Joseph Hebert wins the 2020 WSOP Main Event Domestic to face Damian Salas at the Heads Up World Championship; Upeshka De Silva disqualified; Salas denied entry to USA

The exciting conclusion to the highly dramatic 51st Annual World Series of Poker U$10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship is nearly upon us with the 2020 Main Event Domestic Segment having been completed several hours ago. Facing Argentinian pro Damian Salas for the year’s prestigious title is Louisiana’s Joseph Hebert who triumphed at the Domestic segment’s final table held live at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino. This was Hebert’s first ever WSOP win which he hopes to turn into his first ever WSOP bracelet. In an interview with, Hebert shared a text conversation he had with his mother this past summer,

“I texted her, ‘Man, one day I hope I can win a bracelet. It’s something I always dreamed of and I just don’t know how many more chances I’m going to have to do that.’ She texted me back and said, ‘I keep hoping and praying that what will be, will be. Things will work out.’ That was our last text, she passed away three days later.”

Hebert entered the final table backed by a massive chip advantage, stayed ahead the entire way, slashed four heads to bag the win and the US$ 1,553,256 first prize. To lock up the WSOP Main Event championship gold bracelet, Hebert has one last hurdle in Damian Salas who won the Main Event International Segment. Hebert and Salas will face off on Sunday, January 3 at the Rio. Aside from the fame and the bracelet, the ultimate winner will pocket the added US$ 1,000,000 courtesy of Caesar’s Entertainment Inc. and GG Poker. This final match up was originally intended to take place on December 30 however airport protocols have prevented Salas from entering the USA. More on that story down below.

Joseph Hebert. Credit: WSOP Twitter

Main Event Domestic Final Table Payouts

1st Joseph “kolebear” Hebert – US$ 1,553,256
2nd Ron “Samthedog76” Jenkins – US$ 1,002,340
3rd Michael “geNet1x” Cannon – US$ 529,258
4th Ryan “Hagzzz021” Hagerty US$ 387,130
5th Ye “YUAN365” Yuan – US$ 286,963
6th Harrison Dobin – US$ 215,222
7th Shawn “shades927” Stroke – US$ 163,786
8th Gershon “jets613” Distenfeld – US$ 125,885
9th Upeshka “gomezhamburg” De Silva – US$ 98,813

WSOP Main Event final table. Credit: GGPoker Twitter

Upeshka De Silva disqualified

Upeshka De Silva
Upeshka De Silva. Credit:

The 2020 WSOP Main Event Domestic Segment drew 705 players for a prize pool of US$ 6,768,000. 71 players got paid with the final 9 payouts determined live at the Rio. While everyone expected 9 players to return, only 8 showed up. The day before the live battle at the Rio, triple bracelet winner Upeshka De Silva tested positive for Covid-19 and was therefore disqualified. First to break the news was podcast host Joey Ingram on Twitter:

To which De Silva returned an explanation, “I tested positive on Monday, attempted to reach out to Jack Eiffel through an intermediary Tuesday and was informed Jack would call me. Jack called a few hours later and right when I answered he said I don’t want you to say anything just answer yes or no, did you test positive today (dec 21), I said no (I tested positive the 20th). He said ok I’ll see you sunday for the test. No guidance, no options, no advice, no plan, I was very scared as you can imagine and I didn’t know if I went public if I would even have the chance to test after that call.”

In follow up tweets, De Silva shared he never had a fever and had been under quarantine since December 10. However, on December 20, he noticed a loss of smell. Despite De Silva feeling 100%, ultimately a positive test result on December 27th disqualified him. As the rule stated, anyone unable to attend the live portion will be awarded the 9th place money, in this case it was US$ 98,813.

Had De Silva not been disqualified, he would have entered the final table 8th in chips and as the most feared player at the table with three WSOP bracelets and over US$ 3.1 million in live earnings. When the news broke, players once again aired their displeasure over this year’s Main Event Hybrid Format. Several concerned players suggested an ICM payout, even postponement of the final table, however, as with the case of China’s Peiyuan “fish3098” Sun who was unable to travel to Rozvadov for the live portion of the Main Event International Segment, De Silva received the 9th place cash.

Damian Salas denied entry to USA

damian salas poker
Damian Salas. Credit CardPlayer Magazine

On the flip side, Argentinian pro Damian Salas is Covid free however he is having difficulty entering the United States to play the final Heads Up Championship portion of the event. Moments before his intended travel to Dallas, Texas, Salas was informed that his certificate of exception would not be honored at the airport. He was then instructed to change his ticket to Miami, Florida, one of the farthest states from Las Vegas, Nevada, then two hours before takeoff, he was again informed his certificate would also not be honored. Salas is now expected to fly into Las Vegas on January 2nd.

According to an exclusive on Codigo Poker,

“Despite having negative swabs, the United States did not recognize the certificate of exception processed by the WSOP and denied entry to Damian because he was in Europe less than 15 days ago. At the end the heads-up will be played on Sunday, January 3. ‘It was all very badly organized,’ complained the Argentine.”

Salas was at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic on December 15 for the Main Event International Segment final table.

.With extensive live tournament titles under his belt and now over US$ 4.1 million in tournament career earnings, Salas will enter the Heads Up Championship against Hebert as the more decorated player. Both players are seeking their first ever WSOP bracelet and whoever wins it will have put a close to the most unique and drama filled WSOP Main Event in history.

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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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