It has been a long road leading to the 2020 WSOP Main Event. The covid-19 pandemic did not help issues as games were postponed for safety reasons, and the better part of the tournament, international and within the US, was held online. Damian Salas, an Argentine, won the international leg that was sponsored by GGPoker. Out of 674 entrants, he made it to the final table that featured eight poker players from around the world. The international final table event was held in the Czech Republic, where Salas emerged victorious. The victory qualified him for a chance to win a bracelet in the heads-up match against the US champion.
On Sunday, January 3, the heads-up match against Salas and the US champion, Joseph Hebert, took place at the Rio All-Hotel & Suites, Las Vegas. The event was originally scheduled to hold on December 30 but was met with an unmitigated delay. Damian Salas was denied entry into the US on two different tries despite having a clearance certificate from WSOP. The reason for his denial was because he had been in Europe in the last 15 days. As a result, the heads-up match was postponed to a date where it was safe for Salas to come into the US.
Both champions came into the matchup having won over $1.5 million each in their respective legs. The heads-up match was for a chance to win the WSOP gold bracelet and an additional $1 million. The 45-year-old Argentine came out on top after one of the longest one-on-one matches in World Series of Poker history. In 2018, John Cynn and Tony Miles set the record with 199 hands. Salas was able to secure the victory after both men went back and forth for 173 hands.
From the get-go, Salas took a slight lead but was unable to hold the position for long. Hebert pulled out in front a short while later but also, was unable to hold on to the lead. Hebert secured a 3:1 chip lead after Hand #71 after winning a big pot with trip kings. Hebert was determined to apply more pressure and secure the win for his late mother. He was able to secure an 8:1 chip lead. The first all-in confrontation was won by Salas on Hand #83, which brought him back into the game. From then on, the next three hours was a fiery contest. Anytime one player is almost pulling away, the other digs in and doubles back. It was truly anyone’s game as no one could comfortably pull away.
In the end, Salas had a full house and had Hebert bow out as the runner up. In his post-match interview, Salas said, “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. Going into the championship, I felt all the energy and support from my family and friends in Argentina tonight, and that helped me.” He also said, “I do not play for the money, I play because of the challenge, because of my love for poker. I play to be better every time, to compete. I am very proud of myself to earn this achievement.”