Champion Roland Rokita!

The Austrian poker pro Roland Rokita came to the Triton Poker Series tournament room in Jeju today wearing a hoody with the word “FAKER” emblazoned across his shoulders. It was a reference to the esports legend, but it’s a bold word for a poker player to wear on his shirt in this exalted company.

However if anyone might have felt inclined to label Rokita a faker in this world of exclusive poker talent, his performance today would set the doubters right. He is the real deal. Rokita became the most recent Triton Poker Series champion, beating a field of 225 entries to lock up a first prize of $904,000.

The buy-in was $20,000. The competition was characteristically fierce. But Rokita’s performance was authentically excellent and landed him the biggest win of his career to date. It perhaps should be no surprise for someone who rolls with the likes of Fedor Holz, yesterday’s champion. But Rokita was clearly thrilled to have done it himself.

“It means a lot,” Rokita said. “I came here, I prepared a lot. To lift the trophy, it’s unbelievable.”

Having migrated to the poker tables after a former career as a ski-jumper in the Austrian national team, Rokita no doubt knows a fair bit about dangerous climbs and perilous descents. But while the first period of play today proved to be perfectly smooth for Rokita, he had to ride a few uncertain moguls during heads-up play against Sirzat Hissou.

“It was a roller coaster in the final table,” Rokita said. “I was really nervous…I won a big pot, he won a big pot, but I finished it in the end.”

A relieved Roland Rokita begins life as a champion

Rokita eventually got the job done on the stroke of 9pm, leaving Hissou with $599,000 for second — and a tale of how he actually thought he had won the tournament before realising his opponent had turned a better hand.

That will end as a footnote after a stellar performance from Rokita, in which he came of age on the Triton Series. He is 28 years old, a chemistry graduate, and a resident of the poker hotbed Vienna. It sounds like a perfect mixture for a new poker great.


The first three days of this trip to South Korea have been characterised by packed tournament rooms filled with enormous fields. The turnout has demanded additional levels added to Day 1s, which in the case of Event 2 meant bursting the bubble on the tournament’s opening day.

It was late in the night when Tony Truong became the unfortunate 40th placed finisher in this one, suffering a fairly nasty beat.

There were other players with smaller stacks still in the field when Truong picked up AcQh in the cutoff and called a min-raise from Roland Rokita. The pair went to a flop of Ks6cQs. Rokita put out a continuation bet and Truong called with his top pair.

The 9c turn brought a second flush draw and Rokita moved in, covering Truong. Nonetheless, he made the call for his last 10 blinds or so and was shown the Qd6d in Rokita’s hand. When the river brought the case queen, Rokita made a boat and Truong’s trips were no good.

A late night bubble for Tony Truong

With everyone else now guaranteed a payday, they played down to the last 24, of which Tobias Schwecht was a runaway chip leader, with only Rokita and Alex Theologis anywhere close. They bagged and tagged and came back Thursday for Day 2.


As ever, the main focus from the players returning today was on reaching the final table, but the field needed to be trimmed by about two thirds before that would be decided. But no worries. In about four hours of play, 24 became nine with Triton stalwarts Biao Ding, John Juanda, Mike Watson and Danny Tang all falling marginally short.

Of the three overnight big stacks, both Rokita and Schwecht made it, with Theologis falling by the wayside. (Theologis’s Triton career has nonetheless started with two cashes from two tournaments entered.)

The last nine looked like this:


Aleksandr Zubov, Russia – 14.6 million (73 BBs)
Mikita Badziakouski, Belarus – 8.8 million (44 BBs)
Roland Rokita, Austria – 6.575 million (33 BBs)
Kiat Lee, Malaysia – 4.35 million (22 BBs)
Tobias Schwecht, Germany – 3.1 million (16 BBs)
Damir Zhugralin, Kazakhstan – 2.45 million (12 BBs)
Leon Sturm, Germany – 2.3 million (12 BBs)
Sirzat Hissou, Germany – 2.25 million (11 BBs)
Yu Xiangyu, China – 725,000 (4 BBs)

Jeju Event 2 final table players (clockwise from back left): Kiat Lee, Sirzat Hissou, Aleksandr Zubov, Mikita Badziakouski, Tobias Schwecht, Roland Rokita, Yu Xiangyu, Leon Sturm, Damir Zhugralin,

Final table play got off to lightning-quick start with three players eliminated in a flash. Two went broke on the same hand, in the kind of set-up that was unavoidable for all concerned.

Action passed to the tiny stack of Yu Xiangyu on the button and, looking down at As5s, he ripped it in. Rokita was in the small blind with a hand — Ks9h — plenty good enough to go up against a small-stack’s button jam.

Rokita jammed to isolate.

However, Schecht, in the big blind, found pocket tens and correctly deduced that this was also plenty good enough to get his last 14 blinds in. So he was all-in too, and ahead of both opponents.

Yu Xiangyu, left, and Tobias Schwecht, right, stand up to leave as Roland Rokita, centre, remains seated

The dealer favoured only Rokita, however. The board ran Kc7c3c8h5h and the pair of kings scooped the lot. Xiangyu was the official ninth-placed finisher, for $94,500, while Schwecht took $113,000 for eighth.

Damir Zhugralin got his first taste of Triton Poker Series action in Cyprus in 2022 and returned to the same venue the following year. That’s where he also secured his first cash on the series. It encouraged him to extend his wings and visit Jeju too, where he was rewarded with the first final table appearance of his career.

The Kazakh’s run ended in seventh as he became Mikita Badziakouski’s victim.

Zhugralin had 12 big blinds and opted to shove when he found AcTc in the cutoff. Button and small blind folded, but Badziakouski picked up pocket tens in the big blind and made the call.

Zhugralin needed to see an ace or some clubs, but neither appeared. Instead he trudged to the payouts desk where $154,000 awaited him for seventh place.

The end of Damir Zhugralin’s run

By common assent, Germany’s Leon Sturm is one of the game’s brightest new stars with a first Triton title only a matter of time. He showed his pedigree already again here in Jeju, navigating to this final table even though he never seemed to have a mighty stack.

Sturm couldn’t manage to take that small stack further than sixth in this tournament, however, as he perished mostly at the hands of Rokita (though Kiat Lee finished him off).

The hand that did the damage started with an early position raise from Rokita with 8c8d. Rokita had more than 40 big blinds; Sturm, who was in the big blind, had only eight more after he posted the mandatory fee. Sturm had 6h7h and called.

This was a pretty scary flop for both these hands: Td9d6d. Sturm checked with bottom pair, Rokita bet his straight flush draw, with his pair of eights still best. Sturm called.

Both players checked the Qs turn, which brought the 4d river. Sturm then made a near all-in bet, leaving himself only 25,000 behind. Rokita opted just to call with his low flush, and it was good.

Rokita took over the chip lead, while Sturm’s final chip went to Lee on the next hand. Sturm ended with another $210,000 in his bankroll as the field reduced to five.

Leon Sturm couldn’t spin up his one chip

Aleksandr Zubov came into this tournament having cashed Event 1 and then enjoying a hugely profitable Day 2 of Event 2. He ended up in the chip lead ahead of the final thanks to an aces vs. kings coup against Mike Watson, in which a micro stacked Daniel Palsson became collateral damage.

Zubov’s aces held up and he won a 3.8 million pot, principally from Watson, and that set Zubov flying high into his debut final table.

The Russian player mainly stayed out of the way of the early confrontations, losing a few small pots without ever really putting many chips at risk. However, his first major pot became his last when he slammed into the surging Rokita.

Rokita found pocket eights on the button and made a standard opening raise. With AsQs in the big blind, Zubov jammed for 25 big blinds. Rokita called and won another flop, flopping a set for good measure.

That was that for Zubov, who hit the rail in fifth for $278,000. Rokita, meanwhile, could do no wrong and had half the chips in play.

Aleksandr Zubov looks for support on the rail after he moves all in

There was a marked division in Triton experience between the two halves of the remaining field. Both Rokita and Hissou were at their first ever Triton final, but Lee and Badziakouski have made this stage their second home over the past few years. Badziakouski has four titles from 20 final table appearance. Lee has never gone all the way, but has been involved at the end 11 times.

But the natural order was upended here, with the joint strength of Hissou and Rokita quickly taking care of Badzikouski, before they repeated the trick to do terminal damage to Lee.

Firstly, Hissou doubled his 15 blind stack through Badziakouski with pocket nines holding against Ad9d. And then when Badziakouski was the short stack, Rokita’s As9c stayed good against Ac5s.

The latter was in Badziakouski’s hand and defeat sent him out in fourth, with $355,000 to his name.

Another final for Mikita Badziakouski, but no fifth title yet

They were heading to a dinner break three-handed as Lee and Hissou got involved in a huge pot. Lee jammed his 15 big blind stack with pocket sevens and Hissou looked down at AhTc. That was a call for his last 13 bigs, and Hissou hit an ace to double.

It left Lee with two big blinds.

Although he doubled that amount twice after they came back from dinner, he couldn’t get the crucial third — although he can claim to have got a tiny bit unlucky to bust.

Lee had 8d4h in the big blind and called Hissou’s raise. The flop came 9s5h8c and Lee committed his final chips with middle pair. Hissou’s Ac5c was actually now behind, but the ace on the turn swung it back in his direction.

That was that for Lee, who took $439,000 for third.

Tough end for Kiat Lee

Two of them remained for the title, both at their first Triton final table and both already guaranteed their biggest career live cash. The only thing to decide now was who would be champion.

Rokita had a two-to-one chip lead and seemingly all the momentum after a pure run on the last day. But he soon suffered his first really rough beat, with Hissou doubling into a commanding lead.

Hissou opened with Ah7h and Rokita found KhKd. He didn’t slow play and instead put in a three-bet. Hissou responded with a four-bet shove and Rokita made an obvious call.

So close for Sirzat Hissou

With the tournament seemingly all but over, the dealer decided to prolong it. An ace on the flop vaulted Hissou into the lead and left Rokita looking for help. Although he also had a Broadway draw on the flop, he whiffed outs on turn and river, meaning Hissou scored the full double. It was now 57-18 big blinds in his favour.

But, but, but. The tables soon turned yet again. When all the chips next found their way into the middle, Hissou had the pocket pair — sevens — while Rokita had only Ad3c.

With Rokita’s supporters calling for an ace, he actually ended up doing it another way. The board brought all low cards, filling a wheel for the all-in player. Hissou hadn’t noticed originally, but he soon did when the dealer started moving his chips in his opponent’s direction.

The level went up again and the stacks shallowed once more. And the next time all the money went in, the best hand held up. Rokita had pocket nines when he saw Hissou shove with pocket twos. It was a clear call and Hissou couldn’t catch a two-outer this time.

Rokita’s hands were shaking, but his smile told the full story. Add another one to the tally for Vienna and welcome Roland Rokita to the winners’ enclosure.

Roland Rokita with friends and fellow Triton champions

Event #2 – $20k NLH 8-Handed
Dates: March 6-7, 2024
Entries: 225 (inc. 72 re-entries)
Prize pool: $4,500,000

1 – Roland Rokita, Austria – $904,000
2 – Sirzat Hissou, Germany – $599,000
3 – Kiat Lee, Malaysia – $439,000
4 – Mikita Badziakouski, Belarus – $355,000
5 – Aleksandr Zubov, Russia – $278,000
6 – Leon Sturm, Germany – $210,000
7 – Damir Zhugralin, Kazakhstan – $154,000
8 – Tobias Schwecht, Germany – $113,000
9 – Yu Xiangyu, China – $94,500

10 – Alex Theologis, Greece – $78,700
11 – Danny Tang, Hong Kong – $78,700
12 – Mike Watson, Canada – $68,800
13 – Daniel Palsson, Iceland – $68,800
14 – Yita Choong, Australia – $62,000
15 – John Juanda, Indonesia – $62,000
16 – Eric Tsai, Taiwan – $55,500
17 – Benjamin Chalot, France – $55,500
18 – Biao Ding, China – $48,500
19 – Kayhan Mokri, Norway – $48,500
20 – Santhosh Suvarna, India – $48,500
21 – Wang Ye, China – $44,000
22 – Pieter Aerts, Belgium – $44,000
23 – Keat Liu Chun, Malaysia – $44,000
24 – Anson Ewe, Malaysia – $39,500
25 – Roman Hrabec, Czech Republic – $39,500
26 – Alex Kulev, Bulgaria – $39,500
27 – Matthias Eibinger, Austria – $39,500
28 – Cheok Leng Cheong, Macao – $35,000
29 – Dan Smith, USA – $35,000
30 – Vladislav Ivanov, Russia – $35,000
31 – Jamil Wakil, Canada – $35,000
32 – Tom Heung, Hong Kong – $31,000
33 – Lun Loon, Malaysia – $31,000
34 – Joao Vieira, Portugal – $31,000
35 – Darren Elias, USA – $31,000
36 – Wei Hsiang Yeu, Malaysia – $31,000
37 – Espen Jorstad, Norway – $31,000
38 – Hans Liu, China – $31,000
39 – Aram Oganyan, USA – $31,000

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive