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Kainalu McCue-Unciano Wins the 2019 WSOP Monster Stack

The 25-Year-Old Poker Pro Overcame A Field of 6,035 Entries To Win His First Bracelet and $1,008,850


Kainalu McCue-Unciano is the latest player to secure a seven-figure payday at the 2019 World Series of Poker. The 25-year-old Hawaiin-born poker pro outlasted a field of 6,035 entries to take down this year’s $1,500 buy-in ‘Monster Stack’ no-limit hold’em event, earning his first gold bracelet and the top prize of $1,008,850.

“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,” said McCue-Unciano after coming out on top. “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.”

Prior to this million-dollar score, McCue-Unciano’s biggest cash was for $75,930 in a Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza event. In addition to the massive prize money and the bracelet, McCue-Unciano also earned 1,320 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. This was his second POY-qualified final-table finish of the year, having won a $600 buy-in event at the Wynn in March. He now sits in 51st place in the 2019 POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker.

McCue-Unciano came into the final day in second chip position with six players remaining. The outright leader, Benjamin Ector, get his day off on the wrong foot. In the very first hand of play Ector tried to run a monster three-barrel bluff with 4Diamond Suit3Spade Suit on a QDiamond Suit10Heart Suit2Spade Suit6Diamond SuitKHeart Suit runout. Unfortunately for him, his lone opponent Gregory Katayama had called the flop with 6Heart Suit6Club Suit and hit a set on the turn. Katayama called all-in when Ector shoved the river and won the massive pot worth over 110 million. With that, Katayama surged into the lead while Ector fell to the second shortest stack.

Ukrainian poker pro Igor Yaroshevskyy came into the final table with just 14 big blinds. He got his last chips in with KHeart Suit4Heart Suit and McCue-Unciano called out of the small blind holding ASpade Suit3Club Suit. Neither player improved and McCue-Unciano’s ace high was enough to send Yaroshevskyy to the rail in sixth place ($195,687).

Bart HansonMcCue-Unciano scored his second knockout of the final table by finishing of Ector. Less than an hour and a half after he started the day as the outright leader, Ector was all-in with 7Heart Suit7Diamond Suit and racing against JDiamond Suit8Diamond Suit. McCue-Unciano hit a flush on the turn to leave Ector drawing dead. He was awarded $258,516 as the fifth-place finisher.

Poker pro and training site owner Bart Hanson was the next to fall when his 12 big-blind shove with ADiamond Suit6Spade Suit was called by the AClub SuitJSpade Suit of Katayama. Hanson picked up a straight draw on the turn, but in the end both players paired their aces on the river and Hanson’s inferior kicker meant he was eliminated in fourth place. Hanson earned $344,079 for his deep run, the largest score of his career.

McCue-Unciano surged into a massive lead during three-handed play after hitting a gutshot to win the bigges pot of the event to that point. Katayama raised to 4 million from the button with pocket tens and McCue-Unciano called from the big blind with 4Diamond Suit3Spade Suit. The flop came down 9Diamond Suit6Spade Suit2Heart Suit and McCue-Unciano checked. Katayama bet 4 million and McCue-Unciano check-raised to 9.5 million. Katayama called and the 10Club Suit hit the turn to give Katayama a set. McCue-Unciano bet 12.5 million. Katayama called and the river brought the 5Spade Suit, completing McCue-Unciano’s gutshot straight draw. He fired 60 million and Katayama called, only to muck when he was shown the straight.

Vincent ChauveWith that McCue-Unciano soared to 229 million, while Katayama and Chauve sat with 39.6 million and 26.6 million each. Chauve chipped up enough to have Katayama covered before the two got involved in an all-in clash. Katayama shoved his last five or so big blind with JClub Suit4Diamond Suit from the small blind and Chauve called holding QHeart SuitJHeart Suit. Chauve made two pair, sending Katayama home in third place ($461,369).

McCue-Unciano took nearly an 8-to-1 chip advantage into heads-up play. Despite that, Chauve was able to fight his way back into the lead eventually. After a few more lead changes, McCue-Unciano was able to regain control. By the time the final hand was dealt, he once again held a formidable advantage. McCue-Unciano shoved from the button for Chauve’s last eight big blinds holding KClub Suit6Club Suit. Chauve called with 10Diamond Suit10Club Suit. The board ran out KHeart SuitJDiamond Suit6Diamond SuitKDiamond Suit9Spade Suit to secure the pot and the title for McCue-Unciano. Chauve took home $623,211 as the runner-up.

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Payout POY Points
1 Kainalu McCue-Unciano $1,008,850 1320
2 Vincent Chauve $623,211 1100
3 Gregory Katayama $461,369 880
4 Bart Hanson $344,079 660
5 Benjamin Ector $258,516 550
6 Igor Yaroshevskyy $195,687 440
7 Bryan Kim $149,247 330
8 Andre Haneberg $114,694 220
9 Javier Zarco $88,817 110

For more coverage from the summer series, check out the 2019 WSOP landing page, complete with a full schedule, results, news, player interviews, and event recaps.