Damian Salas conquers the 2020 WSOP Main Event International

Argentinian pro Damian Salas accomplished what he couldn’t do 32 times prior, win a WSOP title. Salas entered the final table running third in chips, commanded a majority of the action with his relentless assaults, eliminated four players to become the 2020 WSOP Main Event International champion. Salas won a career high US$ 1,550,968 and the coveted seat to the Heads Up World Championship wherein another million dollars awaits along with the WSOP championship gold bracelet.

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

For the first time in history, the World Series of Poker US$ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship Freezeout aka WSOP Main Event was a hybrid tournament. It played out on two online platforms then transitioned to the live felt for each of the final tables. The international segment hosted on Natural8 – GG Network drew 674 entries across three starting days. Although that number may be significantly lower than this past summer’s massive Main Event turnout, it still produced a multi million dollar pot of US$ 6,470,400 with the top two spots earning seven digits. The final table played out live at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, China’s Peiyuan Sun was unable to make the trip and was therefore awarded the 9th place cash of US$ 75,359.

Buy in: US$ 10,000
Players: 674
Prize Pool: US$ 6,470,400
Day 2 qualifiers: 179
ITM: 80 places

Final Table payouts

1st Damian Salas – Argentina – US$ 1,550,968
2nd Brunno Botteon de Albuquerque – Brazil – US$ 1,062,722
3rd Manuel “robocup” Ruivo – Portugal – US$ 728,177
4th Ramon “Ritza” Miguel Munoz – Spain – US$ 498,947
5th Marco “fullbabyfull” Streda – Liechtenstein – US$ 341,879
6th Dominykas “Mickey Mouse” Mikolaitis – Lithuania – US$ 234,255
7th Stoyan “UncleToni”Obreshkov – Bulgaria – US$ 160,512
8th Hannes “Black Fortuna” Speiser – Austria – US$ 109,982
9th Peiyuan “fish3098” Sun – China – US$ 75,359

Opening the final table at the King’s Casino, Brunno Botteon de Albuquerque sat on top however the pack’s most experienced live tournament player was Damian Salas. Excluding the win, Salas accrued nearly US$ 2.7 million in live earnings since 2009. His largest payout was US$ 1,425,000 for finishing 7th out of 7,221 players at the 2017 WSOP Main Event. Today, Salas trumped that score with his second ever seven digit payout of US$ 1,550,968 to bring his live earnings over US$ 4.2 million.

The Damian Salas Show

Coming out aggressive, Damian Salas was clearly out to conquer the table. He took down the first pot of the day on an uncalled four bet preflop against Manuel Ruivo, and from there, he continued his assaults, dragging in pots to easily slide into second rank. After delivering the first casualty in Hannes Speiser (8th) with 10h10s over Qc10c, he inched closer to chip leader Brunno Botteon. Half an hour later, Salas eliminated a second player with Ac10c dominating Stoyan Obreshkov’s Ks10h throughout. For Speiser, the US$ 109,982 payout was a career high; for Obreshkov, the US$ 160,512 was his largest WSOP cash to date.

Just as active was Dominykas Mikolaitis however when he pushed on the small blind with Qc7d, it ended up costing him a chunk to big blind Marco Streda who called for everything holding AcQd. Down to 13 BB, Mikolaitis’s last hand arrived with AJo unable to improve against Ruivo’s pocket threes. Before the next player tumbled, it was Salas again applying pressure on his tablemates. This led to him claiming a huge pot against Botteon to grab the lead and amass nearly half of the chips in play.

last 3
The last thee players at the final table of the 2020 WSOP Main Event – international segment. Credit: King’s Casino Rozvadov Facebook

Fifth place went to Streda from Liechtenstein whose AhKd fell flat against Ruivo’s AcAd. The sizable US$ 341,879 payout was Streda’s first recorded live tournament cash. Down to four players, it was Salas again on the move to accumulate nearly 70 percent of the chips in play. Botteon finally claimed his first player stack by railing Ramon Miguel Munoz (4th) who earned his largest career payout of US$ 498,947. Both Ruivo and Botteon proceeded to bombard Salas’s stack and successfully shaved off a portion. Nearly an hour after Munoz’s bust, Ruivo was sent to his doom with Salas retaliating. On a board 9c4c2d, Salas check raised with 10c7c flush draw, Ruivo risked it all with 9d4h two pair, the turn 8s gave Salas more outs, and one of them came on the river 5c. Ruivo may have missed the seven digit payouts however he still pocketed a cool US$ 728,177, which is officially his largest live win.

Heads up kicked off with Salas ahead by 20 BB. Botteon quickly bridged it and overtook after winning the first two pots. However, those hands would be the only big wins for Botteon. Salas resumed his relentless attacks to easily recover the lost chips and more. His lead widened to 3:1, and after just one hour of heads up battle, Salas closed it out by calling out Botteon’s bluff. On a board Kc4c2h6h8c, Botteon shoved with 7h3h missed flush, Salas called with Kd8h two pair. This was Salas’s first ever WSOP win and third for Argentina. He joins fellow champions Andres Korn and Ivan Luca with one victory each. As for Botteon, despite the loss, he still earned a career high score of US$ 1,062,722. With that win, he doubled up his WSOP total earnings to US$ 2,168,284.

Salas awaits the winner of the 2020 WSOP Main Event Domestic with the final table to be played out on December 28 at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino. That segment drew 705 players and is down to the final 9. The eventual champion will then face off against Salas on December 30 at the Rio for the WSOP Main Event World Championship title, championship gold bracelet, and the added US$ 1,000,000 courtesy of Caesars Entertainment, Inc. and GGPoker.

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That wraps up our coverage of the 2020 WSOP Main Event International segment. Stay tuned for our next recap – the Heads Up World Championship and the crowning of the 51st WSOP Main Event champion.

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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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