For a man who has won just about everything the game of poker has to offer, it would likely surprise most fans to learn that until tonight Steve O’Dwyer had “only” won one title on the Triton Series.
But after a characteristically calm yet ruthless performance in the $25,000 Turbo event in Monte Carlo today, O’Dwyer can add his name to the list of Triton’s multiple champions and put another $416,000 on his ledger.
It was a textbook O’Dwyer display: casually weaving his way through a field stuffed with superstars, riding the inevitable highs and lows of this turbo format, but emerging victorious the other side.
It was in this room in Monaco that O’Dwyer really broke through as a world class talent, back on the European Poker Tour in 2013. But he has destroyed tournament fields of all sizes and buy-ins both before and since, and has naturally made a home on the Triton Series too.
“Winning is nice,” O’Dwyer said, ruefully admitting he was down on the trip after firing four bullets in the Main Event. But he added that he loves the glory of taking a title, and said: “I’ve been waiting to get this second Triton title for a while.”
O’Dwyer beat Dimitar Danchev heads up to claim this latest success, finding the right cards and making the right decisions when things got very short stacked towards the end.
“I think the public has a misconception about how difficult and intricate these short-stacked final tables can be,” O’Dwyer said. “Poker is really hard.”
It’s just that some people — for instance, O’Dwyer — make it seem so easy.
Danchev, making his first appearance on the Triton Series here in Monaco, had to make do with second place and $299,000.
EARLY TOURNAMENT ACTION
With plenty of players remaining in the Main Event as the Turbo clicked through its early levels, there maybe wasn’t quite so many players heading from one side of the room to the other. By the time registration closed, there were 57 entries, including re-entries, precisely the same number that played the turbo on the opening day.
As ever, it was hectic for those early periods and there was a race towards the bubble. But then a slowdown as the in-the-money places grew nearer, with bustouts largely the result of coolers.
Mike Watson was very short, but pulled off back-to-back doubles, including taking pocket eights up against David Yan’s nines and turning a set. That sent Yan out. Then with Punnat Punsri clinging on to a tiny stack on the stone bubble, Alex Kulev got his chips in good with , but ended up losing to Fedor Holz’s .
That bad beat took the remaining nine into the money and seated around the final table. The line-up looked like this:
Steve O’Dwyer – 2.02m
Michael Watson – 1.785m
Clemen Deng – 1.575m
Henrik Hecklen – 1.425m
Dimitar Danchev – 1.335m
Michael Soyza – 1.335m
Fedor Holz – 1.31m
Luc Greenwood – 480,000
Punnat Punsri – 120,000
Despite still sitting with a minute stack, Punsri managed to cling on as two opponents went bust. The first was Clemen Deng, a Triton first-timer in the money in the first tournament he had played on the series.
He lost a massive pot to Steve O’Dwyer, when the latter’s made a straight to beat pocket nines, and the same opponent polished off the last of Deng’s stack too, with besting .
Deng won $41,000 for ninth.
Luc Greenwood, who had been another player sweating the bubble, made it into the money, but could go no further than eighth. He ended up third in a three-way pot that also doubled up Henrik Hecklen.
Greenwood was all in pre-flop with , while Hecklen’s also beat Watson’s . Watson remained in the tournament, but Greenwood was out, earning $54,000.
Finally, the game was now up for Punsri, whose two big blinds got in the middle as a mandated blind bet, with an ante too. His neighbour Watson completed from the small blind with , and Punsri’s was too feeble to do any damage.
Punsri was out in seventh, taking $70,000.
At this stage, O’Dwyer was comfortable at the top of the counts and making the most of his big stack to pick up plenty of uncontested pots. The best thing about being in that kind of position is the way big hands get paid of too. After O’Dwyer raised for the umpteenth time, Fedor Holz threw in the last of his chips.
Holz had pocket threes so there was nothing wrong with that move. It’s just that O’Dwyer had pocket tens and sent Holz to the rail in sixth, for $89,000.
The reaper now came knocking for Michael Soyza, who lost back-to-back pots to Watson and headed out in fifth. Soyza had but couldn’t hit to beat Watson’s pocket fives. And shortly after, Soyza’s went down to Watson’s pocket nines.
Dimitar Danchev was also involved in that pot, also losing a chunk to Watson with his . However, only Soyza was banished immediately to the cash desk, where he picked up $114,000.
Watson took the chips and went on another surge, doubling into the chip lead after winning a race against O’Dwyer.
The four-handed stage of the tournament was when this one got kind of ridiculous, with chips being passed among each of them in pots that determined both the chip lead and who was the short stack. O’Dwyer tumbled as Danchev surged. Then Watson led again. At one point, the average stack was 11 big blinds and the chip leader had 16.
Hecklen never quite made it to the very top, and that made him the most vulnerable. His last chips went to O’Dwyer, whose jacks stayed good against Hecklen’s , which took us down to three. Hecklen took his $147,000 and went to sit on a hotel room balcony with Sam Grafton and Andrew Lichtenberger mainly listening to them discuss intriguing philosophical topics, before tweeting at 3:41am.
There were 45 big blinds between them, and they had 16, 15 and 14 of them each, depending on where the button was. It truly was anyone’s game at this stage, and when that’s the case, it usually turns out to be O’Dwyer’s.
He knocked out Watson first, with against . Watson’s third place earned him $195,000.
And then with the Bulgarian contingent watching closely, O’Dwyer also ended their dreams of a first title by knocking out Danchev next. Danchev had to O’Dwyer’s , but O’Dwyer filled a straight to leave Danchev drawing dead on the turn.
That was the end of that. A turbo that actually flew to its conclusion, start to finish in around eight hours. And it put more silverware on the crowded mantle of Steve O’Dwyer.
Event #5 – $25,000 NLH Turbo
Dates: October 27, 2023
Entries: 57 (inc. 13 re-entries)
Prize pool: $1,425,000
1 – Steve O’Dwyer, USA – $416,000
2 – Dimitar Danchev, Bulgaria – $299,000
3 – Mike Watson, Canada – $195,000
4 – Henrik Hecklen, Denmark – $147,000
5 – Michael Soyza, Malaysia – $114,000
6 – Fedor Holz, Germany – $89,000
7 – Punnat Punsri, Thailand – $70,000
8 – Luc Greenwood, Canada – $54,000
9 – Clemen Deng, USA – $41,000
Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive
Correction: This article incorrectly stated that Henrik Hecklen went to bed after being eliminated. Hecklen actually sat drinking champagne on a hotel room balcony with Sam Grafton and Andrew Lichtenberger mainly listening to them discuss intriguing philosophical topics, before tweeting at 3:41am.