In the wake of the Triton Super High Roller Series that ran from July 27 to August 10, 2023 at London’s JW Marriott Grosvenor House, the buzz continued to resonate over American poker icon Jason Koon’s incredible run to secure his career ninth Triton title. Also making headlines were a number of Asian campaigners, Danny Tang, Wai Kin Yong, Wai Kiat Lee, proving to the poker realm that the Far East will be major contenders for years to come. Here are the highlights.
Unbelievable turn of fate for Jason Koon
With four players remaining in the USD 63,000 No Limit Short Deck Hold’em Main Event (Event #16), Jason Koon seemed to be headed out the door when his set of Nines ran into the set of Kings held by chip-leader Xuan Tan of China.
After putting all his chips in the middle on the turn and seeing he was down to a one-outer, Koon looked dismayed and resigned to his fate, but the poker gods intervened, and he spiked the miracle case card to give him quads on the river.
“No way that just happened,” the 37-year-old Weston, Virginia native exclaimed. “I think that’s the craziest hand I’ve ever won in my life.”
Tan eventually finished in 4th place as Koon cruised to heads-up against talented youngster Wai Kiat Lee of Malaysia where he never relinquished his advantage to win his career ninth Triton title and USD 828,000.
Impressively, this was Koon’s second title of the series having already won the USD 60,000 NLH 7-Handed (Event #6). Koon solidified his hold of second place in Triton earnings behind fellow American Bryn Kenney, the world’s All-Time money list leader.
Bryn Kenney takes down over USD 6.8 Million
Bryn Kenney also made headlines by churning out a victory in the USD 250,000 NLH Luxor Invitational for his third Triton title. He pocketed his second biggest payout of USD 6,860,000—the festival’s largest top purse.
Another Triton Main Event title for Timothy Adams
The USD 125,000 Main Event (Event #11) was won by WSOP Bracelet holder Timothy Adams of Canada as he bested 97 entries enroute to his second Triton Main Event title and his biggest career prize of USD 4,185,000.
Danny Tang and Wai Kin Yong secure career fourth Triton titles
Since its inception in 2015, the Triton Super High Roller Series has attracted only the game’s elite and this incarnation proved no different as the post-pandemic poker boom may trace one of its epicenters to Asia with quite a number making deep runs.
Hong Kong’s Danny Tang and Wai Kin Yong of Malaysia were the region’s top newsmakers as both snared their fourth Triton titles in London.
Tang emerged triumphant in the USD 60,000 NLH (Event #13) for USD 1,600,000 representing his second-biggest career bink. Tang closed the series with five cashes and two titles to match his performance in the Cyprus edition last May. However, his total prize money of USD 3,219,300 represents his largest haul in a single staging since he crashed into the circuit in 2013.
The 30-year-old Tang, who had his humble beginnings in the sport as a college student at the University of Manchester, and Yong, the 32-year-old who started playing the game with friends in a Kuala Lumpur restaurant, joined the exclusive “4-Time Club” which includes the sensational Mikita Badziakouski of Belarus and—until the final event of the proceedings—American legend Phil Ivey.
Entering the final day of the series, Ivey was already minted with a title at the USD 62,400 No Limit Hold’em Turbo (Event #12). The poker legend went on to secure a second win by taking down the USD 25,000 No Limit Short Deck-Ante only (Event #17). He denied Tang in the heads-up finale—to capture his career fifth Triton title.
Wai Kin Yong
Wai Kin Yong claimed victory in the USD 30,000 No Limit Short Deck Hold’em (Event #15) for USD 350,000. Yong—who won the first two Triton Main Events in the Philippines in 2016—had four cashes and became the third Asian to breach the USD 10M mark in Triton earnings with just over USD 11 Million after his performance in London. Only China’s Aaron Shu and fellow Malaysian (and Triton co-founder) Paul Phua are ahead of him on that list.
Also scoring big was New Zealander, David Yan, who topped 81 entries in the USD 200,000 NLH 8-Handed (Event #7) for his first Triton conquest and his second seven-figure cash of the year. The 29-year-old from Auckland — who used to work behind the counter at McDonald’s — also finished third in the recently concluded PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) for almost USD 1,500,000, but this time around he got USD 3,052,002 with the odd amount coming as a result of an ICM chop during three-handed play.
Then chip leader Jose Ignacio “Nacho” Barbero of Argentina earned the bigger cash prize of USD 3,445,807 while Norway’s Espen Jorstad was third for USD 2,766,191. They set aside USD 100,000 and the trophy to play for. Yan, a WSOP Bracelet winner in 2019, has now earned over USD 5,700,000 in tournament winnings in 2023 alone.
Wai Kiat Lee – file photo
Not to be outdone were outstanding showings of Wai Kiat Lee, Thailand’s Punnat Punsri, and Dao Minh Phu of Vietnam. Lee achieved three cashes, including a runner-up finish against Koon in the No Limit Short Deck Hold’em Main Event. Triton commentator Henry Kilbane indicated that the Malaysian is due for a title very soon.
Punnat Punsri already attained superstar status by winning the Triton SHRS Main Event in Cyprus last year but his third-place finish in the Luxor Invitational (Event #9) earned him his single event career-high of USD 3,107,000 keeping him firmly entrenched in his nation’s top all-time money list.
Dao Minh Phu
Dao Minh Phu became a national hero of sorts in his home country when the 43-year-old triumphed last May at the Triton SHRS Vietnam USD 50,000 NLH 8-Handed (Event #6). Prior to his victory, Dao had career earnings of less than USD 94,000. Today, he sits atop the leaderboard in Vietnam’s all-time money list, and his runner-up placing behind eventual champion Ole Schemion of Germany in the USD 50,000 NLH (Event #5) for USD 915,000 now brings his career total to just under USD 3,300,000. He is a source of pride and inspiration to legions of Vietnamese poker aficionados.
Other notable runs from Asians came from Masashi Oya of Japan—third place in the USD 20,000+10,000 NLH Bounty (Event #8), James Chen of Taiwan—ninth in the Luxor Invitational, and Malaysia’s Lun Loon—the highest Asian finisher in the Main Event at eighth place (and also third in Event #16 – the US$60,000 No Limit Short Deck Hold’em).
The Triton Super High Roller Series London is now officially part of poker history with a total of USD 104,685,000 handed out to the hundreds of participants who continue to make this the pinnacle of high-stakes poker action.
*Article by Noel Zarate
Live Poker, News