Champion Chris Brewer!

A hugely entertaining short deck event here at Triton Madrid ended Monday evening with a first Triton Series title for Chris Brewer. The American, a newcomer to the high stakes circuit this season, took €372,000 after defeating Canada’s Mike Watson heads-up.

The day had just about everything, including a rush to the bubble, some short-stack mastery, big stacks blowing up, a long stay at the feature table for the Triton Ambassador Tom Dwan and one hugely unusual and intriguing tournament situation. It culminated in a memorable success for Brewer.

“It’s really fun to compete with a lot of great players, and to get lucky and win is great,” Brewer told Ali Nejad at the end of play. “It really is a lot of fun to be out here with all these people…I always envisioned I could go and play against people for high stakes and win. But I didn’t know what the high stakes actually were. When I was envisioning that, I was envisioning the $10K WSOP. I didn’t imagine these stakes, but I always thought I could make it to the high stakes.”

Brewer was the beneficiary of that very strange moment, when Rob Yong could easily have knocked him out but made a mistake and let him off the hook. Brewer then rebuilt from a short stack, finding crucial double ups in the short-handed phase of the tournament, and eventually denying Watson what would have also been his first title.

Watson had to make do with €269,100 for second place. Yong was third for €173,600, but will still be cursing what might have been — the full details of which are below.

“It was a super awful situation,” Brewer said of the moment where he knew he could have been on the rail. “I think it was an innocent mistake. I don’t think anyone did anything wrong. But it was very uncomfortable. It worked out in my favour but it’s not something I want to have happen again.”

Watson congratulates the new champion


After a quick-fire Day 1 of this event, everyone knew that pretty much anything was possible heading into the pre-bubble period — and we saw a pretty spectacular about turn in a few players’ fortunes. Max Silver, the tiniest of short stacks with seven antes overnight, made the money after a series of double-ups. But Seth Davies, Mikita Badziakouski and Arthur Yap, who might have felt more comfortable, perished ahead of the money.

Choon Tong Siow: Bubble boy

The same fate befell Choon Tong Siow, who was third in chips overnight, but ended up bursting the bubble when he left in ninth. It had all happened rather rapidly and the bubble period took precisely one hand: Tom Dwan limped, Chris Brewer jammed for 1.99 million with JsTd and Siow under-called all-in for his last 745,000 with AdKs.

Dwan stepped aside and then Brewer went on to win this near flip when he turned a queen-high straight. Everyone remaining was now in the money and guaranteed at least €49,600 — the amount that went to Winfred Yu, who perished in eighth, just short of the single-table redraw. Yu also lost to Brewer, with Ac9d to Brewer’s pocket queens, which became a full house.

Last seven in Event #3. Clockwise from back left: Mike Watson, Webster Lim, Chris Brewer, Rob Yong, Devan Tang, Tom Dwan, Max Silver

They paused then to take the final table photos — and for the poker fans of the world to hurry to their screens to catch glimpse of Tom Dwan in the deep stages of a tournament for the first time in ages. Dwan was the short stack, and he was coming off the back of a rumoured 20-hour cash game session, but he had made it to this final and was sticking around.

Dwan was a talkative presence for the 40 minutes or so he lasted, but then hit the rail in seventh. He open-pushed with pocket tens, got looked up first by Rob Yong with pocket jacks, and then was in real trouble when Watson shoved over the top, with pocket aces.

Dwan was running mighty thin after Watson flopped a full house, and was drawing dead by the turn. Dwan won €63,200 — and the cash games beckoned again.

Dwan thrilled viewers of the live stream, finishing seventh

There then followed another long period of play without any eliminations, the most intriguing moment of which came in a crazy confrontation between Rob Yong and Brewer. Brewer, with 3.1 million in his stack and red pocket queens, opened from under the gun to 2 million. It was a big overbet — antes were 50K/100K at the time — but it was not all-in. It was simply enough that the other short stacks would have to have risked everything to call, while the big stacks would be looking at a hefty chunk of their chips if they got involved and lost.

Everyone folded until it got to Yong, who looked down at AsAd. Yong, who is always a very talkative presence at the tables, turned his cards face up and showed them to Brewer. He also then said, “Call.”

Brewer sighed as he thought he was clearly going to lose all his chips to the over-pair, but then realised that Yong had only said “Call”. Brewer now knew what he was up against and was under no obligation to put in his last 1.1 million. Yong hadn’t raised.

“This is a ton of tournament equity behind,” Brewer said.
“I’ve done you a big favour,” Yong said, realising his mistake.

They were going to a flop, with Brewer now only risking 2 million because of Yong’s error. And then the board brought two more aces, giving Yong quads, and allowed Brewer to muck and survive.

“That’s the craziest mistake I ever made,” Yong said.

Yong wasn’t immediately punished for it. In fact, he got aces again soon after and this time called Devan Tang’s all-in push. Tang had JhJd and the aces stayed good, forcing Tang out in sixth, with €79,300. It gave Yong more than half the chips in play five-handed.

The aces came out again soon after, this time in Watson’s hands. It was bad news for Webster Lim, who had pocket kings, and the aces held once more. Lim took €101,700.

Of the four-handed players, both Brewer and Silver knew they might easily have been out. Brewer survived that weird spot against Yong, and Silver had been up against it from the off. It’s how come he didn’t look in any way upset to be knocked out in fourth, losing to Watson.

Silver turned an overnight short stack into fourth place

Silver pushed for 1.48 million with QdJh and Watson called with KdQs. Silver couldn’t wriggle off the hook this time, but earned his first Triton cash: €131,500 for fourth place.

Yong had the three-handed chip lead, but Watson wasn’t far behind. And when Brewer doubled his short stack, through Yong, Watson ended up in the lead. Yong reclaimed it, then lost it again, as the last three went back and forth for another intriguing hour.

Yong still finished third despite an unfortunate error

Brewer managed another double up through Yong, with JhTs against Yong’s AsKc, and it began a steep decline for the lone European remaining. He lost a big pot with AsJs to Watson’s Qd9d when the flop brought two pair for Yong, but turn and river brought Watson a straight. And Watson then drove the final nail in Yong’s coffin, when his AhQc flopped trips to beat Yong’s KcKd.

Yong had been all-in pre-flop for his last 3.9 million, but ended up in third, winning €173,600.

Watson was the big chip leader when the tournament entered heads-up. Perhaps more than any other player, Watson has really had a rough run of cards at previous Triton stops, losing big stacks in grim circumstances on numerous occasions. But in this tournament, he had already had the rub of the green in a crucial pot against Brewer seven-handed, winning with AhTh against Brewer’s JdAd when he turned a straight. That earned him a double-up. From there, he had been effortless cruising to the final stages, especially in comparison with Brewer’s rocky road.

But Brewer soon got started. His first heads-up double up came with TdTs out-flipping Watson’s KcQh. He then won another big pot with Jd6d beating Watson’s aces when two more jacks came on the board.

He also then turned a straight with Qh9s to beat Watson’s QcJh, and although Watson somehow managed to wriggle away from Brewer’s aggression, the steady drip was mostly one direction.

Watson found little help from above during the heads-up phase of play

Watson managed one double up of his own, with Td9s beating Brewer’s QhTh, but soon after chopped one when he was in a dominant position, and it was his last real chance to get back into it.

The final hand came when Watson had Ts7c and Brewer had 9s8h. The flop of 7hTcJc told the story of this heads-up: two pair for Watson, but a straight for Brewer. The money went in and that was that.

Brewer paid tribute to his opponents, and then said how much he was enjoying life on the Triton Series. “It’s the best events in the world,” he said. “Everything. The shot clock is great. The dealers are great. The staff is great. It’s just a really fun experience playing out here.”

Triton Madrid – Event 3
€20,000 Short Deck Ante-Only

Dates: May 15-16, 2022
Entries: 62 (inc. 26 re-entries)
Prize pool: €1,240,000

1 – Chris Brewer, USA – €372,000
2 – Mike Watson, Canada – €269,100
3 – Rob Yong, UK – €173,600
4 – Max Silver, Ireland – €131,500
5 – Webster Lim, Malaysia – €101,700
6 – Devan Tang, Hong Kong – €79,300
7 – Tom Dwan, USA – €63,200
8 – Winfred Yu, Hong Kong – €49,600

Photography by Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive