Thirteen days after the first card was dealt in the 2019 World Series of Poker $10,000 no-limit hold’em main event, the massive field of 8,569 entries has been narrowed down to just three players. Hossein Ensan is the clear frontrunner, with his 326,800,000 representing nearly 64 percent of the total chips in play. Below is a look back at how day 9 of the WSOP played out.
The second night of final table action began with two clear frontrunners: Ensan and Garry Gates. The two largest stacks accounted for nearly 75 percent of the chips in play with five players remaining. Action resumed at 6:30 p.m. local time on Monday, July 15.
The first all-in and call of the day saw short stack Dario Sammartino double through Hossein Ensan, winning a preflop race with AJ against the pocket tens of Ensan. Sammartino was not the only player to chip up in the early going, as Kevin Maahs and Alex Livingston also grew their stacks. Meanwhile, Ensan was able to increase his lead. The only player whose stack dipped dramatically in the first few hours of play was Garry Gates, as he fell from his starting mark of 171,700,000 to well below 100 million.
After more than three hours of play, the first elimination of the night finally took place. Ensan raised to 4 million from the cutoff and Kevin Maahs moved all-in for 30,300,000. Ensan called with 99 and found himself racing against the A10 of Maahs. The board came down J53J4 and Ensan’s nines held to earn him the pot. Maahs was sent to the rail in fifth place. The 27-year-old Chicago native earned $2,200,000 for his impressive run in this event.
“I think the experience was almost worth more than the money. Earlier today I did the math: there have been 50 main events, so if you look at the top five from each of those years, that’s only like 250 people in the world that have ever made it this far. With a few repeats, less than 250 that have experienced this,” Maahs told Card Player after going out in fifth. “The experience is what I’m gonna take away. The money is nice, obviously, but the money isn’t why the best play… I think, I hope. The best play because they love the competition.”
In his post-elimination press conference, Maahs also addressed the internet backlash to his tanking with weak hands on the first night of final table action. Maahs drew the ire of some viewers for taking quite a while to fold J7 facing an open raise from Milos Skrbic and an all-in from Dario Sammartino. Maah’s even asked for a count before folding his hand.
“When you don’t show your hole cards, you get in your opponent’s heads when you tank that long. If they are going to get angry, then more power to me,” said Maahs. “I’m not going to get angry over anything at the table. I’m gonna be happy and play my game. If everyone’s gonna blow me up on Twitter and stuff, get angry at me and I’m going to be hated by everyone, that’s fine. I’m cool with it.”
Only eight hands after Maahs was sent to the rail, another all-in confrontation arose. Garry Gates was down to his last 29,200,000 after having recently had a bluff picked off by Dario Sammartino. It folded to Gates in the small blind and he moved all-in with 66. Alex Livingston looked down at QQ in the big blind and quickly called. The 7521010 runout was no help to Gates, and the 37-year-old poker industry veteran was eliminated in fourth place. The Henderson, Nevada resident took home a massive payday of $3,000,000.
“It was a whirlwind. You come into a final table with as many chips as I had, you expect a higher result, but at the same time, those are some world-class poker players and I don’t do this for a living. Just to get this far and to have as much love and support as I had along the way, I knew I had already won. On one hand, it’s a little disappointing, but on the other hand, I’m a lucky guy. This has changed my life,” said Gates.
Gates is an event manager and senior consultant for player affairs for online poker giant PokerStars. Gates’ co-worker at PokerStars, writer Howard Swains, asked him if he had any more thoughts on the ways that this incredible run might change his life, Gates responded with a laugh, “Yeah, Howard, I’m a millionaire now. My debt is gone, I can buy a house, I can buy a ring for my girlfriend, I can take care of my daughter. It’s amazing. My future is a whole heck of a lot brighter now.”
Gates grew emotional in his press conference when discussing the support he received during his run in the main event.
“I know I’ve already said that it meant everything to me, but it really truly did. I just felt so much love from everywhere, every corner of the world,” said Gates. “I’ll just never forget that.”
With Gates’ elimination, Livingston closed the gap ever so slightly on Ensan. Livingston bagged up 120,400,000 with blinds of 1,000,000-2,000,0000 with a big-blind ante of 2,000,000 when play resumes at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16. Ensan will enter the final three with the dominant lead over Livingston and Sammartino as the three return to battle it out for the 2019 WSOP main event championship bracelet and the top prize of $10,000,000.
Final Three Chip Counts:
Seat 1: Hossen Ensan – 326,800,000
Seat 2: Alex Livingston – 120,400,000
Seat 3: Dario Sammartino – 66,500,000
Final Table Eliminations:
9th: Milos Skrbic – $1,000,000
8th: Timothy Su – $1,250,000
7th: Nicholas Marchington – $1,525,000
6th: Zhen Cai – $1,850,000
5th: Kevin Maahs – $2,200,000
4th: Garry Gates – $3,000,000
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.