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Alex Kulev Wins 2024 Triton Montenegro $100,000 Buy-In Event

Bulgarian Bests 102-Entry Field To Secure First Triton Title and $2,566,000

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Alex Kulev has established himself as a top player on the high-stakes live poker tournament scene over the past couple of years. The 29-year-old Bulgarian professional player’s ten biggest paydays have all come since the start of 2023, including his largest score yet: the $2,566,000 he earned as the champion of the 2024 Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Montenegro $100,000 no-limit hold’em eight max event.

Kulev overcame a field of 102 entries that turned out to the Maestral Resort & Casino in Montenegro, securing his first Triton title and the multi-million-dollar top prize as the champion.

“I’m a little bit overwhelmed, to be honest,” Kulev told Triton reporters after closing out the win in front of his parents, who traveled six hours to be witness the conclusion of the event. "This means a lot to me. To accomplish this in front of my family is very special to me. I will cherish this for a long time.”

This was already the second title and ninth final-table finish of the year for Kulev. With 3,575 total Card Player Player of the Year points and more than $5.4 million in to-date POY earnings, he now sits in ninth place in the 2024 POY standings presented by Global Poker.

The $10,200,000 prize pool for this event was ultimately split up amongst the top 17 finishers, with $160,000 as a min-cash and seven-figure payouts for the final three. Plenty of Triton crushers ran deep, including Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero (14th(, Stephen Chidwick (11th), Sean Winter (10th), and Bryn Kenney (9th).

Aleksejs PonakovsThe official final table began with five-time Triton champion Danny Tang in the lead and Kulev in the middle of the pack. Two-time bracelet winner Aleksejs Ponakovs (8th – $342,000) was the first to fall, with his A-8 suited running into pocket jacks for bracelet winner and World Poker Tour champion Dylan Linde.

Linde doubled up Maher Nouira during seven-handed play, and then lost a big clash with Kulev to find himself on the short stack. His final chips went in with A-5 suited facing A-10 for Liang Xu after both players paired their side cards. Linde was unable to find another five and was eliminated in seventh place ($454,000).

Monents after Linde’s exit, two-time bracelet winner and two-time Triton champion Daniel Dvoress found himself all-in with A-Q trailing the pocket queens of Thomas Santerne. The better hand held up and Dvoress was knocked out in sixth place ($594,000). The score pushed Dvoress past $34.2 million in career earnings.

That elimination gave Santerne the lead, but he was soon surpassed by Kulev thanks to a preflop cooler that saw his pocket aces hold facing the pocket jacks of Tang.

The next big showdown pitted Tang’s pocket queens against Kulev’s A-K for a classic preflop race. Kulev flopped an ace and held from there to eliminate Tang in fifth place ($752,000). He now has more than $26.1 million in career tournament earnings, with more than $16.5 million of that coming from his 34 in-the-money finishes in Triton events.

Maher Nouira was sent home via a brutal cooler, with his pocket queens running into the pocket aces of Santerne. The money went in on the turn with Nouira needing a queen on the river. The recent European Poker Tour Monte Carlo €25,000 high roller winner headed to the payout desk to collect $933,000 when the 7Spade Suit rolled off the deck instead.

Xu Liang’s case chips went in with his pocket sevens ahead of K-Q for Kulev. Liang fell behind in the race quickly, with Kulev flopping trip kings to take a big lead. Liang found no help on the turn or river and was eliminated in third place ($1,127,000).

Thomas SanterneHeads-up play began in a virtual tie, with Kulev holding 10,250,000 to Santerne’s 10,150,000. The early action largely went Santerne’s way, but Kulelv found a big double up with pocket queens against top pair of jacks for Santerne to close the gap considerably.

Kulev soon overtook the lead and put some distance between himself and his opponent in time for the final hand of the tournament. Kulev limped in from the button with ADiamond Suit10Club Suit and Santerne shoved for 22.5 big blinds with 7Diamond Suit7Club Suit. Kulev called and the board ran out 10Spade Suit6Spade Suit2Club Suit10Heart SuitQHeart Suit to give Kulev trip tens for the win.

Santerne earned $1,735,000 as the runner-up. The 25-year-old French player now has more than $3.5 million in recorded scores to his name.

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Alex Kulev $2,566,000 1200
2 Thomas Santerne $1,735,000 1000
3 Liang Xu $1,127,000 800
4 Maher Nouira $933,000 600
5 Danny Tang $752,000 500
6 Daniel Dvoress $594,000 400
7 Dylan Linde $454,000 300
8 Aleksejs Ponakovs $342,000 200

Photo credits: Triton Poker / Joe Giron.