Canada’s Mike Watson is the latest player to join the Triton two-time champions club after a high-speed finale to the $30,000 Pot Limit Omaha event in Cyprus today ended with Sir Watts the last man standing.
Watson knocked out all three opponents he faced today, riding the momentum he picked up at the end of the first day, when the opening field of 34 entries had been reduced to just a quartet.
Watson shot up the chip counts with a huge pot against Laszlo Bujtas that ended the opening day, and he finished the job on Bujtas, before also sending Gergo Nagy and Andriy Lyubovetskiy to the sidelines at the end of authoritative display.
Watson finished seventh in the NLH Main Event yesterday, but hopped into the PLO and took it down for $347,000. His previous title came in Vietnam earlier this year, in a short-deck event, and it put the new champion in a good position with three short deck events remaining on the Cyprus schedule.
“My main focus the last few years has been hold’em and short deck,” Watson said. “I haven’t had much time for PLO.”
But Watson has a strong online history in all mixed games, and demonstrated that he is a master of anything he turned his hand to.
“Obviously doubling up on the last hand last night gave me confidence coming into today,” Watson said. He was unflustered and characteristically calm as he closed this one out for a that second Triton triumph.
Lyubovetskiy, another player best-known for his online prowess, particularly in PLO, banked $239,500 for his second place.
After the final no limit hold’em event of the week ended on the main stage, any migrants who fancied their four-card chances joined the fray. That included both Jason Koon and the man he had displaced at the top of the POY leader board, Stephen Chidwick, with both still eager to maximise their chances of success in the Ivan Leow Player of the Year race.
It wasn’t to be for either of them in this one, however. Koon was knocked out in 13th, followed by Chidwick in 12th. With Patrik Antonius, Bogdan Capitan and Marius Torbergsen perishing next, there were eight players left with six due to be paid.
When is a bubble not a bubble? Well, when you get a hand like the one that occurred at this final table. Raphael Schreiner, Chris Brewer and Laszlo Bujtas were the three smallest stacks in the tournament at this stage (Brewer had only 25K) but they all went to war.
After Gergo Nagy limped pre-flop, Bujtas limped behind him. Schreiner then raised to 110,000 (the big blind was 20K) and Brewer committed his last chip. Nagy folded, but Bujtas’ call took them to a flop. It came .
Bujtas bet 300,000 and Schreiner moved in for not much more. Bujtas called and we saw three hands:
The turn left Brewer dead, and the river finished the job on Schreiner too. It was great news for Bujtas, of course, who climbed high into contention.
The original plan for the day had been to end it there, allow the six in-the-money finishers to bag up and return to play to a winner tomorrow. But the opted to play a couple more levels instead, until the next tournament break. That was a target that neither Daniel Perkusic nor Eddie Ke Ti Tran could make.
Perkusic became another of Bujtas’s victims. He had and played through all the streets as the board ran . He had a straight draw on the flop, but only a pair by the river. Bujtas’s was two pair.
Perkusic, who cashed the previous PLO tournament this week, took $71,500 from this one.
Tran had also run deep in the $25K PLO, and followed up fourth place in that tournament with fifth in this one. Tran’s elimination came at the hands of Lyubovetskiy, with aces cracked.
Bujtas opened and Lyubovetskiy called, prompting Tran to three-bet with . Bujtas folded, but Lyubovetskiy called. The Ukrainian was sitting with .
The flop was a frankly absurd , giving Lyubovetskiy two sets, or two full houses, whatever you want to call it. One was enough, of course, and the turn and river locked it up.
Tran won $92,000 for fifth.
Although he had sat out most of this carnage, Day 1 ended on a high note for Watson, when his beat Bujtas’s aces. The money went in on the flop and Watson turned a straight.
That meant that the tournament paused overnight, with players sitting with the following stacks:
Andriy Lyubovetskiy – 3.025m (61 BBs)
Mike Watson – 1.59m (32 BBs)
Laszlo Bujtas – 1.445m (29 BBs)
Gergo Nagy – 740,000 (15 BBs)
After returning with four players, however, the field was reduced to two in the blink of an eye.
Watson continued his persecution of Bujtas. After cracking aces at the very end of Day 1, Watson’s aces now held against Bujtas’s on the second hand of Day 2.
Watson again had the smaller stack, but there was only one chip in it, meaning Bujtas suffered the indignity of having just 5K left after Watson’s double double. Inevitably Watson took that too on the very next hand, with Bujtas now watching helpless as queens were downed by Watson hitting a flush, holding .
It was a fairly miserable demise for the Hungarian PLO master, who departed shocked and looked for $117,000 for fourth.
The other Hungarian at the table, Gergo Nagy was still the short stack, but had now laddered at least one spot. Watson soon demonstrated that he was an equal-opportunities destroyer, however, and sent Nagy to the rail next.
Watson limped from the small blind with and Nagy raised from the big blind with . Watson called for a flop of .
Watson put out a chunky bet with middle pair and a gutshot. Nagy moved in with his open-ended draw. Watson called the small amount more.
The turn hit Watson, and the river was too little too late for Nagy. He was eliminated in third for $153,000.
The two heads-up players then prepared for the mano-a-mano duel, each with decent sized stacks. Watson had 78 big blinds to Lyubovetskiy’s 56 big blinds. They also probably knew one another’s game from online battles.
Both players seemed content to keep things small ball in the opening exchanged, but Watson then applied his foot to the accelerator. He won five hands on the bounce, including the first sizeable heads-up pot, which also ended the tournament.
Lyubovetskiy completed the small blind with and Watson, with raised from the big blind.
Lyubovetskiy now three-bet and Watson called.
The flop came . Watson jammed and Lyubovetskiy called for his last 15 big blinds, ahead at this stage.
The turn changed that, however, and the river was a blank. Watson’s two pair was enough to take him to the title, with the final day lasting less than two hours.
Plenty of time for short deck, and more trophy hunting…
Event #13 – $30,000 Pot Limit Omaha
Dates: May 22-23, 2023
Entries: 34 (inc. 12 re-entries)
Prize pool: $1,020,000
1 – Mike Watson, Canada – $347,000
2 – Andriy Lyubovetskiy, Ukraine – $239,500
3 – Gergo Nagy, Hungary – $153,000
4 – Laszlo Bujtas, Hungary – $117,000
5 – Eddie Ke Ti Tran, Australia – $92,000
6 – Daniel Perkusic, Germany – $71,500
Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive