Champion Samuli Sipila!

For the second time in three days, a report from the Triton Series in Montenegro begins with the following line: Samuli Sipila is one of the best pot limit Omaha players in the world.

It first appeared after the 31-year-old Finn won the first event he had ever played under the Triton banner, the $25K PLO tournament that finished on Thursday. And now, remarkably, we’re adding Sipila’s name to the list of multiple Triton champions after he completed victory in the $50K buy-in PLO event and upped his all-time best tournament cash to $839,000.

“Wait, he’s going on the board already!?!” Jason Koon observed from across the room, naming a couple of players who hadn’t won a Triton event despite coming to every stop for years. Sipila is visiting for the first time and is leaving with his picture in the Hall of Fame.

Not only that, but for the second time, Sipila also had to overcome a significant chip deficit entering heads up play, and completed this victory by overhauling the formidable Nacho Barbero. The Argentinian, already a two-time Triton champion, had been the dominant force for the longest period of the final day, but ended up second best to this superlative PLO talent.

Nacho Barbero can’t bear to look

“I had hopes, obviously,” Sipila dead-panned after Ali Nejad asked him if he could possibly have imagined winning two events here in Montenegro. “Obviously there’s a lot of skill. It’s not just going all-in…But, to be fair, I have run really well.”

Three of the last four players in this event were from Finland (they teach PLO in kindergarten in Helsinki) but even in this kingdom of poker giants, Sipila stands tallest. He was keen to pay tribute to the player they all look up to, the long-time PLO legend Patrik Antonius, but Antonius was one of Sipila’s victims as he sailed to this incredible win.

“It’s easier to get better when you have a great group of people around you,” Sipila said, referencing the tight network of Nordic players who have made Montenegro their playground this week. Registration was still open on the PLO Turbo when the this tournament was finished. What price a hat-trick?

Samuli Sipila ‘had hopes’


The opening stages of the tournament played out in the same room as the PLO Main Event was reaching its dramatic conclusion. The player numbers gradually increased as busted players from the other event strolled across the room to reinvest, while others continued to fire bullets to make sure they were still around when all the short-stacked new entries came blasting at them.

Naturally, action slowed up somewhat once registration had closed, sealing the entry numbers at 61, with $3.05 million in the prize pool. But few could have predicted just how tortuous the tournament would then become, with play stretching hour after hour in the hope of bursting the bubble before bagging for the end of the night.

It was around 4.30 a.m. when things eventually finished. Laszlo Bujtas tried to knock out Alex Komaromi, but lost with kings against aces. It doubled up Komaromi and left Bujtas with not even one blind. Nacho Barbero snaffled that on the next hand, ending Bujtas’s incredibly long day with only his payout from the Main Event much earlier to keep him company.

Eleven players reached for bags, with the toll of this extended bubble evident in the size of some of the stacks.

Day two line-up:

Ding Biao – 2,740,000 (69 BBs)
Patrik Antonius – 2,365,000 (59 BBs)
Nacho Barbero – 2,095,000 (52 BBs)
Samuli Sipila – 1,750,000 (44 BBs)
Danny Tang – 1,635,000 (41 BBs)
Alex Komaromi – 490,000 (12 BBs)
Chris Parker – 275,000 (7 BBs)
Eelis Parssinen – 270,000 (7 BBs)
Aku Joentausta – 220,000 (6 BBs)
Lautaro Guerra – 215,000 (5 BBs)
Jason Koon – 145,000 (4 BBs)

The most interesting subplot involved the seven big blinds belonging to Chris Parker. During earlier Day 1 conversation, Parker had told his tablemates that he had a flight booked for early on Sunday that would preclude his involvement in Day 2. The gist of the advice from Nacho Barbero and Jason Koon, among others, was that he should change it, but Parker revealed how difficult that might be. He was jetting in to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix early on Sunday, and landing slots were all booked up. Understanding that this was no ordinary flight for no ordinary purpose, Parker’s table-mates kept quiet and tucked the information away.

On Sunday, Parker’s stack was indeed unattended as play got started. By that point, its owner was probably sipping champagne in a paddock somewhere. The shepherds of three other short stacks wondered if they’d be able to outlast the rudderless ship. And, as it turned out, they couldn’t.

Chris Parker’s stack, foreground, begins its laddering

Lautaro Guerra, Koon and Aku Joentausta all lost the last of their chips in early exchanges, which meant Parker laddered up to eighth. The $115K he won will be wired to him, no doubt.

For what it’s worth, none of the three others could really do much about it. Guerra ran tens into queens. Koon came out the wrong side in two unraised pots without any cards of note to give him hope. And then Joentausta had an ace, flopped another one, but lost to Eelis Parssinen’s two pair.

Guerra and Koon min-cashed for $76,300 each. Joentausta took $87,000. Then when the dead stack was exhausted, they settled around a final table of seven. Biao still led, but most of the others at least now had workable stacks.

Ding Biao – 3,300,000 (83 BBs)
Patrik Antonius – 2,965,000 (74 BBs)
Nacho Barbero – 2,235,000 (56 BBs)
Samuli Sipila – 1,340,000 (34 BBs)
Danny Tang – 1,295,000 (32 BBs)
Eelis Parssinen – 855,000 (21 BBs)
Alex Komaromi – 210,000 (5 BBs)

Triton Montenegro Event 15 final table players (clockwise from back left): Biao Ding, Patrik Antonius, Danny Tang, Nacho Barbero, Eelis Parssinen, Samuli Sipila, Alex Komaromi.

After making the final table of the PLO Main Event to keep his lead in the Player of the Year race, Danny Tang had kept the momentum going and landed back at another FT with another stab at a sixth career win.

But as quickly as he is learning the subtleties of PLO, he is understanding its viciousness too. Tang was the first out from the final, losing with aces. Not just pocket aces, but a turned set in fact. It’s just that Nacho Barbero had already flopped a straight.

Tang picked up another $146,000 for seventh place, and a handful more Player of the Year points. There’s only one event left, it’s getting very close now for Tang.

Danny Tang busts, but more PoY points

Alex Komaromi had squeezed through the bubble thanks to the big hand against Bujtas last night/this morning, and had now laddered another spot at the final despite having only five big blinds. He became Barbero’s latest victim when the Argentinian filled a boat with the king of hand you’ll play against a micro-stack, but would probably otherwise toss away.

Komaromi’s maiden Triton cash was worth $186,000.

Alex Komaromi survived fraught bubble and stuck around for sixth

Three of the last five players were from Finland, but the next elimination came about when the last South American took on the final Asian representative. Barbero was in one of those grooves where he could do no wrong, and was providing an unceasing monologue as he was also hoovering up Biao’s chips.

Biao had held on to the chip lead for a long time, before Barbero’s surge, but his pre-flop three-bet holding AdQdKs4c secured a call from Barbero’s QcJh9s4s.

Biao flopped top pair and jammed, but Barbero had flopped two pair. His hand then straightened out through turn and river. “Nice to play with you,” Barbero said and Biao hit the rail. Biao won this event in Jeju earlier this year, but had to settle for fifth in his defence. It came with $238,000.

Ding Biao’s title defence ends in fifth

With four players left, the Finnish wall lost its first brick. Eelis Parssinen has cashed four times on the Triton Series and made three final tables, all of them in PLO tournaments. He had to make do with fourth this time, though, with his countryman Samuli Sipila applying the finishing touches.

Parssinen’s AdQc8c7c flopped a straight when the dealer put the JhThKs out there. But Sipila had queen blockers (two of them) and a flush draw and was happy to get chips in to cover Parssinen on the flop.

The 8h on the river gave Sipila the flush to send Parssinen out in fourth. He won $300,100.

Yet more PLO success for Eelis Parssinen

Two Finns were left, but Barbero had them covered by an enormous amount. And not even a player of Patrik Antonius’ calibre could mount a comeback. Barbero made a flush in a big pot against Antonius to leave the Antonius very short. And then Sipila took the last three blinds of his countryman, leaving Antonius heading home in third for $390,000.

Patrik Antonius becomes Finn number two to depart the final

As they prepared for heads-up play, Barbero talked to a video team and explained, “I am running very hot. I made the nuts many times and eliminated many players.” It really was that easy for him at this stage. Barbero had 9,100,000 (91 BBs) to Sipila’s 3,100,000 (31 BBs). We had seen Sipila overhaul a bigger heads-up deficit in the $25K PLO earlier this week, but could he do it again?

Let’s put it this way. He is a very good pot limit Omaha player. The blinds went up a couple of times and Sipila remained within one double up of levelling the stacks. And then in the first really grim cooler of the heads-up phase of play, he did just that.

Barbero picked up Ah4c4s2h and limped. Sipila looked at KhJd8dQs and raised. Barbero called.

The flop was destined to see action. It came JhJc4d. Sipila had the jack but Barbero’s pocket fours meant he already had a boat.

Samuli Sipila played another long and flawless heads up match, this time against Nacho Barbero

It went bet (Sipila), raise (Barbero), call, with the Kd turn now giving Sipila the better hand. Sipila slowed to a check, but Barbero saw no reason to slow down. He bet and Sipila called. The 3d river was inconsequential, but Sipila checked again.

Barbero jammed, Sipila called, and he scored the full double thanks to the bigger boat. They suddenly had 40 blinds apiece.

Frustration builds for Nacho Barbero

Barbero is made of stern stuff, and although Sipila nosed ahead, he bounced back to regain a sizeable lead. But then came another major coup that gave Sipila a double: the Finn’s As2sAcTh made a flush and earned Sipila the maximum.

They went on a tournament break and returned to stacks of 36 blinds (Sipila) to 13 (Barbero). And it was now Barbero’s turn to hit a river to double. They got to a flop of Th5d4h for one raise, then got everything else in at that point.

Sipila led with QsTc8s7s but was vulnerable to Barbero’s JhTs6s5h. The turn was another four, but the 9h river hit Barbero’s flish and doubled him back into the lead.

But not for long. With everything now incredibly tight indeed, they took two premiums to a flop in a three-bet pot. Barbero had AhKhKcKd and Sipila had QsQdJd9c.

Samuli Sipila remains unflustered throughout

The rest of the money went in on the 7h2sQc flop and Sipila’s flopped set did not come unstuck. That left Barbero with only a handful of blinds and they went in the next hand. Sipila made this one stick.

Sipila’s Qh9h6s2c finished with a straight on the board of 5h8d5sAh7d, cracking Barbero’s kings.

Sipila had done it once again. He is a very good pot limit Omaha player. You heard it here last.

The PLO boys celebrate again


Event 15 – $50,000 PLO
Dates: May 25-26, 2024
Entries: 61 (inc. 26 re-entries)
Prize pool: $3,050,000

1 – Samuli Sipila, Finland – $839,000
2 – Nacho Barbero, Argentina – $596,300
3 – Patrik Antonius, Finland – $390,000
4 – Eelis Parssinen, Finland – $300,100
5 – Ding Biao, China – $238,000
6 – Alex Komaromi, Uruguay – $186,000
7 – Danny Tang, Hong Kong – $146,000
8 – Chris Parker, UK – $115,000
9 – Aku Joentausta, Finland – $87,000
10 – Jason Koon, USA – $76,300
11 – Lautaro Guerra, Spain – $76,300

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive