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  1. Garry Gates: One of the Lucky OnesLance BradleyApril 1, 2018 Six months ago today, a gunman opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, ending the lives of 58 innocent people, irrevocably changing the lives of thousands of others and forever altering the soul of a city. Garry Gates, Senior Consultant of Player Affairs at PokerStars, was at that concert and made it out alive. The Sunday started much like the Friday and Saturday had for Garry Gates. Just over a week into the fall, when Las Vegas still produces 90-degree days and 75-degree evenings, Gates and some friends had spent the previous two days at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a country music festival, on the Strip. They arrived a few minutes before the gates opened on Sunday, excited for the day ahead. “We had already gone Friday and Saturday and this was the final day, the culminating day. The headliner, Jason Aldean, was scheduled to perform late that night and there was build-up and hype and it’s the final day. We were all excited and looking forward to a nice day.” The hype and excitement soon gave way to chaos, panic, and tragedy as a gunman killed 58 people, injured 851 more, in what became the single worst mass-shooting in American history. Something is not normal. Something’s not right.Gates and his good friend Brian Cunning were close enough to the front of the stage that they could have reached out and high-fived Jason Aldean. It wasn’t just the two of them though, they had put together a cobblestone group of friends and were just getting into Aldean’s set when Cunning wanted to move. “Brian turned to me and he had this sort of bizarre spidey sense that something was not right in that moment. He said to me, ‘Let’s get out of the crowd for a bit. I have a feeling there might be a stampede or something.’ It was really bizarre,” said Gates. Nobody around them was moving, but the shots had just started coming. Considering where they were at the time, Garry and Brian just assumed it was part of the show or somebody setting off some firecrackers. Nobody assumed gunfire. “When you’re at a festival, you think that’s normal. To me, it sounded like fireworks or some kind of pyrotechnic component of the concert. People noticed, but they didn’t react. I don’t want to say if it weren’t for Brian, we could have been in a worse situation, but in hindsight, it was good that he had us move a little bit out of the way,” said Gates. To the left of the stage, just feet from where Garry and Brian were standing, were some food vendors. They decided to head towards the pizza stand they’d frequented over the last couple of days. As soon as they got there, they turned and noticed that the noise hadn’t stopped. People began realizing this wasn’t part of the show. This was serious. “In that moment you know, ‘Okay. Something is not normal. Something’s not right.’ The music stopped, and that’s when you started to see people running and ducking and doing everything they could to get out of there,” said Gates. As the panic of the crowd took over, Garry and Brian became separated. Brian followed the stampede out through a fence that had been kicked down while Garry ducked beside the pizza stand looking for a place to go.  That’s when he noticed a corridor between the stage and that pizza stand and instinctively ran toward it. “I was by myself, keeping my head low, staying alert and I found a big white tent that I later found out was some kind of VIP access tent for performers, their families and guests,” said Gates. “I found a group of maybe six or seven total strangers already huddled down in the back of this tent, hiding behind the table that they had turned on its side. That’s where I sat and remained for the duration of the shooting.” While the tent provided some cover from whatever was happening outside of it, the panic continued as the people inside the tent began scouring social media and calling friends or family to find out what was happening. Garry tried to call his family but wasn’t able to reach his mom or dad or any of his siblings because the system was overwhelmed by others trying to do the same thing. He finally made a connection with Mike Ziemba, a poker player friend in Las Vegas. “I was surprisingly calm the whole time. I just asked him, ‘I think something’s going on here. Any chance you can Google or investigate what this could be?’ He had me stay on the line for two or three minutes and sure enough, he found a report that there was an active shooter on top of Mandalay Bay, the 32nd floor. He was digging a little bit more and now he’s finding reports of active shooters in all of the casinos.” Hearing that bit of information, which later turned out to be false, only caused more panic and left the group paralyzed inside the tent. Some began wondering out loud if gunmen were still walking through the concert grounds, continuing to shoot. “The sound was like nothing I’d ever heard in my life. You’ve seen war movies and movies with guns but this was just … it was loud, it was frequent, and it almost sounded like being underneath a helicopter, standing directly underneath that constant, repetitive chopper sound,” said Gates. About 10 minutes after the shooting started, a man walked into the tent and told them it was safe to come out. The gunfire had slowed and then eventually stopped entirely. “I was reluctant to oblige and everyone else in that little group left and took his word for it except one girl who said, ‘Is it okay if I stay here with you? I don’t want to go out there yet either.’ I said, ‘Sure,’ and we started talking and kept each other company,” said Gates. After waiting four or five more minutes without gunfire, Gates and the girl exited the tent and were met with a scene that they’ll have a hard time forgetting. It became very real to me in that moment“I hate to use this word, but it was carnage,” said Gates. “There were those metal fences that barricade groups of people, people were turning them on their sides and using those as stretchers. I saw people using wheelbarrows, and now I’m seeing wounded people, wounded concertgoers, and it became very real to me in that moment.” Watching all of this unfold around him, Garry realized he had no idea where Brian was and wanted to reconnect so they could get home. A couple of attempts to connect via phone were unsuccessful so Gates was left with no way home. The girl from the white tent had been luckier and offered to help Gates out. “She said that she had a group of friends circling back in a car to pick her up and she volunteered to let me go with them,” said Gates. A few minutes later Garry got a call through to Brian. “He was halfway home. He was already somehow in his car, almost at the airport connector. We live in Henderson, so it’s about a 15-minute total drive. He was about seven minutes away by car at this point,” said Gates. Brian told him he was circling back and tried to coordinate a rendezvous point and told him to start running towards Tropicana Boulevard. A few minutes into his run, his phone rang and it was his sister, Beth, calling from Pittsburgh, where it was now 1 AM. “As best I could I said, ‘Look, I’m safe for now, but something serious is happening in Las Vegas. I’m meeting a friend, he’s taking me home, but could please just call mom, call dad, let everyone know I’m okay?’” She agreed and they hung up. A second or two later, Gates’ phone rang again. It was Brian. “He had contacted his brother-in-law, who was a police officer and was listening to the police scanner. When I let (Brian) know I was in front of the Motel 6, he starts screaming, ‘Get the f*** out of there. My brother-in-law just told me there’s an active shooter there!’ So I’m thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve got to just run’. I had one mission and that was just to get as far as I could and reunite with Brian.” Gates ran all the way to the private jet terminal at McCarran International Airport where Brian picked him up. “It wasn’t until I was in that car, driving through the airport tunnel that I finally felt I was out of harm’s way officially, just based on all the reports we were hearing and I’m getting tons of texts and calls from friends and family,” said Gates. The pair arrived home and took a few minutes to try and decompress before they started getting back to family and friends who had reached out. While the shooting was over and Gates was now safe and sound, miles away from the Strip, the next 12 hours were full of emotions and a different type of chaos. “I just wanted people to know I was okay more than anything else. We started with that,” said Gates. “We turned on the news, which we later turned off because it was almost like a vicious cycle of hearing the same sounds. People were already sharing footage with the news stations and it was hard to watch, just knowing what was actually happening.” Brian started to grow concerned after being unable to get ahold of the girl he was dating, who had also been at the concert, but with a different group of friends. It took some time, but they eventually found out she’d fallen while climbing over a fence and had hurt herself. She was taken to an emergency room but was going to be okay. As the night continued, a couple of friends came over to Brian’s (apartment) to see if there was anything they could do. Garry got in touch with his roommate and asked her to take care of his dog, Wiley, so that he could stay at Brian’s that night. Sleeping wasn’t really possible though. “We were just very in shock. It was hard to process something like that was happening in my city at a concert that I attended,” said Gates. “The gamut of emotions made it hard to sleep. We talked for a while. We sat as a group and just comforted each other, continued to answer texts and calls and I think I fell asleep at maybe 5 in the morning but woke up two hours later. It was a very long day and a very long night.” Along with his job with PokerStars, Gates finds time to play WSOP and WPT events when he has time. (WPT photo)Good Seems to Prevail Over Bad or EvilGates isn’t a Las Vegas native. He grew up in Titusville, Pennsylvania, a small town in the northern part of the state. He moved to Las Vegas in 2004 to chase the dream of being a professional poker player. While that didn’t quite work out how he envisioned, Gates eventually found himself working for PokerNews and worked his way up there before taking a job with PokerStars that put him front and center with some of the best players in the world as the VIP Player Liaison. It was a job that meant lots of time on the road, so even after he left Las Vegas for a two-year stint in Florida and then moved back, he never really considered it his hometown. “Every year I flirt with moving away, maybe going closer to home, just finding a city that has more culture and feels like a community, and I miss having four seasons. Vegas is a little rough weather-wise three months out of the year, but yeah. I’ve had an instant attitude change towards the city and how I consider it home,” said Gates. The days following the shooting gave Gates a new perspective on Las Vegas though. In the midst of all of the darkness and sadness of what happened, the good of Sin City found a way to shine brightest. “When you turn on the news at 7 AM after something like that and the local news media is showing lines of people at the blood banks and good samaritans delivering food and water to hospitals for doctors and nurses that were exhausted and families of emergency room patients who were waiting overnight, and just the humane nature of a community coming together in a time of absolute crisis. It was not only moving, but it just made you proud that humans no matter what they’re facing in any moment of crisis like that, good seems to prevail over bad or evil,” said Gates. Seeing others in his city doing what they could to help combined with having so many people reach out to him inspired Garry and Brian to try and figure out ways that they could help out, even as they tried to comprehend exactly what they’d been through. “On one hand I didn’t want to let this bring me down and I wanted to avoid being complacent. My first reaction was, ‘How can we help?’” said Gates. “Literally 24 hours after (the shooting), Brian and I both were looking on Facebook and watching the news to find how we could donate our time and resources. And the people in my life were great, both my social life and work life, in reaching out and making sure I had the immediate resources and help that I needed. That was very good, and helped me move through it quicker than I probably would have otherwise.” The healing process began almost immediately. In the first week, Garry and Brian spent a lot of time together. Having survived the horrors of what was supposed to be an easy, carefree night out gave the two an even deeper connection. Rather than dwelling on what happened though, they made an effort to get out of the house and spend time away from the hustle and bustle of The Strip and the never-ending news coverage of the shooting. “I spent more time with Brian honestly than anyone else. I felt like the people that related to being there and were going through the exact same emotions I think understood best what I was feeling,” said Gates. “I think Brian and I spent a lot of time in nature that first week. We went on hikes and walks and spent time in the dog park with Wiley. That was very helpful.” While most of Gates’ family knows about what happened that night, there’s one person who remains blissfully unaware. Garry has a five-year-old daughter, Scarlett, who lives with her mom in Missouri. Garry talks to her almost daily and has a very special connection with her. In the days after the shooting, he wasn’t sure what, if anything, he should tell her about it. “I thought about it a lot, but she’d just turned five years old the month before and I felt like this was a conversation that we could have somewhere down the line when she’s a little bit older, more mature, and maybe could comprehend the scope and just what happened,” said Gates. “I think there’s a place to have a conversation like that with someone her age about there being evil people in the world and how community and family is so important to lean on in times like that.” The community of Las Vegas got a welcome distraction ten days later. The Vegas Golden Knights, the newest National Hockey League team and the first top-tier professional sports team to call Las Vegas home, had their first regular season home game. The opening night festivities were supposed to be a celebration of the new team, but in the wake of the tragedy, the team opted to honor the victims and first responders. “I was at the game. It was sort of the first public event that I went to in the aftermath. The team delivered the classiest, most heartfelt tribute they possibly could have considering they had nine days to prepare and plan something,” said Gates. The pre-game events included a ceremonial opening puck drop between the team captains, with the Golden Knights’ owner Bill Foley and some survivors of the shooting doing the honors. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time because I couldn’t see from where we were sitting, it’s pretty far down, but the very next day Brian texted me a video. It was a close-up video of his TV screen because he didn’t go to the game, but it was actually Gabby, the girl that he was dating and her little son that got to do the puck drop,” said Gates. The ceremony gave the people of Las Vegas an opportunity to honor the victims while thanking the paramedics, police, firefighters and medical personnel that assisted at the scene or in local hospitals. The game itself gave the 18,000 fans in attendance, and those watching at home, the chance to begin thinking something else while beginning to adjust to whatever their new normal was going to be. The game ended with the Golden Knights winning 5-2 to continue a seemingly improbable 3-0 start to their season. “That day meant a lot to a lot of us. When something like that happens in a city, I think the community looks for a distraction, an avenue that can turn a negative into a positive, and the Golden Knights came along at a perfect time,” said Gates. “I think we all clung to the team and adopted them as our own in that moment and I think that’s carried through even to this day.” Live Each Day a Little Bit Fuller for ThemGates visited the memorial set up at the Las Vegas sign and left with a new appreciation for his good fortune.A memorial for the 58 victims was set up at the famous Las Vegas sign at the south end of the Strip. Residents and tourists alike were dropping off flowers, stuffed animals and other mementos in the days after the shooting. Garry and Brian first heard of the memorial while watching the evening news but with the events of that night still so fresh for them, they held out on visiting it in person. After hearing that memorial was going to be taken down soon, they decided the time was right to visit. “There were portraits of each of the 58 attached to every cross, and personalized items that friends and family must have dropped off there in the weeks after. I took the time to make eye contact with each one of those photographs, and that was a difficult thing to do, but important nonetheless,” said Gates. “I just kind of made a personal choice to live each day a little bit fuller for them, just a little bit extra. It really shifted my perspective long-term I think. I can tend to be a high-strung guy with friends and family, but that kind of brought the important things to the forefront for me. I was glad I went.” The famous Las Vegas sign is just over a mile away from the concert grounds. This is the closest that Garry had been to Mandalay Bay since the shooting. Brian mentioned to Garry that he wanted to retrace their steps from that night and walk around the fenced-off area. “They still had the fences up. You couldn’t actually go on to the concert grounds. In fact, even a month after, they still had all the booths, all the vendor booths were still set up. I think people’s belongings were still there,” said Gates. “They hadn’t torn down the stage yet. So we couldn’t go inside, but we did walk completely around. He showed me where he exited and I showed him the same, and we did a complete lap around. It was harder than I thought it would be for sure, but I was glad I did.” In the nearly 14 years that Gates has worked in the poker industry, he’s seen people end up on the good side of variance in life-changing moments hundreds, if not thousands, of times. That experience has helped him reconcile the events of October 1 and how a bunch of normally insignificant moments that day snowballed together to allow him to survive what would eventually go down as the worst mass shooting in American history. “30 minutes prior to the beginning of the shooting, Brian and I were actually on the opposite side of the venue, in a place where we had linked up with a friend of mine previously, and we were hoping to connect with her group again on Sunday night,” said Gates. “We couldn’t find them so we did a quick lap around the right side of the stage and then walked back to the other group. As we found out later, that area was in a wide-open area that (the gunman) probably had better access to, I think. In that regard, we were probably lucky as well, but it could have been any of us. You ask yourself, ‘Why not me?’, or on the contrary, ‘Why was I one of the lucky ones?’”
  2. From the 8,659 players that started the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event eight days ago, just nine still remain and Germany's Hossein Ensan stands high above the rest as the chip leader. Now all that stands between him and the $10,000,000 first place prize money is eight other players all hoping to do the same. Another German, Robert Heidorn, was eliminated in tenth place in the very early hours of Saturday morning pausing the clock on the second-largest WSOP Main Event in history until Sunday evening. Ensan ended play with 177,000,000 and is well ahead of the rest of the field with 34.3% of the chips in play. The 55-year-old former European Poker Tour Prague champion was responsible for only one elimination after just three tables remained. Ensan busted Marcelo Cudos in 23rd place to put his stack at 57,500,000. He more than tripled that stack over the next eight hours without eliminating another opponent. Garry Gates bagged up 99,300,000 for the second biggest stack. Gates eliminated two players, Mihai Manole in 18th and Henry Lu in 11th, on his way to the final table. Zhen Cai sits third with 60,600,000 and is the only other player with a stack bigger than the 57,200,000 stack. The Florida native, and best friend of 2018 Main Event runner-up Tony Miles, picked up just one elimination, sending Preben Stokkan out in 21st. The three players in the middle of the chip counts include Kevin Maahs with 43,000,000, Alex Livingston (37,800,000), and Dario Sammartino (33,400,000). The three shortest stacks are separated by just 3.3 big blinds. Milos Skrbic finished with 23,400,000, start of day chip leader Timothy Su ended with 20,200,000 and Nick Marchington has 20,100,000 in the bag. Marchington, just 21 years old, could become the youngest player to win the Main Event should he manage to rise from the shortest stack still in play. Marchington is a few months younger than current record holder Joe Cada. When play resumes on Sunday night there will be just over 90 minutes remaining in the 500,000/1,000,000 (1,000,000 BBA) level. No player will have less than 20 big blinds when action resumes. Main Event Final Table Chip Counts Hossein Ensan - 177,000,000 Garry Gates - 99,300,000 Zhen Cai - 60,600,000 Kevin Maahs - 43,000,000 Alex Livingston - 37,800,000 Dario Sammartino - 33,400,000 Milos Skrbic - 23,400,000 Timothy Su - 20,200,000 Nick Marchington - 20,100,000 Final Table Has International Flavor The nine players at the final table represent six different countries. Ensan is from Germany, Livingston is Canadian, Sammartino is Italian, Skrbic is Serbian, and Marchington is from England. The remaining four players, Gates, Cai, Maahs, and Su, are all American. Yuri Dzivielevski Last #1 Standing Brazilain Yuri Dzivielevski narrowly missed out on making the final three tables but still earned the best finish by a former #1-ranked PocketFiver. Dzivielevski finished 28th for $261,430. WSOP Main Event Final Table Broadcast Schedule Sunday, July 14 - 7 PM on ESPN2 Monday, July 15 - 7 PM on ESPN Tuesday, July 16 - 6 PM on ESPN All times Pacific
  3. The 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event is down to 35 players, all guaranteed $261,430 and vying for the event’s $10 million first-place prize. After what was an incredibly entertaining day of poker, Nick Marchington is in the lead with 39.7 million. 21-Year-Old Marchington Leads the Way Marchington hails from England and is 21 years old. Despite his youth, he’s a professional poker player, but Marchington’s success in the game comes from the online poker world and not so much the live tournament world. Entering this event, Marchington had just $12,415 in live tournament earnings, stemming from one cash at this WSOP. Marchington was one of the biggest stacks remaining as the night neared its close, and then he knocked out Ian Pelz in 37th place with pocket sevens against the [poker card="As"][poker card="Qc"] to solidify his position as chip leader. Behind Marchington on the leaderboard are Hossein Ensan with 34.5 million, Timothy Su with 34.35 million, and Milos Skrbic with 31.45 million. Those are the only players above 30 million in chips. Top 10 Chip Counts Nick Marchington - 39,800,000 Hossein Ensan - 34,500,000 Timothy Su - 34,350,000 Milos Skrbic - 31,450,000 Henry Lu - 25,525,000 Garry Gates - 25,025,000 Duey Duong - 21,650,000 Warwick Mirzikinian - 20,700,000 Dario Sammartino - 19,850,000 Cai Zhen - 19,800,000 Dzivielevski and Sammartino Remain Yuri Dzivielevski, a Brazilian who already has one gold bracelet this summer, bagged 13.75 million for Day 7. Dzivielevski is a former PocketFives #1 and the only former #1 remaining in the field. Dario Sammartino, who is one of the best players in the world still in search of a WSOP gold bracelet, finished with 19.85 million for Day 7. Wild and Crazy Hands Steal the Day 6 Show Day 6 was filled with plenty of action, that’s for sure. There was an enormous clash between Su and Sam Greenwood on the main feature table that could go down as one of the greatest hands in poker history. It will also go down as one of the ultimate bad beats. On one of the outer tables, Garry Gates nailed an ace on the river to crack Robert Heidorn’s pocket kings. On another outer table, at pretty much the same time as the hand between Gates and Heidorn, Kevin Maahs beats aces with his pocket kings to knock out Chang Luo. The incredible hand between Greenwood and Su started with Su opening to 500,000 from the cutoff position. Greenwood three-bet to 2.5 million out of the big blind, and Su called. The flop was [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Jd"][poker card="4c"] and Green bet 1.8 million Su called to see the [poker card="Js"] land on the turn. Greenwood bet 3.5 million and Su raised all in. Greenwood made the call for about 11.5 million total and turned up his [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Ac"]. Su had the [poker card="Tc"][poker card="9c"] for a brave semi-bluff. Needing a king or an eight on the river, Su got it when the [poker card="Kc"] hit to complete his straight. Greenwood was eliminated in 45th place for $211,945. On the hand involving Gates and Heidorn, Heidorn opened to 550,000 from middle position before action folded to Gates in the big blind. He three-bet to 2.1 million. Heidorn reraised all in to put Gates to the test. Gates tanked, then called to put himself at risk for 11.35 million total, and turned up the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Kd"]. Heidorn had the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Kh"]. The [poker card="Qc"][poker card="6s"][poker card="4d"] flop and [poker card="5h"] turn weren’t what Gates needed, but the [poker card="Ad"] on the river allowed him to survive with the double up. For the one with Luo and Maahs, it started with Luo opening with a raise to 550,000 from early position. After Milos Skrbic reraised to 1.675 million on the button, Maahs reraised to 3.75 million out of the big blind. Luo shoved all in for 8.1 million, Skrbic folded, and Maahs made the call. Luo had the [poker card="As"][poker card="Ah"], and Maahs had the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Kc"]. The board ran out [poker card="Qc"][poker card="8c"][poker card="3c"][poker card="Qh"][poker card="Tc"] to give Maahs a club flush and crack the aces of Luo. Luo was eliminated in 43rd place for $211,945. Esfandiari, Hunichen, Hachem Among Day 6 Eliminations Day 6 of the 2019 WSOP Main Event began with 106 players remaining. Greg Himmelbrand was the first player knocked out and then the eliminations began to flow. Four-time gold bracelet winner Jeff Madsen was knocked out in 102nd place, Mukul Pahuja went out in 95th, and Antonio Esfandiari busted in 82nd. Esfandiari’s bust out came after he was hurt in a big hand against Sammartino that left him with just a handful of big blinds. Esfandiari got the last of his chips in against Chris Hunichen with the [poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"] but Hunichen’s [poker card="8c"][poker card="8d"] did the trick. Daniel Hachem, son of 2005 WSOP Main Event winner Joe Hachem, fell in 79th place, and Pennsylvania's Jake Schindler headed out the door in 67th place. Romain Lewis busted in 60th, and Lars Bonding fell in 55th. Hunichen, a former PocketFives #1 player and the one who knocked out Esfandiari, busted in 54th place for $173,015. Another one of the top tournament players in the world was knocked out in 40th place when Alex Foxen was eliminated. The highest finish for a Pennsylvania poker player in the 2019 WSOP Main Event belonged to Thomas Parkes. He took 59th for $142,215. Day 7 On Friday On Friday, the 2019 WSOP Main Event will play from 35 down to its final table of nine, however long that may take. Action is set to kick off at 12 p.m. PT from the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, and if Friday is anything like Thursday, buckle up for a thrilling ride.
  4. The opening night of the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event final table went about as close to script as Hossein Ensan and Garry Gates could have hoped. The two biggest at the start of play, Ensan and Gates were responsible for the first three eliminations as the shortest stacks all went bust. The only deviation from said script, was a fourth player hitting the rail before the end of the night. Milos Skrbic First to Go Nick Marchington got things started early, doubling through Zhen Cai on the third hand of the night leaving Milos Skrbic and Timothy Su as the two remaining short stacks. Three hands after that, Skrbic was sent to the rail. Action folded to Gates in the small blind and he moved all in with [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"] and Skrbic called all in from the big blind with [poker card="as"][poker card="jh"]. The board ran out [poker card="td"][poker card="9h"][poker card="7h"][poker card="4d"][poker card="5h"] to give Gates an additional 18,400,000 and send eliminate Skrbic in ninth place. "I don't know what to say, I'm still in shock. It was fun for sure," Skrbic said in the minutes after his tournament ended. Timothy Su Eliminated in Eighth Just five hands after that, Timothy Su followed Skrbic out the door. Timothy Su moved all in from UTG for 17,700,000 with [poker card="3c"][poker card="3d"]. Ensan called from the cutoff with [poker card="ad"][poker card="js"]. The [poker card="jh"][poker card="5c"][poker card="5d"] flop move Ensan ahead and left Su with just two outs. Neither the [poker card="ts"] turn or [poker card="jd"] river were able to save the 27-year-old engineer from an eighth-place finish. "I came in with zero expectations and just making the min-cash would be awesome, but somehow I was able to spin it up, maintain a chip lead, chip lead Day 2AB, chip lead I think Day 6 and even throughout Day 7 I had over 1/5th of the chips in play one point," Su said. "There's no regrets on anything, that's for sure." Nick Marchington Busts in Seventh Those first two eliminations came very quickly, but thanks to his early double up, 21-year-old Nick Marchington was able to stave off elimination for another two hours. Action folded to Ensan in the cutoff and he made it 2,400,000 with [poker card="kc"][poker card="ks"]. Marchington moved his last 14,000,000 all in with [poker card="ad"][poker card="7c"] and Ensan called. The [poker card="jh"][poker card="8c"][poker card="6d"] flop kept Ensan ahead but gave Marchington a backdoor straight draw. The [poker card="5h"] turn was the first step in filling that straight, but the [poker card="qs"] river was a brick and his run at becoming the youngest Main Event champion in history ended with a seventh-place finish. "I really enjoyed the final table. Not sure why, but I didn't really feel any pressure. Just loved every minute of it," Marchington said. "Maybe I'm the youngest ever seventh-place finisher?" Zhen Cai Elimination Wraps Up Play The plan for the first night of final table play was to play down from nine players to six but the fast pace changed that and ESPN decided to play down until the end of the level or the next elimination. Just 90 minutes later, Zhen became the reason that play was stopped for the night. Ensan raised to 2,400,000 from the cutoff with [poker card="qc"][poker card="js"], Kevin Maahs called from the small blind with [poker card="9c"][poker card="9s"], before Cai moved all in for 28,700,000 with [poker card="as"][poker card="kd"]. Ensan folded, but Maahs called. The board ran out [poker card="qs"][poker card="jh"][poker card="7s"][poker card="4d"][poker card="2d"] to give Maahs the pot, eliminate Cai in sixth-place and end play for the night. Final Five Chip Counts Hossein Ensan – 207,700,000 Garry Gates – 171,700,000 Kevin Maahs – 66,500,000 Alex Livingston – 45,800,000 Dario Sammartino – 23,100,000 Payouts 6. Zhen Cai - $1,850,000 7. Nick Marchington – $1,525,000 8. Timothy Su – $1,250,000 9. Milos Skrbic – $1,000,000 WSOP Main Event on ESPN After spending the night on ESPN2, the action now moves over to ESPN. Cards are in the air in Las Vegas beginning at 6:30 PT with the 30-minute delayed broadcast beginning at 7:00 PM PT.
  5. As the launch of Pennsylvania online poker approaches, PocketFives takes a look at how players from that state did at the 2019 World Series of Poker. Pennsylvania poker players accounted for 2,439 total entries at the 2019 WSOP, ranking the state 15th out of all states to have players participate in the series. Per official numbers sourced from the WSOP, US-player participation made up for 129,154 entries from live tournaments at the 2019 WSOP. With 2,439 of those entries coming from PA poker players, Pennsylvania accounted for nearly 2% of the US participation at the 2019 WSOP. Pennsylvania’s participation wasn’t that far off of what New Jersey’s was, another state with legalized online gambling and online poker. Players from NJ accounted for 3,501 total entries in live events at the 2019 WSOP, which was just more than 2.7% overall. US players accounted for 18,571 cashes at the 2019 WSOP, which was the most for any single country. Players from Pennsylvania accounted for 338 of those cashes, including some of the top performers below. Pennsylvania's Top Performers at the 2019 WSOP Of all the Pennsylvania poker players to compete at the 50th annual WSOP, Garry Gates was the highest earner with $3,006,881 won. The bulk of Gates’ winnings came via his fourth-place finish in the WSOP Main Event, a score worth $3,000,000 that landed Gates in the top 10 of the Pennsylvania all-time money list. Gates also cashed in the $1,500 Monster Stack and $1,000 Mini Main Event at the 2019 WSOP. Thomas Parkes of Alburtis, PA, finished 59th in the 2019 WSOP Main Event and took home $142,215. He was the second-highest finisher from the Keystone State. Chad Power (89th - $82,365) and Kenny Smaron (92nd - $69,636) also placed in the top 100. Jake Schindler, the PA poker all-time money list leader at time of writing, cashed three times at the 2019 WSOP. His first was a fifth-place finish in the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship worth $31,151, his second was in the WSOP.com $500 Turbo Deepstack for $1,113, and his third was a 67th-place result in the WSOP Main Event for $117,710. Joe McKeehen, winner of the 2015 WSOP Main Event and second on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list, cashed just once at the 2019 WSOP. He finished 65th in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker event. John Hennigan, who is originally from Philadelphia, only cashed one time at the 2019 World Series of Poker, but that cash was a victory in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship to the tune of $245,451. Hennigan defeated Daniel Negreanu in heads-up play to win that tournament. Matt Glantz, the player who was fourth on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list at time of writing, finished in the money of seven WSOP events in the summer of 2019. His best finish was a third-place result in the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice Championship for $139,126. He also had a deep run in the WSOP Main Event, finishing 205th for $50,855. PA Players in the WSOP Big 50 In the record-breaking WSOP Big 50, 345 entries came from Pennsylvania poker players. Of the 28,371 entries, PA poker players made up 1.22% of the total field. As it pertains to US participation in the Big 50, US players made up 23,972 entries in this tournament, meaning Pennsylvania players accounted for 1.44% of US participation in the Big 50. The highest finish in the Big 50 for a Pennsylvania player came from Fabio Garofalo. Garofalo, who hails from Mercer, PA, took 66th and turned a $500 entry into $14,958. Pennsylvania’s Gregory Fishberg (90th - $10,233) and James Gilbert (98th - $8,539) also placed in the top 100 of the 2019 WSOP Big 50. PA Online Poker Gives Potential for More WSOP Participation With the launch of PA online poker looming, exciting times are ahead. Legal, regulated online poker platforms in the Keystone State should help grow the game in the region and be a catalyst for increased participation by Pennsylvania players in the WSOP. Although it will take some time for the state to get up to speed with the likes of its neighbor, New Jersey, Pennsylvania's upside is quite large. New Jersey has a growing online poker market in the 11th most populated state in the country with nearly 9 million people to pull from. Pennsylvania will be drawing from the fifth largest population of nearly 13 million people when online poker goes live. The potential is there and it wouldn't be out of the question to see Pennsylvania's WSOP participation meet or surpass that of New Jersey's in 2020 or 2021.
  6. Garry Gates grew up and went to college in Pennsylvania, but he's always been drawn to Las Vegas. He was also drawn to poker and has been an avid player ever since his father taught him how to play cards in his younger years. After attending Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, it only took Gates half a year to make the leap to Sin City. That was in 2003. In 2011, Gates competed in the greatest poker tournament in the world, the World Series of Poker Main Event, and placed 173rd for $47,107. He also reached the money in the WSOP Main Event in 2015 and 2017, but none of those results came close to his run in 2019 when Gates finished fourth from a field of 8,569 entries to win $3,000,000. With the score, Gates moved to ninth on Pennsylvania poker's all-time money list, according to Hendon Mob, ahead of Aaron Mermelstein and behind Michael Martin. Here are some of the key hands that helped land Gates at the 2019 WSOP Main Event final table and poker's biggest stage, along with his thoughts on the moments he'll likely never forget. Day 5: Pocket Nines Crack Aces On Day 5 of the 2019 WSOP Main Event, with just under 300 players remaining, Gates found himself involved in a four-way pot with Alex Dovzhenko, Chris Wynkoop, and Alex Greenblatt. Dovzhenko had raised to 60,000 from the hijack seat, Gates called on the button with the [poker card="9s"][poker card="9c"], Wynkoop called from the small blind, and Greenblatt came along out of the big bling. The four players saw the flop come [poker card="9h"][poker card="4c"][poker card="3h"], giving Gates top set, and action checked to Dovzhenko. He bet 90,000, Gates called, and both Wynkoop and Greenblatt folded. The turn was the [poker card="Jh"] and Dovzhenko checked. Gates took the initiative with a bet of 150,000 from his stack of 760,000. Dovzhenko check-raised all in and had Gates covered. Gates went into the tank. "I certainly felt a lot more confident about my hand on the flop than I did on the turn, that’s for sure," Gates told PocketFives. "I think I knew deep down I was probably never folding in this spot, but I took my time with the decision regardless. Whenever you're facing a call for your tournament life in the WSOP Main Event, it's important to be confident that you're making the right decision. Alex played his hand fairly face up here, so once I'd made the decision to call, all I could think was, 'Hold, please,' and we did." Gates called with his set of nines. Dovzhenko turned over the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="As"] for an overpaid and a heart flush draw. The river was the [poker card="5c"] and Gates held for the double. Day 6: An Ace On the River To Never Forget On Day 6, Gates called all in for his tournament life with the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Kd"] against Robert Heidorn. Gates had one of the better hands to get all in preflop with in tournament poker, but his German opponent turned up the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Kc"] to have Gates dominated. "Obviously it's never a good feeling to find out that you're completed dominated with your tournament life on the line, but I did have an eery calm rush over me in that moment," Gates said. "I was at peace with the result no matter what… I had already bested my previous top finish in the Main, so I was going to be happy regardless. After we completely bricked the flop, I remember thinking about Barry Greenstein's book and saying to myself… 'Ace on the river, maybe?'" The [poker card="Qc"][poker card="6s"][poker card="4d"] flop didn’t give Gates much to be thrilled about. His had whiffed on hitting an ace and was left with just one card to help him make a Broadway straight. When the [poker card="5h"] hit the turn, Gates was pushed further out the door as his chance of making a straight were no longer possible. The only card Gates could hit was an ace on the river. Lo and behold, the dealer found the [poker card="Ad"] to put on fifth street and Gates came from behind in dramatic fashion to double up. "When it hit, I shot out of my chair and ran over to my rail," Gates said. "I couldn’t believe it. Anytime you attempt to navigate through a field of 8,500-plus, you're going to need to get lucky every now and again. But man, that ace gave me new life. When you think about it, it was probably a $2.7 million card." Day 7: Cowboys Against the Chip Leader On Day 7, with 13 players left in the field, Gates was involved in another kings-versus-ace-king confrontation. Again, Gates was at risk, but this time he was the one holding pocket kings - [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kc"]. Hossein Ensan, who was the big chip leader at the time, had the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Kd"]. The preflop action started with Gates raising to 1.2 million from the hijack seat. Ensan three-bet to 3.75 million out of the small blind, and then Gates made it 10 million. Ensan shoved and Gates called off for 23.5 million total. "The adrenaline was pumping, and I knew that if we held here, I would be very well positioned to make a run at the final table," Gates said. "I remember walking over to Robert Heidorn, who made a terrific comeback after being on the losing hand of this same confrontation, and saying something like… 'I know what you're thinking right now, Robert, and I don't want to experience your pain.' Once all the money gets in though, the rest is up to the deck." The [poker card="8d"][poker card="8h"][poker card="3h"] flop missed Ensan and kept Gates in the lead. The [poker card="2d"] hit the turn, followed by the [poker card="Jc"] on the river, and Gates had doubled to fourth place on the leaderboard. "Securing that double-up and celebrating with my rail was a moment I'll remember for a long, long time," Gates said. [caption id="attachment_625802" align="aligncenter" width="903"] Garry Gates with his rail moments after securing a big double up with pocket kings against Hossein Ensan's ace-king (photo: 888poker)[/caption] Day 7: Trip Kings with 13 Players Left Shortly after Gates' double up through Ensan, a 20-minute break took place. On the sixth hand back, Gates tangled with Timothy Su in another pivotal hand. Su raised to 1.3 million from the cutoff position to start the action. Gates three-bet to 3.9 million on the button, and Su called. Su then checked the [poker card="7c"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3d"] flop. Gates kept his foot on the gas with a bet of 3.5 million, and Su called. The turn was the [poker card="Ks"], and both players checked to see the [poker card="Kh"] pair the board on the river. Su passed the action to Gates once again, and Gates fired 6.5 million. Su took a little time and then called, but he mucked his hand after seeing Gates’ [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Qs"] for trip kings with a queen kicker. This pot moved Gates ahead of Su in the chip counts and up to third place on the leaderboard with a stack of 118 big blinds. Day 7: Out-Kicking Henry Lu for the Knockout With 11 players left, Gates was on the main feature table that had five players seated at it. The blinds were up to 400,000-800,000 with an 800,000 big blind ante, and this is when Gates knocked out Henry Lu. Lu raised to 1.8 million from the cutoff seat, Gates reraised to 7 million from the small blind, and Lu called. The dealer fanned the [poker card="Jc"][poker card="Td"][poker card="7s"] flop and Gates bet 4.5 million. Lu called to swell the pot to nearly 25 million. After the [poker card="6d"] fell on the turn, Gates slowed down with a check. Lu bet 7.8 million, leaving himself with 25.8 million behind, and Gates went into the tank. Eventually, Gates shoved all in to put Lu to the test. Lu tanked for a handful of minutes before calling all in with the [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Js"] for top pair. Gates had him out-kicked with the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Jh"]. "Yeah, when you check-shove with top pair, top kicker on a board like this, I think you're always happy with a fold," Gates said. "He spent an awful long time in the tank, so my mind was racing a mile a minute. I tried to keep composed and not give anything away. Once he made the call and tabled his hand, I was mostly just happy to find out that my read was correct and knew the rest was out of my hands." Gates gave a slight fist pump when he saw Lu's hand. "It was one of those spots where my intuition allowed me to extract max value in a spot that a lot of pros probably play differently," Gates said. "That, plus I got some phenomenal intel from a good friend who plays with Lu a lot in California, and said he's capable of making the occasional sticky hero call, so in the end it was a case of things lining up just about perfectly for me. All that said, I'm pretty sure I lost a week's worth of life expectancy, due to an increase in blood pressure and stress… I don't know how these guys do this on a daily basis, but hats off to them (laughs)." Gates finished Day 7 in second place in chips, behind only the event's eventual winner, Hossein Ensan. Each of these hands played a pivotal role in propelling Gates to the 2019 WSOP Main Event final table. From there, the man from Titusville, home of John Heisman and the place where the first United States oil boom was sparked, went on to finish fourth for $3,000,000.
  7. The World Series of Poker is the biggest stage in the game. The series draws thousands upon thousands of players make their way to the heart of Sin City to put their tournament skills on display in hopes of securing a life-changing score. Every single year a few players not only find themselves in a position to take down a tournament or add a major cash to their poker resume, but also spend some extra time in the poker spotlight due to their overall performance or even just their personality. Here are just a few of this year's participants that found themselves emerge as one of the breakout stars of the 50th Annual World Series of Poker. Garry Gates If one were to select a single player from the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event to spotlight, you couldn’t blame anyone from choosing the charismatic 2019 World Champion Hossein Ensan or picking the dapper high-stakes pro Dario Sammartino. However, poker industry veteran turned dark horse favorite Garry Gates (and his enthusiastic #LFGGG rail) captured the attention of poker fans everywhere and giving those who, perhaps, put their own poker dream in the rearview mirror, somebody to root for. While Gates is known to many in the industry as PokerStars' Senior Consultant of Player Affairs (aka the go-to guy when it comes to needing a liaison between the online giant and their VIPs), to those that know him he’s the kind of person who would literally give someone the shirt off his back. That attitude of gratitude for the position the Pennsylvania-born Gates was in at the final table was felt through the airwaves. He was painted as a lifelong poker player who was revealing in finally getting his shot. His affable style was easy to connect with and when his run finally came to an end in fourth place, netting him $3 million he didn’t leave disappointed. He turned to his rail, arms outstretched and fell into the embrace of a support system that any poker player would envy. It’s unlikely that Gates will give it all up and hit the road as a full-time pro but while many fourth-place finishers go into the history books but fall from memory, Gates’ run will be remembered by many for a long time to come. Kainalu McCue-Unciano From out of nowhere, Hawaii has a new #1 All-Time Money List leader and that’s Kainalu McCue-Unciano. After four years of traveling to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, the Hawaiian took home his first gold bracelet when he took down the $1,500 Monster Stack for a career-high score of just over $1,000,000. But, winning the bracelet was just the beginning for McCue-Unciano at the summer series. The next day, just moments after he accepted the bracelet from Jack Effel, McCue-Unciano, in front of an Amazon room packed full of poker players, dropped to one knee and asked his girlfriend of two years, Nicole, who was there supporting him, to marry him. She happily said yes, putting McCue-Unciano on a freeroll that allowed him to take his biggest shot yet. By all accounts, the newly minted millionaire then ripped off $100,000 and battled against some of the best players in the world by hopping into the $100K High Roller. Having never cashed in a tournament with a buy-in above $3,500 McCue-Unciano climbed into 12th place for a $195,862 score. Indeed that is pretty boss. Robert Campbell Now that summer at the Rio is over, Australian grinder Robert Cambell emerged as the leader in the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year race. He did this on the back of an outstanding 2019 WSOP campaign that saw him cash nine times with five top 10 finishes. Most importantly, Campbell was the only player this year to take home two gold bracelets, one of which provided him a career-high cash of $385,763. Over $679,000 of his career $1.289 million in career earnings was made during the summer and his multi-bracelet performance held off such high profile names as Daniel Negreanu and Shaun Deeb from heading into the World Series of Poker Europe with the POY lead. If Campbell decided to make the (long) trip to Rozvadov this summer and is able to put up a few results he may just forever have a banner hanging up at future WSOPs. Yuri Dzivielevski Most people will probably recognize Yuri Dzivielevski as the tough young Brazilian pro featured multiple time on the ESPN feature tables making a deep run in the Main Event. But it wasn’t just his charismatic camera presence and flowing mane that brought him a number of new fans. He was simply one of the toughest players featured throughout the entire broadcast. In what was supposed to be the Daniel Negreanu show on Day 1B of the Main Event, Dzivielevski stole the show by consistently chipping up and making great play after great play. This trend continued as the field dwindled and he found himself playing on camera for hours until he finally busted in 28th place for over $261,000. Dzivielevski may have been introduced to the world-at-large this summer but PocketFivers have known of his skill for quite some time as the Brazilian is a former worldwide #1-ranked online player. Also, well before the Main Event showcased what he could do, he proved it by taking home his first WSOP gold bracelet in Event #51 ($2,500 Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better. Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 8 or Better) for $213,750. Dan Zack For the longest time, Dan Zack was known in poker’s inner circles as one of Los Angeles’ best cash game players and a mixed game crusher. But despite a number of final tables in previous years at the World Series of Poker, that breakout score had yet to materialize. Everything changed for Zack in 2019 when early in the series he picked up the first WSOP gold bracelet of his career in Event #6 ($2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw) for $160,447. The win put him in the early lead for the WSOP Player of the Year and immediately after he came right out and said that he was gunning for the honor. His desire to win Player of the Year fueled a 2019 campaign that saw him cash 14 times, make three final tables, and earn more than $350,000. He currently sits in fourth place on in the WSOP POY race and after this summer he’s no longer simply considered a ‘cash game pro’, he’s a threat in any tournament he enters.
  8. In what was an entertaining finale to the greatest poker tournament in the world, Hossein Ensan emerged victorious in the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event to claim the $10,000,000 top prize. Ensan topped the WSOP Main Event’s second largest field ever, 8,569 entries, and defeated Dario Sammartino in heads-up play to become world champion. "This is the best feeling that I've had in all my life and my entire career," Ensan said in the moments after his triumph. "I am so happy I am here with the bracelet in my hand. What can I say? What can I say?" The victory placed an emphatic exclamation point on the German’s career and gave him his first WSOP gold bracelet. His adds the WSOP Main Event title to a career that includes a European Poker Tour victory and a WSOP International Circuit win. With the win, Ensan moved to seventh on Germany’s all-time money list with $12,673,207 in live tournament earnings. 2019 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results 1st: Hossein Ensan - $10,000,000 2nd: Dario Sammartino - $6,000,000 3rd: Alex Livingston - $4,000,000 4th: Garry Gates - $3,000,000 5th: Kevin Maahs - $2,200,000 6th: Zhen Cai - $1,850,000 7th: Nick Marchington - $1,525,000 8th: Timothy Su - $1,250,000 9th: Milos Skrbic - $1,000,000 "My plan was, every day, step by step, to bag up chips," Ensan said. "My first goal was to [get in the money]. After [getting in the money], my plan was to bag up for the next day." Ensan’s run to the winner’s circle began a week and a half ago, on Friday, July 5, when he hopped into the third and final starting flight of the tournament. Ensan tripled his starting stack on his first day and started his fantastic run. Ensan came into the final table with a huge chip stack of 177,000,000, which was nearly double anyone else in the field. He held onto the lead through the first day of the final table and maneuvered his way up to 207,700,000 in chips. Garry Gates had done well to narrow the gap, but then Monday came and Ensan truly exercised his power as the chip leader. On Monday, Ensan got to work chipping away at Gates, his closest competitor. That helped Ensan stretch his lead to quite a sizable margin and he began to run away with the tournament. Ensan then sent home Kevin Maahs in fifth for $2,200,000 and knocked out Gates in fourth for $3,000,000, allowing him to take a commanding chip lead into Tuesday. Ensan topped three-handed play with 326,800,000 in chips. Alex Livingston was a ways off in second with 120,400,000 and Sammartino was in third with 67,600,000. Just as he began Monday, Sammartino found an early double up on Tuesday’s final day, winning a flip with the [poker card="As"][poker card="Js"] against Ensan’s [poker card="6c"][poker card="6h"]. Sammartino gave some chips back following the double but then he turned two pair to double through Livingston’s kings and move back over 100,000,000. At this moment, there was a sense around the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino that Sammartino had the wind at his sails. Sammartino’s rail was as loud as they’ve ever been, pumping energy into the Italian’s veins and he won another pot off Livingston shortly thereafter to move into the chip lead for the first time at the final table. After Sammartino doubled through him, Livingston couldn’t recover and the 13th-place finisher from the 2013 WSOP Main Event went out in third place. Ensan was the player to finish him off. Ensan had the [poker card="As"][poker card="Qd"] and Livingston had the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Jd"]. There was little drama on the [poker card="Qs"][poker card="Jh"][poker card="6d"][poker card="2s"][poker card="9d"] board and Livingston went home with a $4,000,000 payday. Heads-up play saw Ensan start with the chip lead, his 279,800,000 to Sammartino’s 235,000,000. Sammartino immediately seized the lead, though, when he took down a substantial pot on the second hand of the duel. The two then battled for more than four hours of heads-up play. Ensan took the lead back and began to apply pressure to Sammartino. The blinds increased to 2,000,000-4,000,000 with a 4,000,000 big blind ante and Sammartino was below 50 big blinds when hand #301 came up, the final hand of the tournament. Ensan opened with a raise to 11,000,000 on the button and Sammartino called from the big blind. The flop came [poker card="Ts"][poker card="6s"][poker card="2d"] and Sammartino check-called a bet of 15,000,000. The turn was the [poker card="9c"] and Sammartino checked. Ensan bet 33,000,000 and Sammartino moved all in for 140,000,000. Ensan called and turned over the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Kh"]. Sammartino was at risk with a draw holding the [poker card="8s"][poker card="4s"]. The river completed the board with the [poker card="Qc"] and it was all over. "Dario is a friend of mine, a big name, and a very good player," Ensan said of the heads-up match with Sammartino. "Short handed, you need cards, you need hands, you need luck. The luck and hands were on my side, otherwise I would’ve been second. I would’ve been runner-up." As runner-up, Sammartino took home a $6,000,000 payday. "Tomorrow," Ensan responded when asked about what he plans to do with the money. "I need beer and some fun with my friends, then I'll think about that tomorrow."
  9. When the second night of the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event final table began, Hossein Ensan and Garry Gates had most of the chips and almost all of the attention of the poker world. Just one of them survived the four hours of play and now just three players remain in contention for the $10,000,000 first place prize, bracelet, and place in poker history. Gates Struggled to Find Any Footing At the start of the night, Gates had 171,700,000 chips - 33.3% of the chips in play. That turned out to be his high point. After dropping to 152,100,000, Gates lost 44,600,000 to Ensan before the first hour was up. A little over 10 minutes later, he lost another 12,700,000 to Livingston without showdown. He then put together a string of three consecutive small pots to move back above 100,000,000. Gates and Maahs got into a preflop raising war that worked out to be a 13,800,000 win for Maahs. After 90 minutes of play, Livingston caught up and Gates was no longer second in chips. Gates dropped another 15,000,000 to Ensan and had 63,200,000 left. He dropped another 25,200,000 to Livingston after bluffing with [poker card="kh"][poker card="jh"] against the Canadian's rivered pair of aces with [poker card="ac"][poker card="jc"] to be left with just 38,200,000. Kevin Maahs Goes out in Fifth While Gates was struggling to regain the momentum he enjoyed from night one, Kevin Maahs ran into a flip he couldn't win. Ensan opened to 4,000,000 with [poker card="9h"][poker card="9s"] from early position before Maahs moved all in with [poker card="ah"][poker card="th"] from the small blind and Ensan called. The [poker card="jh"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3s"] flop changed nothing and neither did the [poker card="js"] turn or [poker card="4h"] river to eliminate Maahs in fifth place. "It's not really sad, I guess. It's kind of a weird feeling because I just made a lot of money but I didn't win the tournament. Obviously, your goal is to win the tournament or keep making it to the next day and I didn't make it to the next day," Maahs said. "There's 8,500 other people that didn't come close to this, and this is awesome." The End Finally Comes for Garry Gates There was a pivotal on the first night of the final table where Gates, holding pocket tens, got Alex Livingston to fold pocket queens pre-flop. On the second night of play, it was another pair of queens for Livingston that ended Gates' run. Action folded to Gates in the small blind and he moved all in for 29,200,000 with [poker card="6c"][poker card="6s"] and Livingston snap-called from the big blind with [poker card="qd"][poker card="qs"]. The board ran out [poker card="7h"][poker card="5s"][poker card="2d"][poker card="th"][poker card="ts"] to give Livingston the pot, eliminate Gates in fourth place and halt play for the night. "It was a whirlwind. You come into a final table with as many chips as I had, you expect a higher result but at the same time, those are some world-class poker players," Gates said. "I don't do this for a living. Just to get this far and have as much love and support as I had along the way, I knew that I had already won." Final Three Chip Counts Hossein Ensan - 326,800,000 Alex Livingston - 120,400,000 Dario Sammartino - 67,600,000 Payouts 4. Garry Gates - $3,000,000 5. Kevin Maahs - $2,200,000 6. Zhen Cai – $1,850,000 7. Nick Marchington – $1,525,000 8. Timothy Su – $1,250,000 9. Milos Skrbic – $1,000,000 ESPN Broadcast Schedule The final table begins live in Las Vegas at 530 PM PT and will be on ESPN beginning at 600 PM on a 30-minute delay until a champion is crowned.
  10. As the launch of Pennsylvania online poker nears, PocketFives takes a look at the top 10 of the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list. The list includes a World Series of Poker Main Event champion, one other WSOP gold bracelet winner, a couple of World Poker Tour winners, and a European Poker Tour champion. The leader falls under none of these categories, though, but he does top the list in a big way with more than $24 million in live tournament earnings. Pennsylvania Poker All-Time Money List Jake Schindler - $24,659,374 Joseph McKeehen - $16,224,026 John Hennigan - $8,472,252 Matt Glantz - $7,110,451 Daniel Ott - $4,726,701 Matt Berkey - $4,152,310 Russell Thomas - $3,770,309 Michael Martin - $3,305,970 Aaron Mermelstein - $3,246,815 Garry Gates - $3,243,129 Jake Schindler Jake Schindler and his career live tournament earnings of more than $24.6 million tops the PA poker all-time money list, and the gap between him and second place is quite large. Schindler is originally from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia. It’s a suburb of Philadelphia with a population of only few thousand people. Schindler’s largest live tournament score to date comes in at $3.6 million for when he finished second to Christoph Vogelsang in the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl in 2017. He also has scores of $1.192 million from winning the 2014 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 High Roller, $2.151 million for winning the 2018 partypoker MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona €100,000 Super High Roller, and $1.332 million for winning the WPT Five Diamond $100,000 Super High Roller in 2018. Not only does Schindler’s more than $24.6 million put him on top of Pennsylvania’s all-time money list, but it has him ranked in the top 15 of the United States all-time money list and top 25 of the overall all-time money list. Joseph McKeehen Coming in at #2 on Pennsylvania’s all-time money list is 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joseph McKeehen with more than $16.2 million in live tournament earnings. Of those winnings, $7.683 million came when McKeehen topped a field of 6,420 entries in poker’s most prestigious event, the WSOP Main Event. McKeehen is originally from North Wales, Pennsylvania. It’s a small town in the southeast corner of the Keystone State. McKeehen proved his wasn’t just a one-hit wonder when, in 2017, he won his second WSOP gold bracelet in the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship, scoring $311,817. McKeehen also has a WSOP Circuit Main Event title to his name. McKeehen’s second biggest score came from the 2016 PCA $100,000 Super High Roller. In that event, he finished second to Bryn Kenney for $1.22 million. John Hennigan One of the most well-known poker players in the world, John Hennigan, comes in at #3 on Pennsylvania’s all-time money list. He has $8.472 million in live tournament earnings. Hennigan has loads of big scores and triumphant victories on his résumé, but it’s the six WSOP gold bracelets and one WPT title that really stick out. Hennigan’s largest career score is his World Poker Tour win, coming in 2007 at the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open when he won $1.606 million. His second biggest score came in 2014 when he won the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship to the tune of $1.517 million. That WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship win came just one year after he finished third in the same event for $686,568. In 2018, Hennigan took second in the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $765,837. Hennigan is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Matt Glantz Matt Glantz, from Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, comes in at #4 on the list with $7.11 million in live tournament earnings. His biggest live tournament score came from the European Poker Tour London £20,500 High Roller. He won that event for what converted to $862,837. In 2008, Glantz took fourth in the WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event for $568,320, and in 2014 he finished fifth in the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller for $445,520. Glantz has a handful of WSOP final tables on record, but to date, he’s yet to win a WSOP gold bracelet. His closest was in 2005 when he took second in the WSOP $3,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament for $364,620. Daniel Ott Almost smack dead in the center of Pennsylvania is Altoona, where Daniel Ott is from. Ott comes in at #5 on PA’s all-time money list with $4.726 million in live tournament earnings. Nearly all of that, $4.7 million worth, comes from a single score. In 2017, Ott made the final table of the WSOP Main Event and finished second to Scott Blumstein for $4.7 million. Elsewhere on Ott’s résumé, you’ll find a bunch of WSOP cashes, all for small amounts, and an MSPT cash, but that’s it. Matt Berkey Originally from Leechburg, Pennsylvania, Matt Berkey is one of poker’s most popular players. He has more than $4.15 million in live tournament earnings, but that could change rather quickly for as big as he plays. Berkey is a regular in some of poker’s priciest tournaments, including the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl, which he took fifth in in 2016 for $1.1 million. That’s Berkey’s only seven-figure score to date, but he has several six-figures cashes and it seems like only a matter of time before he nets another cash of a million dollars or more. Russell Thomas Like Ott, the bulk of Russell Thomas’ career live tournament earnings come from a final table in the WSOP Main Event. Thomas has more than $3.77 million in earnings, which lands him #7 on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list. More than $2.85 million of that comes from a fourth-place finish in the 2012 WSOP Main Event. Thomas is originally from Wallingford, Pennsylvania, which is located in the southeast corner of the state. Michael Martin You won’t see Michael Martin on the poker circuit much these days, but he did well to amass more than $3.3 million in live tournament earnings. Nearly all of Martin’s live tournament cashes come from 2006 to 2010, with one very small cash coming in each of 2013 and 2019. Martin’s biggest score came when he won the European Poker Tour London Main Event in 2008 for more than $1.8 million. Prior to that, earlier in the same year, he banked $666,171 for a fifth-place finish in the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo. Martin is originally from Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. Aaron Mermelstein Philadelphia’s Aaron Mermelstein is still very much grinding the tournament circuit, and with more than $3.25 million in live earnings, he’s #9 on the Pennsylvania all-time money list. Mermelstein doesn’t have a seven-figure score on record, to date, but he does hold two WPT titles. He won both in 2015, topping the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open for $712,305, his largest score ever, and then winning the WPT Maryland Live! tournament for $250,222. Another big score for Mermelstein came when he won the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown $25,000 High Roller event in 2019 for $618,955. Garry Gates Titusville’s Garry Gates is a newcomer to the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list, thanks to his fourth-place finish in the 2019 WSOP Main Event for $3 million. Gates, a longtime member of the poker industry on both the media and corporate side, now has four WSOP Main Event cashes. Gates’ second-biggest score is a fourth-place finish in the 2012 WSOP Circuit Atlantic City Main Event for $64,530. Gates’ hometown of Titusville is home to notable football player and coach, John Heisman.
  11. Ronnie Bardah gained a lot of notoriety with his deep run in the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event. A longtime professional poker player and favorite amongst the community, Bardah finished 24th that year for a career-best $317,161 in prize money. Two years later, Bardah won his first WSOP gold bracelet and the $182,088 that came with it. Starting September 25, when Season 39 of the famed reality TV competition Survivor kicks off, Bardah will be welcoming in a whole new world of notoriety as he goes for the $1 million first prize in Survivor: Island Of The Idols. Bardah was recently announced as one of the show’s 20 castaways, and he’s now the latest poker player to get the chance to compete in one of TV’s most popular competitions. Although he was not allowed to reveal any results of what's to come on this season of Survivor, Bardah had plenty to say about what life has been like for him through the auditioning process and in lead up to the premiere. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] Getting the Call “When I got that phone call, I was in L.A. and I was just walking having ice cream and it was just like a dream,” Bardah said of the moment he found out he had been cast. “I fell on my knees. There was so much joy. I was so happy. Here we go, is this real life? It was that type thing, you know what I mean? I'm about to play the greatest game ever created, in my opinion, in terms of reality TV. It's as real as it gets. It's no joke and I was really happy to go. It was a dream come true.” After the excitement wears off a little bit, because it likely never fully wore off, reality started to sink in. Even though this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, there are some concerns that come with it. After all, Survivor contestants have to go away for a lengthy period of time without the ability to contact friends and family back home. One of the reasons that Bardah is so popular in the poker community is because of his caring, loving personality. Naturally, Bardah had a little worry about being away from his family for so long. Specifically his dad, who he moved out to Las Vegas in recent years so he could take care of him and spend more time with him. “I just worried about my dad,” Bardah said. “You know what I mean? I had to tell people that was going away for a yoga retreat, a silent retreat, and that I wasn't going to be on my phone. I had a couple of friends in Vegas, my friends Mike Ziemba and Garry Gates, check on my dad. That was only my concern.” It may not have been his only concern, though. Bardah talked about how his constant willingness to help others can sometimes take a big toll on his own wellbeing. With Survivor and having been selected to compete on the show, it was time to put himself first. “I do things for everyone else and I'm a very, very selfless person. It actually takes a toll on me, because I look for everybody's happiness before mine. It's really left me in a place where I'm unhappy and I don't know what I'm doing with life, and I'm just worried about my dad and all this. I said to myself, ‘I'm doing this for myself, first of all.’ This is the one thing I finally did for me, playing the game of Survivor." Representing Poker Bardah has been a Survivor fan for as long as he can remember, although he’ll be the first to tell you that his interest fell off for some time when he was younger. “Like a lot of people, I've seen the first season with Richard Hatch, back in the day when I was 18 or 19 years old,” Bardah said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow, this is really, really, really cool.’ And then I have the same story a lot of people have, where that they kind of watched the second season a little and fell off.” He’s been hooked to the show in more recent seasons and especially became aware of the performances of some of the other poker players to have been contestants. In the past, Jean-Robert Bellande, Garrett Adelstein, and Anna Khait were on Survivor, although not in the same season. Bellande was on Season 15, Survivor: China, Adelstein was on Season 28, Survivor: Cagayan, and Khait was on Season 32, Survivor: Kaôh Rōng. It was Khait’s appearance that was what Bardah says pushed him to want to be more than just a fan of the show. “When Anna Khait got on the show, that's what basically put the fire under my ass,” Bardah said. “When she came out as a poker player, and nothing against Anna, but in the poker world, she was in there for a small stint. I said, ‘Look, I really want to be the representation of a true poker player.’ I really, really wanted to be that true representation, and I feel like I am. I know I am - someone who's been grinding his whole life, who's been travelling the tours, the circuits, who really, really plays poker, I mean, in the live realm.” Wanting to be “the representation of a true poker player” can come with a lot of added pressure. It’s pressure that Bardah put on himself, but nonetheless it’s pressure that he felt given how he wanted to approach the journey. “I want to prove to the world, that's a poker player.,” Bardah emphasized. “I want to go out there and prove to the world that a poker player can do great. Of course, it is an added pressure. So, first for me, then my family, and then for the poker world. Most of my friends are in the poker world, so I'm going to go out there and kick ass for them and represent a certain world.” Keeping His Mouth Shut Now that the cat is out of the bag, Bardah has been able to exhale a bit. Prior to the announcement that he was one of 20 castaways on the new season of Survivor, it was mum’s the word for Bardah. Plenty of rumors had circulated and the heat had turned up during the summer’s WSOP, but Bardah wasn’t able to say anything. Even to his close friends, Bardah had kept the secret to himself. “Everywhere I go, every corner, and all I can do is look at them and go, ‘I don't know what you're talking about,’ and just keep walking or just smile,” Bardah said of having to walk through Vegas during the height of poker season in the summer. “I can't deny it, I can't say anything. It was really, really hard and it sucked. But now, being able to talk about it, it's amazing. I have a million phone calls and text messages I haven't answered yet, to be honest, and Facebook posts and Twitter and Instagram and social media platforms, people are going crazy. It was really hard to keep a secret. It really was.” [caption id="attachment_626627" align="aligncenter" width="903"] Ronnie Bardah and some of his fellow castaways for Season 39 of Survivor[/caption] Preparation and Poker’s Similarities Having recently turned 37 years old, although he was 36 when he went off to film, Bardah is impressed with how the game has evolved. This evolution added fuel to Bardah’s fire to compete, and ultimately the combination of love for the game’s evolution and desire to be a true representation of a professional poker player are what motivated him to audition. In regards to the game’s evolution, Bardah discussed how he felt Survivor used to be much more of a social game than it is in its current state. “In today's game, it's a little different,” Bardah said. “There's a lot of luck involved, but I would say it's still mostly skill. But, the game spoke to me. Basically, everything that I've done so far in my life to get me to where I am today is the reason why I wanted to play Survivor. Everything that I've done as a human, in terms of the neighborhood I grew up in, the different people from different walks of life that I've hung out with, going from the kid who is working at SpaceX, to the kid who dances in a step-dance hip-hop club, from the nerd all the way to the kid that grew into who I am today. “I'm sorry if I'm all over the place here, but I'm just really excited about talking about this. When I watch the show, I get goosebumps. I've cried watching the show sometimes, as sad as that may sound, because it really, really hits home for me, and it hits hard, deep, when I see what people go throughout there and I see the mistakes they make. I love it.” Being a professional poker player, mistakes are something Bardah deals with every day on the felt, and it’s these mistakes that can have a direct financial effect of his life. He’s built up a wealth of experience that allows him to capitalize on the mistakes of others while leaning on that same experience to hopefully minimize the mistakes he makes. Bardah is very much a live poker player, and many would even describe him as a feel player. Although he has dabbled a bit with online poker, it’s in the live arena where has cut his teeth, mostly in the world of limit hold’em. The background of being a live poker player and someone who relies on a lot on the feel of the game are things Bardah believes will only help him through a competition such as Survivor. “There's a lot of comparison that goes side by side when it comes to poker and Survivor,” Bardah said. “It's basically that you’ve got to figure out what people think of you, right? If somebody's looking at me a certain way, I try to distinguish what that look means. What do they feel about me? How do they think about me? I felt like I had to play the players, obviously. I had to develop relationships with certain people, and you’ve got to trust somebody. You have to trust somebody for a certain amount of time. Can I trust you for this long, and when am I going to be able to flip on you at this time? You just have to think so far ahead. In poker, you can do certain things to advertise how you're playing, you show a few bluffs and then set your opponent up really well. There are so many similarities. It's just all game flow.” Another aspect in which poker and Survivor are similar, according to Bardah, comes with the prize money. Like many poker tournaments around the world, the payouts are top-heavy. In Survivor, it’s $1 million to first place and then an extreme drop-off to the other prizes. Having experience in events where all of the money is up top, or up top in the top three places, is another advantage Bardah hopes to draw on from poker. “Realistically, which a lot of Survivor players don't know, is when you get down to five or six, you just have to go guns blazing,” Bardah said. “So, it’s not a bad idea to play that under-the-radar game and don't ruffle any feathers. Try to get into a tight-knit alliance, and then when you get five-, six-handed, go for the gusto. You go back to an old season, you see these people get six-handed, six players left, and they let their emotions and their relationships get in the way. That's what effs them. That's what messes them up at the end of the day, because it's real out there.” Understanding the similarities to poker and having those to lean on, Bardah made an effort to prepare in areas he felt would help him once he got to the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. He spent a lot of time working with flint and practising how to make a fire and also worked on his skills with a machete. He took a survival camp in Florida where he learned how to make shelter, different types of ways to start a fire, and best practices for sleeping outside. He went fishing and made spears and fishing poles from scare supplies. He even participating in an eight-day water-only fast to better prepare himself for life without food for extended periods of time. Bardah also did a bit of studying, watching almost every season of Survivor that he could in the five or six weeks of lead-up time he had. He took notes, made observations of different strategies, and even toyed with the idea of taking an acting class in California before he ultimately decided that it would be better to do the eight-day water fast instead. “You only have so much time,” Bardah said. Looking ahead to the premiere on September 25, Bardah said he plans on a small gathering with friends and then he’ll likely do some bigger parties for future episodes. Although we’re not sure how many episodes Bardah will last, we can be sure that the poker world will be pulling for Bardah to win his first seven-figure career score.
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