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Record-Setting Triton South Korea Series Pays Out Over $100 Million

Punnat Punsri’s Hot Streak Pushes Him To Top Of POY Race

by Erik Fast |  Published: May 01, 2024

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The 2024 Triton Super High Roller Series Jeju is now in the books… the record books, that is.

A total of 2,555 entries were made across the 17-event festival, with more than $102 million in prize money paid out along the way. Several tournaments during the series set new turnout records for the tour, including a $25,000 buy-in with 305 entries and a $100,000 tournament with 216 entries posted by the time registration officially closed.

Holz, Mateos, Mosbock, and Danchev Headline Early Winners

The festival got underway in style, with 269 entries posting the $15,000 buy-in for the eight-max no-limit hold’em kickoff event. The record field size for the tour (soon to be broken) resulted in a $4,035,000 prize pool.

The largest share of that money was ultimately collected by none other than Fedor Holz, who banked $786,000 and his fourth Triton trophy, which is tied for fifth all time. For more on how the tour’s title leaderboard looked by this festival’s end, go to pg. 32.

Holz ended the series with five cashes totaling more than $1.3 million. The 30-year-old German crusher now has more than $43.3 million in career earnings to his name after securing this, his 19th recorded title.

Poker pro and chemist Roland Rokita defeated a field of 225 entries in the $20,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event that wrapped up the following day. The 28-year-old Austrian earned a career-best payday of $904,000 and his first Triton title for the win.

The third event of the series attracted a new record turnout of 298 entries at $25,000 a piece, resulting in a final prize pool of $7,450,000. After two days of high-stakes action, Paulius Vaitiekunas came out on top with the title and the top prize of $1,077,499, following a three-handed deal with Aram Oganyan and Alexander Tkatschew.

This was by far the largest recorded tournament score yet for the Lithuanian player, blowing away the $363,300 he nabbed as the 14th-place finisher in last year’s WPT World Championship in Las Vegas.

The $30,000 no-limit hold’em event had 185 entries, but only one could walk away as the champion. That player turned out to be none other than Adrian Mateos. The four-time bracelet winner from Spain took home $1,175,000 for the win.

Surprisingly, this was the 29-year-old’s first victory in a Triton event, and also the first for any Spanish player on the tour. Mateos managed one more deep run during the festival, finishing third in the $40,000 bounty event for $381,000. His two scores in Jeju saw his career total grow to nearly $42.2 million, which is 13th on the all-time money list.

The GG Million$ $25,000 no-limit hold’em event drew the largest turnout yet at the festival, with 305 entries setting yet another new field-size record for the tour. Former professional soccer player Mario Mosbock was the last player standing, earning $1,191,196 after denying Spain back-to-back titles by beating Sergio Aido heads-up.

The final two had struck a deal that redistributed the prize money a bit. As a result, Aido took home a larger payout, as he was ahead at the time the deal was made. He walked away with $1,237,804 for his efforts.

Mosbock cashed two more times during this festival, bringing the 27-year-old Austrian’s total haul to $1.77 million. He now has more than $11.5 million in lifetime earnings after his strong showing in South Korea.

The sub-$50,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em offerings for the festival concluded with the $40,000 buy-in mystery bounty event. Bulgarian poker pro Dimitar Danchev topped the 190-entry field, earning $804,000 from the main prize pool as the champion.

The 38-year-old Danchev also took home a whopping $540,000 in bounties, bringing his haul for the event to more than $1.3 million. His success so far at the Landing Casino Jeju has seen his career earnings grow to more than $9 million. This was the WSOP bracelet winner and EPT main event champion’s first Triton title.

Punsri, Tsang, Smith, and Hrabec Win Huge

The final four no-limit hold’em tournaments on the series’ schedule combined for more than $52 million in prize money between them. $9,500,000 of that was paid out among the top 30 finishers in event no. 8, a $50,000 seven-max tournament.

From the 190 entries, Thailand’s Punnat Punsri emerged victorious with his second Triton trophy and the top prize of $2,010,000.

“I honestly ran so good,” Punsri admitted. “I’ve run good, not just this event, but ever since I’ve played Triton.”

This was the third-largest score of Punsri’s career, with his six top paydays all coming in Triton events. He would add another final table, having also placed sixth in the $50,000 bounty event a few days after this win. Nearly $12 million of his $15.4 million in lifetime earnings have come on this tour.

With 10 final tables and two trophies so far in 2024, he is now the top overall player in the Card Player Player of the Year standings presented by Global Poker. He has a 126-point lead over second-ranked David Coleman, who ironically placed second in the $50,000 bounty event that was just mentioned.

Next up on the agenda was the largest buy-in of the series, the $150,000 eight-max event. With 117 entries, the prize pool swelled to a massive $17,550,000. This resulted in a top prize worth more than $4.2 million, which was eventually captured by Chinese Canadian Elton Tsang.

This was the second multi-million-dollar top prize earned by Tsang, who also won the 2016 WSOP Big One For One Drop €1 million buy-in for a bracelet and nearly $12.2 million. Just a few days after this win, the 44-year-old finished third in the $100,000 buy-in event for another $2.1 million, bringing his career earnings to more than $24 million in the process.

A total of 108 entries were made in the $50,000 bounty turbo event, with $15,000 from each buy-in set aside for the bounties, and $60,000 being awarded for each person that you knockout after just 25 percent of the field remained. There was also $3,780,000 in the main prize pool that was paid out among the top 17 finishers.

When the dust settled in this single-day, fast-paced affair, it was Dan Smith who had accumulated all of the chips and five bounty payouts (including his own). That means he took home $300,000 in bounties to go with the $951,000 he secured as the champion of the event.

This was the second Triton title on Smith’s résumé. The 35-year-old New Jersey native now has almost $19.5 million in total Triton earnings, which accounts for a sizable chunk of his total career cashes of nearly $54.5 million, good for sixth on the all-time money list.

In another record-setting turnout, the $100,000 buy-in main event drew 216 entries to become the largest field ever for a six-figure buy-in event. The massive turnout resulted in a staggering $21,600,000 prize pool, with $4,330,000 going to eventual champion Roman Hrabec.

This was by far the largest tournament score yet for the 28-year-old Czech poker pro and former hockey player, blowing away the $915,000 he picked up as the third-place finisher in the WSOP Online $10,300 buy-in event last year.

Hrabec now has more than $9.4 million in career earnings, the second-most of any player from his home country behind Martin Kabrhel.

“I will say, it feels quite amazing,” he said to Triton reporters after closing out the win. “Is that real money?”

This was the first title and fourth final table of the year for Hrabec, who also finished fifth in a $25,000 buy-in earlier at this festival. He earned 1,800 POY points for this latest victory. With 2,955 total points and nearly $5.1 million in to-date POY earnings, Hrabec has claimed the fifth-place spot in the 2024 rankings.

Zhou, Barbero, and Ding Capture PLO Titles

The first PLO event featured six-handed tables and a $25,000 buy-in. A total of 89 entries were made, resulting in a final prize pool of $2,000,000.

China’s Quan Zhou emerged victorious with the trophy and the top prize of $530,000. This was the fifth-largest career score for Zhou, who had a breakout run on the live circuit in 2023 to finish 10th in the POY race. With four final-table finishes by the end of this festival, the 39-year-old moved within reach of the top 30 in the 2024 POY rankings as he looks to improve on his impressive performance last year.

The next day it was none other than 2023 POY race third-place finisher Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero who came away with the win in the $30,000 PLO six-max bounty event, securing $443,000 from the main prize pool as the champion. This was his second career win in a Triton event for the PLO standout.

The 42-year-old Argentinian poker pro cashed in all three PLO events during this series, with this win, a fifth-place finish in the $25,000 buy-in, and an eighth-place showing in the $50,000 buy-in. The former Magic: The Gathering champion accumulated $749,500 in earnings across the three tournaments, bringing his lifetime tournament earnings to more than $17.5 million.

The third and final PLO event saw 84 entries post the $50,000 buy-in to build a $4,200,000 prize pool. Biao Ding eventually topped a stacked final table to pocket the $1,107,000 top prize and his second Triton title.

While this was the Chinese player’s first title of 2024, this was already his fifth final-table showing. Earlier in the series the 32-year-old Ding finished runner-up in the $150,000 no-limit event for a career-best $2,870,000 payday. With 2,324 POY points and more than $4.2 million in to-date POY earnings, he has shot up the standings and into 14th place on the 2024 leaderboard.

Ding outlasted a final table that included Ole Schemion, Stephen Chidwick, Paul Phua, Jared Bleznick, and Phil Ivey, who settled for $755,000 after falling just short of his sixth Triton title. Ivey, a 10-time bracelet winner, remains tied with for the second-most victories on the tour. (See pg. 34)

Watson, Xuan, Badziakouski, and Chidwick Close Festival With Short Deck Wins

The final four events featured short deck as the game. The first was the $25,000 buy-in, which drew 52 entries to create a prize pool of $1,300,000. The top nine finishers made the money, with Canada’s Michael Watson earning the largest share.

Watson, a WPT champion and two-time EPT main event winner and one of the winningest online players ever, secured $380,000 and his third Triton title for the win. The 39-year-old is one of just 10 players to have won three or more titles on this tour.

This score increased Watson’s career tournament earnings to more than $26 million. This was already his second title and eighth final-table finish of the year, with three top-four showings at the Landing Casino Jeju in South Korea. With 3,036 POY points and more than $3.5 million in to-date POY earnings, Watson is currently sitting in fourth place in the standings.

Just a day removed from an eighth-place showing in the $25,000 buy-in, Chinese pro Tan Xuan took all the chips from a field of 67 entries in the $50,000 buy-in, earning $922,000 and his second Triton trophy for the win.

The 37-year-old Xuan was not yet done crushing at the short deck tables, though. He went on to finish as the runner-up in the final event of the festival, adding another $191,000 to bring his career total to nearly $9.4 million, with almost all of that being earned across his 16 in-the-money finishes in Triton events.

Mikita Badziakouski took down the $100,000 buy-in short deck event, topping a 34-entry field to earn $1,153,000 and his fifth Triton title. The 32-year-old now sits in a three-way tie for second on the tour’s title leaderboard alongside Phil Ivey and Danny Tang.

The only player ahead of this trio of five-time champions is ten-time Triton winner Jason Koon, who joined Badziakouski at this event’s final table. Koon finished fifth this time around, earning $306,000 for his 46th in-the-money finish in a Triton tournament. He now has more than $27.1 million in earnings in Triton events, which accounts for almost half of his total career earnings of more than $56.2 million.

Koon now sits fourth on poker’s all-time money list, just one spot ahead of Badziakouski. The Belarusian poker pro’s career total grew to $55,265,551 thanks to this latest victory. He is one of only five players in poker history to cash for more than $55 million on the tournament circuit.

The final event of the series was a fast-paced, last-chance dance. The $20,000 short deck turbo drew 42 entries and took just a single day to play down to a winner, which was Stephen Chidwick.

This was the second Triton title for the 34-year-old poker pro from England. The $265,000 top prize he secured for the win increased his lifetime earnings to more than $57 million. He remains in third place on poker’s all-time money list, trailing only Justin Bonomo ($65,537,214) and Bryn Kenney ($65,448,407).

The two-time POY award winner has already made 10 final tables and won two titles this year. With 2,528 total points and nearly $1.6 million in to-date POY earnings, Chidwick is now sitting in 10th place in the 2024 rankings. He will be chasing his third POY title, having already earned the award in both 2019 and 2022. ♠