Joseph Hebert takes down controversial U.S. WSOP Main Event final table

Joseph Hebert WSOP poker
Jon Sofen
Posted on: December 29, 2020 10:50 PST

Joseph Hebert is now just one step away from being crowned poker's world champion after defeating the U.S. WSOP Main Event final table*

We included that asterisk because the final table wasn't full. That is due to the disqualification of Upeshka De Silva, who was automatically paid 9th place money ($98,813) without being dealt a single card at the final table after testing positive for COVID-19.

Per the rules, any player who appears on-site at the Rio and tests positive is disqualified and receives a 9th place payout. The WSOP wouldn't bend those rules and the show went on.

De Silva was the best player at the final table, with three bracelets to his name. No other player among the final nine had previously won a WSOP title. So, his absence was a benefit to the remaining players.

Hebert took full advantage of the decrease in skill at the final table. He entered play with a massive chip lead and dominated much of the session, and then got extremely lucky on the final hand.

Joseph Hebert surprises opponents

Hebert entered the final table with nearly a 3-1 chip lead over any other player. But he didn't use that big chip stack to his advantage early on. And that surprised some of the other players at the final table.

"Chip leader (Hebert) was more tight coming out than I thought, then he started loosening up," Shawn Stroke told the media in his post-game interview.

Stroke wasn't the only player who was surprised with the tight early play of Hebert. Harrison Dobin also said the same in his post-game interview. The chip leader, however, explained his reasoning for coming out tight.

"I had to make adjustments," Joseph Hebert informed reporters. "As the chip leader, the pressure was overwhelming. I definitely had to change my style up. Then I made a couple of plays and had some resistance.”

Hebert told the media that he played tight early and then picked up the aggression, taking advantage of the smaller stacks. But, he says, once he began doing that, some players picked up on his strategy and began three-betting him.

It all worked out in the end for the Louisiana restaurant employee who said he's worked in the same establishment for the past 25 years.

Final hand was the hand of the day

Dobin entered play with the smallest stack but actually made a run, doubling up more than once. Gershon Distenfeld, who is donating his entire winnings to charity, never got anything going, however, and was quickly eliminated in 8th place for $125,885.

Stroke then bowed out in 7th place, taking home $163,786 and was then followed by Dobin in 6th place, who earned $215,222. Tony Yuan was next to hit the exits in 5th place, and he received $286,963 for his efforts. Ryan Hagerty (4th place for $387,130) and Michael Cannon (3rd place for $529,258) were next in line.

That set up the quickest heads-up match you'll ever see between Joseph Hebert and Ron Jenkins, who was proudly sporting a red MAGA hat at the final table.

On the very first hand, both players went all-in pre-flop, and Jenkins had his opponent dominated with pocket queens (Hebert held A-Q).

But the board ran out beautifully for Hebert (K-7-A-4-8), earning him a memorable suck out. He receives $1,553,256 for taking down the U.S. WSOP Main Event final table. Jenkins goes home with $1.002,340 instead.

Won it for his mom

Hebert's had a rough year after losing his mother unexpectedly in July. He admitted the passing of his mom has been difficult on him and his family. The Louisiana native won it for her and said he wants to buy his dad a new car.

The big winner isn't quite yet a poker world champion, however. He still has one more step before reaching that goal. Hebert will face Damian Salas, who won the international WSOP Main Event leg, on January 2 from the Rio in Las Vegas. The winner of that heads-up match will receive an extra $1 million, along with the coveted gold bracelet.

Featured image source: Twitter