WSOP 2017: Devastating river sends Damian Salas railward in seventh
Damian Salas stood from the table, patting his chest and nodding as he rocked back and forth on his heels.
After subsisting over two hours on a short stack, he was at last all in and in position to double what had become a less than seven big blind stack.
Dan Ott had raised and Salas only called from the big blind holding A♣T♥.
"I think I had a good plan in the hand," Salas would explain later, the Chilean player Nick Yunis helping with the translation. Salas was thinking stop-and-go, meaning he was thinking of open-pushing whatever came on the flop.
But when the first three cards came 3♥2♦A♥ giving him top pair, Salas chose to check. "To allow him to bluff," he said. Ott did push his chips in and Salas called, and Ott revealed 4♦4♠ for a smaller pair and wheel draw.
The turn brought the 6♦ -- close to being harmful, but safe for Salas. He continued rocking on his heels and nodding, as though attempting to will one last benign community card.
Alas for Salas, the 5♠ completed the board, filling Ott's straight. Ott's supporters roared their approval, while Salas went to the ground, sitting on the side of the stage for a few moments to absorb the shock.
As Ott's crew delivered a wordless "Seven Nation Army" chant, Salas retrieved the Argentinian flag he'd sported throughout the final table and walked over to his rail, receiving a long, loving hug from family and friends.
"It was a great honor for me to represent Argentina and Latin America," Salas explained afterwards, adding he hoped he'd been a good representative.
Fellow Argentinians Ivan Luca and Maria Lampropulos stood nearby as Salas spoke, as did Joaquin Melogno of Uruguay -- all players with which we're familiar from LAPT events past.
Salas spoke of being thankful for the support he'd received throughout the tournament. He also looked back a little on the "marathon" of the Main Event and his long journey through it, commenting on how he'd spent time as the big-stacked leader (including leading to end Day 4) and much of the latter stages short on chips.
"I was a main character for a while with a lot of chips," he said. "I was also short for a long time. But I've happy with the process... and I'm at peace with how I played."
It was a gallant run for the 42-year-old known as "pampa27" on PokerStars. He takes away $1.425 million and the memory of a poker experience of a lifetime.
We're down one main character. Six still remain.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.