Henderson resident Garry Gates closed the gap on World Series of Poker Main Event leader Hossein Ensan and the final table of nine players was pared down to five on Sunday night at the Rio Convention Center.
Gates, a survivor of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival that claimed the lives of 58 other concertgoers, entered in second place, 77.7 million chips behind Germany’s Ensan. Gates, 37, ended the night trailing Ensan by 36 million chips.
The final five players remaining from a field of 8,569 in the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold’em World Championship will resume play at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The winner walks away with $10 million.
Less than an hour after the final table started playing at 6:30 p.m., two players were eliminated: Serbia’s Milos Skrbic and Timothy Su of Boston. Less than two hours later, England’s Nick Marchington was knocked out by Ensan.
Play was scheduled to stop when the table was down to six players, but it happened so quickly that competition continued until 10:30 p.m., when Zhen Cai of Lake Worth, Florida, was eliminated by Kevin Maahs of Chicago. Cai went all-in on ace-king, and Maahs called and won when his pocket nines held up. Cai won $1.85 million for sixth place.
Marchington, 21, had the shortest stack when he went all-in on ace-7. Ensan, 55, who emigrated to Germany from his native Iran in 1990, called with pocket kings. Marchington was eliminated on the hand but won $1.525 million for seventh place and said he didn’t regret his aggressive playing style in his first Main Event.
“Going in, I think people were playing quite money scared, and I was trying to win the tournament,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to play for ninth. I was going for the $10 million.”
Marchington, who dropped out of college to pursue a pro poker career, had his first live career cash earlier in the WSOP for $12,415.
“I’m definitely more of an online player, but I love playing in the World Series,” he said. “It’s like summer camp.”
The affable Englishman said he likes Gates’ chances to win the Main Event.
“He really gets in the mix. He isn’t afraid to go for it as well,” he said. “Hossein is a great guy as well. There was a real sense of camaraderie at the table, and I think it was genuine. Everyone’s really happy for each other, for sure.”
Skrbic, who entered in seventh place, was the first to be eliminated. Skrbic went all in with ace-jack and Gates called with ace-queen, which held up. Skrbic, 30, entered with more than $1.6 million in total live earnings and took home $1 million for ninth place.
Su, who entered in eighth place, was knocked out next. He went all in with a pair of pocket 3s and Ensan called with ace-jack. Ensan made two pair on the flop, jacks and fives, and another jack on the river sealed Su’s fate.
But the software engineer from Boston who entered his first Main Event with total live earnings of $2,467, left with a big smile and $1.25 million for eighth place. Su, 25, who plays the piano, violin and oboe, hit all the right notes early in poker’s most prestigious event, twice emerging as the chip leader.
“It was phenomenal,” Su said of his run. “I came in with zero expectations, but somehow was able to spin it up and maintain the chip lead. I had over one-fifth of the chips in play at one point, but there are some good players out there who did very well.”
WSOP Main Event final table
1. Hossein Ensan, Germany: 207.7 million (chips)
2. Garry Gates, U.S.: 171.7 million
3. Kevin Maahs, U.S.: 66.5 million
4. Alex Livingston, Canada: 45.8 million
5. Dario Sammartino, Italy: 23.1 million
1st place: $10 million
2nd place: $6 million
3rd place: $4 million
4th place: $3 million
5th place: $2.2 million
6th place: Zhen Cai, U.S., $1.85 million
7th place: Nick Marchington, England, $1.525 million
8th place: Timothy Su, U.S., $1.25 million
9th place: Milos Skrbic, Serbia, $1 million