.
Before today, his biggest score was $75,930. He was playing heads up for about $400,000, the difference between first and second in the Monster Stack. His total career earnings before today were only $498,632.
“This is the biggest final table I’ve ever been at. I tried not to focus on the money, I just tried to play the best that I could. I just kept fighting. Luck was on my side today.”
He entered heads up play as a large chip leader, but actually fell behind Vincent Chauve at one point and then needed to double up. He regained control and eventually finished Chauve off, sending him home in second place with $623,211 as a consolation prize.
“Definitely a roller coaster of emotions. I thought the match was going to be over when I held with ace-king. He battled back to chip lead and it was tough, he was a very tough opponent. I just got there on him when I needed it,” he said.
With this win booked and his “biggest” final table in the books, McCue-Unciano is looking forward to the next, even bigger challenge.
“We’re gonna be doing the big ones soon, coming for the other bracelets.”
He credited his rail and support system for their help as he battled through the five day tournament. He especially singled out his girlfriend who made sure that he ate and was able to focus on the tournament.
“I got the best support behind me. My girlfriend, she’s always there when I need her. She’s a big help. I didn’t eat anything one of the days and the other days she brought me food. She helped me keep my mental game and focus there.”
The players returned today with six remaining and Igor Yaroshevskyy was the first to hit the rail, winning $195,687. His king-high couldn’t catch up to the ace-high of McCue-Unciano. McCue-Unciano held the chip lead after that hand with five remaining.
Then it was Benjamin Ector falling in fifth place. He got a pocket pair all in against the chip leader McCue-Unciano, but fell to a flush and took home $258,516.
Bart Hanson made his 43rd WSOP cash and his best-ever finish when he was eliminated in fourth place. He won $344,079 at his fifth WSOP final table, bringing his WSOP tournament winnings to $913,975. He fell to Gregory Katayama, who entered three-handed play just behind McCue-Unciano with Chauve well behind in third place with only 18 big blinds.
During three-handed play, the two big stacks battled each other and McCue-Unciano won a huge pot to leave both his opponents with fewer than 20 big blinds. McCue-Unciano was a massive leader with a five-to-one chip lead over both his remaining opponents.
Katayama was eliminated in third place. He took home $461,369 after being eliminated by McCue-Unciano. Chauve was sitting with roughly 18 big blinds and facing an uphill battle heads up.
Chauve found a double up early in heads up play, but was still sitting with only 30 big blinds. This was Chauve’s first WSOP final table and his first-ever WSOP cash. This was actually his first-ever cash in the United States, with a large majority of his $155,024 in tournament winnings coming in Asia.
McCue-Unciano was also at his first final table. He now has eight WSOP cashes and his best-ever finish at a WSOP event. His previous best was 16th in the $1,500 6-Max earlier this summer.
The heads up lead shifted several times and each player had a chance to be all-in and at risk, but doubled up. Eventually, Chauve got it in ahead but McCue-Unciano turned a full house to send him to the rail in second place and claim his first WSOP bracelet.
Final table payouts: (Click here for a list of the full results)
1) Kainalu McCue-Unciano ($1,008,850)
2) Vincent Chauve ($623,211)
3) Gregory Katayama ($461,369)
4) Bart Hanson ($344,079)
5) Benjamin Ector ($258,516)
6) Igor Yaroshevskyy ($195,687)
7) Bryan Kim ($149,247)
8) Andre Haneberg ($114,694)
9) Javier Zarco ($88,817)