South Americans Top Wsop Main Event on Natural8

Poker players around the world recently had a chance to compete for a unique World Series of Poker opportunity. They were able to play the WSOP Main Event online on Natural8 and GGPoker.

Every year for more than 50 years, poker players have had to travel to the United States in the summer months, find accommodations in Las Vegas, and play live poker to compete in the WSOP No Limit Hold’em World Championship. The dates may have changed through the decades, but the tournament happened each year in Las Vegas without fail. The $10K buy-in remained the same. Tradition reigned.

This year, however, the world found out how a global pandemic can change everything.

The World Series of Poker took its action online for a summer series, which awarded 85 bracelets in total, 54 of them on Natural8 and GGPoker for a global player pool. There have also been several WSOP Circuit series online, one of which is the WSOP Winter Online Circuit Series, just started on Natural8 this month and will run through January 10.

Since the pandemic never subsided enough to schedule a live WSOP Main Event, they took that online, too, but with a live kicker.

Truly Global Main Event

The $10K buy-in 2020 WSOP Main Event played out on Natural8 and GGPoker. It stuck to tradition with the buy-in, several starting flights, and no reentries.

The first of the three starting days was November 29 and resulted in 246 players buying in. The second starting day was December 5 and added another 171 players to the total. The final opportunity to play was December 6, and there were 257 players who bought in. That created a solid tournament with these numbers:

  • 674 total players
  • $6,470,400 total prize pool

When Day 2 began on December 7, only 179 players were still in action, but only the top 80 finishers were to be paid from the prize money. After that bubble burst to move into the money, quite a few big names hit the virtual rail, though there were no players from Australia or New Zealand on that list.

At the end of that night, nine players had chips and seats at the final table. Those players hailed from Brazil and Argentina, Portugal and Spain, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Lithuania, and China.

  • Brunno Botteon = 10,317,743 chips
  • Manuel Ruivo = 6,213,759 chips
  • Damian Salas = 5,653,528 chips
  • Marco Streda = 4,232,560 chips
  • Hannes Speiser = 3,515,744 chips
  • Dominykas Mikolaitis = 3,165,440 chips
  • Ramon Miquel Munoz = 3,035,940 chips
  • Peiyuan Sun = 2,185,676 chips
  • Stoyan Obreshkov = 2,119,610 chips

Live Final Table in a Pandemic

The players who made the final table of the WSOP Main Event needed to fly to the Czech Republic and then travel to Rozvadov to play at King’s Casino.

Peiyuan Sun of China chose not to make the trip. He had little more than 11 big blinds, so he chose to accept a ninth-place payout instead of traveling and risking his health. As for the rest of the players, it is not clear if the WSOP paid for their travel and accommodations.

Eight of those nine players did make it and sat down to play on December 15.

Action played out with Salas and Botteon battling for the chip lead throughout the final table play. By the time Salas busted Ruivo in third, he was the solid chip leader going into heads-up play against Botteon.

  • Salas = 24,175,000 chips
  • Botteon = 14,100,000 chips

Botteon took some chances, but he couldn’t beat Salas. Botteon of Brazil took second place, and Salas of Argentina claimed victory.

The final table payouts were:

  • 1st place = Damian Salas (Argentina) $1,550,969
  • 2nd place = Brunno Botteon (Brazil) $1,062,723
  • 3rd place = Manual Ruivo (Portugal) $728,177
  • 4th place = Ramon Miquel Munoz (Spain) $498,947
  • 5th place = Marco Streda (Switzerland) $341,879
  • 6th place = Dominykas Mikolaitis (Lithuania) $234,255
  • 7th place = Stoyan Obreshkov (Bulgaria) $160,512
  • 8th place = Hannes Speiser (Austria) $109,982
  • 9th place = Peiyuan Sun (China) $75,360

Not Over Until December 30

Damian Salas did win the tournament, but he is not the WSOP 2020 Main Event champion.

Salas will need to fly to Las Vegas soon to play the finale. That will be a heads-up match with $1 million put into the prize pool by GGPoker and WSOP. The winner of that match will take home that full $1M and the Main Event championship bracelet.

But who is the other player?

That player has not yet been determined but will be from the US portion of this finale series. A tournament with the same parameters as the one on Natural8 played out on December 13 and 14. That one played out on the WSOP online poker site in the American states of New Jersey and Nevada. At the end of those two days, there was a final table set.

Those nine players will meet in Las Vegas to play their final table live at the Rio Casino on December 28. The winner of that tournament will battle Salas in the heads-up match on December 30.

This is all pandemic-permitting. As Covid-19 cases ravage the United States and threaten to shut casinos again in Las Vegas, the WSOP might decide on an alternative way for the two players to finish the finale.

Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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