Phil Ivey makes it three

Phil Ivey is now a three-time champion on the Triton Super High Roller Series after the American great proved once again that no poker variant is beyond him. Ivey’s Triton titles have all come in short-deck tournaments — from Montenegro, in 2018, and one here in Cyprus back in April. The man who has become the dominant force in just about every other poker variant over the past two decades is now the standout star in its newest game.

By Triton’s standards, this was a fairly subdued start to the short-deck portion of proceedings — a mere $30,000 to buy in, and 38 entries creating a $1.14 million prize pool. But with Ivey’s name now on the trophy, and the $387,000 first prize padding his bankroll, it’ll be a tournament that will be long be remembered — and he put on a clinic to take it down.

He managed to outlast his old online sparring partner Tom Dwan, who went from chip leader to bust in dramatic fashion, and he then managed to grind out a heads-up victory over Sam Greenwood, denying the Canadian high roller regular a first title.

Phil Ivey, the short-deck master

“I love playing short deck,” Ivey, 45, said. “It’s a great game so I’m very happy.”

Ivey now joins a very small club of players with three Triton titles, and will hold realistic hopes of claiming more. There are still four more short deck events on the Triton Cyprus schedule, and few players in such an obvious groove as Ivey while playing this game.

He finished it off with an appropriate flourish, flopping trips and rivering quads to end Greenwood’s resistance. “He’s a tough player, plays back at you a lot,” Ivey said of Greenwood. But by that point, the vanquished Canadian was out in the hall, claiming his $268,000 runner-up prize.

Second place for Sam Greenwood


There were nine players left at the beginning of the final day, but that quickly became seven as Webster Lim and Wei Yeu departed within the first level. That brought them around only one table, although everyone knew that they weren’t yet in the money. One of the players posing for a photograph would soon also be snapped heading for the door with nothing. Tom Dwan, with the big stack, did what you have to do in the situation and pummelled everyone else, forcing folds from players who really didn’t want to bubble.

Paul Phua: “Bubble!”

There was one exception. Nobody enjoys being that bubble boy, but you wouldn’t actually know it when it’s Paul Phua, as turned out to be the case this time. Phua, who got his last chips in with AhQs against Kiat Lee’s KdKs was sent to the rail in seventh. “Bubble!” he bellowed — apparently entirely untroubled by this fact. Everyone should aspire to play with the devil-may-care attitude of Paul Phua.

That left six then, all guaranteed at least $80,000. Dwan was a comfortable leader, while Phil Ivey, Daniel Dvoress and Mikita Badziakouski brought up the rear.

The first short-deck final table players (l-r): Paul Phua, Daniel Dvoress, Tom Dwan, Sam Greenwood, Kiat Lee, Mikita Badziakouski, Phil Ivey.

Not long later, Dvoress, with a 38-ante stack, open shoved from the cutoff with the short-deck nuts, i.e., JsTs. Dwan made an easy call with AsKc, and although Dvoress ended the hand with a straight, the board of AdQhAh6cKd was also a full house for Dwan. Dvoress won $80,000.

Daniel Dvoress sends his stack over to Tom Dwan

Dwan was cruising. He was crushing. He had absolutely heaps while all the others had barely a fraction. And yet, somehow, Dwan was also the next man out.

We have seen some hero-to-zero nosedives before on the Triton Series. Just yesterday, Wiktor Malinowski somehow finished third in the hold’em Main Event when he had about half the chips in play three-handed. But Dwan’s dip was precipitous: he doubled up Ivey, then Lee in consecutive hands, and then Ivey again in what proved to be terminal. (Ivey won a race with AdKs to Dwan’s pocket jacks.) He was left with crumbs, which Ivey took as well.

Dwan, playing his first event of this trip to Cyprus, banked $103,000, but had surely been thinking a third Triton title was his.

Tom Dwan: From chip leader to fifth-placed finisher

Ivey, now in the chip lead, was not in a forgiving mood, and the deck helped him more than it has assisted Dwan. Badziakouski got his last chips in with AcKc against Ivey’s AhQd. But a queen on the flop put Ivey into the lead and Badziakouski on the rail. It could have been five (titles) for Badziakouski, but instead it was fourth (place) for $131,000.

Mikita Badziakouski, made to wait for title No 5

Although Lee managed to crack Greenwood’s aces with Ad9h and double up, he lost it all back on the next hand of significance, with KhTh to Greenwood’s AdJd and departed in third for $171,000.

Kiat Lee and the red danger light

That left a heads-up battle between two North Americans. Ivey, aiming for that third victory, and Greenwood, looking for a first. Ivey had the chip advantage, with 140 antes to 80 antes, but neither of them was going to roll over without a fight.

Greenwood battled back to near parity, particularly after one pot where he flopped a straight and extracted maximum value with a big bet on the end, which Ivey called. But Ivey then asserted his dominance once more and chipped away at Greenwood’s stack. They then got it all in, with Ivey covering Greenwood, when Greenwood had JdJh to Ivey’s KcQh.

Heads up between Sam Greenwood and Phil Ivey

The dealer put the QsQd8c flop down, to leave Greenwood drawing thin. And the ThQd turn and river was overkill.

All in a day’s work for Ivey, who had whiffed every tournament through the NLHE side of the schedule, but is now up and running with short-deck back.

Event #10 – $30K Short Deck – Ante Only
Dates: September 14-15, 2022
Entries: 38 (inc. 15 re-entries)
Prize pool: $1,140,000

1 – Phil Ivey, USA – $387,000
2 – Sam Greenwood, Canada – $268,000
3 – Kiat Lee, Malaysia$171,000
4 – Mikita Badziakouski, Belarus – $131,000
5 – Tom Dwan, USA – $103,000
6 – Daniel Dvoress, Canada – $80,000

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive