Argentina’s Damian Salas crowned the 2020 WSOP Main Event champion

After two WSOP Main Event online legs, two live final table showdowns, and one ultimate heads up world championship, the 51st Annual World Series of Poker finally crowned its $10,000 No Limit Hold’em MAIN EVENT champion. Standing victorious and proud was Argentinian pro Damian Salas who outdueled USA’s Joseph Hebert live at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. This was Salas’s first ever WSOP win and was also the first player from Argentina to capture the prestigious world championship title. For his incredible achievement, Salas was awarded the WSOP championship gold bracelet and the added US$ 1,000,000 courtesy of Caesars Entertainment Inc and GGPoker.

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Damian Salas. Credit: WSOP Twitter

Prior to this win, Salas had been hunting down a bracelet since his first WSOP cash in 2009. In 2017, he got very close when he reached the Main Event final table however he bowed out in 7th place. His second chance arrived at the one-of-a-kind 2020 WSOP Main Event – hybrid format – when he reached the final table of the International Segment’s online portion on Natural8-GGNetwork. The battle then switched to a live format at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. Salas was the most experienced live tournament player in the lineup and proved it by railing four players that included Brazil’s hot running Brunno Botteon De Albuquerque at heads up. The win awarded him the 2020 WSOP Main Event International title, the US$ 1,550,968 first prize, and a ticket to the Heads Up World Championship at the Rio for the coveted title.

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Winner Damian Salas (second from left) next to casino owner Leon Tsoukernik (left) and GG ambassador Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier (right end). Credit: King’s Casino Rozvadov Facebook

Before heading to Las Vegas for the final showdown, Salas had a two week break. During that time, the 2020 WSOP Main Event Domestic Segment ran on for players geolocated in New Jersey and Nevada. The live portion was at the Rio where Joseph Hebert brought in the largest stack of the finalists then took it all the way to pocket the US$ 1,553,256 first prize and his ticket to the Heads Up World Championship.

With the final matchup determined, Salas versus Hebert for the coveted title, the clash of champions was scheduled to take place on December 30 however it was postponed due to Salas having difficulty entering the United States. According to an exclusive on CodigoPoker, Salas’s certificate of exemption provided by the WSOP was not honored because he was in Europe within the past 15 days. On January 2, GGPoker tweeted that Salas was in the USA and the battle for the title would take place on January 3.

Final showdown recap

Based on Pokernews live reports, it was a swinging race that saw a total of 173 hands dealt. The more seasoned live tournament pro Salas jumped to an early lead, by level 4 Hebert had caught up and overtook, then both tugged until level 8 when Hebert surged ahead to send Salas down to 10 BB as compared to Hebert’s 90 BB. It took five levels for Salas to get back over par. Along the way, he shipped two all in showdowns, then by the end of level 13, had grinded to a 2:1 advantage. At level 15, blinds were high and costly with the average stack at just 10 BB. Hebert scored a double up to bring Salas down to under 5 BB. Again Salas recovered with a boost of his own holding Ah10d over Hebert’s As8d. Three hands later, it was all over. Hebert shoved with AdQs, Salas called with KdJs, the final board came 5cKs8s5dKc for a winning full house.

Event final recap

The 51st Annual WSOP US$ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em MAIN EVENT World Championship is certainly one for the history books. To adjust to the pandemic, it was a hybrid format comprising an online segment and a live portion. The International Segment online leg was held on Natural8 – GG Network wherein 674 players participated. For the Domestic Segment it was at with 705 players. The international final table took place live at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. Only 8 out of the 9 players made the trip with China’s Peiyuan Sun unable to attend due to his country’s travel restrictions. Sun was awarded the 9th place cash. Similar situation at the domestic final table which was held at the Rio in Las Vegas. Triple bracelet winner Upeshka De Silva tested positive for Covid-19 and was therefore disqualified. He too earned the 9th place cash. The winner of each segment – Damian Salas and Joseph Hebert – faced off on January 3rd at the Rio. Salas seized it to capture his first ever WSOP win and a first WSOP Main Event title for Argentina. In total, Salas walked away with a whopping US$ 2,550,968 and a championship gold bracelet. He has now accrued over US$ 5.3 million in combined live tournament and WSOP winnings.

That wraps up our coverage of the highly unique 2020 WSOP Main Event.

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Tricia David

Tricia David has long experience as a recreational poker player and has been covering poker events since 2010 for numerous outfits in Asia. She spent one year working part time with Poker Portal Asia then became editor and lead writer for all event coverage of the Philippine Poker Tour (PPT). Under the PPT, she overlooked content for their website, and produced live updates on all their events. In addition, she served as the live and online events website content writer for the Asian Poker Tour. Currently, she does live events reporting in Asia for online news site Somuchpoker and is also one of their news contributors.

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