Laszlo Bujtas sealed the deal after a titanic head-up duel

Triton Poker’s motto is “Where High Stakes Dreams Are Dealt” and it was never more apparent than at Casino Gran Via, Madrid, tonight, where first-timer Denys Homliavyi, from Ukraine, was inches away from winning his first Triton Poker title.

We’ll pause right here to make it clear that he didn’t. He came second to Laszlo Bujtas, the Hungarian pro. But Bujtas himself will surely be content for us to focus first on the player who came second, because this is a crazy story.

When Homliavyi came to Madrid this week, with a few poker-playing friends, he didn’t even really know the rules of the game. But he sat in the lobby of the tournament area for a couple of days and avidly watched the Triton Poker live stream, learning from scratch. He then thought he’d give it a go, and bought into the €50,000 Turbo, encouraged by his friend Bali Gee. Flash forward a few hours, and both Gee and Homliavyi were in the money, but Homliavyi was sitting with the biggest stack opposite some of the many sharks who swim through the Triton waters.

By the point he went heads up with Bujtas, at around midnight local time, the blinds in the tournament were ridiculously high, meaning stacks were ridiculously short. Both Bujtas and Homliavyi doubled up countless times, sometimes with the best hand, sometimes not. And Bujtas had only one big blind at one point, but played on for another 40 minutes at least.

The brilliant first-timer Denys Homliavyi

Eventually, at past 1am local time, Bujtas finally got it to stick, winning with 2c3c to Homliavyi’s Ad9s. There was a two on the turn, which was where the money went in. Bujtas took €630,000 and his first Triton trophy, another notable feather in his cap.

But Homliavyi, a crypto-currency investor, who had turned to poker only at the very last moment, was the story of the day. Do you remember your first poker tournament? Homliavyi will very fondly remember his. He earned €434,000.

“Poker and crypto are similar,” Homliavyi said. “You have risk management in crypto and risk management in poker.” He said he might well be back at the tables for more.

Bujtas agreed that it was nothing like he had ever played before. “I had to make adjustments, for sure,” he said of the long heads-up battle. “I played 100 percent of hands.”

He added that he felt very satisfied to win his first Triton event, acknowledging that he got lucky in the key spots. (He also got unlucky plenty of times, but in the end he got the lot.)

But let’s give it up too for Homliavyi, who was utterly delighted at his success. He literally only learnt poker two days ago, and is now the talk of Madrid.


The turbo events are always played not only at a break-neck speed, but with a real sense of fun. Those two new players — Gee and Homliavyi — were adding a really unusual dynamic to proceedings, and were both clearly having a ball.

It helped that they both made the money, even as the usual glittering array of talent had fallen by the wayside. Jason Koon made the top 10, but it wasn’t good enough. And Ike Haxton was knocked out in eighth, again without troubling the cashiers.

However, the stone bubble burst after Stephen Chidwick and Danny Tang got involved in a blind-versus-blind clash, which ended in tears for Tang.

Chidwick raised to 125,000 from the small blind and Tang called. The flop fell 9h9cXx and both players checked. The turn was the 7h and Chidwick bet 130,000. Tang called, which brought the Kd on the river.

Danny Tang departs on the bubble

Chidwick put forward a big stack of chips, covering the 270,000 that Tang had back. Tang pondered for a moment, but then threw the chips in, only to be shown Chidwick’s 9d4c.

Tang mucked his cards, but made a point too of showing his Xx, the rivered top pair. But Chidwick’s flopped trips were good and the bubble was burst.

The last six in the turbo (l-r): Laszlo Bujtas, Denys Homliavyi, Bali Gee, Wiktor Malinowski, Jeremy Ausmus, Stephen Chidwick

They were all now in the money, with Homliavyi leading, Bujtas and Chidwick similarly stacked in equal second, and Gee, Wiktor Malinowski and Jeremy Ausmus with fewer than 15 big blinds. There was a quick pause for a photograph, and then they pushed on.

Chidwick was making most of the running, but he then had to double up Gee — 6h6c losing to Gee’s XxXx — and Malinowski — As3s losing to Malinowski’s pocket sevens. He had to pull back from table captain duties for a bit.

Malinowski all but doubled immediately after, when his pocket jacks beat Gee’s pocket sevens. They were almost equal stacks, although Gee was left with 25,000. “A chip and a chair,” he joked, but he soon had neither.

His elimination hand was pretty cruel. He had AhJd and was up against Malinowski’s QhTs. Malinowski flopped top pair, but then Gee gradually made two pair. The only problem was that Malinowski made a straight, and Gee was second best a different way.

“I thought I won that,” Gee said.

“I also thought you won it,” said Jeremy Ausmus.

But even as the reality sank in, it didn’t seem to matter to Gee.

“Thank you guys, this was fun,” he said. “I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”

Bali Gee: Another brilliant debut

He wrapped his Real Madrid scarf around his neck and headed off beaming. “I won money!” he told everyone in the corridor as he left. It was €130,000.

Everyone was already perilously short-stacked even though there were five players left. Ausmus managed one double up of his three big-blind stack, then chopped another when he was all in again. But he then lost his last chips to Bujtas when ace-queen couldn’t beat pocket jacks. Ausmus took €166,000.

Jeremy Ausmus earned his second cash of the trip

Malinowski had been short. And he’d been in the chip lead. And next he was out. He lost a pot to Chidwick, after the Brit reshoved from the small blind. And then he became Homliavyi’s first victim from the final in another fairly standard spot.

The pair got all the chips in with Malinowski holding KsJc to Homliavyi’s AhQh. The board was totally dry and Malinowski hit the rail in fourth for €212,500.

Chidwick’s time at the table ended next, the next victim of the smash and grab. Chidwick moved in from the small blind for his last 450,000 and Homliavyi called from the big blind. Chidwick had only 5h2s and Homliavyi’s AdTd was never in jeopardy.

Stephen Chidwick

Fresh from a $1.2m payday in Event 7, Chidwick added €277,500 for this third place.

That then left us with the rookie versus the pro, Bujtas versus Homliavyi, and Bujtas had a near two-to-one chip lead. But poker doesn’t always respect reputations, and there were some thrills and spills heads up.

Two pots were chopped when Homliavyi had an inferior ace. The board double-paired both times. Then he managed a couple of doubles, including one in which a jack popped up on the river for his JcQc to beat Bujtas’ Ah8c.

Heads up featured at least 10 short-stack double ups

Bujtas continued to grind him back down again, but then Homliavyi kept doubling back into it. There was a huge confrontation where Bujtas had pocket eights and Homliavyi had kings, and that might well have been the absolute end. Bujtas only had one big blind.

But there were at least 10 short-stack doubles after that, until there were only 25 big blinds in play. And then, finally, the bigger stack actually won one, and Bujtas was the champion.

Triton Madrid – Event 10
€50,000 NLHE Turbo

Dates: May 21, 2022
Entries: 37 (inc. 9 re-entries)
Prize pool: €1,800,000

1 – Laszlo Bujtas, Hungary – €630,000
2 – Denys Homliavyi, Ukraine – €434,000
3 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – €277,500
4 – Wiktor Malinowski, Poland – €212,500
5 – Jeremy Ausmus, USA – €166,000
6 – Bali Gee, Malaysia – €130,000

Photography by Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive