Hossein Ensan wins the $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event, after a final day that saw all three of the finalists each hold the chip lead at various points.
Luck is the reason the bullet lodges between your ribs, never piercing your heart. Luck is the reason you dodge crappy noodles on Ramen Street. Luck is the reason your baby is born with two arms. Luck is the reason you get the promotion. Luck is the reason the world doesn’t call you names. Luck is the reason Hossein Ensan became the World Champion.
You’re never going to defeat 8,569 people in a poker tournament on skill and experience alone. Both attributes are wholly necessary, but they’re barbecue sauce; luck is the prime rib.
Hossein Ensan, a skilful and highly experienced player in his own right, picked up the chip lead at the end of Day 7, and it was Ensan who ended with it on Day 8, Day 9, and Day 10. Had there been a Day 11, he would have also had it.
The Iranian-born, 55-year-old, held 64% of the chips in play when three-handed action began on the final day. Throughout the next nine hours and 200 hands, he would lose it, win it back, lose it, and win it back against both Dario Sammartino and Alex Livingston.
Coming into that threesome, Sammartino was the most talented player left in the field. Media chalkboards around the world said that if Sammartino gathered some chips, he would be the man to beat—that’s not how three-handed poker goes.
Speaking to Sarah Herring after his incredible win, Ensan said in broken English:
“You need cards, luck and a good run—not too much skill.”
Let’s take a look at the cards, luck and good run that saw Ensan win the second biggest Main Event in history, and with it, the $10m first prize.
Starting chip counts
1. Hossein Ensan – 326,800,000
2. Alex Livingston – 120,400,000
3. Dario Sammartino – 67,600,000
Dario Sammartino doubles up.
With blinds at 1m/2m/2m, Hossein Ensan opened to 4m from the button and then called when Dario Sammartino moved all-in for 50.1m. It was a race with Ensan’s pocket sixes ahead of the AsJs of the Italian. The flop of 9d9h8s was perfect for Ensan, but the Tc on the turn gave Sammartino a straight draw to go with his ace and jack outs. The river was the Qs, completing the straight, and Sammartino dived into his rail to celebrate.
Ensan – 282,200,000
Livingstone – 124,400,000
Sammartino – 104,200,000
Livingston closes the gap on Ensan
After Sammartino’s double-up, Alex Livingston won consecutive pots to close the gap between him and Ensan to a mere 13 big blinds. The biggest pot saw Livingston limp from the small blind, and Ensan check his option in the large. The flop was Kc9h6s, and Ensan called a 7.5m check-raise after initially betting 2m. The Qd arrived on the fourth street, Livingston bet 13.5m, Ensan clicked-it back for 27m, and then folded when Livingston moved all-in for 100m.
Livingston takes the chip lead
After days of total domination, Ensan slipped down to the second highest rung of the ladder after Livingston became the most active player at the table, winning a series of decent-sized goosebump producing pots.
Livingston – 233,200,000
Ensan – 231,400,000
Sammartino – 50,200,000
Sammartino doubles again, moves into second spot.
Livingston’s reign as the chip leader didn’t last long. Sammartino took a chunk of Livingston’s chips to gift the lead back to Ensan, and then this happened.
With blinds at 1.2m/2.4m/2.4m, Livingston opened to 5.5m on the button, and Sammartino called in the big blind. The flop was the Qc6h4h, and Sammartino check-called a 5m Livingston bet. The Tc hit the turn, Sammartino checked, Livingston bet 23m, Sammartino moved all-in for 79m, and Livingston made the quick call. Livington tabled pocket kings for the overpair, and Sammartino was ahead with Ts6d for the two-pair hand. The Jc landed on the river, and Sammartino moved into second place.
Ensan – 213,000,000
Sammartino – 191,800,000
Livingston – 110,000,000
Sammartino takes the chip lead.
With blinds at 1.2m/2.4m/2.4m, Sammartino limped from the small blind, and Livingston checked from the big blind. The KcTh7s flop brought out a 2.4m Sammartino bet, and Livingston called. The 3c on the turn saw Sammartino check, Livingston made it 8.5m and then folded after Sammartino made it 29m.
Sammartino – 228,200,000
Ensan – 220,000,000
Livingston – 66,600,000
Alex Livingston eliminated in 3rd place.
With blinds at 1.2m/2.4m/2.4m, Livingston moved all-in for 41.1m on the button, and Ensan called from the small blind. The situation was woeful for Livingston whose AcJd trailed the dominating figure of AsQd. A jack did appear on the flop, but so did the queen, and the 2s and 9d turn and river changed nothing—Livingston was out.
Ensan – 279,800,000
Sammartino – 235,000,000
Sammartino took an early lead in the following hand:
With blinds at 1.2/2.4m/2.4m, Sammartino opened to 6m, and Ensan called. The pair saw a Jh7d3d flop and both players checked. The turn was the 9s, and Sammartino bet 8m, Ensan raised to 30m, and Sammartino called. The final card was the Ac, Ensan checked, Sammartino bet 55m and Ensan called. Sammartino showed Ah9d for the two-pair hand, and Ensan tabled Jc9c for the inferior two-pair hand.
Sammartino – 329,600,000
Ensan – 185,200,000
The chip lead exchanged hands several times before Ensan put his foot down.
With blinds at 1.5m/3m/3m, both players checked to the turn on an AcQhJh9d unraised pot before Ensan called a 7.5m Sammartino bet. The 5s fell on the river, and Sammartino bet 15m, Ensan raised to 45m, and Sammartino folded.
Ensan – 316,000,000
Sammartino – 199,000,000
Then after a prolonged period of play that saw Ensan create a 2:1 chip lead, this happened:
With blinds at 2m/4m/4m, Ensan opened to 11m, and Sammartino made the call. The final flop of the competition was Ts6s2d, and Sammartino check-called a 15m bet. The 9c hit the turn. Sammartino checked for the second time, Ensan bet 33m, Sammartino moved all-in for 140m, and Ensan called.
Sammartino tabled 8s4s for all the draws in the world, and Ensan showed pocket kings for the overpair. The Qc landed on the river completely missing the Italian’s hand, declaring Ensan, the winner.
How did THE man feel about winning the WSOP Main Event?
“I am happy,” said Ensan. “I am now the world champion, and that’s it.”
1. Hossein Ensan – $10m
2. Dario Sammartino – $6m
3. Alex Livingston – $4m
4. Garry Gates – $3m
5. Kevin Maahs – $2.2m
6. Zhen Cai – $1.85m
7. Nick Marchington – $1.525m
8. Timothy Su – $1.25m
9. Milos Skrbic – $1m