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Phil Ivey And Patrik Antonius Win Big, Sam Grafton Wins Huge

Triton Mediterranean Poker Party High-Roller Series Ends Abruptly In Cyprus

by Erik Fast |  Published: Oct 19, 2022

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The high-stakes tournament world descended on the Merit Crystal Cove Hotel in North Cyprus in September for the Triton Mediterranean Poker Party festival. The series was initially scheduled to feature 13 events, but the final two were canceled after the sudden passing of frequent high roller contender and founding Triton Poker member Ivan Leow. (For more on Leow check out the article on page 9.)

Those tragic circumstances brought the series to a somber end a few days earlier than expected, but prior to that, there was plenty of the massive tournament action that Leow loved. Through the 11 events that played out, a staggering $59.1 million in prize money was awarded.

The series kicked off with a $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event. A total of 131 entries were made by the time registration closed, building a prize pool of $3,275,000. In the end, the largest share of that money was awarded to Finnish poker star Patrik Antonius, who emerged victorious with the title and the top prize of $825,000.

Antonius made a massive hero call during short-handed action that went viral on social media. That incredible hand is looked at in depth on pg. 45 (HMU 3).

This was the fourth-largest payday ever earned by Antonius. The 41-year-old now has more than $13.4 million in lifetime earnings on the circuit despite primarily focusing on online and live cash games for much of his career.

Joining Antonius at the final table were the likes of Seth Davies (8th), Triton Poker first-timer Ebony Kenney (5th), and Steve O’Dwyer (3rd). O’Dwyer earned $362,000 and 616 POY points for his strong showing in this event. This was his eighth final table of the year, with three titles won and nearly $1.7 million in POY earnings accrued. He now sits in 19th place in the POY race as a result.

The last time Ben Tollerene cashed in a live poker tournament, it came in a win in the £100,000 buy-in event at the 2019 British Poker Open. Just shy of three years after that victory, Tollerene made a triumphant return to the live circuit by winning the $30,000 six-max event. He secured $807,000 for the win, bringing his lifetime earnings to more than $10.3 million.

Several notables made the final table, including Fedor Holz (5th), Stephen Chidwick (3rd), and runner-up Yuri Dzivielevski. All three of those tournament superstars went on to record other big scores during this series.

It was quite the profitable fortnight for Belgian poker pro Pieter Aerts. The three largest recorded scores of his tournament career came in a roughly two-week span from late August through early September, with more than $2.5 million in cumulative earnings between them.

Aerts’ run kicked off with a win in the WSOP Online $5,000 six-max event for $400,213 and his first gold bracelet. Just a handful of days after that, he finished third in a $10,000 buy-in event during the same series, adding another $586,020. The biggest payday of them all came in Cyprus, where he defeated a field of 117 entries in the $50,000 six-max no-limit hold’em event to take home $1,472,000.

Like Aerts, two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Kahle Burns recorded the largest score of his career at this series. The Australian defeated a field of 88 total entries in the $75,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event, capturing the title and the massive $1,730,000 first-place prize. This marked the third time that Burns had cashed for seven figures in a poker tournament. He now has nearly $14.3 million in lifetime earnings, moving past Joe Hachem for second place on Australia’s all-time money list.

Burns had some stiff competition to contend with at the final table, including Linus Loeliger (6th), Yuri Dzivielevski (4th), Seth Davies (3rd), and Sam Greenwood (2nd). Dzivielevski, a two-time bracelet winner like Burns, climbed into 10th place in the POY rankings thanks to the $630,000 and 408 points he took home in this event. He now has 11 final-table finishes, one title, and more than $3.3 million in year-to-date POY earnings in 2022.

The fifth event on the agenda was the largest of the series. The first-ever Coin Rivet Invitational $200,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event attracted a field of 115 total entries, building a massive prize pool of $23 million.

The high-stakes tournament featured a unique format that required the recreational players in the field to each invite one professional to enter the event. The pros were separated from the amateur players for the duration of day 1, with the two segregated halves of the field only combining for day 2.

In the end, it was British poker pro Sam Grafton who emerged victorious, earning the staggering first-place prize of $5.5 million as the champion. This was by far the largest score of Grafton’s career, blowing away the $1,447,385 he earned as the runner-up finisher in the 2019 European Poker Tour Barcelona €100,000 buy-in high roller.

This marquee win came just three days after Grafton had placed second in the $50,000 buy-in won by Aerts. That deep run earned him another $994,500.

All told, Grafton’s recorded tournament earnings now exceed $11.9 million. As a result, he has climbed into fourth place on the UK’s all-time money list, trailing only Stephen Chidwick ($44.4 million), Sam Trickett ($21.8 million), and Ben Heath ($13.5 million).

The eight-figure prize pool was paid out among the top 17 finishers in this event, with the $380,000 money bubble bursting on day 2. Current second-ranked POY contender Chris Brewer was knocked out on the bubble, losing all but one big blind from his stack with A-J against the pocket kings of Ebony Kenney, who had secured her first high-roller cash earlier in the series. Kenney went on to finish fifth for $1.7 million, far-and-away the largest score of her career.

Had Kenney lasted one more spot, she would have set the record for the largest live tournament payout ever earned by a female player. That record remains with Annette Obrestad, who took down the first ever WSOP Europe main event for $2 million back in 2007.

Joining Grafton and Kenney at the final table were the likes of Seth Davies (8th), two-time bracelet winner Aleksejs Ponakovs (6th), two-time bracelet winner Fedor Holz (4th), and online poker superstar Linus Loeliger (2nd). Holz earned $2.1 million for his deep run. The 29-year-old German now has more than $37.9 million in lifetime cashes under his belt, good for 10th on the all-time money list.

During the excitement of the big invitational event, the $25,000 pot-limit Omaha tournament played out on the outskirts of the marquee attraction. Hometown hero Christopher Philippou defeated a field of 32 entries to earn the title and the top prize of $270,000. The native of Cyprus overcame a tough final table that included nine-time bracelet winner Erik Seidel (6th), Stephen Chidwick (4th), and Talal Shakerchi (2nd).

Chidwick was at his second final table of the series, with $500,000 earned across those two scores. He also banked 916 total POY points during this festival. He now has 6,177 total points, good for a 1,454-point lead over second-ranked Chris Brewer (4,723 points).

The 33-year-old poker pro from Deal, England has made 23 final tables this year, winning five titles and cashing for nearly $6 million in POY earnings along the way. He also earned 55 PokerGO Tour points in this event, extending his advantage on that leaderboard as well.

Thailand’s Punnat Punsri came into 2022 with just over $300,000 in recorded live poker tournament earnings to his name. So far this year however, he has cashed for nearly $3.9 million, announcing himself as a new force to be reckoned with on the international high-roller scene. Punsri’s latest breakthrough saw him outlast a field of 99 entries to emerge victorious in the $100,000 buy-in main event in Cyprus.

For the win, Punsri earned a career-best $2.6 million payday and his first Triton trophy. This score is now his largest by just more than $2 million, topping his previous best cash of $593,481 that he pocketed as the third-place finisher in the $50,000 buy-in eight-max event at this year’s WSOP.

This was Punsri’s third title and fifth final-table finish of the year. The 1,080 points he earned as the champion in this event were enough to see him surge into 31st place on the POY leaderboard.

Punsri beat out plenty of seasoned high-roller regulars down the stretch, including Artur Martirosian (7th), bracelet winner and four-time Triton champion Jason Koon (5th), Henrik Hecklen (4th), and Wiktor Malinowski (3rd).

Matthias Eibinger beat out a field of 32 total entries in a fast-paced $50,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event, earning $545,000 for the win. This was the second time this year that Eibinger has emerged victorious in a tournament with this buy-in at this venue. Back in April he took down a very similar event, earning $676,000 that time after besting a 41-entry field.

Danny Tang recorded his tenth final-table finish of the year in this event, placing sixth for $110,000 and 136 points. He now sits in 25th place in the POY rankings after this latest strong showing. He was hardly the only top POY contender to make moves in the standings thanks to this event, though. Mikita Badziakouski finished fourth for $245,000 and 272 points to climb as well, but was not yet finished showing out in Cyprus.

In fact, the very next day Badziakouski placed fourth in the $30,000 short deck event, adding another $131,000 and 168 points to his totals. This was the tenth final-table showing of 2022 for Badziakouski, with three titles won and more than $6.7 million in POY earnings accrued along the way. As a result, he now sits in ninth place in the overall POY rankings. His impressive run so far this year has seen him grow his career tournament earnings to more than $40.3 million.

That event was ultimately won by none other than 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Ivey. The 45-year-old Poker Hall of Fame member outlasted a field of 38 entries to take home $387,000. Ivey was not yet done adding to his lifetime and annual tallies at this series, though. Bracelet winner Daniel Dvoress (6th), Tom Dwan (5th), Kiat Lee (3rd), and Sam Greenwood (2nd) joined Ivey and Badziakouski at that final table.

The tenth event of the series was another short deck tournament with a $40,000 buy-in. Karl Chappe-Gatien came out on top, despite reports from Triton Poker staff saying that he had never entered a short deck no-limit hold’em poker tournament prior to buying in.

The French day trader was riding high from a third-place showing in the $200,000 buy-in Coin Rivet Invitational that saw him earn $2.6 million less than a week earlier. Danny Tang apparently convinced Chappe-Gatien, who was his partner in the invitational event, to give short deck a shot. After trying it out with some cash game action, Chappe-Gatien took a seat. He then proceeded to beat out the field of 45 entries, earning $565,000 for the win.

Chappe-Gatien tangled with plenty of short deck stars, including Jason Koon (5th), Webster Lim (3rd), and Kiat Lee (2nd) on his way to securing the title. His victory was the last event that got the classic Triton Poker live-streaming treatment.

The $50,000 short deck event was also the last tournament on the schedule that played to a winner. The typical coverage of the final day was scrapped, along with the two other events that were supposed to follow, in order for the tour’s organizers and the players to collectively mourn Leow’s passing.

Sam Greenwood won that final event, topping a field of 30 total entries to earn $341,275 and 408 POY points. The bracelet winner from Toronto now sits in 43rd place in the POY rankings. Jason Koon earned $159,935 and 102 points as the sixth-place finisher. This was his fifth final table of the series and 13th of the year. With more than $5.2 million in earnings so far in 2022, he is now the 22nd-ranked player in the POY race.

Phil Ivey backed up his win earlier in the series with a fourth-place showing for $181,784 and 204 points. With three titles, 12 final tables, and more than $5.6 million in POY earnings, he heads into the final quarter of the year in 18th place on the POY leaderboard. Seth Davies was the runner-up, moving within striking distance of the top 30 in the rankings with 11 final tables and one title won. ♠