A new four-time champion: Jason Koon!

By the incredibly high standards they set for themselves, this had been a disappointing trip to Triton Madrid for Jason Koon and Daniel Dvoress. Both men had played everything and cashed twice each — a fourth and a sixth for Dvoress, and two sixth places for Koon. For two of the game’s most decorated elite, it was a relatively poor return.

But you’re never out of it on the Triton Series until the very last card is dealt, and Koon and Dvoress managed to navigate their way to the last two places in the €150K One Bullet Short Deck event on the festival’s closing day, where they were each guaranteed a payday of more than €1.1 million.

They squared off — friend vs. friend; exceptional talent vs. exceptional talent — and played to decide who would be the champion. A first for Dvoress or a fourth for Koon? A pair of black aces in Koon’s hand decided that.

“I get my four-time badge!” Koon said after the dealer had secured it in his favour. “I was denied that twice and I was upset that Mikita [Badziakouski] had it. But I got that now.” He’s right. Koon has 19 Triton cashes and now a fourth win, and this one came with a prize of €1,750,000.

It was the biggest buy-in of all events on this long and draining festival, and landed the Triton Ambassador another massive prize to take back to his wife and young son, Calum.

“Maybe it’s real,” Koon said when asked whether “baby run-good” was responsible for this result. “He’s been here eight months and we’ve won a bracelet and a Triton title. Maybe there’s something to it.”

He added that he was looking forward to getting home with the family, describing himself as “deliriously tired, exhausted.” He added: “But this is what we’re here for.” He paid tribute too to his final table opponents, all of whom are Koon’s buddies and “great competitors”.

He said it presented some demanding positions, and described how he had been both on easy street and against the wall, and how happy he was to have navigated past the sharks.

Elation with Jason Koon

“It was a really grindy final table,” Koon told Ali Nejad. “Everything was smooth sailing, and I was in a really good situation where I got to put tons of pressure on the short stacks. I was up against three guys who understand ICM really, really well, so it wasn’t one of these lotteries where you’re guessing what you think your opponent is going to do.

“I was feeling really good about the situation that was presented, but then I happened to lose a couple of unfortunate all-ins. But then I got lucky with the queen-jack suited against the kings and made a bunch of big hands to close the thing out.”

He could not contain both relief and delight.

As for Dvoress, he took €1.19 million, after another stellar performance.

Daniel Dvoress defeated heads-up


Day 2 began with the closing of the registration desk, but there was still time for last night’s newly-crowned Main Event champion Stephen Chidwick to sneak in, among others, and bring the number of entries up to 34 (including 10 re-entries). That put €5.1 million in the prize pool and offered those two seven-figure prizes at the top.

It quickly became apparent that Chidwick wouldn’t be winning one of them. He lost his stack quickly. And more gradually, dreams also died for Phil Ivey, Paul Phua, Michael Soyza, Tom Dwan and Mikita Badziakouski, among others.

When seven were left, they gathered around a final table, and took a photo, but only six were due to be paid. It meant that one of the following would be leaving with nothing, despite smiles around the table.

The unofficial final table (l-r): Sam Greenwood, Seth Daview, Jason Koon, Lun Lookn, Isaac Haxton, Daniel Dvoress, Dan Cates.

It’s been a wretched trip to Madrid for Malaysia’s Lun Loon too, and proceedings in Casino Gran Via today won’t have made him feel much better. Loon had one of the biggest stacks in the early stages of the day, but went on a steady decline as the bubble drew closer.

His tournament ended in the very worst spot: seventh, with six to be paid. His QdJd lost to Daniel Dvoress’ aces and Loon left with nothing.

A wry smile from the bubble boy Lun Loon

Poker fans have not seen very much of Dan Cates this week, even though he has been in Madrid from the start of the event. Cates has been rumoured to have been in the cash game room for most of the time, only making the briefest of appearances at the tournament tables.

But this big buy-in short deck event ushered him out of exile last night, and he was still playing through the bubble. “Still playing” meant still also chattering away incessantly, sometimes to his opponents, sometimes to people watching the live stream and sometimes to himself. He was also, of course, playing his usual flawless game.

However, with only a handful of antes just after the bubble burst, Ike Haxton was able to trap him. Haxton limped with aces and Cates moved in with AsTd. The aces held and Cates was out in sixth, earning €360,000.

A rare tournament appearance ended in a cash for Dan Cates

Prior to arriving in Madrid, Seth Davies was one of those unfortunate players on the elite circuit who had never cashed on the Triton Series. It was mysterious how this was so, and Davies was able to remedy it quickly this week, cashing in both the €75K NLHE and the €100K Short Deck Main Event.

He made it three in this €150K tournament, but was not able to progress past fifth this time. His day had hit its high point early on, when he managed to double through Elton Tsang with pocket sixes, and his stack barely fluctuated for a long period after that. But 2.1 million went in the middle, calling Jason Koon’s shove, when Davies had AcKc. Koon’s KdKh had Davies strangled and the board offered no help.

Davies’ run this time earned him another €460,000.

Seth Davies hits the rail

The final six players had represented some of North America’s finest poker talents, and that was still true, of course, even after Cates and Davies’ eliminations. Now it was more balanced, though, with two Canadians — Daniel Dvoress and Sam Greenwood — facing off against two Americans — Ike Haxton and Jason Koon.

Dvoress suddenly found himself in an incredible spot three-handed, where he had the covering stack and the chance to knock out both Haxton and Greenwood when all three were all-in. As it turned out, Haxton managed to survive and find a triple up, while Dvoress eliminated his countryman Greenwood.

They got all their chips in with KcJd for Haxton, AhJh for Dvoress and AcQd for Greenwood. But the best pre-flop hand ended up third after a run-out of KhJc7s6h9d.

Greenwood has been so near but yet so far a lot this week in Madrid, and the €580,000 he took for fourth here is another example.

Sam Greenwood with an expression that tells its own story

Haxton was now in a much better position than he had been previously, and it got even better for him when he doubled through Koon shortly after. Haxton’s Ac6c ran down Koon’s pocket queens when an ace came on the river.

Koon’s frustration only grew when Dvoress managed the same doubling trick through the chip leader soon after, Dvoress’s JdTs beating Koon’s AdQd. That put Dvoress into the lead and left Koon the short stack and needing a double. He got it very quickly, through Haxton, with QhJh cracking Haxton’s kings.

Haxton sat on that short stack for a while, getting his chips in every now and again, but either getting no customers or chopping pots. It couldn’t last forever, however, and Haxton did indeed become the next out, losing with Ah8h to Dvoress’ AdQd. The gods of short deck, more cruel even than the regular poker gods, gave Haxton an eight on the flop, but Dvoress a queen on the river.

Haxton won €760,000 for this one, but there was a €400K jump now for the heads-up players.

Isaac Haxton raps the table before leaving

They took a quick break before reconvening for the heads-up, with Dvoress’s 8.8 million ahead of Koon’s 4.8 million. There were still 140 antes between them, but that’s not a massive amount in short deck.

Even so, they did not look at any numbers. They both seemed content to play it out, and so knuckled down to do just that.

Jason Koon and Daniel Dvoress

The early exchanges were fairly benign, but then there was a sudden explosion and a huge double for Koon. He had AhKc against Dvoress’ KdQc and it stayed good. That put Koon up to the dizzy heights of 11 million, and in sight again of the title.

Not long later, he found those AsAc and Dvoress had QsTh. The aces held and the two went to look for their million-plus cheques.

That brought the curtain down on Triton Madrid. What a ride…

Triton Madrid – Event 13
€150,000 Short Deck One Bullet

Dates: May 24-25, 2022
Entries: 34 (inc. 10 re-entries)
Prize pool: €5,100,000

1 – Jason Koon, USA – €1,750,000
2 – Daniel Dvoress, Canada – €1,190,000
3 – Isaac Haxton, USA – €760,000
4 – Sam Greenwood, Canada – €580,000
5 – Seth Davies, USA – €460,000
6 – Dan Cates, USA – €360,000

Photography by Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive