Damian Salas can now be content with the honor of being the 2020 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event champion. The 45-year-old practicing lawyer from Argentina won his first-ever gold bracelet after defeating Joseph Hebert at the recently-concluded live heads-up finale at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
The 2020 edition of the world’s most prestigious poker tournament was held as a hybrid online-live event in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It kicked off online at GGPoker (international portion) and WSOP.com (US portion). Salas and Hebert topped the final tables of both legs to advance to the special heads-up finale which was originally scheduled to take place on December 30 but was postponed to January 3 due to travel issues.
Action Recap
The heads-up match was marked by intense action which took 173 hands to come to a conclusion. It was filled by plenty of twists and turns, with both players not giving up without a fight. Salas scored an early lead, but Hebert overtook the leading position not long after.
After 71 hands, the American was out in front 3:1, and even managed to extend the lead even further, leaving Salas behind by an 8:1 gap. But a determined Salas bounced back on Hand #83 after winning the first all-in confrontation of the heads-up battle.
The match ensued with both players trading blows, making it quite hard to predict who would ultimately emerge as the victor as the stacks became shallow.
It was anyone’s game until Hand #170 when Salas won a pot to lead the match 4:1. While Hebert did manage to narrow the gap, his fate was sealed on Hand #173 when he jammed with ace-queen, and Salas called holding king-jack. The board showed Ks8s5c5dKc, giving the Argentinian a full house to send his opponent to the rail.
Salas Takes Home $2.55M in Total Winnings
Apart from the more than $1.55 million he earned after winning the international leg of the event, Damian Salas received another $1 million after defeating Hebert — meaning Salas was able to take home over $2.55 million for his impressive run during the 2020 WSOP Main Event. It was sweet redemption for the Argentinian lawyer who fell short of winning the 2017 WSOP Main Event after finishing in 7th place.
As the 2020 WSOP Main Event runner-up finisher, Hebert was a big winner as well, as he was able to convert his $300 satellite entry into a massive $1,553,256 in winnings after topping the domestic portion of the tournament.
The hybrid event was generally successful, though issues relating to COVID-19 also affected the running of the tournament. China’s Peiyuan Sun chose not to participate in the live final table of the international leg in Czech Republic due to travel restrictions, while Upeshka De Silva also was not able to take part in the US final table action after testing positive for COVID-19. The disqualification meant both players automatically finished in 9th place, each receiving the minimum final table payout.
Salas was also initially barred from entering the United States for his participation in the international final table in Czech Republic, resulting in the postponement of the heads-up finale.
2021 Live WSOP Remains in Limbo
Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the WSOP, praised the two finalists for an impressive performance, saying they were both champions in their own right. He thanked everyone for their support and hinted at a live event taking place in Vegas “later this year”.
This could mean that the WSOP might adopt a similar format this year as the threat of COVID-19 continues. With a second wave of lockdowns already in effect in certain jurisdictions, it’s highly likely that players will again miss out on a live WSOP summer festival in Vegas.
A WSOP Online Circuit Series is set to take place throughout the year, offering a line-up of online events which will run on WSOP.com every month. The series will culminate in a gold bracelet event to be participated in by invited players. Apart from the prizes on offer at the series, an additional $500,000 will also be given away throughout the year.

Tight Poker Staff

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For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the best in class for poker site reviews, top online poker bonuses, strategy tips, poker news, and exclusive free poker content.  Consisting of a team of poker and gambling experts, we deliver the best online poker brand experience for players of all levels, from the fish to the sharks.
For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the best in class for poker site reviews, top online poker bonuses, strategy tips, poker news, and exclusive free poker content.  Consisting of a team of poker and gambling experts, we deliver the best online poker brand experience for players of all levels, from the fish to the sharks.