Louisiana Waiter Wins 2020 WSOP Main Event US Table, $1.55M

Louisiana Waiter Wins 2020 WSOP Main Event US Table, $1.55M

A waiter from Louisiana will meet a seasoned Argentinian poker player for the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event championship in heads-up play on Jan. 3 in Las Vegas.

Joseph Hebert, of Metairie, Louisiana, bested seven other final table competitors Monday night at the recently re-opened Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, the familiar Vegas setting for the WSOP, to win $1,553,256 as the winner of the domestic portion of the 2020 Main Event.

Hebert’s opponent will be Damian Salas who won his seat in the upcoming heads-up showdown, also being played at the Rio, by winning the international final table that was held at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, the Czech Republic, earlier in December. Salas, like Hebert, won more than $1.55 million for his international final table win.

At stake on Jan. 3 will be the coveted championship bracelet that goes to the winner of the $10,000 No-limit Texas Hold’em Main Event and another $1 million.

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2020 WSOP Main Event U.S. Final Table

1. Joseph Hebert $1,553,256
2. Ron Jenkins $1,002,340
3. Michael Cannon $529,258
4. Ryan Hagerty$387,130
5. Ye “Tony” Yuan $286,963
6. Harrison Dobin $215,222
7. Shawn Stroke $163,786
8. Gershon Distenfeld $125,885
9. Upeshka De Silva $98,813

At the U.S. final table, Hebert, started with a big chip lead and played a steady game taking a 2-to-1 chip advantage into heads-up play against second-place finisher Ron Jenkins of Los Angeles, who began the day seventh in chips.

On the final hand, Hebert raised pre-flop with Ace-Queen. Jenkins called off all his chips with Queen-Queen. The flop brought an Ace, giving Hebert a pair of Aces, and that turned out to be good enough. For the second-place finish, Jenkins earned a little more than $1 million.

Hebert’s next opponent, Salas, has decent live table pedigree. He finished seventh in the WSOP Main Event in 2017, obviously played under more normal circumstances. Salas has nearly $2.7 million in live tournament cashes, with the largest being the 2017 WSOP Main Event seventh-place showing where he won more than $1.4 million.

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Impact Of COVID On Main Event

Like much of what happened in 2020, the WSOP Main Event, now in its 51st year, has been impacted substantially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was bifurcated in two ways. The bulk of it was played online while the two final tables were live, and heads-up finale will also be live.

Also, the total field was divided between U.S. competitors located in Nevada and New Jersey playing on the WSOP’s poker website, and separately international players competed on the GGPoker platform. In total, there were 1,379 starters – 705 in the U.S. and 674 internationally.

In the summer, the WSOP and GGPoker held a series of WSOP-branded events, some online in the U.S. (Nevada and New Jersey) and some held online for players internationally. Late in the year, the hybrid Main Event plans were announced.

Even when this Main Event play got down to the planned live final tables in the Czech Republic and Las Vegas, COVID had an impact. One of the international final table players from China opted out of the trip to the Czech Republic and one of the U.S. final table players was disqualified when he tested positive for COVID just before final table play started.

In each case, those players received ninth-place money.

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More On Joseph Hebert

Hebert, nicknamed "kolebear," had dedicated his tournament efforts to his mother Linda, who had died following a pulmonary embolism during the summer, according to published reports. In Louisiana, Hebert has worked at a seafood restaurant in Metairie.

Still, he does have respectable poker credentials. His tournament resume on the Hendon Mob database goes back to 2008 with many of his career cashes coming at tables on the Gulf Coast, mostly in Mississippi.

Previous to his $1.55 million payday, he had about $667,000 in career live tournament winnings. His previous biggest cash was in 2013 when he finished second in a WSOP Circuit Main Event in New Orleans and pocketed $141,000.

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