Champion Dimitar Danchev!

In a week in which players from Vienna and Spain have stolen all the headlines, tonight in Jeju belonged to Bulgaria. From a field of 190 entries in the $40K Mystery Bounty event on the Triton Series, three seats at the eight-handed final table were occupied by Bulgarians. And at just after midnight, one of them — Dimitar Danchev — wrapped the Bulgarian flag around his shoulders and celebrated the victory.

With it, Danchev returned to the summit of the all time Bulgarian money list, leapfrogging one of his countrymen who was also at the final today. And while Danchev immediately locked up $804,000, his six bounty tokens, cashed in the following day, earned him a further $540K. That’s a total of $1,344,000 for Danchev’s day.

But, for Dimov, the silverware is equally important.

“Actually, it’s a little bit about this,” Danchev said, pointing to the trophy in his hand. “This is very special for me. The bounties, of course, are very important, but I’m kind of more excited to win the trophy.”

As a former runner up on the Triton Series, he could have been forgiven for feeling the extra pressure at the final. But Dimov said that the short-stacked nature of much of the play made many decisions quite routine, and then he made the most of his run of cards. “I was just waiting for good spots for me,” he said. “I think I also ran pretty well…so it wasn’t that hard when you run that well.”

Danchev can now head to the player party as a Triton champion, joining his fellow Bulgarian Ognjan Dimov, a winner in Monte Carlo, as a trophy holder on this prestigious series.

Dimov was in the crowd as Danchev beat off the challenge of Jonathan Jaffe, himself a former Triton winner, to claim the spoils. Danchev led at the start of the final, but Jaffe soared into pole position as the tournament neared its conclusion.

But Danchev managed to overhaul Jaffe’s heads up lead and leave the American pro with $541,000 for second. His five bounty tokens bagged him another $340,000 at the Mystery Bounty ceremony.

Jonathan Jaffe beaten into second

Danchev was reaping the profits from a decision to head to the Triton Series.

“I was thinking about it for a while,” Danchev said, adding that he would have been playing Triton sooner if Covid hadn’t intervened. “But then everyone told me that Triton is good for you, and I decided finally to come.”

Good decision.


Of all the events that especially reward making it to Day 2, the Mystery Bounty is top of the list. At the start of play, every player is given their own bounty token. If they’re knocked out, it goes to their assassin, who will cash it in for a minimum of $40,000.

It raises the chances of picking up a call if you decide to shove and should, in most instances, result in even more fireworks than usual on the Triton Series.

In some ways, it made this tournament’s prolonged bubble period all the more unlikely. On the very first hand of hand-for-hand play, with 32 players remaining, Artur Martirosian and Justin Saliba were both all-in and called. Martirosian was actually called in three spots.

But both the at-threat players managed to win the hands and there followed at least an hour of stone bubble play, with some huge chip movements at the top of the counts, but the short-stacks sticking around.

One of those short stacks belonged to Fedor Holz, and he may have considered himself fortunate to being drawn randomly to change tables just at the point he was due to post the big blind. However, his first hand on his new table actually proved to be his undoing.

Pocket queens was a clear shove, but he picked up two callers. One of them was Alex Kulev with As7s. And the ace on the flop ended it for Holz. Having already won one event here this week, Holz was probably less concerned than others would have been in his position — especially because it now freed him up to head to the rail of the final table and watch his friend Mario Mosböck win the GG Million$. (Holz later collected $180K from his two bounty tokens.)

A smiling bubble for Fedor Holz

The following period of play was when bounty hunting really kicked in — but also where reaching the final table became the priority. Sean Winter, who won an enormous pre-bubble pot to take the tournament chip lead from Stephen Chidwick, raced deep and made it to the last nine, but there were two standout stories.

The first was the presence of three Bulgarians in the last nine, topped by Dimitar Danchev. Then there was Adrian Mateos sitting in third place in the standings, heading to a final table for the second consecutive day. The last eight lined up as follows:

Dimitar Danchev – 7,300,000 (37 BBs)
Jonathan Jaffe – 6,500,000 (33 BBs)
Adrian Mateos – 6,075,000 (30 BBs)
Orpen Kisacikoglu – 5,875,000 (29 BBs)
Sean Winter – 4,700,000 (24 BBs)
Alex Kulev – 3,500,000 (18 BBs)
Chris Brewer – 2,650,000 (13 BBs)
Yulian Bogdanov – 1,400,000 (7 BBs)

Triton Jeju Event 7 final table players (clockwise from back left): Alex Kulev, Sean Winter, Chris Brewer, Dimitar Danchev, Orpen Kisacikoglu, Adrian Mateos, Yulian Bogdanov, Jonathan Jaffe

The first significant hand of final table play was an belter. Kulev picked up pocket kings and Winter found aces. Predictably, all their stacks went in pre-flop, with Winter five-bet jamming.

Kulev was staring elimination in the face, but the dealer put four diamonds on the board, matching one in Kulev’s hand, and he flushed to the win and the chip lead. Winter was down to four big blinds.

Sean Winter’s prayers were not answered

He waited it out for an orbit or so, but then found himself all-in in the big blind. Unfortunately for him, his 2s4h was never going to be in great shape — although when Yulian Bogdanov open-pushed from early position, he might have hoped to get some protection.

However, Kulev called Bogdanov and had the covering stack. Kulev tabled 8s9c, with Bogdanov showing QsKs. But Kulev was running very well and hit an eight on the turn to send both of them out simultaneously.

Winter was eighth for $99,400 (he added another $320K from bounties). Bogdanov banked $135,800 (plus $160K from bounties).

Yulian Bogdanov consoles with the Bulgarian rail after his elimination

That was one Bulgarian down, but the other two were still firing. It was now Danchev’s turn to boost his chances with the knockout of Chris Brewer. Brewer, a two-time Triton champion, open shoved Qc9h from the small blind, but Danchev had Ah5c behind him to make the call.

Danchev ended up with a wheel and Brewer’s bounty token. Brewer took $186,000 for sixth, to which he added $80K in bounties.

Chris Brewer’s small blind shove went wrong

Danchev was now on a roll. He four-bet jammed over Kulev to assert his national dominance, and then he knocked out a second two-time champion in the form of Orpen Kisacikoglu. The Turkish player didn’t get involved in too much at the final table, but seized his moment to shove when action folded to him in the small blind.

Again, Danchev had a hand in the big blind that was way ahead of a shoving range. His Ah7d spiked two pair on the flop. It was already beating Kisacikoglu’s Kc3d anyway.

Kisacikoglu banked $244,800, plus $260K in bounties, but was out in fifth.

Swing and a miss for Orpen Kisacikoglu

To this point, nobody had managed to show any resistance to the Bulgarian domination. But cometh the moment, cometh the Jonathan Jaffe.

Jaffe doubled up with QdJc against Danchev’s Ts9d when he rivered a bigger two pair on a ThQh9c2s2d run out.

Jaffe then gave Kulev a taste of his own medicine, rivering a straight to beat Kulev’s top pair. This one played through the streets with Kulev’s AsTh flopping best against Jaffe’s Jc9c on a 9hTh3c flop.

The turn brought the 8s and another pile of chips went into the middle. And the Qs sealed it in Jaffe’s favour. Kulev’s fiery display ended in fourth for $310,000 and a pile of bounties. He cashed them in for another $300K.

Alex Kulev, right, bids farewell to countryman Dimitar Danchev

Jaffe now had a large chip lead, but was facing off against two of Europe’s best. It was only 48 hours since Adrian Mateos won a debut Triton title and here he was again in the last three and looking to go back-to-back.

But Jaffe now had the bit between his teeth and even Mateos was powerless to stop him. After chipping away, Mateos was down to only seven big blinds and got them in after Jaffe shoved from the small blind.

Mateos had Js8h to Jaffe’s QsTc. The board missed everyone, which meant Jaffe’s high card stayed good. Mateos was out in third for $381,000. Bounties added another $160K.

Adrian Mateos: Third place this time

It was Danchev vs. Jaffe for the title, with Jaffe holding a 70 BBs to 25 BBs chip lead. That meant there was still potentially a good deal of play in the tournament, especially with the final bounty on the line.

Danchev doubled. Twice. And with the second one, which was JsJd against Jaffe’s AcTc, he took over the chip lead.

One more of those and it was done. This time, Jaffe had JdTd to Danchev’s Ac4s. An ace on the rainbow flop was good for Danchev. The second ace on the turn was the end of it.

Full tallies, including bounties, are below.

Dimitar Danchev’s celebrations begin

Event #7 – $40K Mystery Bounty NLH
Dates: March 10-11, 2024
Entries: 190 (inc. 66 re-entries)
Prize pool: $3,800,000

1 – Dimitar Danchev, Bulgaria – $1,344,000 (inc. $540K from six bounties)
2 – Jonathan Jaffe, USA – $881,000 (inc. $540K from five bounties)
3 – Adrian Mateos, Spain – $541,000 (inc. $160K from two bounties)
4 – Alex Kulev, Bulgaria – $610,000 (inc. $300K from six bounties)
5 – Orpen Kisacikoglu, Turkey – $504,800 (inc. $260K from four bounties)
6 – Chris Brewer, USA – $266,000 (inc. $80K from one bounty)
7 – Yulian Bogdanov, Bulgaria – $295,800 (inc. $160K from three bounties)
8 – Sean Winter, USA – $419,400 (inc. $320K from six bounties)

9 – Daniel Palsson, Iceland – $122,000 (inc. $40K from one bounty)
10 – Wang Le, China – $69,500
11 – Biao Ding, China – $149,500 (inc. $80K from two bounties)
12 – Dong Chen, China – $62,000
13 – Pieter Aerts, Belgium – $62,000
14 – Joao Vieira, Portugal – $96,000 (inc. $40K from one bounty)
15 – Laszlo Bujtas, Hungary – $56,000
16 – Vincent Huang, New Zealand – $650,500 (inc. $600K from two bounties)

Vincent Huang lands the coveted $500K bounty

17 – Roman Hrabec, Czech Republic – $90,500 (inc. $40K from one bounty)
18 – Joseph Cheong, USA – $45,000
19 – Victor Chong, Malaysia – $45,000
20 – Yu Lei, China – $45,000
21 – David Yan, New Zealand – $81,000 (inc. $40K from one bounty)
22 – Dylan Linde, USA – $41,000
23 – Isaac Haxton, USA – $41,000
24 – David Peters, USA – $37,000
25 – Justin Saliba, USA – $37,000
26 – Changjie Zhang, Singapore – $37,000
27 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $357,000 (inc. $320K from three bounties)
28 – Alexandre Vuilleumier, Switzerland – $33,500
29 – Shyngis Satubayev, Kazakhstan – $233,500 (inc. $200K from one bounty)

Shyngis Satubayev lands $200K from just one bounty pull

30 – Artur Martirosian, Russia – $33,500
31 – Juan Pardo, Spain – $33,500

Additional bounty winners: Fedor Holz $180K from two bounties, Yulian Bogdanov $160K from three bounties, CJ Zhang $100K from one bounty.

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive