Day 10 completed
|Blinds||2,000,000 / 4,000,000|
Day 10 completed
His railbirds' shirts, black with conjoining colors of German and Iranian flags, called Hossein Ensan a "sure bet."
For most of the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event final table, he looked like just that. Ensan entered with a massive lead and only strengthened his grip on things over the course of the first two days, toting 63 percent of the chips into three-handed play.
It took him about nine hours and things got a little rocky at times, but Ensan closed the deal. He eliminated both Alex Livingston and then Dario Sammartino across a little under 200 hands of play, securing the historic bracelet for the 50th running of the WSOP, as well as $10 million and poker immortality as the next world champion.
He called the moment, the culmination of getting through a field of 8,569, "unbelievable."
"It is the best feeling I have in all my life," he said, grinning the smile that seems eternally etched on his features.
Final Result: 2019 WSOP Main Event
|4||Garry Gates||United States||$3,000,000|
|5||Kevin Maahs||United States||$2,200,000|
|6||Zhen Cai||United States||$1,850,000|
|7||Nick Marchington||United Kingdom||$1,525,000|
|8||Timothy Su||United States||$1,250,000|
Ensan said his plan for the tournament was just to bag up every day and get to the money. When he got a big stack starting on Day 4, he began to dream bigger and the cards kept cooperating.
Still, despite Ensan's stack and credentials that included numerous excellent results, including a European Poker Tour title and over $2.6 million in tournament cashes, many observers tabbed Sammartino as the man to beat at the final table.
Ensan had a chance to make short work of him and take an overwhelming lead against Livingston as the two Europeans flipped for Sammartino's stack early on the final day. The board ran out a straight for the Italian and it was game on with everyone having a very playable stack over 50 big blinds.
In what would be a theme throughout the final table, the railbirds for Sammartino went absolutely bananas. Fans of each player seemed determined to outdo the others, chanting louder and stomping harder, creating a raucous atmosphere that never really slowed down.
The slide continued for Ensan as he ceded the lead to Livingston for one hand before Sammartino doubled through the Canadian, turning two pair against pocket kings.
Sammartino and Ensan then traded the lead for a bit before Ensan woke up with ace-queen against Livingston, who shoved with ace-jack on the button.
Sammartino grabbed an early lead heads up when he hit a three-outer after calling a check-raise on the turn then got big value on a river bet with aces up against jacks up.
No longer did Ensan seem a sure bet. The Italian, widely considered the best player at the final table and certainly the most accomplished with millions in cashes against no-limit hold'em's most elite, had the chips and the chops. It seemed his title to lose.
His rail knew it too, as the chants only grew in force, drowning out Ensan's rail's responses.
"He's a super Dario! He's a super Dario! He's a super Dario!"
Ensan turned things around, though. Over the course of the next roughly 100 hands, he methodically reduced Sammartino to about 40 big blinds and a 2-to-1 deficit. Sammartino tried slowing the slide by limping some buttons, but the big pots all seemed to go Ensan's way.
"He's a big name and he's a very good player," Ensan said. "But, short-handed you need cards. You need hands and for sure luck. Luck and hands [were] on my side."
Finally, things ended in a hand eerily similar to Sammartino's double against Livingston. The Italian again check-raised all in on the turn and again was up against two kings. This time, however, he only had a combo draw and needed to improve on the river. A brick river fell and Sammartino had to console himself with $6 million and another close call in a marquee bracelet event — he previously finished third in the $100K High Roller for One Drop in 2017.
Ensan, meanwhile, drank it in. He raised the bejeweled bracelet to the heavens, kissed it, and spread his arms to soak in the adulation of his supporters. He said he'd have to go to sleep and wake up to make sure it wasn't a dream.
"I am so happy I am here with bracelet in hand," he said. "What can I say?"
While he may not have had much to say, his railbirds somehow still had voice.
"Ensan! Ensan! Hosseiiiin Ensan!"
This time, the chants rang alone in the quickly emptying Amazon Room as media filtered out to write their final words and production crews broke down the set. Nobody could respond. Ensan had all of the chips and the $10 million, and the next banner to drop from the ceiling at the WSOP will bear his face.
Photography by Jamie Thomson, Antonio Abrego & Joe Giron
Hand #301: Hossein Ensan raised to 11,000,000 on the button and Dario Sammartino came along out of the big blind.
The flop came and Sammartino check-called a bet of 15,000,000.
Both rails fell silent on the turn and Sammartino checked once more. Ensan now fired a second barrel of 33,000,000 and Sammartino pushed all in for 140,000,000 and Ensan snap-called.
The combo draw of Sammartino had plenty of outs to turn around the 2-1 chip deficit, however, the on the river was not what he was looking for. Sammartino's Main Event run came to an end in second place and missed out on the maiden bracelet but takes home $6,000,000 for his efforts.
Hand #300: Dario Sammartino limped in and Hossein Ensan checked. On the flop, Ensan checked and faced a bet of 4,000,000. Ensan made the call and checked again the turn, Sammartino then made it 13,000,000 to go. Ensan called and the river was checked down.
Ensan turned over the for a busted open-ended straight draw and eight-high, which still ended up winning the pot after a muck by Sammartino.
Hand #296: Dario Sammartino completed the small blind and Hossein Ensan checked. No money went in on the board until Ensan bet 4 million on the river and Sammartino called. Ensan had but his kicker didn't play against . Chop it up.
Hand #297: Ensan completed and Sammartino checked. On the flop, Ensan bet 4 million and Sammartino check-raised to 14 million. Ensan called and the turn was a . Sammartino slowed down with a check and Ensan bet 18 million. Sammartino raised again to 45 million and that got it done.
Hand #298: Sammartino completed and Ensan checked. Ensan check-folded to 4 million on a board of after both players checked the flop.
Hand #299: Ensan called and Sammartino checked. Sammartino check-folded to 4 million on the flop.
Hand #292: Dario Sammartino limped his button and Hossein Ensan checked his option.
They checked to the turn of a where Ensan bet 4,000,000. Sammartino called.
The river was the and both checked.
Sammartino showed , Ensan tabled and the chopped it up.
Hand #293: Dario Sammartino received a walk.
Hand #294: Dario Sammartino limped his button and Hossein Ensan checked his option.
The flop was and Ensan check-called 4,000,000 from Sammartino.
The turn was the , both checked, the river was the and Ensan bet 4,000,000. Sammartino raised to 22,000,000 and Ensan folded.
Hand #295: Hossein Ensan raised to 11,000,000 from the button and Dario Sammartino called from the big blind.
They checked to the turn of an board where Ensan bet 8,000,000. Sammartino folded.
Hand #287: Hossein Ensan raised to 10,000,000 and Dario Sammartino came along to see the flop. Sammartino's check was followed by a bet of 5,000,000 by Ensan and he raised to 17,000,000, which Ensan called. The came on the turn and Sammartino checked again, Ensan bet 23,000,000 and Sammartino folded.
Hand #288: Sammartino limped and Ensan checked to the flop, which was checked through. On the turn, Ensan checked and so did Sammartino. The appeared on the river and Ensan check-folded to a bet of 10,000,000.
Hand #289: Ensan limped the button and Sammartino checked. The flop brought and both checked to see the on the turn. Sammartino bet 6,000,000 and Ensan tossed in calling chips. On the river, Sammartino now opted to check and a bet of 8,000,000 by Ensan was called. No cards were shown as the pot was pushed to Sammartino.
Hand #290: Sammartino limped and Ensan raised to 19,000,000, which Sammartino called. On the flop, Ensan bet 12,000,000 and Sammartino sent his cards into the muck.
Hand #291: Ensan limped in and a raise to 16,000,000 by Sammartino instantly ended the hand.
Hand #283: Hossein Ensan raised to 8 million and Dario Sammartino called. They saw a board of for that price and checked to showdown. Sammartino won with for a flopped pair.
Hand #284: The two players saw a board of for the minimum and Ensan bet out 7 million and won.
Hand #285: Again, a slow pot developed as they saw for the minimum. Another free showdown saw of Sammartino take it, with Ensan tossing in the .
Hand #286: Sammartino completed and Ensan checked. Ensan checked the flop and called 4 million. They checked the and Ensan bet 6 million on the . Sammartino immediately folded.
Hand #279: Hossein Ensan raised to 8,000,000 from the button and Dario Sammartino called from the big blind.
They checked to the river of a board where Ensan bet 8,000,000. Sammartino folded.
Hand #280: Dario Sammartino limped his button and Hossein Ensan checked his option.
The flop was , Ensan checked Sammartino bet 4,000,000 and Ensan folded.
Hand #281: Hossein Ensan limped his button and Dario Sammartino checked his option.
The flop was and Sammartino check-called 4,000,000 from Ensan.
The turn was the and Sammartino check-called, 9,000 from Ensan.
The river was the and both checked.
Sammartino tabled for a pair of jacks, Ensan mucked and Sammartino collected the pot.
Hand #282: Dario Sammartino limped his button and Hossein Ensan checked his option.
They checked to the turn of a board where Ensan check-called called 6,000,000 from Sammartino.
The river was the and both checked.
Ensan showed for a king-high straight and won the pot.