Damian Salas Crowned 2020 WSOP Main Event Champion

Argentina's Damian Salas is the 2020 WSOP Main Event champion

Damian Salas is the 2020 WSOP Main Event champion. The Argentinian defeated American Joseph Hebert in the heads-up finale. Salas secured a $1 million cash prize, a gold WSOP bracelet, and the title of 2020 WSOP Main Event champion.

Salas and Hebert played their delayed one-on-one battle on January 3. The battle should have taken place on December 30 but was postponed after authorities refused Salas entry to the U.S. do to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Both players fought their way through an online tournament with a live final table to reach this stage. Salas won the international leg and scooped $1,550,969 with Hebert taking down the U.S. event for $1,553,256.

The winner of the 2020 WSOP Main Event Heads-Up Finale banked an additional $1 million. They could call themselves the 2020 WSOP Main Event champion, too. We will talk about that contentious point later in this article.

2020 WSOP Main Event Heads-Up Starts 500 Big Blinds Deep

Action kicked off in the Amazon Room of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas at 17:00 local time on January 3. The WSOP decided, for reasons only known to them, to give both players a 500 big blind starting stack. No WSOP Main Event in history has every seen this many big blinds in play.

Salas drew first blood, winning the very first hand of the one-on-one encounter. It was a straightforward hand but one showing Salas’ intentions.

Hebert limped on the button, Salas raised to 3,000 and Hebert called. Salas led for 3,500 on the Js-Qs-4s flop and Hebert called. Salas bet 9,000 on the 5h turn and won the pot.

The Argentinian stayed in front until 47th hand of the encounter when Hebert claimed the lead. Hebert limped before calling when Salas raised to 13,000. Both players checked the 3d-Jc-2d flop before Salas bet 8,000 on the Ad turn. Hebert raised to 29,000 and Salas tank-called. The 8c completed the board and Salas checked its arrival. Hebert fired a 106,000 bet and Salas took a long time before folding.

Hand #71 saw Hebert soar into a substantial lead. Blinds were 4,000/8,000a and Hebert raised to 20,000 with Kd-4d and Salas called. The Kh-Qd-Ks flop gifted Hebert trip kings. Salas check-raised a 10,000 continuation bet to 28,000 and was called. Salas bet 52,000 on the 5d turn and Hebert called. The 7c completed the board and Salas bet 139,000. Hebert called and flew into a 775,000 to 225,000 lead.

Salas Fights Back

Hebert stayed ahead until the 136th hand of the 2020 WSOP Main Event heads-up battle. This is when Salas finally clawed his way back and levelled the chip counts.

The chip lead switched hands several times before the 173rd and final hand took place.

Hebert open-shoved for eight big blinds with Ad-Qs and Salas called with Kd-Js. Salas only trailed until the 5c-Ks-8s flop. The 5d turn hit neither player but the Kc river improved Salas to a full house. Hebert ducked out in second-place and Salas became the 2020 WSOP Main Event champion.

Let’s Hope The 2021 WSOP Main Event Returns to Normal

Most people are delighted for Salas because they wish they could become world champion. This late-added Main Event has, however, left a foul taste in many poker players’ mouths.

Everything smells of a cash grab by the WSOP. It looks like they had contractual obligations with ESPN and threw this event together at the last minute. Running such an event during a global pandemic is nothing short of irresponsible.

Peiyuan Sun reached the final table of the international leg of the 2020 WSOP Main Event. The Chinese national decided against travelling from China to the Czech Republic for the live final table, citing COVID-19 fears as the main reason.

The U.S. leg was marred too when Upeshka De Silva was disqualified on the eve of the final table. Three-time WSOP bracelet winner De Silva tested positive for COVID-19 and could not compete.

Then there is the furore surround Stoyan Madanzhiev. The Bulgarian won what he thought was the 2020 WSOP Main Event online at GGPoker. Madanzhiev received a bracelet and a certificate congratulating him on becoming the 2020 World Champion, a certificate signed by poker legend Daniel Negreanu. The WSOP went back on this and denied Madanzhiev was ever world champion.

Here’s hoping the 2021 WSOP Main Event actually takes place and doesn’t follow this ridiculous format ever again.

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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