There was a day off in between the end of Day 7 and the start of Day 8 of the World Series of Poker main event, but Sunday’s play picked up right where Friday left off. With Hossein Ensan continuing his dominance.
The final table went from a full table of nine players down to five with Ensan knocking out two of the four players. He finished the day with 207.7 million chips, about 40 percent of the chips in play. The German pro knocked out Timothy Su in eighth and Nicholas Marchington in seventh.
Garry Gates, who started and finished the day second in chips, scored the first knockout of the day, eliminating Milos Skrbic in ninth. Gates bagged up 171.7 million after finishing nearly two levels of play. Zhen Cai was eliminated on the final hand of the day when he lost a flip to Kevin Maahs all in preflop with A-K against Maahs’ pocket nines. Maahs will enter Day 9 third in chips with 66.5 million.
Both Gates and Ensan have more than the bottom three stacks combined. Between the two, they have 73 percent of the chips in play. In the short term, Gates and Ensan have an incentive to stay out of each other’s way. In the bigger picture, Gates knows a clash between the two biggest stacks is on the horizon.
“At some stage, we are going to get involved in some pots,” said Gates after bagging. “But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I don’t think it’s something I need to think about right now. I’ve been picking my spots well and I feel like I’m playing some of the best poker I’ve played.”
On just the sixth hand of the final table, Skrbic got all in for his last 18 big blinds out of the big blind against Gates in the small blind. Gates tabled A-Q and was in the lead against Skrbic’s A-J. Skrbic flopped a gutshot straight draw, but it never developed and he was the first player out, taking home $1 million.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Skrbic following his elimination from the main event. “I’m still in shock. It was fun, for sure. Somehow I’m happy with every decision I made in the whole tournament, except maybe a couple in the first two levels.”
Skrbic told reporters after the tournament that it was the first time he was all in for his tournament life. Earlier in the tournament, he said that he was playing to win. Even with a seven-figure payout, he’s not happy leaving Las Vegas without a main event bracelet.
“It still hasn’t gotten to me,” he said. “I’m not really sure. I’m very sad.”
Su took a completely different mindset into the final table. He busted when he was all in preflop with pocket threes against Skrbic’s A-J, but he isn’t disappointed in the slightest. He left Las Vegas with a smile on his face and $1.25 million richer.
“I think it was phenomenal,” said Su of his main event run. “As I said and have been saying for the for the whole tournament ‘I have no expectations.’ Just making a min-cash would be awesome. Yet somehow, I was able to spin it up. I chip led Day 2AB, Day 6 going into 7, and even throughout Day 7, I had one-fifth of the chips in play at one point. But there are some very good players out there and they played well.”
Marchington’s seventh-place finish ended the 21-year-old’s hope of becoming the youngest champion in main event history. Marchington three-bet all in with A-7 against Ensan, who called with pocket kings. Marchington turned an open-ended straight draw, but bricked everything and netted $1.525 million for his finish.
Marchington, like Su, just enjoyed his main event journey.
“I felt really happy the whole way,” he said. “I really enjoyed the final table. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t’ really feel too much pressure. Maybe I’m the youngest-ever seventh-place finisher.”
As the tournament got deeper, it was clear that Marchington was one of the more aggressive players in the field. Outside of one play, he stands by his decisions.
“There was one particular big blast off with 10-2 suited,” said Marchington about a bluff he tried to run on Ensan early in Day 7. “I think that particular hand was too aggressive, but I don’t regret my mindset going in. People were playing quite money scared and I was trying to win the tournament. I wasn’t trying to play for ninth. I was going for the $10 million. It didn’t work out this time.”
High-stakes Italian pro Dario Sammartino and Alex Livingston also survived the day. They will be the two shortest stacks when Day 9 kicks off on Monday. Play is scheduled to resume at 6:30 p.m. and there are about 25 minutes remaining in the current level with blinds of 600,000-1,200,000 with a 1,200,000 big blind ante. Everybody is guaranteed a cash of at least $2.2 million.
The two or three players, depending on the pace of play, that survive Day 9 will return on Tuesday to play down to a winner.
Day 8 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
Remaining Chip Counts:
Seat 1: Hossen Ensan – 207,700,000
Seat 2: Dario Sammartino – 23,100,000
Seat 3: Kevin Maahs – 66,500,000
Seat 4: Garry Gates – 171,700,000
Seat 5: Alex Livingston – 45,800,000
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.