Champion Orpen Kisacikoglu

Not long ago, the London-based Turkish player Orpen Kisacikoglu wasn’t sure whether to describe himself as a poker player or a businessman. He had made his name and reputation in pursuits away from poker, but had started a second life around the high stakes tournament tables.

But after getting some coaching and focusing more on his poker game, Kisacikoglu has become a real force in these tournaments and tonight sealed a second victory on the Triton Series, banking 1,753,000 in the process.

To do so, he had to beat the British No 1, and leader of the Triton Player of the Year race, Stephen Chidwick heads up. That’s no easy feat. After a long and evenly-balanced heads-up encounter, Kisacikoglu found himself on the right side of a cold deck when both players had two pair by the turn.

All the chips went in, Kisacikoglu’s two pair was bigger, and Chidwick was left with crumbs. Kisacikoglu took those very soon after to seal the deal.

Kisacikoglu’s trip to Asia started badly after he burnt the souls of his feet in a hot-sand related incident. It meant he has been unable to walk, instead being pushed around the resort in a wheelchair. But after tonight’s performance he can levitate back to his room.

This was a defining triumph, smaller in cash terms than his runner-up finish to Henrik Hecklen in the Triton Madrid Main Event, but one that brings him a trophy to sit beside another he picked up in Rozvadov in 2019.

Chidwick, meanwhile, takes 1,245,000 as well as a stranglehold on the Player of the Year race on the Triton Series. Chidwick was already leading coming into the Vietnam stop and he has cashed three events already. This, his fourth, comes with a ton of additional points and he’s going to be a difficult man to catch.

A near miss for Stephen Chidwick


The opening day of this tournament played alongside the conclusion of the 50K event, with plenty of players still involved on Day 2 of that. It meant a huge influx of players before registration closed at the start of play today, bringing numbers to 85, including 29 re-entries.

That put 6,375,000 in the prize pool and guaranteed two prizes of more than a million.

With 159K being paid to the 11th placed finisher and nothing going to the 12th, this was the biggest bubble of the series so far. The man to finish on the wrong side of the line this time was one of the week’s top performers to date: Daniel Dvoress.

Daniel Dvoress

Dvoress made the final table in both the 20K mystery bounty and the 30K NLH, and had been leading this tournament after Day 1. But there had been few bright moments on the tournaments concluding day, capped when he shoved his last eight bigs from the small blind with QhTd and picked up a call from Michael Soyza in the big blind with Ks5h.

Soyza flopped a pair, turned trips and ended with a full house. It was overkill. Dvoress was already off the stage and out the door.


The bubble bursting ended hand-for-hand play, but each of the two tables saw only one more hand before the final was set. Up on the feature table, Soyza was now in the small blind and for the second hand in succession watched a short stack ship before him.

This time it was Adrian Mateos, and Soyza looked down at pocket nines and made the call. Mateos had KcQh and Soyza won the flip. Meanwhile, David Yan and Jason Koon were tangling on the outer table. Koon raised from early positon, Yan jammed from the small blind and Koon called with the marginally bigger stack.

David Yan fell short of the final

Yan had pocket threes; Koon had pocket queens. Another queen on the flop, followed by two blanks, sent Yan out. Mateos and Yan picked up 159,500 each, and the last nine prepared to hit the final table.


Newcomers to Triton Poker tend to see a table of players and marvel at how a random draw could place so many superstars together. But they soon look around the room and realise every table is like that. Every table is, to use the favoured word, “stacked”.

The final here was typical, featuring a four-time champion, the Player of the Year leader, and winners of the two most recent Triton NLHE Main Events. And none of those were even Steve O’Dwyer, the chip leader.

At start of nine-handed action, the table looked like this:

Steve O’Dwyer – 2,630,000
Michael Soyza – 2,505,000
Stephen Chidwick – 2,490,000
Santhosh Suvarna – 2,480,000
Rob Yong – 1,750,000
Orpen Kisacikoglu – 1,715,000
Jason Koon – 1,470,000
Punnat Punsri – 1,050,000
Henrik Hecklen – 910,000

(Blinds were 25K/50K with a 50K BB ante)

75K final table players (clockwise from back left): Rob Yong, Punnat Punsri, Steve O’Dwyer, Michael Soyza, Henrik Hecklen, Santhosh Suvarna, Stephen Chidwick, Jason Koon, Orpen Kisacikoglu.

Nobody had a stack that could be regarded as especially huge, but both Michael Soyza and Chidwick were likely happy with their standing in second and third, respectively. However, after a few small pots resulted in them swapping places, an enormous skirmish, and a sick beat for Soyza, sent the pair in diametrically opposite directions.

Orpen Kisacikoglu began proceedings, opening to 180K. Chidwick called in the cutoff and Soyza shoved for 1.6 million from the big blind. No problem with that. He had aces. Kisacikoglu folded but Chidwick called, showing pocket jacks.

Only a day ago, Chidwick ran kings into aces to bust the 50K, but this time he hit his two-outer. A jack flopped, destroying Soyza’s hopes and pushing Chidwick back to the top of the counts.

A tough one to take for Michael Soyza

Always cheerful, Soyza will have found even his positive outlook in jeopardy after this one. He took 182,500 for ninth, but it’s a case of what might have been.


Eight players went on a dinner break, and two of them probably hoped it had lasted longer. Not long after the return, Punnat Punsri found pocket fives under the gun and moved all in for 1 million.

One seat over, Rob Yong looked down at AdKs and he too committed everything, about half of Punsri’s stack. However, Santhosh Suvarna woke up with the dream pocket aces in the small blind and made an easy call with a covering stack.

Punnat Punsri
Rob Yong

This time the aces held and two players hit the rail simultaneously. Yong took 239,000 for eighth, while Punsri won 306,000 for seventh. It was a first cash of the trip for both of them, although Yong was playing his first event while Punsri was in his seventh.


As is now familiar, players were sitting with short-ish stacks and most significant pots meant either a double-up or an elimination. And we had at least two of the former before one of the latter.

O’Dwyer, now a short stack, doubled through Suvanrna. It was a straight flip pre-flop, but the run out was dramatic. O’Dwyer’s ace in his Ah9h played against Suvarna’s 5d5s after a run out of ThTc7c8h7s.

Then Kisacikoglu doubled with AcTc against Koon’s pocket nines. Again, this was a flip but Kisacikoglu won it the hard way, thanks to a board of Kh3d4hJdQs.

Jason Koon

The same two tangled in the pot that sent Koon to the rail in sixth. This time, Kisacikoglu started and finished with the better hand. His AdQh beat Koon’s AsTc. Koon picked up his first cash of the week, but would have wanted more than 389,000.


O’Dwyer continued to show some incredible escapology skills, doubling out of trouble three times and keeping his hopes alive. Suvarna trailed the field with a micro-stack, but in a push-fold game, nobody is safe.

As it happened, Hecklen was the first to find out how cruel it can be, getting the last of his chips in with a dominant AcJc against Chidwick’s Ad8h.

Henrik Hecklen

These were the two players both sporting their exclusive Jacob & Co timepieces, won for triumphs in the two Triton Main Events in Madrid last year. But this time the poker gods were the ones to separate them, putting four hearts on the board to fill Chidwick’s flush.

Hecklen won 497,500 for fifth.

Had he clung of an orbit longer, he might have still been there to see Suvarna become Chidwick’s next victim. Again, this one was a come-from-behind success for Chidwick — the joy of having the big stack — as his JcQc turned a straight to beat Suvarna’s Ac7d.


O’Dwyer has won tournaments across the world, sometimes appearing blessed as he crushes all opponents. Chidwick and Kisacikoglu are a cut above most opponents, obviously, but the American/Irishman managed another double, with pocket fours against Chidwick’s Ks3d to keep his hopes alive in this one.

It proved to be a false dawn, however, because Chidwick was on something of a sun-run himself. All it actually required for Chidwick to get the job done on O’Dwyer was for him to have by far the inferior hand when they next got it in pre-flop.

Steve O’Dwyer

Chidwick had the pretty 8s7s and shipped from the small blind. O’Dwyer looked down at QhQd and made an easy call. However, Chidwick flopped a straight draw and filled it on the river. O’Dwyer was done, earning 816K this time.


The biggest buy-in so far obviously meant the biggest prize pool so far, and the last two remaining players both locked up seven-figure scores. There was no talk of a deal as they settled in to play a tense heads-up battle.

Chidwick was seeking his second Triton title, Kisacikoglu his first, but both had been in solid recent form.

The chips swung in small increments to the left and to the right, until that huge hand occurred. Chidwick had 9s2c and Kisacikoglu had Ac2s. After the 2s3hAs flop, Kisacikoglu only called Chidwick’s bet, allowing his opponent to catch a bigger piece on the 9h turn.

Here’s where all the money went in, with Chidwick drawing very thin. It was a massive pot, leaving Chidwick in tatters, and a flush with Kc6c later wrapped it up.

Chidwick and Kisacikoglu are friends and the former stopped by to celebrate the victory. They both now go into the Main Event tomorrow with bankrolls significantly swelled.

Champion Orpen Kisacikoglu with Ben Heath and Stephen Chidwick

Event #7 – 75,000 NLH – 8 – Handed
Dates: March 6-7, 2023
Entries: 85 (inc. 28 re-entries)
Prize pool: 6,375,000

1 – Orpen Kisacikoglu (Turkey) – 1,753,000
2 – Stephen Chidwick (UK) – 1,245,000
3 – Steve O’Dwyer (Ireland) – 816,000
4 – Santhosh Suvarna (India) – 628,000
5 – Henrik Hecklen (Denmark) – 497,500
6 – Jason Koon (USA) – 389,000
7 – Punnat Punsri (Thailand) – 306,000
8 – Rob Yong (UK) – 239,000
9 – Michael Soyza (Malaysia) – 182,500
10 – David Yan (New Zealand) – 159,500
11 – Adrian Mateos (Spain) – 159,500

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive