Triton treat us different
“Triton treat us different,” said high-stakes end-boss Jason Koon as he demurred from the limelight on the occasion of his record fifth Triton title, instead choosing to shine that light back onto the tournament’s host.
great tournaments in great five-star venues
Koon is not alone with this sentiment. I have heard similar words uttered by Steve O’Dwyer, Ike Haxton, and Daniel Dvoress over the years. They value what Triton bring to the upper echelons of the poker world – great tournaments in great five-star venues. There is also a greater emphasis on Short Deck than there is on any other tour.
The 2023 Triton Super High Roller Series in Vietnam was no exception. A series consisting of 14 events with buy-ins ranging from $15,000 to $100,000, it generated combined prize pools in excess of $55m.
Week 1 headline-grabbers
The latest Triton series got underway at the Hoiana Resort, Vietnam on March 1 with 13 days of jam-packed nose-bleed poker action. Week 1 boasted many highlights, including victories for Malaysia’s Webster Lim, Argentina’s Nacho Barbero, the UK’s Mark Rubbathan, The Netherlands’ Jans Arends, Vietnam’s Dao Minh Phu, and Turkey’s Orpen Kisacikoglu.
Arends bagged the trophy and $921,178
Both Phu and Kisacikoglu won seven figures, the former lasting longest in the 139-runner $50,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $1.67m with the latter taking down the $75,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $1.75m. Stealing the Week 1 headlines, however, was Arends who posted his personal best not once but twice. After coming second to Barbero for $406,000 in the $15,000 No Limit Hold’em event, he hopped straight into the $30,000 7-handed event. Arends bagged the trophy and $921,178 after a three-way ICM chop with Kiat Lee and Jonathan Jaffe.
Picking up a few headlines of his own was Twitch streamer, ACR Stormer, and newcomer to Triton events Rubbathan who triumphed in the $20,000 Mystery Bounty event:
Known as ‘Weazel_1991’ on the Twitch streets, Rubbathan has gained notoriety for a couple of bankroll challenges. The events at Triton would normally be way out of reach for the mid-stakes grinder but he won a series of challenges on America’s Cardroom. The prize? $100,000 worth of tournament buy-ins at the Triton Super High Roller Series Vietnam, which he converted into two cashes, coming tenth in the $15,000 7-handed event and then winning the $20,000 Mystery Bounty, picking up $396,000 plus $240,000 in bounties.
Raise the stakes
The stakes were raised during Week 2 of the series with some truly massive events. Triton newcomer Andrew Leathem won Event #8: $25,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em for a career-best $670,000. That was a mere amuse-bouche before the main course that was to come.
The $100,000 Main Event drew 135 entrants who battled it out over three days, culminating in one of the toughest final tables ever assembled. When Roman Hrabec bust in ninth, that left Fedor Holz, Nick Petrangelo, Timothy Adams, Adrian Mateos, Christopher Soyza, Winfred Yu, Daniel Smiljkovic, and Talal Shakerchi to compete for the $3.25m first prize.
Shakerchi found himself in the winner’s enclosure having played incredibly well
Shakerchi is a banker and hedge fund manager from London who likes to tussle with the game’s elite on a regular basis. He considers poker to be his hobby but his record suggests that it is a lot more. When the dust settled on this exceptionally tough final table, Shakerchi found himself in the winner’s enclosure having played incredibly well and held onto the chip lead for most of the final table:
During his winner’s interview, the modest 59-year-old pushed back against claims that he could be called a poker pro. Speaking with Ali Nejad, he said:
“Don’t start moving me into the other zone! I’m not a professional player. I spend quite a lot of time playing poker. It’s my main hobby. But I’m definitely not a pro.”
Tang, Koon, and Watson book victories
Events 10, 11, and 12 produced some scintillating poker. In Event 10, Triton Ambassador Jason Koon became the only player to have five Triton titles after he took down the $50K Turbo for $574,000, outlasting all on a final table that included Chris Brewer, Ike Haxton, Punnat Punsri, and eventual runner-up Artur Martirosian:
In Event 11, the $25,000 Short Deck, Haxton continued his good form by coming fifth but this one would boil down to two familiar faces on the tour. Steve Chidwick is everyone’s most feared opponent (the recent GPI vote made that official) but he would be overcome heads-up in this one by an emotional Danny Tang who celebrated his first title:
Koon and Haxton were once again in the shake-up for Event 12 – the $50,000 Short Deck – but in the end they could only muster fifth and second-place finishes, respectively. The title and $695,000 ultimately went to Mike ‘SirWatts’ Watson who proved once again what a crusher he is:
Zang and Greenwood take down Events 13 and 14
Aaron Zang made history in August 2019 when he won the Triton Million event in London for £13.8m. Yesterday, he cashed for the first time since COVID lockdowns and for only the second time since that day as he took down Event 13: the $100,000 Short Deck Main Event for 1.54m. It is Zang’s second major title and it consolidates his position at the top of the China all-time money list:
There was time for one final event in Vietnam and it needed to be snappy with just one day remaining of the festival. The $20,000 Short Deck Turbo offered the appropriate amount of fast-paced mayhem and it was ultimately won by Canada’s Sam Greenwood. Haxton was again in contention but the fortnight of crossbars was complete when he bowed out in third.
Wrapping things up, Greenwood won $207,000 and his second Triton title, making it all told over $55m changing hands at this mega-festival of wealth redistribution:
Talent in the booth
One feature of Triton events is their top notch production and array of talent in the booth. Veteran Ali Nejad, gamer turned elite multi-tabling pro Randy ‘Nanonoko’ Lew, and rising star of poker commentary Henry Kilbane tagged in and out for what was an engrossing fortnight of poker, made all the more engaging for their excellent insights and analysis.
Speaking exclusively to VegasSlotsOnline News, Kilbane was emphatic about how huge this series was:
“For me personally this has been one of the most epic highstakes poker series of all time. We had record prizepools, world class production and
viewership from every corner of the globe.”
Kilbane also pointed to the contribution made by online players who decided to make the trip:
“Both old school legends and new online crushers of the game battling on the biggest stage here in Vietnam has really raised the bar to heights never seen before in poker. I am really excited now for the rest of the series in 2023. I fully expect to see more of the online crushers venture out for the first time given the turnout here.”
The next stop is the Merit Resort in North Cyprus and there is every reason to believe that it will build on this massively successful series: