WSOP Final Table: Las Vegas Shooting Survivor Garry Gates Closes Gap on Chip Leader Hossein Ensan

Posted on: July 15, 2019, 01:46h. 

Last updated on: July 16, 2019, 09:49h.

Five players will retake their seats at WSOP Main Event final table at the Rio Las Vegas when play resumes tonight. Among them is Garry Gates, a poker journalist and survivor of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting.

Las Vegas Oct 1, 2017 shooting survivor Garry Gates has the momentum behind him as he sits in second place, but can he fulfill every poker journalist’s dream and take down the big one? (Image: Rachel Aston/LVR-J)

Gates has become a fan favorite on the rail, and during last night’s play, closed the gap on the chip leader, German Hossein Ensan, a former EPT champion.

Gates still lies in second place, as he had when the final table began, but Ensan’s mountain of chips now looks assailable for the young American from Henderson, Nev.

Living for the Moment

In October 2017, Gates and his friends were among concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival when high-stakes video poker player Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino across the street.

Fifty-eight people lost their lives and a further 422 were wounded by gunfire – more than 400 more were injured in the ensuing panic. Gates was able to crawl into a tent and shelter with others behind an upturned trellis table, according to an account he gave to PocketFives in April 2018.

“The biggest impact (the shooting) had on me is forcing me, in a good way, to appreciate every single moment,” Gates told the Las Vegas Review-Journal Sunday.

I learned in that experience that tomorrow’s not promised. When I’m here sitting at this table and playing hands, I try to intentionally take some time out to make eye contact with my friends and family and soak things in,” he added.

“Just live in the moment. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned,” Gates said.

Top Two Dominant

The night started well for Gates on Sunday, as he busted Serbia’s Milos Skrbic — the first player to leave the final table — on the sixth hand of the night.

During the course of the evening, we also lost Timothy Su (US), Alex Marchington (UK), and Zhen Cai (US), in that order. While Ensan clings onto the chip lead, his lead is far less pronounced than it was at the start of play on Sunday.

While Ensan increased his stack by just over 17 percent, Gates did so by around 73 percent. The two chip leaders now hold roughly 75 percent of all the chips in play, leaving the three other remaining players – Dario Sammartino; Kevin Maahs, and Alex Livingston – clinging on for dear life.

This was the second-largest field in the history of the main event and so has the second biggest prize pool, although due to a flatter payout structure than previous years, it’s only the joint-second biggest prize. Nevertheless, it’s over four times the amount Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic each received for winning Wimbledon last weekend.

The Top Paydays in Non-Team Sports

The World Series of Poker Main Event beats comparably individualistic sports in terms of big, fat paydays, with the exception of boxing – although recreational boxers are not permitted to compete in heavyweight world championship events, perhaps wisely.

Golf: The Players’ Championship currently has the biggest prize in golf, with the winner picking up a record $2.25 million this year.

Tennis: The 2019 Australian Open increased the prize pool by 10 percent this year, meaning the mens and ladies Champions took home a record $4.5 million each, just topping the US Open and Wimbledon payouts.

Boxing: Floyd Mayweather’s fight against Conor McGregor earned him the single biggest payday in the history of sport, $275 million.