The poker world might not like the idea, but Damian Salas will have no problem calling himself the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event champion. The 45-year-old Argentinian beat Joseph Hebert in the heads up finale of the 2020 WSOP Main Event on Sunday night at the Rio Hotel & Casino to take home $1 million, the bracelet and the title of WSOP Main Event champ.
The $1 million is in addition to the $1,550,969 Salas earned for winning the international leg at King’s Casino in mid-December. Hebert, who earned $1,553,256 for winning the U.S. leg of the event, earned no additional prize money for finishing as the runner-up.
“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,” Salas said. “Going into the championship, I felt all the energy and support from my family and friends in Argentina tonight, and that helped me.”
Both players started the heads up match with 500,000 chips and levels were 20 minutes long. Over the course of nearly six hours and 173 hands of play, both players took turns holding the chip lead with Salas being down 9-1 in chips before clawing his way back to win.
After the third chip lead change, Hebert seemed to have Salas cornered. Down 9-1 in chips after hand #82, Salas doubled with against Hebert’s . He doubled again on hand #101 and then took the lead on hand #136. Hebert was down 3-1 in chips before taking a slight lead after doubling through Salas on hand #153.
Hebert increased that lead to as much as 3-1 before running into Salas’ with only 20 big blinds in play on hand #170. Salas won that hand to hold his own 3-1 chip lead and just three hands later, finished Hebert off.
With blinds of 25,000/50,000, Hebert jammed for 390,000 with and Salas called with . The flop moved Salas in front and Hebert could only watch as the turn and river completed the board to give Salas the title.
Salas is no stranger to WSOP Main Event success. In 2017, he finished in seventh place and won $1,425,000.
The heads up match was the culmination of the WSOP decision to host a hybrid online-live Main Event on GGPoker and WSOP.com after hosting a “Main Event” on GGPoker as part of the 2020 WSOP Online. In December, each site hosted a $10,000 buy-in online event which played down to a final table of nine. The final tablists from each site met in a live setting to play down to just one player. Each of the two winners then met in Las Vegas to play for the right to be called Main Event champion.
The heads-up finale was originally scheduled to take place December 30, but had to be delayed until Sunday after Salas was denied entry to the United States due to his recent travel activity and COVID-19 protocols.