Hossein Ensan is the bookies’ favorite to become the second German to win the WSOP Main Event, after Pius Heinz in 2011. Ensan hold 75 percent of chips in play, going into tonight’s finale, but Canada’s Alex Livingston and Italy’s Dario Summartino will be seeking to redress the balance. (Image: Melissa Haereiti/WSOP.com)
Tonight, the three remaining players will become one, a new world champion will be crowned, and Ensan — as ever — is in control.
Last night, we lost local boy and fan favorite Garry Gates, previously second in chips, who appeared to be mounting a challenge to Ensan on Sunday night.
On Monday, as play began with five remaining, Gates looked like he was going for the win. The Henderson, Nevada native, who survived the October 1 Las Vegas shooting, came out of the blocks aggressively, piling pressure on the short stacks — and he wasn’t afraid to tangle with the chip-leader either, ignoring the advice of all those dog-eared books on tournament strategy.
But it didn’t seem to be Gates’ day. Whenever the 37-year-old ran a bluff, which was fairly frequently — he was picked off — on one occasion by Italy’s Dario Sammartino, who held just queen-high.
Gates lost a large portion of his stack to Canadian Alex Livingston, who now sits in second place and is looking to become the second Canadian World Champion, after Jonathan Duhamel in 2010.
And it was Livingston who ultimately finished Gates off.
Having bled his chips to a short stack, Gates moved all in with pocket sixes, only for Livingston to wake up with queens, knocking the American out in fourth.
‘So Much Love’
It was an emotional farewell from a likeable guy who had won spectators’ hearts. Gates was philosophical in defeat – after all, he had also won $3 million.
“On one hand, I’m a little disappointed, on the other hand, I’m a lucky guy. This has changed my life,” he told reporters afterwards.
I know I’ve said it meant everything to me, but it really, truly did,” he added, fighting back tears. “I just felt so much love from everyone. Every corner of the world. And I’ll never forget that.”
Earlier, the tournament had lost Chicago native Kevin Maahs, who won $2,200,000 for his fifth-place finish.
A final table of nine that began with four Americans now has precisely zero, as a German, a Canadian and an Italian will compete tonight for the $10 million first prize.
Sammartino, lying in third, is one of the world’s elite tournament players, a mainstay on the high-roller circuit with over $8 million in gross tournament winnings. Largely card dead on Monday, Sammartino has never really had the chips to show his flair at this final table.
Should he catch a break tonight, it could make things interesting, but with Ensan holding around 75 percent of chips in play, that break would have to be a big one.