WSOP Main Event Champions 2018-20: Cynn, Ensan, and Salas

John Cynn, Hossein Ensan, and Damian Salas

With the 2023 World Series of Poker just around the corner, PokerNews is continuing to look at past WSOP Main Event champions and what they've been up to since winning poker's big one.

Our last installment of the series looked at the winners from 2015-17, with this edition focusing on John Cynn, Hossein Ensan, and Damian Salas who all triumphed in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively.

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John Cynn: 2018 Main Event Champion ($8,800,000)

John Cynn
John Cynn
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John Cynn must have thought he'd blown his chances of becoming the WSOP Main Event champion when he busted in 11th place during the 2016 edition of poker's most famous live tournament. The $650,000 Cynn won that day after outlasting most of the 6,737 entrants will have gone some way to numbing the pain, but the nature of large-field poker tournaments means most players do not get many shots at a life-changing prize.

Fastforward three years and Cynn was one of 7,874 entrants in the $10,000 WSOP Main Event, the second-largest Main Event in history at the time. After ten days of intense poker action, including a final table spanning 442 hands, Cynn had redemption for his near miss, and become poker's world champion.

Cynn found himself heads-up against Tony Miles in what became the ultimate slugfest. Cynn and Miles butted heads for ten hours before something finally gave, and Cynn clinched the title.

With blinds of 2,000,000/4,000,000/500,000a, Cynn opened to 9 million before calling a 34 million three-bet. Miles led out for 32 million on the king-king-five flop, Cynn called, and an eight landed on the turn. Miles moved all-in for 114 million, sending Cynn into the tank for over a minute, before he emerged with a call. Cynn showed king-jack for trip kings, and was way ahead of Miles' queen-eight. The inconsequential four on the river brought the curtain down on an epic one-on-one battle.

2019 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results

PlaceWinnerCountryPrize (in USD)
1John CynnUnited States$8,800,000
2Tony MilesUnited States$5,000,000
3Michael DyerUnited States$3,750,000
4Nicolas ManionUnited States$2,825,000
5Joe CadaUnited States$2,150,000
6Aram ZobianUnited States$1,800,000
7Alex LynskeyAustralia$1,500,000
8Artem MetalidiUkraine$1,250,000
9Antoine LabatFrance$1,000,000

Cynn Since Becoming World Champion

Cynn has not been overly active since reeling in the $8.8 million first-place prize of the 2018 WSOP Main Event. Indeed, Cynn has only managed six cashes since becoming world champion.

Two of those scores tipped the scales at six figures. Cynn finished fourth in a $25,000 High Roller at the partypoker MILLIONS South America festival for $110,000 in March 2019.

In March 2020, Cynn was the runner-up in a $25,500 Short Deck event at the partypoker MILLIONS Sochi Super High Roller Series for $252,000.

Cynn's last recorded in-the-money finish came during the 2022 WSOP Main Event, where his 550th place finish came with a $25,500 prize.

Hossein Ensan: 2019 Main Event Champion ($10,000,000)

Hossein Ensan
Hossein Ensan
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Iranian-German poker pro Hossein Ensan triumphed in the 2019 WSOP Main Event, which was the second-largest Main Event at the time. Ensan overcame 8,568 opponents to get his hands on $10 million of the $80,548,600 prize pool, adding a WSOP bracelet to the WSOP Circuit ring and European Poker Tour (EPT) title he already possessed.

Ensan navigated his way to the nine-handed final table with more than a third of the chips in play, but the victory was far from a done deal because there were some supremely talented players in contention for the title.

Eventually, Ensan found himself heads-up against Italian superstar Dario Sammartino. On the 301st hand of the final table's action, and with blinds of 2,000,000/4,000,000/4,000,000a, Ensan made it 11 million to go with pocket kings, and Sammartino looked him up with eight-four of spades. Sammartino check-called a 15 million bet on the ten-six-deuce flop, which had two spades.

Sammartino checked again on the offsuit nine turn, opening the door for Ensan to fire a 33 million bet. Sammartino responded with an all-in check-raise of 140 million, which Ensan snapped off. The river needed to be a spade to prevent Ensan from winning the WSOP Main Event, and although the queen on the river was black, it was a club. Ensan banked $10 million, leaving Sammartino to console himself with a $6 million consolation prize.

2019 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results

PlaceWinnerCountryPrize (USD)
1Hossein EnsanGermany$10,000,000
2Dario SammartinoItaly$6,000,000
3Alex LivingstonCanada$4,000,000
4Garry GatesUnited States$3,000,000
5Kevin MaahsUnited States$2,200,000
6Zhen CaiUnited States$1,850,000
7Nick MarchingtonUnited Kingdom$1,525,000
8Timothy SuUnited States$1,250,000
9Milos SkrbicSerbia$1,000,000

Ensan Since Becoming World Champion

Ensan almost added a second WSOP bracelet to his wrist a few months after his Main Event victory, when he finished third in the €25,500 WSOP Europe Platinum High Roller. It was a result that added €251,837 ($281,436) to Ensan's bankroll.

Although Ensan has racked up more than a dozen cashes since his WSOP Main Event victory, only his near miss in the WSOP Europe High Roller and a 14th place finish in the 2022 EPT Prague Main Event weigh in at more than $50,000

Damian Salas: 2020 Main Event Champion ($2,550,969)

Damian Salas
Damian Salas
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Argentina's Damian Salas will forever be remembered for winning the strangest WSOP Main Event in history. The 2020 WSOP was severely disrupted by global COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the WSOP heading online to the virtual felts of GGPoker and

There were online editions of the WSOP Main Event held for Americans on and for the rest of the world on GGPoker. Combining those fields meant there were 1,379 entrants in 2020, and combined prize pools of $13,238,400.

Salas reached the final table of the international leg of the 2020 WSOP Main Event, which took place in the live setting of King's Resort in Rozvadoz, Czech Republic. That final table should have played out nine-handed, but China's Peiyuan Sun opted not to travel, so they received ninth-place money.

The Argentinian came out on top and hauled in $1,550,969 for his victory, while earning the right to play the Main Event champion, Joseph Hebert, heads-up for $1 million in Las Vegas in April 2021. Salas defeated Hebert in Vegas, taking his total take-home pay to $2,550,969.

2020 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results

PlaceWinnerCountryPrize (USD)
1Damian SalasArgentina$1,550,969
2Brunno BotteonBrazil$1,062,723
3Manuel RuivoPortugal$728,177
4Ramon Miquel MunozSpain$498,947
5Marco StredaSwitzerland$341,879
6Dominykas MikolaitisLithuania$234,255
7Stoyan ObreshkovBulgaria$160,512
8Hannes SpeiserAustria$109,982

*China's Peiyuan Sun has opted not to travel and finished in ninth place ($75,360) as per the rules

Salas Since Becoming World Champion

Salas is quite a prolific poker tournament player, particularly in the online poker world. Just three months after defeating Hebert in Las Vegas, Salas won his first PokerStars Spring Championship Of Online Poker (SCOOP) title, before adding another in the 2022 SCOOP.

2022 was a solid year for Salas, who finished 27th in the WSOP Main Event for $262,300 and busting in eighth-place in the €10,300 EPT Barcelona High Roller for €115,780 ($116,489).

  • Check out what these WSOP Main Event champions have been up to after winning poker's big one.

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