17 July 2019 (Las Vegas) - Poker has a new World Champion! Hossein Ensan won the Main Event of the 2019 World Series of Poker late Tuesday night, earning $10,000,000 and poker’s most prestigious prize: the WSOP Main Event bracelet.
"This is the best feeling in my life," Ensan said after the event with a huge smile. "Unbelievable! I am so happy I’m here with the bracelet in hand. What can I say?"
Ensan is the second German champion in WSOP history (the first was Pius Heinz, who won the 2011 Main Event). He is also the third Iranian born Main Event winner. after Monsour Matloubi (1990) and Hamid Dastmalchi (1992).
The 55-year old Ensan is the oldest player to win the Main Event in 20 years. Noel Furlong was 61 years old when he won in 1999.
Ensan had a substantial chip lead when the final table began Sunday evening, and he nearly went wire-to-wire. He eventually relinquished the lead Tuesday night, but reclaimed it and eventually took the last of his opponents’ chips to secure his place in poker’s history books.
Ensan had to face off against Italian pro Dario Sammartino heads up. When heads-up play began, Ensan had a slight chip lead. Sammartino quickly pulled ahead, but Ensan clawed his way back after about an hour. From then on, he never relinquished the lead. Heads-up play lasted 101 hands and took a little more than four hours, and at about 1:23 a.m., Sammartino was eliminated in second place. He earns $6,000,000 for his runner-up finish.
"Dario is a friend of mine," Ensan said later. "He’s a very good player. But short-handed you need cards. You need hands, and for sure luck. And luck and hands were on my side. Otherwise, I’d be runner up."
In the climactic hand, Ensan held pocket kings, and the players got all in on the turn when Sammartino had a flush draw and an inside-straight draw. The river was a blank. Ensan won the hand with his pocket kings and officially became the WSOP Main Event champion.
Tuesday night was the culmination of a wild WSOP Main Event - legends of the game were on the verge of repeating history, the building literally shook, and the a near-historic field competed for an 8-figure payday.
This was the second-largest Main Event of all time, with 8,569 players. (The all-time record is 8,773 in 2006.) The massive field created a prize pool worth $80,548,600, and the eventual winner would earn $10,000,000.
Players knew this wouldn't be any ordinary Main Event as early as Day 1C. An earthquake in neighboring California was so powerful it could be felt in Las Vegas. The Rio trembled for a few moments, and play was paused while casino staff verified the tournament rooms were safe. The moment was just an inkling of things to come.
Fans of the game were glued to ESPN and online updates as some of the games most familiar faces threatened to make history once again. Johnny Chan - the last player to win the Main Event in back-to-back years and, thanks to Rounders fame, one of the world's most famous players - was still alive when the bubble burst and looked poised to make a deep run. At the time, he was 392nd in chips, out of 1,286 remaining players. And a more recent poker mainstay, Chris Moneymaker, was in even better position (222nd). However, it was not to be for either of them, and they were both eliminated the next day. Another recent Main Event champion, Qui Nguyen, outlasted them both, but was eliminated the same day as Chan and Moneymaker.
2005 champ Joe Hachem didn't run nearly as deep, but his son Daniel outlasted all the former Main Event winners by finishing 79th for ($98,120).
And perhaps the biggest potential story revolved around a different sort of champion. Three-time Super Bowl winner Richard Seymour was eliminated late on Day 5, finishing in 131st place ($59,295).
The third-place finisher was Alex Livingston, of Canada ($4,000,000). This is the second time in WSOP history the final three Main Event finishers were all from outside the U.S. The first was in 2014, when Martin Jacobson (Sweden) outlasted Felix Stephensen (Norway) and Jorryt van Hoof (Netherlands).
Dario Sammartino started the final night as with the shortest stack (67,600,000 in chips), and his movement up and down the leaderboard was the story of the early part of the night. He won the first two hands Tuesday evening, and he won them both by picking off bluffs on the river. Those two hands added roughly 50% to his stack, and suddenly he 98 million in chips, just slightly behind Livingston. That started a roller coaster of a first hour for the Italian pro.
- A few hands later, Sammartino gave a little back when he made two pair, but Livingston made a better two pair: 72 million.
- Three hands later, he lost a hand to Hossein Ensan: 50 million.
- The next hand, Ensan raised to four million, and Sammartino reraised all-in for his 50 million. Ensan called with pocket sixes, and Sammartino held ace-jack. The board ran out , and Sammartino made a straight to stay alive and double up: 104 million.
- Three hands later, Sammartino won a pre-flop raising war against Livingston: 121 million. This hand moved him into second place, ahead of Livingston.
Sammartino didn't stay in second place for long, though. Livingston won a couple hands against Ensan to pull back into second place and within striking distance of the leader. At this point Livingston had 188 million and Ensan had fallen to about 215 million.
For about 45 minutes, chips moved back and forth a bit, but no one gained or lost significant ground. Then in the span of a few small hands, Sammartino fell back down to 75 million. Then 40 minutes later, he lost a big hand against Livingston when Livingston rivered a straight. That hand brought Sammartino down to 50 million, and also put Livingston in the lead, just barely ahead of Ensan.
Sammartino's roller coaster ride wasn't over though, and he quickly fought his way back to about 90 million. Then he got involved in another big pot against Livingston. Sammartino held and Livingston held . Sammartino flopped a six, and the turn was a ten to give him two pair. At that point, the players got into a raising war and got all in. Sammartino's two pair held up, and he doubled through Livingston. Sammartino now held 182 million, his high point in the tournament, and was close to Ensan's 218 million. Livingston was now in third with 114 million.
Half an hour later, Sammartino had taken over the lead and Livingston had fallen to about 41 million. Livingston then made a stand with ace-jack, and he ran into Ensan's ace-queen. Ensan's hand held up, and Livingston became the first casualty on the final night. He finished in third place, earning $4,000,000.
The tournament started on Wednesday, July 3rd. There were starting flights on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th, and two Day 2s on the 6th and 7th. The full remaining field combined on Day 3 on July 8 and played down to the final 9 on Day 7(July 12). After a day off on Saturday, the official final table started Sunday evening. Hossein Ensan held the lead at that point, and maintained the lead throughout play on Sunday and Monday. Four players were eliminated Sunday night, and another two on Monday, leaving Sammartino, Ensan, and Livingston to battle it out for the Main Event bracelet on Tuesday.
Live Updates from the event
Photos from the event
Here are the final table results:
1st place – Hossein Ensan – $10,000,000
2nd place – Sario Sammartino – $6,000,000
3rd place – Alex Livingston – $4,000,000
4th place – Garry Gates – $3,000,000
5th place – Kevin Maahs – $2,200,000
6th place – Zhen Cai – $1,850,000
7th place – Nick Marchington – $1,525,000
8th place – Timothy Su – $1,250,000
9th place – Milos Skrbic – $1,000,000