At the end of a long and draining Triton Series stop in North Cyprus, there was time for one last short-deck turbo. And true to both the game, the format and the players involved, this was a wild one for long periods and ended with a thrill.
“Aye-yah!” yelped Tom Dwan as he saw the dealer drive the nail in his heads-up coffin, capping a remarkable comeback from Daniel Dvoress and earning one of Triton’s most durable performers his first Triton title.
It’s crazy that Dvoress had to wait this long. The Canadian has more than $7 million in Triton cashes and has been to 16 final tables. That’s surely the most of any player who had not won.
But Dvoress battled against what had seemed to be an overwhelming tide sweeping Dwan to a third title, pegging back the American great and then hitting him with a final-card victory.
Dvoress won $214,000 in this $20,000 buy-in event, alongside the trophy and the Shamballa Jewels bracelet. Dwan had to make do with $148,000. But it was surely the manner of the triumph that pleased Dvoress most: Dwan had seemed unstoppable until Dvoress did just that.
“There are segments of the tournament where it gets a little bit silly,” Dvoress admitted when asked whether he found short deck to be a more skilful game than regular hold’em. “There’s runaway stacks at the final table, things like that. By no means it is simpler. It’s a more gambly game than no limit, but it’s no less skilful…I think at the beginning of the tournament, there’s more skill because there are more multi-way pots.”
Dvoress was one of short deck’s early adopters and it was fitting he finally took down his first Triton tournament in this format. He is a short deck evangelist, keen to see the game grow.
“One of the issues is that the barrier to entry feels like it’s a little bit high,” he said. “All of the tournaments that are running, that are televised, that are running online, they’re high buy-ins. The people that are good, they’re really good, and it’s kind of hard for someone who might feel that they’re a little mediocre to enter the scene.
“Jason [Koon] had a good idea where you have a tournament where you have an amateur and a pro tournament, so if you’ve never played short deck before you can play with people who have never played short deck before. And then you combine them after. Not my idea, but thought I’d float that.”
Regardless, Dvoress will play. And will be one of the favourites, especially after this exceptional performance to rein in Dwan.
The tournament, which rounded off the schedule in North Cyprus, swelled to welcome 29 entries, including 12 re-entries, as players sought one last chance to pack the coffers. For Jason Koon and Stephen Chidwick, it was one final chance for Player of the Year points — and Koon only needed to cash to make his victory certain.
He didn’t, however. He was knocked out in 12th, a long way short of the money. When only six players were left, Chidwick on the other hand still had chips, but knew he needed to win the tournament to seize top spot in the leader board.
Seven-handed play was a hoot. Dwan doubled through Dvoress in a massive coup and it gave him more than 100 antes, while all of the others had fewer than 20. Dwan moved in every hand, and when others were prepared to risk their tournaments, two of them doubled up.
Paul Phua was first with pocket nines beating . Then Chidwick did it, with queens beating sixes. However, the blinds were huge and Dwan was relentless, and Phua was again all-in and at risk.
This time Phua’s lost to Dwan’s and Phua hit the rail on the bubble.
Chidwick had a plane to catch, literally, but there’s no doubt the Player of the Year prize was still of interest. However, after a quick photograph, they settled back down and Dwan started up again. And now Chidwick was unable to stick around.
Perhaps the only point of interest was that Dvoress actually knocked Chidwick out. Chidwick raised pre-flop with . Dvoress three-bet with pocket tens and Chidwick called, leaving himself crumbs.
The money then went in on a ten high flop, but Chidwick couldn’t pull off the miracle. He took $55,100 for fifth placed here and made his flight, but Koon was now a lock for POY.
Dwan’s obvious shoving tactic was slowed a little by the slightly bigger stack in front of Dvoress, and then Mike Watson also found a double up to halt the Dwan show. Watson’s came from behind to beat Dwan’s . It gave Watson 50 antes to play with.
Dvoress came again to the fore. He knocked out Denys Chufarin with pocket jacks holding against . Chufarin recorded his first ever Triton cash, picking up $68,000 for fourth.
Watson had some chips. But then he didn’t have some chips. He got his stack in with after Dwan’s latest pre-flop shove. But his timing was unfortunate. This was one time that Dwan actually had it. His pocket queens stayed good to oust Watson in third.
Watson was another player who could have recorded a Cyprus double, but this time took $94,800 and a pat on the back.
So there were two players now left, and true to short deck form, there was actually a heads-up battle to be played. Dwan had 6.58 million (132 antes) to Dvoress’ 2.97 million (59 antes). How long could this last?
The answer was until 1.45am local time, thanks to a brilliant Dvoress comeback. He bossed the heads-up encounter through three levels, drawing the stacks level and even nosing slightly ahead.
Then came the big one, the first all-in call of the heads up duel. Dvoress had and limped. Dwan, with raised. Dvoress called.
The flop gave Dwan a pair and Dvoress a flush draw. All the money went in, with Dvoress check-raising Dwan.
The turn didn’t look like it would really matter, and actually now gave Dwan a flush draw too. But the river produced that yelp from Dwan and that victory for Dvoress.
The Triton tournament room was emptying out, and even Dvoress said he wouldn’t get a proper chance to celebrate.
“I am going to have zero party tonight,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’ve gotta pack! I have a car to catch in about an hour.”
And with that, our new champion was gone and the curtain came down on a brilliant festival in Cyprus. Join us again soon!
Event #17 – $20,000 Short Deck Ante-Only (Two Bullets)
Dates: May 25, 2023
Entries: 29 (inc. 12 re-entries)
Prize pool: $580,000
1 – Daniel Dvoress, Canada – $214,000
2 – Tom Dwan, USA – $148,000
3 – Mike Watson, Canada – $94,800
4 – Denys Chufarin, Ukraine – $68,000
5 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $55,100
Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive