Champion! Patrik Antonius

The huge banners that hang from the walls of the Triton Series tournament rooms are a who’s who of poker’s most decorated players. Seemingly all of the brightest stars in the world game have won at least one event on this prestigious tour, and these banners are like a picture gallery of poker’s most elevated elite.

But until tonight, there was one very conspicuous absentee — and it happened to be one of the only poker players who could probably be considered pin-up material, even before you factor in his sensational poker skills.

Patrik Antonius has long been one of poker’s true poster boys, and now finally the flying Finn can join that gallery of stars. Antonius took down Event #1 of the Triton Super High Roller Series festival in Northern Cyprus, earning $825,000 for beating a record-breaking field of 131 entries. Long considered a cash-game titan, with a tournament game to stand comparison with anyone else’s, Antonius is now also a Triton champion. And it feels good.

“These are the nicest events that exist in poker…everything is top, top quality,” Antonius said as he reflected on his first tournament win since 2018. “They couldn’t do a better job. I’m happy to play these tournaments and I’m happy to win my first one. I’m happy. I’m happy.”

Antonius also becomes the first player to win an exclusive limited-edition Shamballa Jewels bracelet along with his trophy.

The exclusive Shamballa winner’s bracelet

Antonius beat Fahredin Mustafov heads-up, completing the job on a player who had earlier tried to run an audacious triple-barrel bluff on Antonius, resulting only in the Finn making a sensational hero call for his tournament life with nothing but a pair of deuces. It was a truly amazing call, following a truly audacious play from Mustafov, who was making a move with ten-high. It gave Antonius a lead three-handed that he never gave up.

Not even a classic Steve O’Dwyer rearguard action could halt Antonius, despite O’Dwyer clinging on with a short stack when it seemed impossible, and then building back from one chip to a playable stack. Antonius accounted for O’Dwyer in third ($362,000) and then Mustafov in second ($557,000) to give himself more than $800K to speculate through the remainder of this 15-event series.


The volatile nature of short-stacked tournament play was evident immediately on the resumption of play today, with the overnight leader, Paul Phua, becoming the first player knocked out. Other former big stacks, including Bruno Volkmann and Ivan Leow followed the Triton founder out the door before they reached a final table.

That particular milestone was reached when Artem Vezhenkov and Santi Jiang were eliminated all but simultaneously on neighbouring tables, taking a field from 10 to eight, and leaving the following to battle for the biggest money.

Cyprus Event #1 final table players. Clockwise from top left: Fahredin Mustafov, Danny Tang, Kannapong Thanarattrakul, Viacheslav Buldygin, Patrik Antonius, Ebony Kenney, Steve O’Dwyer, Seth Davies.

It was truly anybody’s game at this stage, but some patterns began to emerge. Antonius, in particular, seized his opportunity to begin some upward momentum, while O’Dwyer drew on all of his experience to know precisely when to make his moves.

Meanwhile, those first-timers, led by Ebony Kenney, were enjoying their time at their debut final table. The conversation was flowing, even as the state of the stacks left the order of eliminations largely in the lap of the gods.

The Triton regular Seth Davies was the first to bust from the final table, taking the first six-figure pay-day of this Cyprus stop. Davies had Ah4h when Fahredin Mustafov had pocket sixes and the pocket pair held up. Davies’ padded his bank-roll to the tune of $109,500.

The end of the road for Seth Davies

The last Thai competitor, Kannapong Thanarattrakul, hit the rail next, speculating his last 10 big blinds with KhQd and also losing to a small pocket pair: this time, pocket fives with Antonius.

Kannapong Thanarattrakul

Antonius was also responsible for the next elimination, when his AdQh held up against Viacheslav Buldygin’s KdJs. Thanarattrakul took $145,700, while Buldygin won $190,500 for seventh and sixth place, respectively.

A decent run for Viacheslav Buldygin

Kenney was having a ball on her first visit to the Triton Series, having stepped up from a regular diet of $5K and smaller buy-ins to mix it in this rarefied company. Kenney was invited to Cyprus to partner Phil Nagy in the Coin Rivet Invitational, but also decided to get some experience at the high roller felt in the tournaments running up to that $200K buy-in event.

She later said that she had settled into the game very easily as players on her first table began discussing relationships and sex. But her poker game was also a match for her conversational dexterity and she cruised into the money — not many players notch a cash on their Triton debut — and she then became the first woman ever to feature at a Triton Series final table.

This particular party ended for Kenney when her last 10 big blinds went in with AhQd. But Mustafov had pocket kings and flopped another one, leaving Kenney drawing to running cards for a straight. They didn’t come and she was gone, picking up $240,500 and heaps of valuable experience for her next tilt at a title.

Ebony Kenney enjoyed a dream debut on the Triton Series

One of the players at Kenney’s first table yesterday, whose table chatter had helped her feel at home, was the Hong Kong-based Triton regular Danny Tang, and Tang had also made it to the final. He also ended up following Kenney out of the door in fourth. Tang now has nine cashes on the Triton Series, but had to make do with $300,000 for fourth place this time, losing his chips to Mustafov.

In his final hand, Tang’s Qs9h rivered a straight, but Mustafov’s AdTd had made a flush. It all went in, and Tang was out.

Another Triton cash for Danny Tang

By this stage, O’Dwyer had seemed a certain bet to be out. He was a short stack before the bubble yesterday, and was down to literally one chip when they were four-handed, after losing a big hand against Mustafov. But he managed to crawl back from the dead to ladder up when Tang departed, and then gather a decent handful of chips thanks to flopping two pair with Th9d against Antonius’s AcQd.

One chip Steve O’Dwyer
More chips!

However, Antonius got his revenge a little while later, getting Ah7s to hold up against O’Dwyer’s Ks6d. That send O’Dwyer into Event 2 with his $300K.

Antonius was purring, and you’ll do well to seek out footage of the hand he played against Mustafov when he called off his tournament life with Jh2h on a board of 7h2c6cQhAd. Mustafov, with Th8c, raised the button and then bet every single street.

Fahredin Mustafov: Couldn’t get past Antonius at the last

Antonius check-called all the way down, including the shove on the river, when staring at elimination. He burnt through all of his time-bank chips before coming to the right decision. “Take a bow, sir,” said Henry Kilbane in the commentary booth. It put the momentum fully with Antonius, and he never looked back.

After O’Dwyer went out, Mustafov and Antonius sat down for their heads-up battle, but it only ended up lasting three hands. Antonius this time flopped a straight with his 7c6s and out-paced Mustafov’s JhJc. It’s the kind of hand that would have ended the tournament anyway, but it was what went before that proved once again just how formidable Antonius can be.

Antonius revels in his victory

“It has a special feel,” Antonius said. “All the top players are playing this tournament, so it’s nice to win, I have to say. It’s a nice way to start a series like this. It’s always a good feeling to win a tournament.”

Event #1 – NLHE – 8-Handed
Dates: September 5-6, 2022
Entries: 131 (inc. 34 re-entries)
Prize pool: $3,275,000

1 – Patrik Antonius, Finland – $825,000
2 – Fahredin Mustafov, Bulgaria – $557,000
3 – Steve O’Dwyer, Ireland – $362,000
4 – Danny Tang, Hong Kong – $300,000
5 – Ebony Kenny, USA – $240,500
6 – Viacheslav Buldygin, Russia – $190,500
7 – Kannapong Thanarattrakul, Thailand – $145,700
8 – Seth Davies, USA – $109,500

9 – Santi Jiang, Spain – $81,800
10 – Artem Vezhenkov, Russia – $67,100
11 – Eric Worre, USA – $67,100
12 – Ivan Leow, Malaysia – $59,000
13 – Selahaddin Bedir, Turkey – $59,000
14 – Viktor Kudinov, Russia – $54,000
15 – Bruno Volkmann, Brazil – $54,000
16 – Paul Phua, Malaysia – $51,400
17 – Nikita Kuznetcov, Russia – $51,400

Photography by Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive