<
>

Ensan holds lead as WSOP's final table cut to 3

LAS VEGAS -- Just as he did on the first and second days of the 2019 WSOP main event final table, Germany's Hossein Ensan will start the third and final day with a considerable chip lead and a significant advantage in the race for the $10 million first-place prize.

Despite losing an early all-in bet to Dario Sammartino, Ensan imposed his will early and often throughout the night on Monday. He knocked Kevin Maahs out in fifth place ($2.2 million) to clear 300 million chips; he'll start the final day of the tournament with 326.8 million of the 514.8 million total chips in play.

It was also a great day for Alex Livingston, who went from fourth out of five to solidly in second place heading into the final night with 120.4 million. After picking off pot after pot to steadily build, Livingston picked up pocket queens and bested Garry Gates' pocket sixes to knock Gates out of the tournament in fourth place ($3 million) to end the night.

"Between days and on the breaks and everything, it's very intense," Livinston said of his experience thus far. "So I'm trying to just shut out the rest of the noise. It's not always easy to do that. I've obviously never been in a situation like this. I feel almost as a professional athlete would feel. ... When I'm playing the tournament, I feel as confident as ever."

Sammartino rounds out the non-American trio of remaining players. He'll have the shortest stack, with 67.6 million chips, when play resumes Tuesday, but with more than $8 million in career tournament earnings, the pressure of the money in play is unlikely to faze him. For the moment, he was happy to still be in contention and enjoying the company of his boisterous group of supporters.

"I don't really want to think too much about tomorrow," Sammartino said after play ended. "I only want to enjoy the moment with my friends, take all of the evening, and tomorrow when I am there I will focus on that."

While it was a seemingly disappointing outcome for Gates, who started the day comfortably ahead of everyone in the standings outside of Ensan, there was no sign of frustration or anger in the moments after Gates saw his WSOP main event run come to an end.

"I don't think it went wrong at all, honestly. Fourth place in the World Series main event? You gotta be kidding me," Gates told ESPN's Kara Scott shortly after his elimination. "That's a dream. Obviously, you hope it goes different, but I knew coming into today that whatever happened, this is the time of my life. I'm blessed. I've got the best crew in the world. This was awesome.

"It means everything," Gates continued, choking back tears as he thanked everyone who had supported him during his run. "They came from far and wide. I felt the love. I want to honestly say thank you to everybody around the world. I felt so loved this week, and that meant everything. We won, though, guys. We won."

Play will resume at 5:30 p.m. PT Tuesday at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino, with the broadcast on ESPN kicking off 30 minutes later. Ensan, Livingston and Sammartino are guaranteed a payday of at least $4 million, with the champion set to win $10 million and a diamond-encrusted bracelet for their triumph.

Chip counts after Day 8 of the WSOP main event

1. Hossein Ensan (Germany) - 326.8 million

2. Alex Livingston (Canada) - 120.4 million

3. Dario Sammartino (Italy) - 67.6 million