Damian Salas Wins 2020 WSOP Main Event
The 2020 World Champion of Poker has finally been crowned. Originally, the finale for the 2020 WSOP Main Event was to play out on December 30th. However, COVID-related travel restrictions prevented International WSOP Champ Damian Salas from entering the United States. This forced a delay in the heads-up finale between Salas and Joseph Hebert.
That finale finally got underway on Sunday night. After a 173 hand heads-up marathon, Damian Salas came out on top. He walked away with the 2020 WSOP Main Event Championship bracelet and the $1 million added prize from Caesars Entertainment.
Salas Defeats Hebert After Marathon Heads-Up Battle
The long-awaited finale for the 2020 WSOP Main Event kicked off on Sunday from the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This year, the event was not broadcast live on ESPN nor was it live-streamed. PokerNews served as the primary source of what went on during the event, providing a live blog of each hand of the final table.
Unlike heads-up battles of the past, this one started with both players holding a stack of 500,000. With blinds of just 500 and 1,000 to start, we knew this night could drag on a while. Drag on it did as the event went 173 hands.
The action went back and forth for a while and around the 80th hands, Domestic Champ Joseph Hebert held a massive lead. Salas then found a double with A-2 against K-5 at Hand 83 to get back into it. Salas battled hard and by the hand 130, stacks were nearly event. Salas then moved back into the lead at hand 136.
The chip lead flipped back and forth fairly regularly at this point as blinds were 25k and 50k. Whoever got hot at this point would win it. It was Salas that ran hot late. First, he doubled with A-10 against A-8 for Hebert to take more than a 3:1 chip lead.
The final hand was hand 173. Hebert shoved for 390k with Ad-Qs and Salas called with Kd-Js. The flop produced a king to give Salas the lead. A river king ended Hebert’s tournament and made Salas the World Champion of Poker for 2020.
Damian Salas won the Championship bracelet along with $1 million. Including his international final table win, Salas won $2.55 million on the way to his Main Event victory.
Heads-Up Finale Made For a Great Story
If you haven’t been following the lead up to the Main Event finale, then you’ve missed a great story. Damian Salas is best known for his run in the 2017 WSOP Main Event where he finished 7th. This made him the latest player in recent years to make a return trip to the final table and many had him as the prohibitive favorite.
However, many also were rooting for Joseph Hebert. He was playing the event for his mother Linda who passed away last Summer. Hebert won his entry into the Main Event via a $300 satellite on WSOP.com. As a result, he was on the ultimate freeroll.
Then you had the heads-up battle that went on for hours. In the end, ESPN will likely only show about an hour’s worth of the finale. The edited version of this final table should make for some interesting television.
What Will Happen to the World Series of Poker in 2021?
With the COVID-19 pandemic ramping up rather than slowing down, it is way too early to speculate on the future of a live World Series of Poker in 2021. For now, the WSOP will be holding a series of online circuit events rather than holding live circuit tournaments.
If we were to speculate, we’d estimate that the WSOP will do another virtual WSOP this summer with perhaps a few select events ran in a hybrid format similar to the Main Event. As such, it may be 2022 before we see another live World Series of Poker.