Argentine Salas Wins 2020 WSOP Main Event Finale

The 2020 World Series of Poker seemed far off and somewhat anticlimactic. In large part, that was due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the virus raging in the United States and travel stifled across most of the world, the WSOP had to cancel the traditional summer WSOP in Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker Europe in Rozvadov.

While Aussies didn’t need to travel to the United States or Europe to play in last year’s WSOP, they did need to travel out of Australia because of current online poker and online gambling laws. The WSOP moved the summer series and the November/December Main Event online to Natural8 for a global audience, but the site doesn’t allow players to compete while they’re in Australia.

It is unclear how many Australians played in this year’s online events. Online sites don’t track things like player nationalities like the WSOP in Las Vegas typically does.

It goes without saying, but 2020 was a strange year.

WSOP Played to Two Finalists in December

The Main Event did play out as a finale to the WSOP Online year.

As we noted here, the World Series of Poker executives announced a year-end 2020 WSOP Main Event last November, one that would combine online and live poker.

One event played out in the United States, starting online in New Jersey and Nevada. The final table players then trekked to Las Vegas to play the final table live at the Rio. And when that was done, Joseph Hebert won it for $1,553,256.

The other event played on Natural8 and GGPoker for non-US players, and the final tablists then traveled to the Czech Republic to play for the win at King’s Casino. Damian Salas of Argentina claimed victory there for $1,550,969.

Those two champions were scheduled to meet up in Las Vegas – again at the Rio – to play heads-up to declare the final 2020 WSOP Main Event winner. GGPoker and the WSOP put $1 million up for the winner, alongside the Main Event gold bracelet.

However, Salas was unable to get into the United States for the December 30 tournament due to his recent trip to Europe. The US coronavirus regulations required a 15-day pause between visiting Europe and America. So, Salas rescheduled his trip for New Year’s Day.

The two players were then scheduled to play the heads-up freeroll on January 3, 2021.

Two Serious Players

Luckily for the WSOP, Salas and Hebert are both poker players who take the game seriously. They both value the integrity of the game, not to mention the intrinsic (and monetary, of course) value of the $1 million prize and the WSOP Main Event gold bracelet. Both wanted the title and intended to play their best in the heads-up match.

They each received 500K chips and started playing on the evening of January 3 with 500/1000 blinds. The two men clearly took some time to assess the other’s abilities, as it took several levels for either of the players to hit the 600K-chip mark.

Hebert and Salas both enjoyed time as the chip leader during the match. Salas was down to 240K at one point, and Hebert sunk to 220K. The latter happened toward the end of the game, as the blinds became too steep to play small-ball poker anymore.

Salas had been down to 390K but doubled up on the 170th hand of the night. Hebert doubled back but needed to do it again to retake the lead. He pushed all-in with A-Q, and he was initially ahead of Salas and his K-J. However, the board of K-K-8-5-5 gave Salas a full house.

The 45-year-old man from Argentina, a full-time attorney and part-time poker player, became the 2020 WSOP Main Event World Champion. He won $1 million on top of the $1.5 million he won to get to the heads-up match, and he grabbed the most coveted piece of jewelry in all of poker.

The gentlemen shook hands, both seeming appreciative of the opportunity and the challenge.

Poker Hall of Fame Inducts Huck Seed

On another note, the World Series of Poker announced the 10 finalists for the 2020 Poker Hall of Fame induction. We provided some information about that process and the list of nominees last month.

After several years of nominations, Huckleberry Seed – better known to many as Huck Seed – won the most votes. The WSOP announced the news on December 30. Seed won with 76 of the 300 votes, with Tournament Director Matt Savage finishing second with 51 votes and PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg third with 45 votes.

Seed told the WSOP that the induction prompted him to think back on his career, specifically back to his early WSOP events, walking into Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas, and looking at the original members of the Poker Hall of Fame with their pictures on the walls.

“It feels good to be included with all the poker legends that I once idolized and compete against over the years,” Seed said. “Thank you, everyone.”

Rose Varrelli

Rose Varrelli has always been passionate about online casinos, as she’s been a player at a variety of places for years. Rose turned her personal knowledge and insight into a writing career. She aims to provide readers with the most up to date, informative news in the world of online casinos!

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