– General Introduction –
Damian Salas is an Argentinian poker player and lawyer. He was born in 1975.
Salas is best known for winning the 2020 WSOP Main Event. That year, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the event was held as an online-live tournament hybrid with international and domestic segments. Salas won the international part of the competition, and faced off with Joseph Hebert, the winner of the domestic (meaning American) segment, in a heads-up match in Las Vegas. Salas won, and pocketed $2.551 million in total for his victory.
He also reached the final table at the 2017 WSOP Main Event. Overall, he has over $2.760 million in live tournament cashes, according to his Hendon page. However, that doesn’t account for the $2.5 million for his Main Event win as it’s counted as an online cash by the database.
Under the screen name “pampa27”, Salas has cashed for over $6.028 million in online MTT’s on PokerStars, and an additional $4.107 million on Natural8-GGNetwork.
However, despite his great achievements at the poker table, he still hasn’t given up his law practice in his home country of Argentina. His nickname is “Pampa”, which means “the wild one” and “countryman” in Spanish.
– Key Career Dates –
- 2009: He starts to play mid to high stakes live poker tournaments in South America.
- 2017: He reaches the final table of the WSOP Main Event, finishing in 7th place for $1.425 million.
- 2020: He wins the WSOP Main Event.
– Damian Salas’ Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Not much is known about Salas’ life before poker.
As for his civil profession, he works as a lawyer in Buenos Aires. He earned his degree from the National University of La Plata.
Even after bagging millions in poker tournaments, he hasn’t quit his law practice. However, he does not rely on his winnings as an income, he just plays for the love of the game – which technically makes him a recreational player.
Salas started playing high stakes live tournaments in South America in 2009. The same year, he traveled to the US to play at the WSOP for the first time.
→ Live Tournaments ←
According to Hendon, Salas has $2.760 million in live tournament winnings. However, that sum doesn’t take into account the $1.551 million he got for winning the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em – International Main Event or the additional $1 million he won at the following Heads-Up World Championship.
That is because Hendon counts the former as an online event – while most of the tournament did in fact play out online on Natural8-GGNetwork, the final table was played live at King’s Casino Rozvadov. The heads-up championship was also played live.
Including these two figures, Salas’ career earnings count is at $5.311 million.
The first recorded cash on his profile is from January 2009. He finished 3rd in the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event at the Latin American Poker Tour in Vina del Mar, Chile for $52,380. A few months later, in March 2009, he had his first major victory: he took down the $1,100 Latin American Poker Tour NLHE event in Uruguay and won $43,860. The first time he cashed in an event held in the US was at the 2009 WSOP.
The first time he made a live tournament score for over $100,000 was in November 2013. He finished first in the $5K High Roller at LAPT Uruguay again, this time winning a hefty $107,800.
He has two major results from the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP). In December 2014, he came in 3rd in the BRL5,000 NLHE High Roller for BRL174,500 (which was worth around $68,000 at the time). A year later, in December 2015, he finished 2nd in the BRL6,000 High Roller at the BSOP for BRL306,000 ($79,600).
In November 2019, Salas took 2nd place in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $130,500 at the Super High Roller 500K festival in his beloved home country, Argentina.
→ World Series of Poker ←
Damian Salas is the 2020 WSOP Main Event champion. He’s the first Argentine to win poker’s most prestigious title. Argentina is one of the 12 nations outside the United States to give poker a Main Event winner.
2020’s tournament, however, was unlike any other year’s.
First off, the dreaded coronavirus pandemic forced all WSOP events to be played online during the summer. During that time, the WSOP did hold an online No Limit Hold’em Main Event (Event #77) on Natural8-GGNetwork with a $5,000 buy-in. That tournament was won by Bulgaria’s Stoyan Madanzhiev – at the time, everyone thought he was the year’s Main Event champion.
However, a few months later the World Series announced that they were going to have a “proper” Main Event anyway. Evidently, they couldn’t put on an event with thousands of entrants in the middle of a pandemic. So, they went with an unusual online-tournament hybrid with a domestic (meaning for American players) and an international segment.
The domestic segment was played on WSOP.com, while the international was on Natural8-GGNetwork. The final 9 players of these online tournaments would travel to the Rio Casino & Resort in Las Vegas, and to King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, respectively, to play out the final tables live.
However, even this complicated solution wasn’t perfect against the virus. Peiyuan Sun from China couldn’t travel to the international final table; and Upeshka De Silva couldn’t travel to the domestic FT – both due to the coronavirus. Both of them received a 9th place payout.
Out of the 8 players who did make it to Rozvadov for the international final table, the hero of our story, Salas, emerged victorious. While playing, he was wearing a mock-up WSOP bracelet made by his daughter. He won $1.551 million plus the chance to battle the winner of the US segment, Joseph Hebert, heads-up at the Rio for an additional $1 million – and 2020’s “official” WSOP Main Event title.
In the final hand of the head-up match, Hebert shoved with , Salas called with , and the final board came for a winning full house for Salas.
In 2017, Salas made it to the final of the WSOP Main Event once before. Then, he eventually took 7th place out of a field of 7,221 players for $1.425 million. That year, the American Scott Blumstein won. The next year, in 2018, Salas finished ITM in the Main again, that time coming in 569th for $23,940.
Overall, Salas has cashed in 34 World Series events for a total of $4.271 million combined.
→ Live Cash Games ←
So far, Salas hasn’t appeared on any TV shows or live streams where he played live cash games publicly.
→ Online Poker ←
Salas plays under the screen name “pampa27” on PokerStars.
His PocketFives profile shows $6.028 million in cashes on his PS account. On top of it, he has a Full Tilt account with the screen name “damian salas” and $560,000 in MTT cashes; as well as a GGPoker account with his real name as his screen name “Damian Salas” with $4.107 million more in cashes.
His results across all sites put his lifetime online tournament earnings at $11.625 million, as of December 2021.
His biggest online tourney score is the $1.551 million he got for winning the international segment of the 2020 WSOP Main Event. Aside from that, his biggest online cash is $814,664, which he got for finishing 3rd in the $10,000 buy-in WPT #08 Main Event Championship on partypoker in September 2020.
→ Sponsorships ←
.According to his WSOP.com profile, Salas is sponsored by the South American online poker network Aconcagua Poker.