WSOP 2019 Main Event: Hossein Ensan is crowned World Champion; Dario Sammartino Runner-Up

Day 1A of this event now feels a very long time ago. It was in fact a full two weeks ago that this huge event got underway, before going on to become the second largest field in WSOP Main Event history at 8,569 entries. Last night, the journey came to an end with Hossein Ensan completing the greatest ambition of any professional poker player in front of a packed, vocal audience at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

Hossein Ensan Photo WSOP
Hossein Ensan – Photo WSOP

Final table draws to a close

With play having been paused with just five players remaining, the competitors returned for the penultimate session two days ago. Hossein Ensan was the man to catch, with Garry Gates looking like the only man who could hunt him down. Both players were over 100,000,000 chips ahead of the nearest challenger and the tournament appeared to be a two-horse race. Eventually, Kevin Maahs would bring the field down to four when his AT could not find help against Ensan’s 99. What followed through the rest of the day was nothing short of a drastic turnaround. Gates had been struggling and when trying to force his way back up the counts with a bluff, got looked up by Alex Livingston with a rivered top pair. Gates then continued to drift down the counts before finally getting his stack in with 66 only to Livingston waiting with QQ.

His elimination brought play to close with he and Maahs picking up $3,000,000 and $2,200,000 respectively.

The final fight

Last night, the surviving three players returned for one last session to determine the 2019 world champion. Ensan had a tight grip on proceedings with 326,800,000 (163BB) chips, with Alex Livingston following with 120,400,000 (60BB). Dario Sammartino came into the final day as the short stack with 67,600,000 (33BB). If Ensan was expecting an easy stroll to the title, he did not get his wish. From the outset, the gap began to close with Livingston getting very active and picking up pots. Over the following hours he narrowed the gap, with Sammartino also strengthening his position to climb back above 100,000,000. Soon after, a big pot helped Livingston close the gap between he and Ensan to just 27,000,000 and the title was looking increasingly like anyone’s to win.

The pressure continued over the following hour with Sammartino sliding and Livingston briefly seizing the chiplead before Ensan was able to rally and claim it once again. Then, a big pot between the smaller stacks flipped their counts around after Sammartino spiked two pair on the turn to crack Livingston’s kings. From that point, Livingston never recovered, sliding down the counts over the next two hours before finally busting with AJ vs Ensan’s AQ.

Ensan defeats Sammartino heads up

As Italian high stakes pro Sammartino sat down with German former EPT champion Hossein Ensan, surely the fans couldn’t have asked for a more interesting heads up duel. The global pull of the Main Event had already been underlined by the mixture of nationalities at the final table, and the final two survivors were arguably the most accomplished players out of the final nine. Ensan would quickly discover that once more, he was not going to get an easy ride despite carrying a slight chip lead into heads up, with 279,800,000 (116BB) to Sammartino’s 235,000 (98BB).

The final fight raged backwards and forwards for four hours before the fateful hand finally came. Ensan found pocket kings and Sammartino flopped a flush draw, deciding to launch into an aggressive semi-bluff when he turned a gutshot to go with it. He shoved all-in for 140,000,000 over the top of a 33,000,000 bet from Ensan, who quickly made the call. The river could not bring salvation for Sammartino, who rounded off his amazing run in the event with 2nd place finish worth $6,000,000.

For Ensan, the dream had become reality.

He had become poker world champion after a hard-fought final table against strong opposition and collected an enormous bracelet and equally sizeable prize of $10,000,000. Having posted his first recorded live cash in 2013, Ensan has come a long way very quickly. The Iranian born German pro has been a regular fixture on the EPT since, winning EPT Prague and picking up $2,673,206 in live cashes before this win. This Main Event win is remarkably, his first WSOP cash.

In the immediate aftermath of his victory, Ensan spoke to PokerNews and was quick to play down the role skill had played in his victory saying that

“In the final table you need cards, you need luck and good run. So, it’s not too much skill”.

He went on to praise the support of his rail saying:

“I have a lot of friends from everywhere…. I can only say thanks for supporting. Thanks for everything”.

Meanwhile, when asked by PokerNews about his victorious opponent, an admirably upbeat Sammartino said:

He’s a really good guy (Ensan) and I met him a long time ago, so we are friends. I really love him, so I’m really happy for him. He is the winner so, bravo”.

Here are the final table payouts:

1st – Hossein Ensan – $10,000,000
2nd – Dario Sammartino – $6,000,000
3rd – Alex Livingston – $4,000,000
4th – Garry Gates – $3,000,000
5th – Kevin Maahs – $2,200,000
6th – Zhen Cai – $1,850,000
7th – Nick Marchington – $1,525,000
8th – Timothy Su – $1,250,000
9th – Milos Skrbic – $1,000,000

Article by Craig Bradshaw