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Mikalai Vaskaboinikau Wins Triton Montenegro Main Event For $4.7 Million

Belarusian Amateur Bests 171-Entry Field In $125,000 Buy-In Event To More Than Double His Career Tournament Earnings


Mikalai Vaskaboinikau’s dream came true when he topped a field of 171 entries in the 2024 Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Montenegro $125,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event.

“It’s a really amazing feeling,” Vaskaboinikau told Triton reporters after coming out on top. “I had a good feeling about this a few months ago. I put this thought in my mind in a dream.”

The 37-year-old businessman from Belarus earned $4,737,000 as the champion of the prestigious event, more than doubling his career tournament earnings in the process. Prior to this victory, his top payday had been a $492,041 score earned as the fourth-place finisher in a €100,000 buy-in at the 2022 European Poker Tour Monte Carlo stop. He now has more than $8.3 million in total cashes under his belt.

Vaskaboinikau also earned 1,560 Card Player Player of the Year points for this win. This was his third POY-qualified score of the year. With 1,985 points, he has moved inside the top 50 in the 2024 POY race standings presented by Global Poker.

Plenty of big names were among the 27 that cashed in this event to earn a slice of the $21,375,000 prize pool. Those who ran deep included five-time Triton champion Mikita Badziakouski (26th), Dan Smith (25th), Patrik Antonius (23rd), 2019 World Series of Poker main event champion Hossein Ensan (22nd), Mashashi Oya (14th), Chris Brewer (13th), and Triton co-founder Paul Phua (12th).

The third and final day of the tournament began with four-time Triton winner Wai Kin Yong leading the remaining nine contenders, while Vaskaboinikau sat in sixth chip position. Elizabeth Chen (9th – $478,000) was the first to fall, with her pocket eights losing a race against the K-Q of ten time bracelet winner and five-time Triton champion Phil Ivey.

Bryn KenneyThree-time Triton winner Bryn Kenney, who is the tour’s all-time money leader with over $38.6 million in total earnings across 14 career cashes, added to that total by finishing eighth in this event for $580,000. Kenney ran pocket nines into the pocket tens of Igor Yaroshevskyy and was unable to come from behind. He now has nearly $66.3 million in lifetime scores, putting him back on top of poker’s all-time money list. Justin Bonomo now sits in second place with $65,930,010.

Pocket tens were also involved in the next knockout. Vaskaboinikau’s two tens ran into the pocket queens of Yong, who had slid out of the lead during the early action. Yong remained ahead through the flop and turn, but a ten on the river sent him to the rail in seventh place ($800,000). He now has nearly $12.6 million in career earnings after this latest deep run.

Samuel Ju also lost a crucial all-in confrontation with pocket queens, but his hand was behind from the start. He was up against pocket kings for Vaskaboinikau, which improved to kings full of aces on by the turn to leave Ju drawing dead. Ju, who recently finished second in the $40,000 mystery bounty event, earned a career-high payday of $1,098,000 for his sixth-place showing.

Yaroshevskyy’s run ended in fifth place ($1,430,000) when his Q-9 was unable to hold up against the J-9 of Aleksejs Ponakovs, who had shoved from the small blind when folded to. Ponakovs flopped a jack and held from there to narrow the field to four. This was the second seven-figure score of the series for Yaroshevskyy. The Ukrainian took down the $50,000 bounty event earlier this series for his first Triton title.

Ivey seemed poised to run away with the chip lead, but soon found himself on the wrong end of a flush-over-flush situation. He limped in for 300,000 total from the small blind with QSpade Suit10Spade Suit and Vaskaboinikau checked his option with ASpade Suit8Spade Suit. The flop came down 10Diamond Suit4Diamond Suit2Spade Suit and Ivey bet 400,000 with his top pair. Vaskaboinikau called and the 7Spade Suit hit the turn, giving both players flush draws. Ivey bet 1,200,000 and Vaskaboinikau called again. The JSpade Suit completed the draws of both players. Ivey checked and Vaskaboinikau, who had made the nuts on the end, bet 3,500,000. Ivey check-raised all-in with his queen-high flush and Vaskaboinikau called for 5,900,000 total to double into the lead.

Phil IveyThe slide continued for Ivey, who eventually got all-in for his last seven or so big blinds with A-8 from the button. He ran into A-K suited for Vaskaboinikau. A king-high flop left Ivey in even worse shape, to the point that a blank on the turn meant that he had no outs heading into the river. Ivey earned $1,795,000 as the fourth-place finisher, increasing his career haul to over $44.7 million.

Three-handed play continued for more than two hours, but another knockout hand eventually arrived. Ponakovs moved all-in from the small blind for nearly 13 big blinds with K-J and Vaskaboinikau called from the big blind, having the 10,150,000 shove covered by 14,400,000. Ponakovs flopped a jack to take the lead, but the turn brought an ace to put Vaskaboinikau back in front. A six on the river saw Ponakovs sent home in third place. The two-time bracelet winner from Latvian secured $2,200,000 for his podium finish. He now has more than $20.1 million in career scores to his name.

Heads-up play began with Vaskaboinikau holding 35,450,000 to the 7,250,000 of Dejan Kaladjurdjevic. It didn’t take long for him to convert the huge lead into the title. On the second hand of the match Kaladjurdjevic moved all-in for just over five big blinds with JClub Suit2Club Suit from the button. Vaskaboinikau made the call with 6Spade Suit6Club Suit and the board ran out KSpade Suit10Club Suit8Diamond Suit7Spade Suit2Spade Suit to bring the tournament to a close. Kaladjurdjevic earned $3,196,000 as the runner-up, which was far-and-away his largest live score yet.

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

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Mikalai Vaskaboinikau $4,737,000 1560
2 Dejan Kaladjurdjevic $3,196,000 1300
3 Aleksejs Ponakovs $2,200,000 1040
4 Phil Ivey $1,795,000 780
5 Igor Yaroshevskyy $1,430,000 650
6 Samuel Ju $1,098,000 520
7 Wai Kin Yong $800,000 390
8 Bryn Kenney $580,000 260
9 Elizabeth Chen $478,000 130

Photo credit: Triton Poker / Joe Giron.