The first final table winner of the 2020 World Series of Poker $10,000 Championship Main Event has been determined, at the King's Resort in Rozvadov for the international leg of the online/live hybrid.
Eight of the nine finalists out of a field of 674 entries made the trip to the Czech Republic to battle for the lion's share of the $6,470,400 prize pool. Ultimately, the two finalists with the longest travels met heads up and Argentina's Damian Salas defeated Brazil's Brunno Botteon to claim the top prize of $1,550,969.
Salas beamed with pride and proudly flashed the Argentinian flag throughout the entire final table, in which he ultimately prevailed after dominating the duel with Botteon. The Brazilian is mainly active in the online poker arena and reached three final tables including two runner-ups during the 2020 GGPoker WSOP Online Bracelet Events earlier in 2020. While it was another close call, Botteon will certainly be consoled by a massive score of $1,062,723 to further cement his status as one of the rising stars of the South American powerhouse.
Salas, meanwhile, gained chance at redemption after finishing in seventh during the 2017 WSOP Main Event, and he will have the chance to return to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas at the end of the year. The heads-up duel for the title of 2020 World Champion is currently scheduled for Dec. 30, and Salas now awaits the champion of the domestic leg, which has played down to the final nine last night on the WSOP.com client in Nevada and New Jersey.
Portugal's online and live poker wizard Manuel Ruivo finished third and the international final table line-up also featured Ramon Miquel Munoz, Marco Streda, Dominykas Mikolaitis, Stoyan Obreshkov, and Hannes Speiser.
|4||Ramon Miquel Munoz||Spain||$498,947|
*China's Peiyuan Sun has opted not to travel and finished in ninth place ($75,360) as per the rules
Salas Overwhelmed and Thankful
In the interview after victory, Salas said he was happy about the performance but also made sure to point out that he "is not the best poker player" but being able to compete against the best in the world has certainly improved his game.
The Argentinian had already crossed paths with runner-up Botteon on the virtual felt many times over the years and described him as a "very tough opponent with a winning mentality."
Salas recalled a pivotal hand early on the final table in which he gained the lead from Botteon when he called a check-raise on the river with just the top pair.
"I was very confident in my game and that hand was important," he said. "It was a tough spot but I also knew he is also very capable of bluffing."
The Argentinian didn't have any special plan for the heads-up duel and prefers to adapt along the way. It was another gutsy bluff by Botteon that ended the tournament as Salas called with the top two pair on yet another tricky board, in which many flush draws got there. Again, Salas credited his opponent's play on the hand.
Salas' nickname "Pampa," which he was given while playing football, means "the wild one, the country man" and he was initially going to use another nickname and that happened to not be available. Ever since, Pampa has stuck around and is a well-known name in the thriving poker scene in Argentina and South America in general, which he hopes can grow further.
Despite the success of the last few years and a very fruitful year 2020 in online poker, Salas plans to continue working as a lawyer in his home country.
"I don't want to spend all my energy playing poker," he said. "I like to take my time to also do other things and not just poker."
As a source of positive vibes and motivation, Salas thrived on the support of his family and friends back home and carried a picture of his three children and wife with him. His daughter Sol even created a handmade bracelet, which he wore for the winner's photos as he thanked everyone back home rooting him on.
"I was already a winner because I received all this energy," he said. "I want to thank all my friends, my wife, and my children. I cannot say enough thank you for all the support I have received."
The Action of the Final Day
With several short stacks in contention, the action in the first two levels was tense with very few showdowns about and Speiser was the first to bow out after running queen-ten suited into the pocket tens of Salas. The next player to bust was then Obreshkov and again, Salas dealt the final blow.
Ruivo eliminated Mikolaitis and Streda, the latter with aces over ace-king, but even as he did, Salas busied himself pulling farther ahead in the counts. Munoz eventually succumbed to his short stack, exiting in fourth place.
In three-handed play, start-of-the-day leader Botteon nearly closed the gap to Salas at the top but the Argentinian then knocked out Ruivo when his flush draw got there versus top two pair.
Heads-up play saw Salas with a solid lead at the start and despite Botteon pulling into a narrow lead for a couple of minutes, the match ended in a couple of dozen hands. Eventually, Salas had the best of it with top two pair on the river when he caught Botteon bluffing to secure a payday of more than $1.5 million.
While that wraps up the final table of the international leg at the King's Resort in Rozvadov, the 2020 World Champion is yet to be crowned. All nine finalists of the identical domestic WSOP.com event will play down to a winner, who then faces Salas for the heads-up duel with $1 million added.
That wraps up the live updates for now but stay tuned right here on PokerNews for the conclusion of the online and live poker hybrid.