3-time WSOP bracelet winner disqualified from 2020 Main Event due to COVID-19
After having had such a serious effect on the world of poker in 2020, COVID-19 still had a part to play right up to the Final Table of the World Series of Poker Main Event, which ultimately saw chip lead Joseph Hebert emerge victorious for a juicy $1,553,256 in prize money.
But this was after a much-fancied rival, Upeshka De Silva, was disqualified before play began, after testing positive for coronavirus. A tweet on Monday morning from De Silva, who had managed to qualify 8th from an original field of 705 for the online stage of this $10,000 buy-in event, said that he had tested positive for the virus on Sunday (27th) after testing negative the previous day.
“I tested negative on a nasal swab pcr test Saturday the 26th, but positive on the official mouth swab pcr test at the Rio on the 27th” he tweeted.
Rules are rules
Alas, such an outcome breaches WSOP terms and conditions, which stipulated that players must have a COVID-19 screening before the live phase of the tournament got underway at the Rio, Las Vegas.
Due to this rule, De Silva could no longer take part, and was paid $98,813, the prize for 9th place. While that is still a decent amount of money, it’s all relative, and regardless of his only being in 8th anyway, he must have fancied his chances, being the only player in the final with previous experience at this stage of a major event. In fact, De Silva had reached five WSOP final tables and cashed an impressive 49 times before this latest achievement, and this would have been an attempt at a fourth bracelet!
Second bite of the cherry for De Silva
De Silva has also found himself at the final table three times on the World Poker Tour, and in March 2020 he earned a place at the final table of the L.A. Poker Classic (which, ironically, has been postponed).
And the WSOP 2020 champion will be…
Meanwhile, the ultimate champion will be decided by a heads-up dual between US bracket winner, Hebert, and Damian Salas, who won the International version at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, for $1,550,969. As well as what will be a special WSOP bracelet to adorn any mantlepiece, the winner will also pocket $1,000,000 to add to their already substantial winnings.
Here, too, COVID-19 has made its presence felt, with the date for this final having for been switched from December 30th to January 3rd because Salas, who hails from Argentina, was denied entry into the U.S. after his trip to Europe complicated his travel plans. Salas already has a 7th place Main Event finish from the 2017 WSOP under his belt, as well as three final table appearances (twice runner-up) from the recent WSOP online series hosted by GGPoker.
As exciting as all this undoubtedly is, the poker world will be longing for a return to the normal set-up next year, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see similar arrangements being made.