Champion Phil Ivey!

You can never describe Phil Ivey as an attention seeker. The 46-year-old from the United States may be most people’s pick as the best poker player in the world, but you wouldn’t know it from his demeanour. He is quiet and calm; focused but polite.

Tonight at the Triton Series stop in London, Ivey quietly set about his business in the $60,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em turbo, a tournament that took place in the shadow of the Main Event on the other side of the room.

As the clock struck about 1am local time, Ivey stood up from the table, shook the hand of his heads-up opponent Cary Katz, and began life as a four-time Triton Series champion. He paid the massage therapist who had been working on him for the previous couple of hours, posed for some photos and gave some interviews. And then off he went again, $1,007,000 in his account.

Ivey downed Cary Katz heads up

This was vintage Ivey. The on-table action was fast and frantic, with some of the other best players in the world picking their spots and doing their thing. But Ivey was somehow just better than them on the day, and accepted a few blessings from the poker gods.

“Good,” he said, when asked how it felt to pick up a fourth Triton trophy. “It’s always nice to win one of these.”

He added that he enjoyed playing on this tour more than any other. “I love these Tritons,” he said, stating that he’ll continue to play a full slate here in London, before “going home and waiting for the next Triton, I guess.”

Ivey now tops $8.5 million in Triton earnings, and pushes past $40 million in lifetime winnings. But as he strolled out onto the London streets, it was just the end of another day.


Organisers always schedule a turbo tournament during Day 2 of the Triton Series Main Event, allowing players disappointed by elimination from the big one a chance to make immediate amends.

In keeping with everything that has happened here in London this week, the tournament attracted a massive field: 61 entries, including 14 re-entries, which put $3.66 million in the prize pool. The late stages are always insane, and for whomever survived the inevitable buffeting, there was a prize of more than $1 million.

Action sped along until the bubble appeared in view, and suddenly every decision was now worth thinking a little more deeply about — or at least appearing to think a little more deeply, while secretly hoping someone else would bust.

Luc Greenwood had the very shortest stack, but doubled it thanks to a miracle river that turned his Ad9c into a winner against Nick Petrangelo’s AsQs.

That put the pressure on David Yan, who was fresh from a $3 million win in Event 7. Yan found an ace — Ah8d to be precise — but he slammed it into Phil Ivey’s pocket nines. The pair held and Yan was out in 14th.

David Yan was eliminated shortly before the bubble

On to the stone bubble then, and the torture of hand-for-hand. Cary Katz was taking care of most pots on one table, while the short stacks were mostly on the neighbouring table — including that in front of Kiat Lee. Lee watched Biao Ding open shove from under the gun, and then looked down at As9d. He agonised over his decision, but eventually made the call. However, Ding showed pocket queens and Lee couldn’t beat them.

An agonising decision for Kiat Lee

The Player of the Series from Vietnam perished on the stone bubble this time.

It left us with a final table that stacked up like this:

Phil Ivey — 41 BBs
Biao Ding — 27 BBs
Rodrigo Selouan — 26 BBs
Wai Kin Yong — 25 BBs
Cary Katz — 22 BBs
Nick Petrangelo — 21 BBs
Tan Xuan — 18 BBs
Aleks Ponakovs — 17 BBs
Luc Greenwood — 5 BBs

Event 12 final table players (clockwise from bottom left): Wai Kin Yong, Aleks Ponakovs, Nick Petrangelo, Cary Katz, Tan Xuan, Biao Ding, Phil Ivey, Luc Greenwood, Rodrigo Selouan

Having dramatically survived the bubble, Luc Greenwood was already essentially free-rolling, and had actually inched onto the final table thanks to the elimination of Henrik Hecklen and Santhosh Suvarna in 11th and 10th respectively.

That brought with it a jump up the payouts ladder of more than $13,000. Nothing is small on the Triton Series, even in one of these turbos.

Greenwood therefore tapped the table and wandered away without recriminations when his Td9d lost to Cary Katz’s Th8h, with the latter making a flush. Greenwood won $104,000 for ninth, continuing a fine time in London for the Event 1 winner.

Luc Greenwood survived the bubble before finishing ninth

It kind of goes without saying in these turbo events that stacks were critically shallow, and only getting more so as time went on. Wai Kin Yong was the next to be swept away, in a hand that also accounted for Tan Xuan. Yong, a three-time Triton champion, open pushed his short stack with 6c6s and quickly found a call from the big stack Cary Katz.

Xuan, on the button, looked down at AdQh and determined that was good enough to join the party and shoved as well. Katz called again.

There was very good reason for that. Katz had pocket aces. There was nothing to get excited about on flop, turn or river, and with that two were out at once. Yong had the smaller stack and took eighth place money of $137,200. Xuan earned $175,700 for seventh.

Wai Kin Yong is still hunting a fourth title
Tan Xuan swept away in a three-way collision

By the standards of a turbo, things slowed down for a while. They went at least 30 minutes without another elimination as Nick Petrangelo trebled his short stack through Ivey and Katz, and the others stayed away from danger.

The sword of Damocles began to hover over Biao Ding, and when he looked down at pocket tens it must have felt like the perfect opportunity to move it on to someone else. However, Ivey was sitting with pocket jacks at the same time and Ding was done.

Ding has already amassed $2.3 million and one title since his debut on the Triton Series in Vietnam. He added another $223,200 to his ledger for this six-placed finish.

Biao Ding continues a fine run

Aleks Ponakovs was next out. He’s another player who has enjoyed a stellar trip to London already, making three final tables including the Luxon Invitational, where he picked up $2.5 million for fourth. But his run in this turbo ended in fifth, when he lost a major pot to Petrangelo.

Ponakovs had Ad3d and butted into Petrangelo’s Qs9s. Two spades on the flop were joined by a third on the river and Petrangelo’s flush accounted for the Latvian. Ponakovs won $285,500.

Aleks Ponakovs

The tournament played four handed long enough for the average stack to shrink to 15 big blinds. Katz was still leading; Ivey was breathing down his neck. But chips were being traded in small pots only as the others stuck around.

It obviously couldn’t last forever, and Rodrigo Selouan was the next out the door. He moved in after Ivey opened his button and Ivey called quickly. Ivey had pocket jacks and Selouan’s Ac4c didn’t connect. These turbo tournaments have been favourable to Brazilians this week, and Selouan earned $360,000, to complement the Pedro Garagnani/Bruno Volkmann 1-2 from the other night.

Rodrigo Selouan narrowly missed out on securing another Brazilian turbo win

Three Americans remained at the table, although Petrangelo’s further stay was brief. His money went in with AcQc, which was in good shape against Ivey’s As8c. Good shape, that is, until the dealer put an eight on the flop.

Petrangelo has found his stride on the Triton Series in London this week and adds $360,000 to his tally for third.

Nick Petrangelo has found some form in London

Ivey had a big chip lead — 47 big blinds to 14 — when they started heads up play. And more importantly, he had all the momentum. Although bigger deficits have been overturned, this wasn’t to be one of those times.

A tough way to end for Cary Katz

Katz found what seemed to be a great spot to double when he got his last 10 bigs in with AhKc. Ivey had Qd7h, but there were two more queens on the flop.

That’s how Phil Ivey does it. And that’s why he is now a four-time Triton champion.

Event #12 – $60,000 NLH Turbo
Dates: August 6, 2023
Entries: 61 (inc. 14 re-entries)
Prize pool: $3,660,000

1 – Phil Ivey, USA – $1,007,000
2 – Cary Katz, USA – $715,500
3 – Nick Petrangelo, USA – $468,900
4 – Rodrigo Selouan, Brazil – $360,000
5 – Aleks Ponakovs, Latvia – $285,500
6 – Biao Ding, China – $223,200
7 – Tan Xuan, Malaysia – $175,700
8 – Wai Kin Yong, Malaysia – $137,200
9 – Sam Greenwood, Canada – $104,000
10 – Santhosh Suvarna, India – $91,500
11 – Henrik Hecklen, Denmark – $91,500

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive