This year’s World Series of Poker Main Event was comprised of a field of 8,569 players, the second largest field in the tournament’s history. That field included many of the world’s best poker players and plenty of amateur players as well. It even included former New England Patriot Richard Seymour, who made a deep run before being eliminated in 131st place.
But once all was said and done, only one man remained; 55-year-old German pro Hossein Ensan. For outlasting 8,568 opponents, Ensan received a championship bracelet worth around $500,000 and a cash prize of $10 million. Here’s a look at his path to history.
Ensan’s path to the 2019 WSOP Main Event
Born in Iran back in 1964, Hossein Ensan eventually moved to Germany when he was 25 years old and has taken up residence there ever since.
While he claims to have been playing poker since he was 18, Ensan broke onto the scene with his first documented poker tournament cash in 2013. That cash would be the first of many as Ensan would go on to rack up 36 tournament cashes (including seven tournament wins) from 2013 through 2018 for a total of over $2.6 million in lifetime earnings.
Before the WSOP Main Event this month, Hossein Ensan had only one cash result in 2019. He picked up his second cash of the year in the most impressive way imaginable; by becoming the world champion.
Entering a field of 8,569 players
The World Series of Poker Main Event costs $10,000 to enter. Each entrant starts the tournament with 60,000 chips. The grueling event stretches out over 10 days of play with the final table being played over the final three days of that stretch.
Hossein Ensan had a great start to the tournament, ending his first day of action with 180,000 chips. After slowly building his stack to 209,000 at the end of Day 2 and 336,000 at the end of Day 3, it was Day 4 that this dream run began to materialize.
Ensan shot up to 3,250,000 in chips by the end of Day 4 and up to 7,100,000 by the end of Day 5. He finished up Day 6 with the second biggest stack out of the remaining 35 players with 34,500,00, and by the end of Day 7 the final table was set with Hossein Ensan as the overwhelming chip leader with 177,000,000 chips.
The final table
The atmosphere at the final table was electric, especially when the event got down to heads up against Italian pro Dario Sammartino. Both players had loud supporting rails that made the head-to-head showdown sound more like a Germany vs. Italy soccer match than a poker tournament.
On the 100th hand of heads up play, Ensan was dealt pocket kings. Sammartino had two spades in his hand and flopped a flush draw. When Sammartino went all-in on the turn with his draw, Hossein Ensan called immediately and needed to avoid a spade or a seven to win the Main Event.
A harmless Queen of Clubs fell on the river, and Ensan was officially the 2019 WSOP Champion.
A rare win for the older generation
Poker has been dominated by younger players in recent years. The average age of the last 11 WSOP Main Event winners is just 26 years old. Ensan became just the second player over 50 to win the Main Event since 1987 and the first to do so since the 61-year-old Noel Furlong won it back in 1999.
And Furlong’s win was against a field of just 393 players. To see Ensan have the endurance to outlast such a massive field over 10 days and to do so while consistently staying alert and at the top of his game was an age-defying performance. Hopefully, this run inspires some older players that may have been intimidated by the youth movement to get back into the game.