Champion Dan Smith!

Dan Smith is the latest two-time champion on the Triton Poker Series, destined to see his face on one of the grand electronic banners that circle the most prestigious tournament arenas in the game.

Smith bested a field of 108 entries in the first single-day turbo event of the trip to Jeju, picking up four scalps along the way that earned him $60,000 apiece (and also keeping his own). That $300,000 adds to his $951,000 first place prize for another seven-figure score for this American great.

He became the first American to win a title on this trip to Jeju, from a tournament in which the stars and stripes flew over the last four remaining players. It takes Triton earnings close to $20 million and was his 20th Triton cash.

Smith was the epitome of calm in a tournament of enormous volatility, picking spots beautifully to progress to the title. he eventually picked off his countrymen Seth Davies in third and then David Coleman heads-up to finish top of the pile.

David Coleman beaten heads up

“Pretty great!” Smith said, when asked how he felt. He acknowledged the nature of the game and a huge four-handed set-up against Tom Dwan that catapulted him to the title.

“It was a turbo, so it wasn’t like the spots were super intricate,” Smith said. “Me and Tom were one and two in chips, in small and big blind and we both had flushes. And unless you’re super deep, there’s no getting away from it.”

Smith won the huge invitational tournament at Triton’s trip to Monte Carlo last year, and said he’d played some tournaments in Las Vegas but had mainly been travelling and relaxing in the mountains since then.

“This one was in my calendar,” he added. “I was always excited to play Tritons.”

Dan Smith, champion again


The new Bounty Quattro format debuted here in Jeju put $15,000 of each $50K buy-in in the bounty pool, but only started paying out bounties when 25 percent of the field remained. (Quattro meaning “quarter” in Italian, the native language of the format pioneer Luca Vivaldi.)

That meant that there was two kind of bubbles: the first, when the 27th-placed finisher departed, meant all remaining knockouts now earned a $60,000 bounty. The second was the more conventional bubble, when 18 were left and the next man out left the remaining 17 in the money.

Both the landmarks passed quickly, in keeping with the turbo format.

Ognyan Dimov hit the rail in 27th, losing with Ah6c to Shyngis Satubayev’s Ks8s when the latter flopped an eight. Dimov’s departure meant the rest of the players were given a bounty token to be handed over when they were knocked out.

Not long later, the stone bubble burst with Dominykas Mikolaitis perishing at the hands of a familiar bubble burster: Punnat Punsri. Punsri, who knocked out Henrik Hecklen in a sickener yesterday in the $50K, before going on to win the title, found AhKc to Mikolaitis’ AsTh when they got it all in pre-flop.

Punsri flopped a king to eliminate Mikolaitis, but was also mock-aggrieved that Ken Tong folded ace-queen face up, losing him the chance of a double elimination.

Bubble for Dominykas Mikolaitis

With the bounty chips in play, there was a greater incentive to go for the knockouts and, as expected, the momentum ticked along nicely until we reached a final table. Punsri was there again, but he was marginally behind Dan Smith who had profited most during the pre-final table passage of play.

Tom Dwan was also a major draw for poker fans, even if his 15 big blind stack would need some spinning up if he was to earn a third Triton title.

The final nine looked like this:

Dan Smith – 45 BBs
Punnat Punsri – 41 BBs
David Coleman – 28 BBs
Tom Heung – 28 BBs
Sirzat Hissou – 21 BBs
Tom Dwan – 15 BBs
Damir Zhugralin – 14 BBs
Seth Davies – 13 BBs
Webster Lim – 13 BBs

Triton Jeju Event 10 final table players (clockwise from back left): Punnat Punsri, Damir Zhugralin, David Coleman, Seth Davies, Dan Smith, Webster Lim, Sirzat Hissou, Tom Heung, Tom Dwan.

All of those players at the bottom of the counts knew they would need something special to survive. The blinds race up in these turbos and there’s no place to hide.

Damir Zhugralin became the first to perish. he got his chips in with AcTc against Webster Lim’s pocket sevens. Lim hit a third seven on the river, but was ahead already. Zhugralin picked up $94,500 for ninth.

Ninth for Damir Zhugralin

Next up for the chop: Tom Heung. He too got all his chips in pre-flop and entered a race. But his AdQd couldn’t catch up with David Coleman’s TsTh, especially when a third ten flopped.

Heung won $126,000 for eighth.

Tom Heung scored a second career Triton cash

As if to underline the unforgiving nature of this game, Lim ended up next out. It was only a few orbits before that he was consigning Zhugralin to the scrapheap, and Lim looked down at pocket aces and had reason to believe it might be his day.

That was especially so when Coleman three-bet shoved over Lim’s opening raise. Lim called and saw that his opponent had pocket twos. But deuces never loses, etc., and a third two landed on the flop.

It was a massive pot to double Coleman and leave Lim on fumes. Sirzat Hissou took the final crumbs soon after. Lim, a three-time Triton champipon, was out in seventh from this one, for $168,000 (plus bounties).

Webster Lim continues the search for title No 4

Punsri, of course, was looking for a spectacular back-to-back success, something that hasn’t yet been pulled off on the Triton Series. That achievement is still waiting out there too as even Punsri’s run-good had to end somewhere. Punsri perished in sixth from this one, three-bet jamming KcJc but losing to Coleman’s AcQc.

Punsri added $220,000 (and bounties) to his monster win from yesterday and headed back to his room to prepare for tomorrow’s Main Event.

Punnat Punsri wasn’t able to go back-to-back

Dwan doubled. And then he shoved repeatedly to rise up the counts. Sirzat Hissou became the shortest stack, and he was unable to replicate Dwan’s trick. Hissou’s elimination came at the hands of Smith, when Smith’s KcTc made a flush to beat Hissou’s QsKs.

Hissou has been on good form this week in Jeju, with three cashes and two final tables. This time he won $279,000 for fifth.

Sirzat Hissou takes his bounty chips as he’s sent to the cash desk

The last four players left were all Americans. It presented, finally, the certainty that someone from North America would be landing a title from Triton Jeju having seen Europe and Asia dominate to date. But which would it be?

Dwan’s resurgence lasted a good long while, but just at the point he was looking to take a stranglehold, he hit the skids. He played a massive pot against Dan Smith where the pair were in the blinds with suited cards.

It just so happened that they were in the same suit, diamonds, and that three diamonds appeared on the board. Smith’s Jd7d was one pip higher than Dwan’s Td2d and that sent a massive double up Smith’s way.

Dwan was pegged back to two big blinds, and even he couldn’t do much with that. His bounty ended up in the possession of Coleman, whose Ac9s flopped better than Dwan’s pocket threes.

Dwan’s run this time earned him $346,000 and a fourth-place finish.

Tom Dwan was on the wrong side of a cooler

Smith was now way ahead, but the format meant that no one was safe. Seth Davies had done very well to dodge most of the big confrontations and keep himself alive until only three were left.

But with only five big blinds and two opponents in the groove, he was forced all in with Qd5h and couldn’t outdraw Smith’s QhJc. Smith collected another bounty as Davies banked $418,000 for third.

A good run to third for Seth Davies

Smith and Coleman now squared off for an all-American battle. Smith had 37 big blinds to Coleman’s 17. But this battle didn’t last long.

On the first significant pot, they got their stacks in with Smith holding Ac7d to Coleman’s QcJs. There was nothing to excite Coleman on the board and that was that for Smith. Coleman took $642,900 for second, plus bounties.

Henrik Hecklen and Luc Greenwood celebrated with Smith, shoving a whisky in his hand and offering as much mockery as cheer from the sidelines. Smith retorted: “Henrik, any time you can win $1 million in a day, that’s a reasonable thing to do.”

And that’s a fairly reasonable assessment.

Dates: March 13, 2024
Entries: 108 (inc. 26 re-entries)
Prize pool: $3,780,000

1 – Dan Smith, USA – $951,000 (+$300,000 in bounties)
2 – David Coleman, USA – $642,900 (+$300,000 in bounties)
3 – Seth Davies, USA – $418,000
4 – Tom Dwan, USA – $346,000 (+$60,000 in bounties)
5 – Sirzat Hissou, Germany – $279,000 (+$120,000 in bounties)
6 – Punnat Punsri, Thailand – $220,000 (+$240,000 in bounties)
7 – Webster Lim, Malaysia – $168,000 (+$120,000 in bounties)
8 – Tom Heung, China – $126,000 (+$60,000 in bounties)
9 – Damir Zhugralin, Kazakhstan – $94,500 (+$120,000 in bounties)
10 – Konstantin Maslak, Russia – $77,500
11 – Alex Wice, Thailand – $77,500
12 – Luc Greenwood, Canada – $68,000
13 – Mauricio Salazar, Colombia – $68,000
14 – Klemens Roiter, Austria – $62,300 (+$60,000 in bounties)
15 – Shyngis Satubayev, Kazakhstan – $62,300 (+$180,000 in bounties)
16 – Ramin Hajiyev, Azerbaijan – $59,500
17 – Ken Tong, Hong Kong – $59,500

Orpen Kisacikoglu won $60,000 in bounties.

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive