Champion Fedor Holz!

Poker’s young prince is back in the Triton Poker Series throne tonight after Fedor Holz defeated a record-breaking field to win the first event of this second visit to Jeju, South Korea.

Holz, who is still only 30 despite a reign of dominance that has lasted close to a decade, won the fourth Triton Series title of his career, taking Triton winnings past $12 million thanks to this $786,000 first prize.

That was the lion’s share of a $4.035 million prize pool, comprising 269 entries of $15,000 apiece. It kicked off the visit to Jeju in spectacular fashion, vastly increasing the numbers on this ever-growing series.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same, and in Holz we saw a very familiar champion. He won the first two Triton events he played, in the Philippines and Montenegro in 2016 and 2017, and added a third win last year in London.

“It’s just nice winning tournaments, no matter what,” Holz said, adding that the presence of his girlfriend Annelina here, along with many of his friends, made this one special.

Celebrations begin for Fedor and Annelina

Holz late-registered for this event but was his customary relaxed presence at the table, managing to find big hands and big outdraws at precisely the right time to down Seth Gottlieb heads up. Holz has seen it all before and told reporters, “I always try to focus on just the hand I’m playing. That’s always been my mantra.”

Although Holz has occasionally intimated that he may move away from poker, the Triton Series has continued to enthral this brilliant German. “It’s a really big deal,” he said. “The best players in the world play these tournaments…It’s the nicest feeling.”

Gottlieb, the 41-year-old Digital Marketing executive, was gunning for a second Triton title of his own, but found Holz in unforgiving form. Gottlieb had his aces cracked in the heads-up battle and could never recover. He took $500,000 for second.

Seth Gottlieb felt the force of Fedor Holz

Other superstars including Dimitar Danchev and Nick Petrangelo made the final table but fell short of the title. But when Holz is sitting close by, there only ever seems to be one man clutching the trophy at the end.


After a blockbuster opening day, which began with a traditional Lion Dance in the lobby and then moved to the lion’s den of the poker room, only 48 players remained. That was notable for two reasons: firstly, it was the remainder from a starting field of 269 entries, which represented a new Triton record.

Secondly, only 47 players were due to be paid, so they returned on the stone bubble. The first player knocked out today would leave with nothing, while the others could celebrate at least a min-cash from this opening event.

Quan Zhou not only had the smallest stack in the room, he was also drawn into the big blind for the first hand. That was an especially unfortunate turn of events, but he looked down on pocket sixes after the opening deal, which was likely far better than he might have hoped.

Jesse Lonis opened the pot from middle position, Zhou shipped in his last six blinds and Lonis then called. They were flipping. Lonis had KcJh.

“I could have burst the bubble last night,” Lonis said, detailing a pot in which his kings were beaten by the ace-king of Andrey Andreev. Had Lonis won that one, he would have stacked 3 million going into Day 2.

It was perhaps small consolation, but a king on the flop this morning accounted for Zhou and gave Lonis a small amount of chips. More importantly, it put everyone in the money.

Pocket sixes not good enough for Quan Zhou

Zhou still had some hope. Two other players were all-in and called on the same hand and, had either or both of them been knocked out, they would have split the $23,000 prize for 47th. However, both Alex Theologis and Xie Haoqi doubled their short stacks to survive, leaving Zhou the only person out. He applauded loudly as Luca Vivaldi announced that everyone else was in the money and that hand-for-hand was over.

Discounting the small matter of a few pay jumps, the principal focus now turned to making the final table. There were still 47 players left and only nine seats for the finale, and the field quickly went about filling those chairs.

Everyone involved in bubble shenanigans was knocked out. So was the overnight leader Stephen Chidwick, who perished in 12th. The American titan Ike Haxton had a decent-ish stack when they got 10 handed, but it ended up being slid in the direction of his countryman Seth Gottlieb to leave Haxton on the rail.

Haxton had AcJh to Gottlieb’s AhKc when it all went in pre-flop. The king paired and that was that. We reached the final nine.


Seth Gottlieb – 15,525,000 (78 BBs)
Dimitar Danchev – 7,975,000 (40 BBs)
Dominykas Mikolaitis – 6,940,000 (35 BBs)
Fedor Holz – 6,025,000 (30 BBs)
Nick Petrangelo – 5,600,000 (28 BBs)
Lun Loon – 3,850,000 (19 BBs)
Josh Mccully – 3,675,000 (18 BBs)
Ken Tong – 3,250,000 (16 BBs)
Pieter Aerts – 950,000 (5 BBs)

Jeju Event 1 final table (clockwise from top left): Seth Gottlieb, Ken Tong, Pieter Aerts, Dimitar Danchev, Nick Petrangelo, Fedor Holz, Dominykas Mikolaitis, Lun Loon, Josh Mccully.

Haxton’s elimination was especially welcomed by Pieter Aerts, who had been sitting with a short stack for a long while. The Belgian player, who won his first Triton title in Cyprus last year, locked up $81,000 by virtue of making it to the final here. But he could go no further.

On the very first hand of final table play, Aerts was in the big blind and found 7h9s. Gottlieb opened from early position and Aerts called.

The flop of Js6sTc showed enough to encourage Aerts to part with his last two blinds. But Gottlieb had flopped best with AdTd and stayed good.

Pieter Aerts managed only a short stay at the final

That left only eight.

Ken Tong now assumed the duties of short stack and he similarly couldn’t spin it up. Tong made his debut on the Triton Series in Monte Carlo last November, and landed on the Main Event final table, where he finished sixth.

His tournament here ended at the hands of Fedor Holz, who opened with pocket tens. Tong, in the big blind, shoved with Kh9d but whiffed the flop. Holz took over the chip lead, while Tong banked $98,000.

Another final table for Ken Tong

Australia’s Josh Mccully is riding a hot streak at the moment, having earned a career-best score of more than $275,000 at a WPT event in Cambodia in January. He returned to Asia for his Triton Series debut and made his way to the final table in the first event he played.

Mccully’s run ended in seventh, when he became the third player in succession to get into trouble defending his big blind.

Nick Petrangelo opened and Mccully paid to see the flop with QsTh. The flop seemed friendly. It came ten high. Mccully checked, Petrangelo shoved with the covering stack and Mccully called for his tournament life and about 12 big blinds.

Mccully was ahead. Petrangelo showed only QhJc, meaning he was drawing to three outs (or some backdoor flush possibilities). Unfortunately for Mccully, the Jd was a killer. He hit the road in seventh for $134,000.

Josh Mccully’s hot streak took him to seventh in his first Triton event

By this point, Gottlieb had reassumed the chip lead, but it didn’t last long. Now came the rise of Lun Loon.

Loon initially profited from the perfect set-up: action folded to the big stacked Gottlieb in the small blind. He made an “any-two” shove, with three times the stack of Loon in the big blind. But Loon looked down at pocket aces and was more than happy to risk it all.

Gottlieb’s 7d3s wasn’t quite the worst starting hand in poker, but it wasn’t far off. It didn’t catch the aces, so Loon doubled.

After the Malaysian businessman then pushed Petrangelo off a pot, Loon was top of the charts. However it was a very brief stay; after the rise came the fall.

Loon somehow conspired to become the next man out. Petrangelo got his revenge with pocket aces to Loon’s eights, and on the very next hand, Loon had AdJh but couldn’t beat Dimitar Danchev’s AcQc.

Loon added another $182,000 to his bankroll for a sixth-place finish.

Lun Loon: One minute chip leader, the next on the rail

Dominykas Mikolaitis was another Triton first timer enjoying a terrific run during the first event he had ever played. An online crusher from Lithuania, Mikolaitis flexed his muscles on the Triton Series too and took a seemingly effortless cruise to this final.

The run ended in fifth, however, with Holz doing most of the damage. Mikolaitis and Holz got it in pre-flop, with Holz at risk. Mikolaitis flopped top pair with his As4s, but Holz’s pocket queens flopped a set.

Holz ended up with a full house and a full double, leaving Mikolaitis short. He was out not long later, with Gottlieb taking the last couple of blinds. Gottlieb had Ad3h to Mikolaitis’ 8cKc. Fifth place was worth $240,000, his best ever live result.

A fine first showing from Dominykas Mikolaitis

The tournament edged into Level 29, right around the time it starts to get incredibly short, even with a record-breaking number of entries. It followed that the chip lead swung wildly, with any pot of significance usually sending its winner surging and its loser down to the bottom.

Petrangelo’s rocky ride was the next to come to its conclusion. In a final table characterised by big hands, Petrangelo smacked into the latest: pocket kings belonging to Gottlieb.

Gottlieb raised it up, Petrangelo looked at KhQs and three-bet/called it off after Gottlieb shoved for 21 big blinds. Petrangelo couldn’t overturn Gottlieb’s advantage and was knocked out in fourth, earning $303,000.

Petrangelo is still without a Triton title, but is now knocking on the door frequently. It’s only a matter of time.

Nick Petrangelo: His time will come

Gottlieb now had a significant advantage over the remaining three, but Holz pulled closer thanks to the hand that knocked out Danchev.

This was a tough coup between two comparative short stacks: Holz shipped from the small blind with AdTs and Danchev saw As4s and only 16 big blinds in his stack.

In the commentary booth, Nick Schulman acknowledged that it was a difficult decision for Danchev, and he maybe regretted getting it in. The board only favoured Holz, eventually giving him a diamond flush.

Bulgarians have quickly become a force on the Triton Poker Series and with Monte Carlo champion Ognyan Dimov watching from the rail, Danchev went looking for the $375,000 that came with his third place.

Disappointment for Dimitar Danchev

The final two settled in for the heads-up duel, with Gottlieb’s 55 big blinds ahead of Holz’s 35. Both men had been here before: Holz already had three titles, while Gottlieb won his first in London last year (having only just learned the rules of PLO).

Most of the early small pots headed in Gottlieb’s direction, and it soon looked as though he would be finishing the job in no time. Gottlieb picked up aces and slow-played them to perfection, limping the small blind and then only calling after Holz bet.

That meant they then saw a flop of Jh5c4d and Holz, with 8d5s continued to bet. Gottlieb called again.

The 7d on the turn, followed by a check from Holz, was the moment Gottlieb sprang the trap. He shoved with the covering stack. Holz called for his tournament and learned he was behind. But then the 5h on the river was one of his miracle outs. Stacks were all but even once again.

“The five-eight hand I got lucky and I’m really happy about that,” Holz said when everything was said and done.

Heads up between Seth Gottlieb and Fedor Holz

Gottlieb tried to climb back on the horse and wear Holz down again. But although he continued to snag the smaller pots, Holz always seemed to come out on top when there was the most on the line.

Holz four-bet shoved with Ad8c and 27 bigs, earning a call from Gottlieb’s KhJc. The board changed nothing and Holz doubled into the lead.

Gottlieb now had only 10 big blinds and Holz did not let this one slip from his grasp. He found pocket jacks while Gottlieb had QcTh and it all went in pre-flop.

The jacks held and Holz was champion once again. “It’s nice to win the first tournament,” he said. “It gives you confidence.” Like this man needs any more of that.

Another trophy for Fedor Holz

Event #1 – $15k NLH 8-Handed
Dates: March 5-6, 2024
Entries: 269 (inc. 93 re-entries)
Prize pool: $4,035,000

1 – Fedor Holz, Germany – $786,000
2 – Seth Gottlieb, USA – $500,000
3 – Dimitar Danchev, Bulgaria – $375,000
4 – Nick Petrangelo, USA – $303,000
5 – Dominykas Mikolaitis, Lithuania – $240,000
6 – Lun Loon, Malaysia – $182,000
7 – Josh Mccully, Australia – $134,000
8 – Ken Tong, Hong Kong – $98,000
9 – Pieter Aerts, Belgium – $81,000

10 – Isaac Haxton, USA – $67,800
11 – Weiran Pu, China – $67,800
12 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $60,000
13 – Phil Nagy, USA – $60,000
14 – Wei Hsiang Yeu, Malaysia – $53,500
15 – Axel Hallay, France – $53,500
16 – Yulian Bogdanov, Bulgaria – $47,000
17 – Aleks Ponakovs, Latvia – $47,000
18 – Roman Hrabec, Czech Republic – $41,500
19 – Xie Haoqi, China – $41,500
20 – Jamil Wakil, Canada – $41,500
21 – Lewis Spencer, UK – $37,500
22 – Dong Chen, China – $37,500
23 – Aram Zobian, USA – $37,500
24 – Li Yuan, China – $33,500
25 – Dan Dvoress, Canada – $33,500
26 – Kevin, Indonesia – $33,500
27 – Andy Wang, Australia – $33,500
28 – Jesse Lonis, USA – $29,500
29 – Ferdinand Putra, Indonesia – $29,500
30 – Fahredin Mustafov, Bulgaria – $29,500
31 – Paulius Vaitiekunas, Lithuania – $29,500
32 – Alex Boika, Belarus – $25,800
33 – Alex Theologis, Greece – $25,800
34 – Seth Davies, USA – $25,800
35 – Aleksander Zubov, Russia – $25,800
36 – Ognyan Dimov, Bulgaria – $25,800
37 – Michael Soyza, Malysia – $25,800
38 – Sosia Jiang, New Zealand – $25,800
39 – Andrey Andreev, Russia – $25,800
40 – Timothy Adams, Canada – $23,000
41 – Shi Chun, China – $23,000
42 – Frederic Delval, France – $23,000
43 – Alexandre Vuilleumier, Switzerland – $23,000
44 – Ramin Hajiyev, Azerbaijan – $23,000
45 – Yu Xiangyu, China – $23,000
46 – Espen Jorstad, Norway – $23,000
47 – Biao Ding, China – $23,000

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive