Champion Biao Ding!

Players on the Triton Series in Northern Cyprus went bounty hunting today, scrapping for another title in the $30,000 Mystery Bounty event. Ironically, nobody will know until tomorrow how much those bounty tokens are worth, but we do know this: Biao Ding, from China has secured his first title on the series, locking up a first prize of $540,500 after an absolute roller-coaster of a final day.


Ding’s confirmed payout is the lion’s share of half the prize pool. The tournament format awards $2.325 million in a regular payout schedule, with the same amount awarded in bounties. Those bounties will be cashed in tomorrow during a special ceremony. There’s another $2.325 million up for grabs then.

But we’ll worry about that tomorrow. Now is the time to celebrate with Ding, whose career on the Triton Series only began in Vietnam in March but is already one to be envied. He made two final tables among three cashes at his first stop, including a heads-up defeat in a $50K NLH event.

But he quickly put that right tonight, coming back from only a handful of blinds on more than one occasion and outlasting Nacho Barbero heads-up. Barbero was aiming for his second Triton title, but he was a bit of an underdog for long periods too as David Yan dominated.

However, things grew deeply unpredictable when the tournament was short-handed, and Ding deserves great credit for remaining perfectly level-headed throughout. His seasoned opponents Yan and Barbero were both visibly tortured by some of the situations they found themselves in, but Ding remained completely impassive, allowing a smile and a fist clench only when victory was secured.

Nacho Barbero is put through the ringer


Thirty-nine of the original 155-entry field came back for the second day — a higher number than usual thanks to the lure of the bounties. Only eliminations today earned a bounty token, and you had to be still involved going into Day 2 to have a chance to pick up a slice of the $2.235 million in the bounty pot.

But players such as Kiat Lee, Teun Mulder, Fedor Holz and Mikita Badziakouski perished in the tough early going, edging the remaining field ever near the formal bubble.

There was high drama as the cash got nearer, played out over four tables and featuring multiple double-ups, one triple-up and a number of big-stack confrontations as well. Throughout it all, Mario Mosböck had a stack of only two big blinds, but he was the man who tripled, and then chopped another pot. That meant he was able to edge into the money.

Mario Mosbock delighted to double; Sean Winter delirious

Adrian Mateos slunk away silently in 25th, and Danny Tang was all-in and at risk on the same hand. But his AcKc stayed good against Steve O’Dwyer’s Ad9h to double him up — and Tang remained the dominant influence on bubble proceedings.

After a good 30 minutes of to-ing and fro-ing, the media pack ended up back at Tang’s table for what would prove to be the decisive bubble hand. Tang shoved from the button and Christopher Putz, short-stacked, peeked at his first card. “That one is good,” he said. Then he looked at the next one. “That one is good too.” He called all in for his last five blinds.

“Mario, I’ve got you!” Tang called out across the room, eliciting a smile from Mosböck. Tang added, “I have garbage. Like, complete garbage.” He then turned to Putz and prepared him for what might be coming. “I’m so sorry man,” Tang said.

After pots finished elsewhere, Tang and Putz could show their hands. “Four high!” Tang shouted, tabling 4d3d. Unsuprisingly, Putz was ahead with KsQc. Tang predicted that there would be a three on the river, but Putz would have been more content after the JsTc7h flop.

The 5h turn gave Tang’s hand a few more outs, but the 4h on the river was the killer blow. He had predicted a three, but the four did the same job. Putz was sent packing, with a fist-bump and an apology from Tang.

An unfortunate bubble for Christopher Putz

Mosböck was knocked out on the next hand, but crucially picked up $27,000 as the 23rd place finisher. Putz, of course, got nothing.

The field began to shrink towards a final, with some A1 talents falling short. Dan Smith, Patrik Antonius, O’Dwyer, Justin Bonomo, Seth Davies and Stephen Chidwick all cashed but couldn’t make it to the top 10. And then a massive skirmish in which both Alexander Shelukhin and Jenya Gavrilovich perished at the hands of David Yan took them to a single table of seven players, with Yan sitting pretty at the top of the counts.

Yan had been one of the players all in on the bubble, but he survived with aces. He had more than double his nearest challenger when the final table was set.

David Yan had doubled up on the bubble


1 – David Yan – 113 BBs
2 – Nacho Barbero – 58 BBs
3 – Artur Martirosian – 48 BBs
4 – Biao Ding – 36 BBs
5 – Danny Tang – 23 BBs
6 – Henrik Hecklen – 22 BBs
7 – Isaac Haxton – 12 BBs

Event 3 final table players (l-r): Henrik Hecklen, Artur Martirosian, Biao Ding, David Yan, Isaac Haxton, Nacho Barbero, Danny Tang.

Play at the final was complicated not only by the bounty consideration, but also by the start of the $40K NLH across the room. The potential end of registration in that one was like a siren call to the final table players, and they decided early to forsake a dinner break and to cut the regular breaks down to five minutes instead of 15.

They battled for every pot just the same, however, and both Haxton and Ding doubled to keep their hopes alive. (Ding needed that double after making a huge hero fold in a pot against Barbero. He was correct. He was behind. But the pot cost him a huge number of chips and put him dead last in the counts at that time.)

The only short stack who couldn’t get things moving in the right direction early on was Hecklen. He lost back-to-back big ones, the first when Haxton doubled and the second spelling the end. Hecklen’s QsJs was second best against Artur Martirosian’s Ks9h.

Martirosian ended with a full house. Hecklen headed to the payouts desk looking for $92,100.

Henrik Hecklen laughs off elimination

Tang’s involvement at the final table was typically volatile. He doubled up through Barbero, then did it again through Ding. Pocket queens helped him secure the second of those doubles, but the very same hand only moments later ended his tournament.

Yan open-shoved with his leading stack with Ah2h. Tang snapped with his queens in the big blind. But there was an ace on the flop and nothing else of interest to Tang, sending Hong Kong’s finest to the rail in sixth. He earned $124,400.

Danny Tang tosses in his bounty chip

Yan still had an enormous lead over all of his rivals, and he was soon able to account for another major threat. Few players in the world game command the respect of Isaac Haxton, even if the American has not yet won a title on the Triton Series. His chances of changing that in this tournament ended in a pot where he called all-in from the small blind after Yan’s button shove.

Haxton’s As2c couldn’t hold against Yan’s 9s6h. Haxton was able to hop into the $40K, with an additional $160,500 in his coffers.

The search goes on for Isaac Haxton

Artur Martirosian is also still seeking a maiden Triton title, but was sitting at his second final table in two days. Yesterday he finished sixth in the $20K won by Jason Koon, and his challenge today took him to fourth.

That was where he perished after a collision with Biao Ding. Ding had the best hand when they got it all in pre-flop: AcQh to Martirosian’s As3c. The board was entirely dry and that was the end for Martirosian.

He picked up $200,000 to add to his $154,400 payday from yesterday.

Artur Martirosyan departs from the final for the second time in two days

Yan now faced off against Barbero and Ding, seemingly a lock for one of the chairs in the heads-up duel. It seemed for all the world that Ding was going to be the man to occupy the other seat when he got involved in a pot against Barbero, with Ding’s AsKc up against Barbero’s Ac9d.

However, Barbero rivered a diamond flush to secure a major double up, cutting Ding down to eight big blinds. And shortly after, Barbero won another big one against Yan to assume the chip lead for the first time.

It was quite the comeback from the Argentinian, and put Yan under pressure for the first time. Nothing was certain anymore.

Nacho Barbero went on a tear

Ding doubled up through Barbero. That allowed him to breathe a little. And then came the pivotal pot, a real thrill-ride for the two most experienced pros that ended in a huge torment for Yan — and his elimination.

It’s most interesting if we view it from Yan’s perspective. He was in the small blind with Qd8d. Ding folded his button and Yan completed. Barbero checked his option.

The flop came 2cQh5h. Yan bet 400K with his top pair (blinds were 200K/400K) and Barbero raised to 1.2 million. Yan called.

The turn brought the 3c. Yan now checked and Barbero bet huge. He put out 3 million. Yan called, watching the 6d complete the board.

Yan checked again. He still had top pair. But Barbero then announced he was all-in.

David Yan’s agony as he ponders whether to call

Yan went deep into the tank. He burned through pretty much all of his remaining time-bank chips before thumping a calling stack down. Barbero muttered something that amounted to an apology before tabling his 4c5c, a flopped middle pair that had gone runner-runner straight.

Yan congratulated Barbero for the play and took his leave. He picked up $244,200, plus whatever he’ll get in bounties tomorrow. But that was a sick way to depart.

It was only now Ding who could potentially stop Barbero, but he was outchipped three-to-one.

But this incredibly volatile tournament wasn’t done yet. Ding doubled up with pocket tens through Barbero’s QhJs. And although Barbero still held a lead, that was no longer true when Ding’s JsTh made a straight to beat Barbero’s As2d.

The one was dramatic too. Barbero flopped top pair, while the same three cards gave Ding a straight draw. Ding drilled that on the turn, but Barbero now had a flush draw. However, he whiffed that and Barbero shook his head as Ding was now in charge.

Registration was now long closed on the other tournament, but the pair had bought in just in case were keen to see some action regardless of how it went. And it went quickly.

The momentum was now with Ding and the first time they were all-in against one another with Barbero under threat, the tournament was over. Barbero had Qs9s and Ding had As5d. Barbero shoved, Ding called, and Barbero took the lead on the flop of QhTc5h.

But then the Ac came on the turn leaving Barbero drawing to two outs. The 2c river was not one of them.

It hasn’t yet sunk in for Biao Ding

Barbero took $366,200 for second, but his bounty token went to Ding. He ended up with five, meaning a minimum of $150,000 more will be going to the champion. We’ll see tomorrow how exactlymuch they all add to their tally, but it’s only going to be Ding with the Shamballa Jewels bracelet and the champion’s trophy and cap.


Biao Ding draws the huge bounty

The draw for the mystery bounties took place during the dinner break of the $50K tournament, held on Sunday, the day after the main phase of the tournament concluded — and it proved to be another very good night for Biao Ding.

There were 39 bounty tokens in play, but the remaining prize pool of $2.325 million divided best into 42 prizes, including a single top prize of $345,000. The lowest prize on offer was for $30,000, but two of the $30K envelopes also contained an instruction to draw again.

That “draw again” element proved to be decisive for Ding, who had six bounties to draw but pulled out “only” $200,000 worth, thanks to five $30K prizes and one $50K. However, one of those $30K envelopes had draw again included, and Ding dipped back in to pick out the big one on his seventh draw.

That prize of $345,000 brought his total bounty payout to $545,000, more even than what he received from the main prize pool yesterday. It also pushed his haul past $1 million for this tournament. His total payout, including bounties, his $1.085 million.

David Yan was more than happy with his haul

David Yan was another of the big bounty winners. His five envelopes included two $145K prizes, plus an $85K ticket. He rounded off with two $30K pick-ups, for a $435,000 bounty haul and $679,200 in total.

By far the most excited man in the room, however, was Moundir Zoughari, whose one bounty draw earned him $85,000. He hugged both Ali Nejad, the ceremony MC, and Luca Vivaldi, tournament director, before performing a circuit of the room high fiving everybody. It earned him a round of applause from the watching dealers.

Moundir Zoughari: Happiest man in the room

Tournament results below now include bounty prizes.


Event #3 – $30,000 NLH 6-Handed Mystery Bounty
Dates: May 12-13, 2023
Entries: 155 (inc. 64 re-entries)
Prize pool: $2,325,000

1 – Biao Ding, China – $540,500 (plus $545,000 in bounties)
2 – Nacho Barbero, Argentina – $366,200 (plus $195,000)
3 – David Yan, New Zealand – $244,200 (plus $435,000)
4 – Artur Martirosian, Russia – $200,000 (plus $195,000)
5 – Isaac Haxton, USA – $160,500 (plus $80,000)
6 – Danny Tang, Hong Kong – $124,400 (plus $195,000)
7 – Henrik Hecklen, Denmark – $92,100 (plus $80,000)

8 – Jenya Gavrilovich, Belarus – $67,600
9 – Alexander Shelukhin, Russia – $54,000 (plus $205,000)
10 – Brian Kim, USA – $45,300 (plus $110,000)
11 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $45,300
12 – Seth Davies, USA – $39,500
13 – Justin Bonomo, USA – $39,500 (plus $30,000)
14 – Steve O’Dwyer, USA – $36,000 (plus $80,000)
15 – Sean Winter, USA – $36,000
16 – Patrik Antonius, Finland – $32,500 (plus $30,000)
17 – Moundir Zoughari, France – $32,500 (plus $85,000)
18 – Aleksei Platonov, Russia – $29,300
19 – Dan Smith, USA – $29,300 (plus $60,000)
20 – Sosia Jiang, New Zealand – $29,300
21 – Tom Vogelsang, Netherlands – $27,000
22 – Stoyan Madanzhiev, Bulgaria – $27,000
23 – Mario Mosböck, Austria – $27,000

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive