Champion Nacho Barbero

Another day, another record — and another flawless performance to crown the latest champion on the Triton Super High Roller Series.

The third full day of competition at Triton Vietnam brought Event #2 – 15K No Limit Hold’em to its conclusion, an event that set another new mark with its 172 entries.

And the latest champion is a familiar face to poker observers, but a relative stranger to this series: Argentina’s Nacho Barbero, who couldn’t put a foot wrong to claim a maiden Triton title. At only his second Triton stop, he became the first player from South America to win on the series, demonstrating again the global appeal of this tour.

Barbero, who won 600K plus a Shamballa Jewels bracelet, knocked out seven of his eight final-table opponents, finding dominant hands when he needed them and coming from behind when he didn’t. He was moving quickly — “I had run out of time banks,” he told Ali Nejad in his post-game interview — and going with his reads.

They were right. One call, with king high, was particularly stunning. He ended up triumphing from a final table full of superstars, including Seth Davies and Alex Kulev, who finished fourth and ninth, respectively, in yesterday’s curtain-raising event in Vietnam.

Triton stalwarts Stephen Chidwick, Steve O’Dwyer, Phachara Wongwichit, Adrian Mateos and Mike Watson all picked up valuable Player of the Year points but fell short of the final. Then Linus Loeliger, Aleksejs Ponakovs and Kiat Lee did get to the final, but missed out on the title.

Barbero ended up beating Jans Arends heads up to win this one, with Arends, best known as “Graftekkel” online, claiming 406K on his Triton debut.

Jan Arends finishes second on his first Triton appearance

Barbero lost an enormous portion of his net worth in recent scandals in the crypto space, sending him back to the poker grind. And after a high profile final table in the Bahamas last month, Barbero continues to rebuild with cards in his hands.


By the time the bags came out last night at the end of the record breaking opening day, only 37 players remained in contention for the second trophy of this series.

Within a couple of hours, the hopes of Sam Greenwood, Artur Martirosian and Danny Tang were among those extinguished. The British first-timer Andrew Leathem clung on longer than those, but faced the bubble period with a micro-stack.

Leathem ended up all in blind and his 9c4h lost to Kiat Lee’s KhQs. It was a quiet and solitary departure for Leathem, who hid his pain well. He then hopped into Event #3 in an attempt to take his mind off it.

A silent bubble for Andrew Leathem

That left 23 with the first target of reaching the final. The aforementioned Chidwick (22nd), O’Dwyer (20th), Wongwichit (18th), etc., fell short, but it was still a sensational nine who did the walk-on for the final.


Brian Kim (USA) – 8,625,000 (58 BBs)
Nacho Barbero (Argentina) – 6,925,000 (46)
Jans Arends (Netherlands) – 5,350,000 (36)
Kean Wei Tan (Malaysia) – 4,475,000 (30)
Kiat Lee (Malaysia) – 3,950,000 (26)
Aleks Ponakovs (Latvia) – 2,225,000 (15)
Alex Kulev (Bulgaria) – 1,475,000 (10)
Seth Davies (USA) – 1,000,000 (7)
Linus Loeliger (Switzerland) – 375,000 (3)

Event 2 final table (clockwise from top left): Brian Kim, Nacho Barbero, Linus Loeliger, Kean wei Tan, Seth Davies, Kiat Lee, Jans Arends, Alex Kulev, Aleks Ponakovs

Even in this era of expert short-stack play, Loeliger’s three big blinds were always likely to find their way into the pot quickly, and despite an early double, the Swiss wizard was first out.

He got his chips in good, three-bet shoving with AsTd over Barbero’s open with QcJh. But Barbero flopped a gutshot and turned a straight. Loeliger picked up 60K for ninth.

Linus Loeliger: First out from the final

Kean Wei Tan was another first-timer here in Vietnam, following in the footsteps of many from Malaysia straight to the Triton final table. He became another of Barbero’s victims, when his Ah5d remained dominated by Barbero’s AcTh.

Tan won 75K for eighth.

Kean wei Tan: Out in eighth

Barbero also found himself in a dominant position the next time an adversary was all in. This time it was Davies, rapidly becoming Triton’s most reliable warrior, who had reached his umpteenth final table in a row. Davies continues to search for a first win, but took another 102,100 for finishing seventh here after his Jd4h was outpipped by Barbero’s Js5c.

(Davies all but shoved the small blind, Barbero put him all in and the board had nothing spectacular on it — not even the cards Davies needed for a chop.)

Yet another final for Seth Davies

One of the main storylines in the opening days of this Triton festival has been the number of first timers appearing on the scene — and going on to deliver. Having finished ninth on his first foray to these parts yesterday, Kulev now made it to sixth during his second appearance.

The Ireland-based Bulgarian must consider this tour to be a breeze as he cantered to another 138,000 — even if he couldn’t win a crucial flip with pocket nines against Kiat Lee’s AsQc. Kulev went out this time in sixth.

Two from two for Alex Kulev

Ponakovs, however, wasn’t long for the world either — and he too was flipped out of this one. Barbero this time had the pocket pair, nines again, and Ponakovs had AdKs. He couldn’t hit, however, and another chunk went to Barbero. Ponakovs won 178,000 for fifth.

A head-scratcher for Aleks Ponakovs

Barbero was pretty much unstoppable, and Lee became the next victim. In truth, the damage had been done to Lee in a skirmish with Arends’ aces. Lee’s Ad6h lost pretty much everything in that pot, and Barbero applied the final touch. Barbero’s AhJs beat Lee’s As4s, with Barbero hitting two jacks for good measure. Lee took 222,000 for fourth.

Kiat Lee: Two pots, done

Even when he was behind, Barbero found a way. He next took Ac9h up against Kim’s AhTc. Had Kim won this one, there would have been three hugely skilled players remaining with all but equal stacks, and any one of them might have gone on to win.

However, Barbero hit the three-outer on the river, when a nine popped out, and it sent Kim packing in third, picking up 271K on the way. It also left Barbero with a two-to-one heads up lead, and with all the momentum behind him.

Arends, left, bids farewell to Kiat Lee

Barbero was running so hot that Arends must have wondered if there was anything he could do. He tried, of course, and battled gamely for a good 30 minutes. But he ended up taking one too many stabs. Arends put in a huge over bet shove on a board of 4c4d8dAh3c, sitting with 7c6c.

Barbero had Ac2d, which had been pretty well disguised, and after taking a long time to think it through, found the call. Arends showed his seven high, and Barbero was crowned champion as the ticker tape fell from the ceiling.

“I knew it was going to be really good,” Barbero said. “Phil Nagy told me, ‘Come over.’ I was like, ‘Why not?’ And it was a good idea to come here.”

It certainly was.

Arends extends his hand to congratulate Nacho Barbero


Dates: March 2-3, 2023
Entries: 172 (inc. 50 re-entries)
Prize pool: 2,580,000

1 – Nacho Barbero (Argentina) – 600,000
2 – Jans Arends (Netherlands) – 406,000
3 – Brian Kim (USA) – 271,000
4 – Kiat Lee (Malaysia) – 222,000
5 – Aleks Ponakovs (Latvia) – 178,000
6 – Alex Kulev (Bulgaria) – 138,000
7 – Seth Davies (USA) – 102,100
8 – Kean wei Tan (Malaysia) – 75,000
9 – Linus Loeliger (Switzerland) – 60,000

10 – Mark Rubbathan (UK) – 50,300
11 – Michael Watson (Canada) – 50,300
12 – Hing Yang Chow (Malaysia) – 43,900
13 – Tan Xuan (China) – 43,900
14 – Adrian Mateos (Spain) – 39,900
15 – Thomas Muehloecker (Austria) – 39,900
16 – Then Dung Pham (Vietnam) – 36,100
17 – John So (Hong Kong) – 36,100
18 – Phachara Wongwichit (Thailand) – 32,500
19 – Phil Nagy (USA) – 32,500
20 – Steve O’Dwyer (Ireland) – 32.500
21 – Markus Leikkonen (Finland) – 30,000
22 – Stephen Chidwick (UK) – 30,000
23 – Sebastian Gaehl (Germany) – 30,000

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive