or the 51st consecutive year, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) $10,000 No-Limit Hold-Em World Championship, also known as the Main Event, crowned a world champion on Sunday, Jan. 3, at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino as international champion Damian Salas of Bueno Aires, Argentina, played head-to-head in a first-of-its-kind showdown against U.S. champion Joseph Hebert of Metairie, LA. At stake, the title of World Champion, an additional $1 million courtesy of Caesars Entertainment, Inc. and GGPoker, and the most valuable trophy in the world of sports - the 2020 diamond and gold encrusted WSOP Main Event bracelet. After 173 hands and nearly six hours of play, the final hand saw Salas call Hebert’s all-in before the flop with king-jack against ace-queen. Salas flopped a pair of kings to give him the lead, the turn card was no help to Hebert, and the river card sealed the deal with another king to solidify Salas’ victory.
“Joseph was a very hard opponent, and he played really well. In a few instances, he was about to win, it was a real fight and he never slowed down,” said Damian Salas. “Going into the championship, I felt all the energy and support from my family and friends in Argentina tonight, and that helped me.”
Having placed seventh in 2017’s Main Event, the 45-year-old South American powerhouse was focused on redemption during his 2020 run. With his eye on the ultimate prize, Salas won GGPoker’s international leg of the 2020 Main Event, defeating Brazil's Brunno Botteon at King's Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic.
Salas’ second time at the Final Table places him in elite company as the first Latin American champion and one of only a few players to ever make it to the final table more than once. While Salas has thrived as a poker player, he’s still passionate about his day job and continues to be a practicing lawyer. The South American’s nickname, earned during his youth playing football, is "Pampa," which means "the wild one, the country man.” Salas is a family man through and through. After his historic win he proudly posed with both the official championship bracelet and the homemade version his daughter created, which he’s kept with him throughout the tournament.
“Both these men are champions in their own right and were a pleasure to host for this unique match,” said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the World Series of Poker. “We thank everyone who participated in this chapter of WSOP history and can’t wait to see you in Las Vegas later this year.”
The journey for Salas’ U.S. counterpart, Hebert, was no easy feat. The 38-year-old dominated the Main Event’s domestic leg in chip count from start to finish, winning $1,553,256 in dramatic heads-up play with runner-up Ron Jenkins at the live Final Table on Monday, Dec. 28. The champion unexpectedly lost his mother in September. In their final exchange, he told her his dream was to win a WSOP bracelet and dedicated this incredible run to her memory, #ForLinda. Hebert has been a long-time grinder, gradually earning a top 200 ranking in the Global Poker Index by playing mostly in smaller stake, regional tournaments, including a WSOP.com $300 satellite event in which he won his Main Event seat.
The 2020 Main Event established a new benchmark for prize pools in U.S. regulated markets, easily eclipsing the $2.019 million achieved for the 2020 WSOP Online championship in July 2020. Also of note, since regulations began for online poker in 2014, never had a player won $1 million or greater on a U.S. licensed poker site. The 2020 Main Event made millionaires of both first and second place for the domestic field, and when combined with first and second place payouts for the international bracket, saw four players hitting the millionaire mark from the tournament.
By The Numbers
Total Entrants – 1379
Total Prize Pool - $13,238,000 + $1,000,000 for the heads-up World Championship
Total Entrants on WSOP.COM – 705
Total Prize Pool on WSOP.COM - $6,768,000
Total Entrants on GGPoker - 674
Total Prize Pool on GGPoker: $6,470,000
Full Payouts Available - https://www.wsop.com/2020-Main-Payouts
As has been the case each year since 2003, ESPN will air full coverage of the 2020 WSOP Main Event