Louisiana Player Builds Big Lead in US 2020 WSOP Main Event

Louisiana Player Builds Big Lead in US 2020 WSOP Main Event
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A veteran poker player from Metarie, Louisiana, is the runaway chip leader at the final table of the U.S. contingent in the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Joseph "kolebear" Hebert has more than 13 million chips, about two-and-half times the next closest player, as the players go on break and convene in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino for a live final table on Dec. 28.

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There, the nine U.S. finalists will play down to one player and the survivor advances against the winner of the International final table heads-up for the WSOP Main Event bracelet on Dec. 30. The International live final table was played on Wednesday in the Czech Republic.

Until this point in the U.S. portion of the tournament, all play has been online in what has been a hybrid event the WSOP designed to salvage a $10,000 No-limit Texas Hold’em Main Event for 2020. This is the 51st WSOP Main Event.

Hebert’s tournament resume on the Hendon Mob database goes back to 2008 with many of his career cashes coming on the felt in casinos along the Gulf Coast, chiefly in Mississippi.

He is credited with more than $667,000 in career live tournament winnings with his biggest score coming in 2013 in New Orleans when he finished second in a WSOP Circuit Main Event for nearly $141,000. More recently in January at the Beau Rivage Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, he went on a heater, winning three events in just six days with one of them being a $74,000 payday.

By making the final table in the current Main Event, he is guaranteed at least about $99,000 (because that’s what the ninth-place finisher will get), but the winner of the final table will earn $1.5 million and advance to the heads-up championship match at the Rio in Vegas. The winner of the one-on-one final gets an additional $1 million.

Chasing Hebert is Shawn Stroke, from Lawrence, New York, in second and Ryan Hagerty, from Somerset, New Jersey, in third. Both have a little more than 5 million chips.

The hybrid 2020 WSOP Main Event, trying to accommodate for the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, started with 1,379 players participating on a U.S.-based platform (705 players) and an international platform (674 players). In contrast, last year’s “normal” Main Event at the Rio in Las Vegas attracted 8,569 players.

Among the more than 700 U.S.-based players who were competing from either Nevada or New Jersey, a handful of name players made it into the top 50 including: Maria Ho (22nd), Jason Somerville (32nd), Scott Seiver (39th), Ryan Riess, the 2013 Main Event champion (47th), and Darren Elias (50th).

U.S. Final Table, Plays Down to 1 in Las Vegas, Dec. 28

  • Joseph "kolebear" Hebert (13,052,534)
  • Shawn "shades927" Stroke (5,252,000)
  • Ryan "Hagzzz021" Hagerty (5,071,572)
  • Ye "YUAN365" Yuan (4,829,459)
  • Michael "geNet1x_" Cannon (4,408,847)
  • Gershon "jets613" Distenfeld (3,475,481)
  • Ron "Samthedog76" Jenkins (2,476,746)
  • Upeshka "gomezhamburg" De Silva (2,151,969)
  • Harrison "Harrisond33" Dobin (1,581,392)

International WSOP Winner From Argentina

Argentina’s Damian Salas became the International flight representative to the $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event heads-up finale Wednesday after finishing first at the final table for players who were competing outside the U.S. The eight International final table competitors battled at the King’s Casino in the Czech Republic.

The U.S. live final table winner meets Salas, also at the Rio, on Dec. 30.

Salas earned $1,550,969 for winning the International group that began with 674 entrants and will play for another $1 million at the Rio.

The International table came down to Salas and Brazil’s Brunno Botteon, who had the chip lead at the beginning of the day. However, there was a key distinction between the two players. Botteon has been spectacular in online play, winning more than $1 million during the WSOP’s 2020 Summer Series, which was all online, while Salas has significant live-play pedigree. He finished seventh in the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio when tournament play was obviously all live.

International Final Table, Order of Finish

  • 1. Damian Salas, Argentina, $1,550,969
  • 2. Brunno Botteon, Brazil, $1,062,723
  • 3. Manuel Ruivo, Portugal, $728,177
  • 4. Ramon Miquel Munoz, Spain, $498,947
  • 5. Marco Streda, Switzerland, $341,879
  • 6. Dominykas Mikolaitis, Lithuania, $234,255
  • 7. Stoyan Obreshkov, Bulgaria, $160,512
  • 8.Hannes Speiser, Austria, $109,982

One player from China opted out of traveling to the final table and finished in ninth place.

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