There’s no question that Hossein Ensan is a deserving World Series of Poker main event champion, and his victory didn’t exactly come out of left field. The German poker pro has been a consistent force on the European Poker Tour for years, and he had already won more than $2.3 million before his run in Las Vegas.
Perhaps the only real surprising thing about the 2019 $10 million prize winner, is his age. Ensan, is 55, which while barely senior eligible, is practically ancient when it comes to WSOP recent main event winners.
The average age for participants this year was 41.46, although the most represented group continued to be players between the ages of 31 and 35. A total of 1,896 players out the 8,569-player field (22 percent) were over the age of 50, but the demographic hasn’t been in the winner’s circle since 62-year-old Irish poker pro Noel Furlong won the 1999 main event.
Just after the start of the poker boom, it became clear that poker, at least when it came to the main event, was a young man’s game. The first decade of the summer series was dominated by men in their 40s (and three-time champion Johnny Moss in his 60s!) In fact, the only standout from that time was Bobby Baldwin, who was practically a child compared to his fellow competitors when he won it all at age 28.
After Baldwin came Stu Ungar, who won his titles at ages 26, 27, and 43. The tournament then went back to someone in their 50s, with Jack ‘Treetop’ Strauss’ victory in 1982. Johnny Chan helped bring some youth into the game with his back-to-back titles in his early 30s, and Phil Hellmuth was just 24 when he won it all in 1989. It wouldn’t be until 1996, however, that another player in his 20s would win the main event.
Chris Moneymaker was just 28 when he sparked the poker boom with his main event run in 2003. Although the next four champions were all between the ages of 37 and 40, with the main event becoming a longer marathon tournament, a premium was put on endurance. Peter Eastgate started the trend in 2008 as a 22-year-old, and his record lasted just a year before Joe Cada won it at 21. Those two wins sparked a ten-year stretch where nine players in their 20s claimed the title.
To read more about the 2019 summer series, visit the WSOP landing page.