Joseph Hebert won the US version of the WSOP Main Event and he now awaits a heads-up battle with Damian Salas for the world championship, and a shot at an extra $1 million.
Salas won the final table, which began on GGPoker, in Rozvadov, Czech Republic earlier this month. He earned just over $1.5 million for his efforts, along with the right to face the US Main Event champ. The heads-up match was originally scheduled for Dec. 30 at the Rio in Las Vegas, but Salas had some travel issues due to COVID-19. As such, the finale will take place on Jan. 2.
We now know Salas’ opponent will be Joseph Hebert, who earned his spot thanks to a cruel suck out on the final hand. Ron Jenkins, decked out in a MAGA hat, got his chips all-in pre-flop with pocket queens against A-Q. The board ran out K-7-A-4-8, providing a winning top pair for Hebert and a brutal bad beat for Jenkins, who received $1,002,340 for second place.
Hebert Finishes Where he Started
Hebert entered the final table as the massive chip leader (nearly 3-1 over any other player). He didn’t squander that lead on Monday evening, but he did face some brushback when he attempted to play too aggressively.
Upeshka De Silva was the first elimination from the Main Event final table, but he never played a hand. The three-time bracelet winner was disqualified from the competition due to a positive COVID-19 test. He took home $98,813, which was the ninth-place payout.
De Silva was supposed to be the second-smallest stack heading to that final table. Instead, Jenkins assumed that position. Harrison Dobin arrived for play just after 3:30 pm PT on Monday with the smallest stack.
Dobin actually built up his stack quickly and moved close to the top of the leaderboard. Gershon Distenfeld, however, was a quick elimination. The wealthy investor, who is donating all of his winnings to charity, went home in eighth place for $125,885.
“I’ve had lots of good fortune in my life, I’ve had lots of good fortune to get here, so I’m fine,” Distenfeld said about the disappointment of busting so early at the final table in his post-game interview with the poker media.
Shawn Stroke moved all-in with pocket treys and ran into A-K (Dobin), and pocket queens (Jenkins). The queens were a blessing and a killer for Jenkins. In this hand, he won the pot as the board ran out 10-2-2-10-J, sending Stroke home in seventh place ($163,786).
The hand crippled Dobin, who would soon go out in sixth place ($215,222). Tony Yuan then busted in fifth place ($286,963), and was soon followed by Ryan Hagerty ($387,130) and Michael Cannon ($529,258).
That set up a heads-up match between Jenkins and Hebert for the $1,553,256 prize. This time, those pocket queens weren’t so kind to Jenkins.
On the first hand of heads-up play, Hebert raised to 700,000 with A-Q. Jenkins three-bet to 2.3 million with pocket queens, and Hebert shoved all-in before Jenkins snap-called his 10.8 million stack.
The Trump supporter, who proudly sported a red “Make America Great Again” hat at the table, watched a cruel flop of K-7-A hit, followed by unhelpful cards on the turn and the river (4 and 8). He was eliminated in second place, receiving a $1,002,340 consolation prize.
Hebert, on the other hand, advances to the heads-up finale against Damian Salas on Jan. 2. The final table wasn’t available on live-stream, and there won’t be one available for the heads-up battle. You’ll be able to catch the edited version of the WSOP Main Event on ESPN in February.
Rough Year Ends on a Positive Note
The past year has been difficult for many people around the world. A global health pandemic has caused more than 1 million deaths worldwide, and numerous businesses have gone under. Hebert, a restaurant employee from Louisiana, had a rough year himself.
Hebert’s mother passed away unexpectedly this summer from a pulmonary embolism. The tragic news wasn’t easy for the amateur poker player to take.
“The year started off amazing, the middle of the year was horrible, and the end of the year was absolutely amazing,” Hebert told reporters after the completion of the final table. “I love you, mom.”
He said he’ll use part of his winnings on a new car for his father. In the meantime, he must begin preparation for his match against Salas, a player he doesn’t know much about.
“Going to study up (on Salas) and figure out what to do,” he told the media about his future opponent.
Salas finished seventh in the 2017 WSOP Main Event for $1.4 million. He’s now one step away from getting over the hump and winning the prestigious tournament. Hebert, however, would love nothing more than to derail his path.