Jason Koon’s incredible stranglehold on the Triton Series shows absolutely no sign of slackening as tonight he won a sensational ninth career title and a second for this trip to London.
Koon was named champion in the $60,000 Short Deck Main Event, earning him another $828,000 and putting yet another Triton trophy on his aching shelf. What’s more, he now has an exclusive Jacob & Co timepiece for each wrist, should he want, as he added this short deck title to his hold’em Main Event win in Cyprus in May. (He later said he will give the watch to his friend Paul Phua. “None of this would have been possible without him,” Koon said.)
At the turn of the year, Koon was tied with Mikita Badziakouski on four Triton titles each. But Koon has won five since then: one in Vietnam, two in Cyprus and now two here in London.
The Triton Ambassador is in a league of his own.
Koon will be the first to admit that he needed a huge slice of good fortune along the way today, hitting a miracle one-outer in a huge pot against Tan Xuan to keep him afloat. Both players had flopped sets — Xuan’s kings to Koon’s nines — but Koon rivered a fourth nine to make quads.
“Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever one-outered anyone in a tournament,” Koon said. “I just accepted my fate, got up.” He then turned round and saw the river card.
A nine for a ninth? Pretty much. He needed to close it out of course, denying Kiat Lee a first title after a patient heads-up duel between the two.
Eventually, Koon’s turned a straight to beat Lee’s and this remarkable snowball just keeps on rolling.
FINAL DAY ACTION
After the epic bubble shenanigans that turned the $30K Short Deck into a rapid-fire shootout yesterday, the same thing appeared to be happening today. The first three called shoves on the bubble resulted in double ups — however, these were not just between micro stacks.
Quite the contrary. Tan Xuan and Masashi Oya had two of the three biggest stacks in the room but they started to go at one another as they had during at least one previous tournament. Xuan was pushing the action and was seemingly prepared to gamble with his tournament life with whatever two cards he was dealt.
Xuan pushed with and Oya called with a bigger stack and a bigger hand. He held . Short deck can be so cruel though and the board ran , with that final six completing a straight.
This was an enormous pot and it put Xuan into a massive chip lead. He then open-shoved every hand for a couple of orbits, until Chris Brewer was bold enough to look him up. Brewer had to Xuan’s and there was nothing miraculous on this board. Brewer therefore assumed the big lead.
Lun Loon doubled up his short stack, which left Isaac Haxton as the man under most threat. Haxton got his chips in with after Brewer had open shoved pre-flop, and was in decent shape against Brewer’s . However a queen on the turn ended Haxton’s hopes, burst the bubble, and extended Brewer’s lead.
There was just time before they reached the official final for Dan Dvoress to bust in eighth, banking $111,000. That put them around the final table with the following stacks.
FINAL TABLE LINE-UP
Chris Brewer – 4.8 million (240 antes)
Jason Koon – 3.24 million (162 antes)
Tan Xuan – 1.76 million (88 antes)
Masashi Oya – 1.62 million (81 antes)
Wai Kin Yong – 1.06 million (53 antes)
Lun Loon – 660,000 (33 antes)
Kiat Lee – 655,000 (33 antes)
Masashi Oya had managed to rebuild some of his stack after that massive tangle with Xuan (he was responsible for Dvoress’ elimination), but gave some back to Lun Loon at the final, and was then left in trouble again.
Wai Kin Yong doubled his short stack through Oya and on the next hand, Xuan finished the job. This one was pretty gross. Oya was one of four players paying the minimum to see a flop of . Kiat Lee bet, Xuan called, Oya raised, Loon folded, but Lee and Xuan called again.
The turn was the and after two checks, Oya moved in. Lee called and then Xuan raised. Lee folded.
Oya had so had smashed the flop. But Xuan had pocket jacks and had vaulted into the lead on the turn. Oya won $140,700 for his seventh place.
Yesterday’s hero Yong didn’t enjoy quite such an easy ride at today’s final table, and the four-time champion perished in sixth. Yong lost a chunk with the short-deck favourite to Lee’s , but even though he rebuilt, he was soon to run into Koon.
Yong found and moved in. Koon woke up with and made the call. Koon rivered an unnecessary third king and won the hand, sending Yong out with $176,700.
Such is the volatility of short deck that no stack is so small to be without hope, and no lead is so mighty to be unassailable. You need only ask Loon and Brewer about that. Loon had been in real peril on the bubble, but he had gathered plenty of chips since then and took another big chunk from Brewer, who was chip leader during the nervous pre-money phase.
Loon’s kings held against Brewer’s and that started a nosedive. Brewer then lost a big pot to Xuan’s full house before the remainder of his chips went to Koon, whose beat .
Brewer’s trip ended with a check for $226,300 and a fifth place.
Stacks were pretty deep still at this stage, but the dealer had a special trick up his sleeve to keep this one rattling along at a crazy pace. Koon was dealt pocket nines and Xuan pocket kings and the two big stacks got to a flop for a single raise.
It came . That was a set for both of them, with Xuan well ahead. Koon checked, Xuan bet, Koon called and the came on the turn. Koon checked, Xuan bet, and now Koon moved all in, with the marginally smalled stack.
Xuan called obviously with his top set, but the landed on the river to give Koon quads and slice Xuan down to crumbs. Koon finished him off a couple of hands later and built an enormous lead.
Xuan took his beat as well as you could expect and picked up $292,500 for fourth place.
This trip to London has seen some spectacular performances from some established Triton greats, but one of the sub-plots has been the emergence of Lun Loon as a force to be reckoned with. The Malaysian cut his teeth on the Triton Series, and took a while to get off the mark.
But he made the final table of the $125K NLH Main Event, and now here he was at the final of the short deck Main Event as well. The run ended in third after Loon shoved his last 69 antes with . Kiat Lee called with and the bigger ace stayed best.
Loon added another $386,800 to his account.
So there they were, heads up, with only Kiat Lee standing between Koon and a ninth title. Lee was yet to win one of his own, but his elimination of Loon had given him some hope. Koon had 197 antes to Lee’s 148.
After all the huge pots that had brought us to this point, these two stalwarts kept it a little lower variance. However the momentum was really only in one direction.
Koon chipped and chipped away at Lee, showing his resilience and even more incredible stamina. And then came that big one, where Lee took the lead to the flop, but the turn card completed Koon’s straight and left Lee dead.
“I played one of the best short deck players in the world heads-up,” Koon said, offering solid praise to Lee. But he explained that short deck is a game in which he feels he has an edge.
“There was a three or four year span when I was off the grid playing the biggest short deck games in the world,” Koon said. “I don’t think that it’s just pure luck I’ve won four short-deck titles.”
For all that, he jumped straight on to a video call with his wife Bianca and two sons in which he explained: “Daddy’s a luck box!” One day he’ll tell them the truth, that it takes a lot, lot more than that.
Event #16 – $60,000 Short Deck Main Event
Dates: August 9-10, 2023
Entries: 46 (inc. 19 re-entries)
Prize pool: $2,760,000
1 – Jason Koon, USA – $828,000
2 – Kiat Lee, Malaysia – $598,000
3 – Lun Loon, Malaysia – $386,800
4 – Tan Xuan, China – $292,500
5 – Chris Brewer, USA – $226,300
6 – Wai Kin Yong, Malaysia – $176,700
7 – Masashi Oya, Japan – $140,700
8 – Daniel Dvoress, Canada – $111,000
Photography by Nick Pope