The unprecedented online and live poker hybrid 2020 World Series of Poker $10,000 Main Event is one step away from crowning a champion, yet the winner won’t be determined in the current year anymore. Out of a field of 1379 entries in the domestic leg on WSOP.com and the international leg on GGPoker, only two contenders remain to become the official world champion.
Damian Salas and Joseph Hebert topped their respective live final tables for more than $1.5 million each. The duel for the WSOP Main Event bracelet and $1 million added top prize to the winner is now slated to take place on January 3, 2021, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino Las Vegas.
Damian Salas Wins International Leg
The online portion of the international leg was played on GGPoker and attracted a field of 674 entries throughout three starting days. On December 7, 179 survivors played down to the final nine in just over ten hours and the action concluded in the early morning hours in Europe.
It was truly an international lineup as the nine contenders hailed from as many countries with six of them based in Central Europe. China’s Peiyuan Sun informed the organizers in advance that he could not travel to the King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic for the scheduled live final table on December 15. According to the event rules set prior to the start, he finished in 9th place for $75,360 and his stack was taken out of play.
The remaining eight hopefuls made the trip to the Czech Republic and passed the antigen test at the venue to participate in the live showdown. Ultimately, the two players with the longest travel faced off in heads-up as Brazil’s Brunno Botteon took on Damian Salas from Argentina. The duel lasted two dozen hands and Salas looked up a bluff by Botteon with rivered two pair to claim the top prize of $1,550,969.
Joseph Hebert wins Domestic Final Table in Las Vegas
The domestic leg was available to all players based in Nevada and New Jersey. A single starting day on WSOP.com attracted a field of 705 entries on December 13. One day later, the 71 survivors determined the nine contenders for the domestic final table.
One day prior to the showdown at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, Joey Ingram broke the news that one of the finalists had tested positive for COVID-19 and was deemed not eligible to participate. Soon after it became obvious that the controversy concerned three-time WSOP bracelet winner Upeshka De Silva.
Very similar to the proceeding circumstances for the international leg, De Silva’s stack was taken out of play and he received the 9th place payout. Perhaps it was just a coincidence that De Silva and Sun were the second-shortest stacks.
The domestic final table was as brief an affair as the international leg and wrapped up in under five hours of play. Joseph Hebert, who entered with more than two times as many chips as the nearest follower, never surrendered the top spot. His heads-up against Ron Jenkins lasted exactly one hand when ace-queen spiked an ace to beat pocket queens, awarding the top prize of $1,553,256 to Hebert.
Delay for the Heads-Up Duel Between Salas and Hebert
On December 28, the day of the domestic final table in Las Vegas, South American outlet CodigoPoker released an article that stated that international leg winner Salas was denied entry to the United States. According to CodigoPoker, Salas was denied entry on very short notice for two occasions by American authorities. This came despite negative COVID-19 test results and a certificate of travel exemption by the WSOP, as the Argentinian had visited Europe within 15 days prior to his arrival in the US.
The new authorized travel date was rescheduled to December 30 and as a result, the heads-up duel between Salas and Hebert was moved to Sunday, January 3 at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. The winner will be crowned the 2020 WSOP Main Event Champion and receive the coveted gold bracelet and an additional $1 million. Both live final tables and the heads-up duel are recorded for a future broadcast on ESPN.
The 2020 WSOP $10,000 Main Event at a Glance
- Total Entrants: 1,379
- Total Prize Pool: $13,238,000 + $1,000,000 added to the winner
- Total Entries on WSOP.com: 705
- Total Prize Pool on WSOP.com: $6,768,000
- Winner of the domestic Final Table: Joseph Hebert (USA) $1,553,256
- Total Entrants on GGPoker: 674
- Total Prize Pool on GGPoker: $6,470,000
- Winner of the international Final Table: Damian Salas (Argentina) $1,550,969