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Damian Salas defeated Joseph Hebert in a marathon heads-up match to win the 2020 WSOP Main Event title, and an extra $1 million in cash. The champ also takes home the coveted gold bracelet and is officially the reigning world champion of poker.
It took more than five hours for Salas to finish off his opponent. Even once the blinds got so big that there weren’t many decisions left to be made, play still resumed for quite some time. Neither player was willing to give in as there was so much riding on this match.
Both players had already won just north of $1.5 million for beating their respective final tables. But they each were chasing that extra $1 million paid to the winner of Sunday’s heads-up finale. And the player who lost the heads-up match took received nothing beyond the $1.5 million already won.
Hebert reached the heads-up finale by defeating the WSOP.com final table at the Rio in Las Vegas last week. He sucked out against Ron Jenkins on the final hand with A-Q against pocket queens. Ironically, that same hand would come back to haunt him on Monday.
Damian Salas, on the other hand, took down GGPoker’s bracket of the 2020 WSOP Main Event. He initially had some travel issues due to COVID-19 restrictions getting to the US from Argentina. But he eventually made it to Las Vegas for a delayed heads-up finale, and the trip turned out to be quite profitable and memorable.
Damian Salas Avenges Loss
Salas is no stranger to the WSOP Main Event final table. In 2017, he finished ninth for $1.4 million. He was given a second shot at glory this year and made the most of it.
The heads-up match against Hebert lasted over five hours and was highly competitive. For the first couple of hours, there wasn’t much movement either way. Both players small chip leads numerous times. One player would raise pre-flop and take it down on the flop, or raise pre-flop and get a fold. There weren’t many action hands for quite some time.
It wasn’t until Level 9 before we saw the first all-in and a call. In that hand, a short-stacked Salas moved all-in for 102,000 with A-2 and got a call from the K-5. The board ran out J-A-4-6-4, giving Salas a double-up, but he was still down nearly 4-1.
Hebert would again pull further ahead before running into pocket tens with K-9 (all-in pre-flop). The best hand once again held up and Salas was back up to 268,000, still in a deep hole, however. The Argentinian then took over, pulling out his own big lead. And then he lost a massive pre-flop all-in hand with K-J against the better K-Q (board came 2-8-5-7-6).
That gave Hebert a 3-1 chip lead yet again. At this point, the blinds were so big that both players were in a fold or shove mode. Late in the match, there were less than 20 total blinds in play. But neither player was ready to just go all-in in the dark to get it over with. There was too much at stake ($1 million versus $0).
With Hebert at 390,000 chips and Salas at 610,000, the small stack moved all-in with A-Q and was called by K-J. The board ran out 5-K-8-5-K, giving Damian Salas a winning full house. For Hebert, he lost a slight bad beat (60/40) with the same hand he used to suck out for a win at the final table last week.
And with that, we finally have a 2020 poker world champion, nearly six months late.