WPT WOC: Damian Salas Leads Final Nine in Main Event Championship with Over $1.7M Up Top!

By Lisa Yiasemides Last night seven more winners claimed a title each, but the greatest stories of the night were to be found in Day 3 of the Main Event Championship. Some of the biggest names in the field crashed out, satellite winners gained momentum and several of the nine finalists have already secured themselves…

Lisa Yiasemides
Sep 16, 2020

By Lisa Yiasemides

Last night seven more winners claimed a title each, but the greatest stories of the night were to be found in Day 3 of the Main Event Championship. Some of the biggest names in the field crashed out, satellite winners gained momentum and several of the nine finalists have already secured themselves the biggest results of their careers for making it this far.

Before looking in some detail at the Main Event action and the final nine contenders, let’s first take a peek at who won a WPT trophy during Day 61 of the festival.

Yesterday’s winners

$1,050 8-Max ($100K GTD)

The first tournaments of the evening were three 8-Max freezeouts of various buy-in sizes. The most expensive of them drew 99 entries, just one player away from reaching the guarantee. Andreas Wahlmann was first to bust and though he bought back in, he was eliminated for a second and final time in 94th place. They were joined at the sidelines by Ivan Deyra (93rd), Gianluca Speranza (85th), Alex Foxen (66th), Steve O’Dwyer (34th) and Benjamin Rolle (28th) to name just a few of the notables in the mix.

Sixteen players were paid and among them were two of the Romanello brothers, with Anthoni (12th) and Nicholas (11th) making the $2,500 min-cash, lasting longer than their brothers Roberto (47th) and Francesco (82nd).

Stewart Kirby (9th, $3,000), Luigi Andrea Shehadeh (8th, $3,550), Daniel Rezaei (7th, $4,250) and Franco Calabrese (6th, $5,000) all made the final table but were outlasted by Leonardo De Souza Alcantara, Rok Gostisa and Germany’s Robert Heidorn before just two remained. The UK’s Ian Bradley put up a good fight but it was British-based Greek grinder Alexandros Theologis who would go on to win, taking the maximum $23,975 share of the prize pool possible after no deals were agreed upon.

8-Max 16.09

$215 8-Max ($50K GTD)

This event saw 251 entries, one more than was needed to reach its guarantee, putting $50,200 into the pot. It would be almost nine hours for the tournament to play out, with Russia’s Ilya Yakunin beating Dutchman Pim Gieles heads up to take the crown and a top prize of $10,072.

Bertil Andreas Samuelsson was the last player to make a top-five finish. The Swedish pro survived longer than many other big names did, including Jamie O’Connor (7th, $1,631), Jerry Ödeen (11th, $893), Tamás Ádámszki (17th, $627), Jérémy Saderne (19th, $627) and two-time WPT Online Champion Vitor Dzivielevski (20th, $627) who all reached the top 32 places paid.

Marco Fontanella’s survival to 32nd place, meant a bubble exit for Felipe Da Silva Sena in 33rd place, with the Brazilian missing out on the $522 min-cash.

Mini 8-Max 16.09

$22 Mini 8-Max ($25K GTD)

The smallest of the three buy-in events attracted 1,369 entries, easily surpassing the guarantee with $27,380 in the pot when late registration closed. Leonardo Neves Duarte prevailed after defeating Imre Kocsi heads up. Fourth-place finisher in the Micro Main Event, Philipp Zeckai, also was in the mix and took the bronze medal in the end. The German won $43,630 but is still playing some of the more modest buy-in events despite his successful run this series.

Micro 8-Max 16.09

$530 6-Max Knockout ($100K GTD)

Once again, the calibre of players in the first (and largest) knockout event of the evening was extremely high. Anton Wigg saw off the 200-strong field to take the title in the end and $8,820 plus a monstrous $18,828 in bounty winnings after eliminating an astounding 24 opponents – 12 per cent of the field! Jonathan Proudfoot took the runner up spot with $8,810 from the main prize pool and $2,148 for eliminating eight players.

Anton Wigg

Anton Wigg

Scott Robinson, Alexandros Theologis and Jonathan Clark took third to fifth places, Theologis making his second big result of the evening. Sebastian Sikorski (6th, $2,473 + $873) and Patrick Hyllegaard Pedersen (7th, $1,763 + $375) took the last two final table seats.

That was a feat that some very big names weren’t able to achieve themselves, with Sergio Aido (10th, $957 + $656), Francois Billard (12th, $957 + $125), partypoker’s Patrick Leonard (19th, $579 + $1,390) and Arsenii Karmatckii (26th, $554 + $437). Still, seeing a return on their investment for reaching the top 27 paid meant it was better evening for them than it was for Benjamin Bauermeister. With no bounties accrued when Bauermeister departed in 37th place, the German was the last player to leave empty-handed.

6-Max KO 16.09

$109 Mini 6-Max Knockout ($75K GTD)

It was Germany versus Norway at the end of a seven hour and 41-minute battle that brought the mini event to a close. Julian Selinger triumphed in the end, banking $5,423 plus $4,200 in bounties. Though Selinger took the top spot, it was runner-up Raivis Ruskulis who eliminated the most players, with 12 knockouts executed to net him $5,414 plus $2,797 in bounty winnings.

French player Arnaud Enselme, who is playing from the UK, also featured in the top five, while other big names were scattered among the top 96 paid of the 697 total runners. Paul Höfer (10th, $513 + $25), Kenny Hallaert (25th, $222 + $25), Joseph Cheong (31st, $191 + $23) and David Hu (35th, $191 + $150) were just a few of the pros that jumped in to play, proving that relatively modest buy-ins in this series also appeal to big players.

Mini 6-Max KO 16.09

$215 Mix-Max Turbo PKO ($50K GTD)

The final two winners of the evening were in turbo PKO events. Once again, the main event came extremely close to hitting the guarantee but ultimately falling one short by the time late registration had closed. Anthony Spinella ($4,385 + $5,389) was the victor, while Pim Gieles ($4,380 + $1,175), who has featured on many of the payouts lists this series, had to settle for second place.

A host of familiar names were among the 249 runners who fancied playing the fast-structured tournament. A few examples of the ones who made it to the top 30 paid were this series’ Knockout Champion Daniel Smyth ($669 + $200), who busted on the final table bubble, Viktor Ustimov (13th, $290 + $631) and Steven Van Zadelhoff (28th, $232 + $425).

Mix-Max Turbo PKO 16.09

$22 Mini 8-Max Turbo PKO ($20K GTD)

The last of the seven winner titles went to Gentil Tosetto Junior of Brazil. He claimed the first-place prize of $1,391 plus $1,797 in bounties after he beat Min Lee ($1,388 + $149) heads up. Tosetto’s win came at the end of a relatively quick five and a half hours of battle, considering the field was a large one with 951 entries in total.

Mini Mix-Max Turbo PKO 16.09

Continues tonight

Event #08: $10,000 Main Event Championship ($10M GTD)

That brings us to the biggest highlight of the night, and indeed the entire festival! The Main Event Championship has reached the final day, with 1,011 players becoming nine by the end of Day 3. Last night was no exception in a tournament that has been full of excitement since it began a couple of weeks ago.

Following a late spurt, Damian Salas (37,041,854) has the chip lead but Phillip Mighall isn’t far behind, sitting on 34,700,063 chips. Akseli Paalanen (26,271,276) is in third, and the Finn is already playing for more money than he has ever won, with $127,386 locked up – over $100K more than his previous best of $15,000! The overall chip leader at the end of Day 1, Blaž Žerjav (24,168,634), starts in fourth place, just ahead of Victor Simionato (20,057,907) in fifth.

MSA 2020 - Main Event - Damian Salas

Damian Salas

Teun Mulder (19,652,002) was going strong for much of the day, even boosting up into the chip lead for a while. The Dutchman hit a rocky patch towards the end but still returns in decent shape with 39 big blinds. In fact, no one is very short at this final. Dzmitry Urbanovich (18,333,036), the last remaining representative of Team partypoker, brings 37 bigs, László Molnár (11,542,750) has 23, and Bert Stevens (10,432,478) starts as the table short stack with 21 big blinds.

FT Chip Counts

Stevens should certainly not be discounted despite having the biggest chip disadvantage, as he has more than proven his online prowess for years under the legendary screenname ‘Girafganger7’. He had a better evening of it than the other biggest online star in the field, Benjamin ‘bencb789’ Rolle. The German started off well but a run of pots didn’t go his way and the final nail in the coffin was when he ran queens into Simionato’s aces to bust in 18th place for $58,638.

Ole Schemion

Ole Schemion

Rolle wasn’t the only notable to leave in the first half of the day. Fellow German and WPT Champion Ole Schemion was the first to fall, busting in 24th place. Jesper Höög (23rd) was out the door right behind him and Georgios Zisimopoulos didn’t fare much better, hitting the rail in 19th place. Like Rolle, they all scooped $58,638 for their respective finishes, as did WPTDeepStacks Champion Upeshka De Silva whose elimination in 17th place triggered a table break and a ladder for the remaining 16 hopefuls.

Down to the last two tables and Viktor Kudinov (16th), Jeffrey Cormier (15th), Belgian legend Davidi Kitai (14th) and countryman Pieter Aerts (13th) all took $78,858. Their departures locked up the first six-figure results of the competition with $103,112 heading into the accounts of Fabiano Kovalski (12th), Claas Segebrecht (11th) and Artur Martirosian (10th), as the Russian’s departure signalled the end of the day.

Artur Martirosian

Artur Martirosian

The high stakes regular started the day with the chip lead but by the time he got the last of his chips in, he had just 12 big blinds. When the action folded round to him in the small blind, his king-four would have looked good but he shipped only to run into Salas’ pocket-kings. That hand not only busted Martirosian, but boosted Salas into the chip lead just as the clock was paused.

It all continues tonight, where someone will take home up to $1,715,667 for the win, as well as a host of special extras that include the winner’s name engraved on the WPT Mike Sexton Champion’s Cup, entry into he rake-free Tournament of Champions worth $15,000 hosted by Baccarat Crystal, a Hublot Big Bang timepiece valued at $15,000, and a set of beautiful Baccarat Crystal everyday tumblers.

FT Payouts

You can watch all the action as it unfolds with cards-up coverage for the duration over on the WPT Twitch channel. Though play resumes at 7 pm (BST), please note there will be a one-hour delay on the stream.

Tonight’s schedule

There is a second Championship event taking place tonight, as well as several side events to choose from. The Heads Up Championship is a rare opportunity to prove your skills in a series of one-on-one matches. There is a cap on the number of entries, with no more than 256 players allowed, so avoid disappointment by registering early. If the $3,200 Main Event is a little pricey, there is a $320 Mini and $33 Micro on the schedule too.