LAS VEGAS -- Hossein Ensan defeated Dario Sammartino heads-up to clinch the 2019 World Series of Poker main event title and the $10 million first-place prize.
Ensan, 55, started each of the three days of the final table well ahead of everyone else, and despite ceding that lead to Sammartino early in their heads-up battle, Ensan fought his way back into the lead and held it through the last few hours of the match.
On the 301st hand of the final table and 100th hand between Ensan and Sammartino, Ensan raised to 11 million and Sammartino called. The flop fell Ts-6s-2d, Sammartino checked and Ensan bet 15 million. Sammartino checked again on the 9c turn, Ensan bet 33 million and Sammartino moved all-in for 140 million. With king hearts-king clubs, Ensan called quickly; Sammartino's 8s-4s was behind, but could still hit a straight or flush with one card to come.
With the Qc river, Ensan's fans and friends in the crowd exploded into celebration, as a pair of kings was enough to win the pot and the tournament.
"It's unbelievable, I cannot understand this moment. ... I must go to sleep and wake up, and then maybe I know I have the bracelet," said Ensan. "Maybe it's a dream. I don't know."
The 2019 WSOP main-event final table was unlike any that came before it, with loud, boisterous chants going on throughout play. Such was the level of respect and good spirits that after the event concluded, both sets of supporters chanted in unison for each player.
"He's a really good guy," Sammartino said of Ensan shortly after the tournament concluded. "I met him a long time ago; we are friends and I really love him, so I'm really happy for him. Of course I wanted to win this, but he is the winner, so bravo."
Early on in Tuesday's action, the tournament swung in Sammartino's direction during a key hand against Alex Livingston, in which Sammartino turned two-pair, tens and sixes, and doubled up for the second time on the day against Livingston's pocket kings. Livingston would soon be eliminated in third place, when his ace-jack failed to defeat Ensan's ace-queen. Livingston settled for third place and $4 million.
After two dominant days in a row to start, Ensan saw his advantage slip. He ceded the top position to Livingston briefly before regaining it in short order going into heads-up play. On the second hand of that battle, Sammartino hit two running pairs on the turn and river to win a pot worth over 180 million to claim the lead -- and he wouldn't give it back for some time.
Ensan fought his way back to the top, though, and became just the second German champion in WSOP main event history, following in the footsteps of Pius Heinz, the 2011 champion who took home $8.7 million. He is also the third Iranian-born player to capture the main event title; Mansour Matloubi (1990) and Hamid Dastmalchi (1992) are also previous winners. At 55, Ensan is also the oldest world champion since 1999, when Ireland's Noel Furlong won at age 61.
The main event drew 8,569 players, the second-largest field in the tournament's history, with a total prize pool of $80,548,604.
Hossein Ensan (Germany), $10 million
Dario Sammartino (Italy), $6 million
Alex Livingston (Canada), $4 million
Garry Gates (United States), $3 million
Kevin Maahs (United States), $2.2 million
Zhen Cai (United States), $1.85 million
Nick Marchington (England), $1.525 million
Timothy Su (United States), $1.25 million
Milos Skrbic (Serbia), $1 million