Champion Santhosh Suvarna!

There are few players in world poker who have wanted a Triton Series title more than India’s Santhosh Suvarna. Ever since he took his first steps onto the scene last year, he has been the most enthusiastic presence at every table, also joining in the huge cash games that take place when the tournament day is done.

Tonight, Suvarna is wearing the biggest smile in poker, about as wide as the Crystal Cove bay outside the Merit Casino and Resort in Northern Cyprus. That’s because this 43-year-old realtor and amateur poker enthusiast from Bangalore got his wish, winning the $25,000 buy-in GG Poker Super Millions event.

This, the opening tournament of Triton’s third visit to Northern Cyprus, boasted a field of 158 entries and it gave its champion $700,000. Suvarna strapped a Shamballa Jewels bracelet around his wrist, and will need to find space in his luggage for two trophies: the regular Triton one and one from GG Poker too.

“I’m so happy,” Suvarna said, struggling through the emotions to find any words. “Finally, I won this tournament.”

Suvarna will take whatever he can get in the way of silverware. He was the chip leader three-handed and was prepared to give up a sizeable portion of his projected prize money to ensure he could be called the champion.

Although that pushed the tournament’s conclusion into something of a grey area, the three players agreed a deal that all but guaranteed everyone got their wishes. Nicolas Chouity and Salahaddin Bedir, also involved at that stage, took more than $600,000 as well, while Suvarna prepares to see his face on the winners’ banners decorating the venue.

It was a hugely popular success, cheered by all in the room. Many of those players elsewhere, all of whom had fallen by the wayside, had been Suvarna’s inspiration for this victory.

“This tournament, big big pros are playing,” Suvarna said, when asked how he had improved his game so much recently. “I’m easily learning, actually. I am watching Triton videos.”

He added: “Triton is the best.”

Let the celebrations begin


After a long opening day, the starting field of 158 entries had become only 29, so the first order of business on Thursday was the bubble. It’s always possible that it goes on forever, but sometimes it passes in a flash.

The latter was true this time, as with 25 players left (and 23 due to be paid), both Ben Heath and Seth Davies were all-in pre-flop and called by covering stacks. And both were knocked out simultaneously, to take us through that bubble.

Heath had only a short stack, but was still pretty unlucky to lose it with KhTs against Henrik Hecklen’s Ks7d. There were two sevens on the flop. Davies, meanwhile, had a bigger stack and a bigger hand — AdKd — but had the misfortune to slam into Karim Rebei’s pocket kings.

Davies was the official bubble boy, but everyone else locked up a minimum $45,800.

Ben Heath perished one off the bubble
Seth Davies was the official bubble boy

Rebei was an enormous chip leader at this stage. The Triton newcomer, representing Algeria, had close to double the stack of his closest challenger and seemed like an absolute lock for the final, if not the title itself.

However, as he later related to friends on the rail, he went card dead for three hours – yet also took his job as chip leader seriously and attempted to knock out short stacks. The result was that he hit the rail in 11th, swept away before the final alongside other newcomers Stoyan Madanzhiev, Dylan Linde and Enzo Vito, as well as Triton stalwarts including Mike Watson, Adrian Mateos and Henrik Hecklen.

When Orpen Kisacikoglu busted in 10th, we hit the final table.

Event 1 final table (clockwise from top left): Nicolas Chouity, Robert Heidorn, Tobias Schwecht, Christopher Putz, Alex Boika, Santhosh Suvarna, Salahaddin Bedir, Sam Greenwood, Igor Yaroshevskyy.

AS is typical in these events, only a handful of players had stacks at this stage that could be considered comfortable, while most had fewer than 20 blinds. Yaroshevskyy was bossing, with Chouity close behind, and the POY-chasing Sam Greenwood in third.

At the other end, the final table short stack was Christopher Putz, and although he managed to chip up slightly, he was still the first out. He he lost the vast majority of his remaining chips when Alex Boika doubled up with a full house, and the remaining crumbs went to Chouity. Putz’s debut Triton score was worth $91,600.

Christopher Putz was first out from the final

Boika’s bounce didn’t last all that much longer. The Belorussian player, also making his first appearance on the Triton Series, hit the rail in eighth after losing a flip against Greenwood. Greenwood opened his button with AdKd and Boika pushed for 15 BBs from the small blind with pocket threes.

Greenwood missed his overcards, but the board was smothered in diamonds, and Boika was flushed away. He marks his new Triton card with a $115,000 score.

Alex Boika: Good score for a debutant

A third debutant, Tobias Schwecht, hit the rail in seventh. His elimination hand played out with a degree of drama as it required a showdown of three hands. Greenwood open-shoved his button, with AdTh. He had two tiny stacked players in the blinds, so it was a predictable play.

Schwecht looked down at Kh8h and committed his four big blinds. That might have been it had Salahaddin Bedir, in the big blind, not found pocket kings, with which he was more than happy to risk his last 10 blinds.

Those kings held, which sent Schwecht out, earning $156,400, and put a dent in Greenwood. Bedir, meanwhile, more than doubled up.

Tobias Schwecht hit the rail in seventh

Bedir’s newfound wealth allowed him to take a backseat as Greenwood set about chipping up again. He did so thanks to the demise of Robert Heidorn, who perished in a way that every other poker player would have perished, given the cards.

Heidorn had AhJd and raised from the cutoff. Greenwood called on the button with KdQd. After an all-heart flop — Kh4h8h — the remainder of Heidorn’s chips went in. Greenwood called.

There were no more hearts to be seen, however, nor an ace. It meant that this one went to Greenwood, while $211,300 went to Heidorn.

Robert Heidorn bust just before the dinner break

As further indication of how shallow this was playing, Greenwood now moved into second in the chip counts, but also then moved next out the door. Greenwood lost a massive pot in doubling up Santhosh Suvarna after Suvarna opened with red pocket eights and Greenwood shoved from the small blind with As5s.

The flop couldn’t have been much better for Greenwood without giving him the win. It cam 2sQc4s. But it way maybe a case of too-many-outs syndrome after the turn and river bricked and vaulted Suvarna to the chip lead.

Greenwood had one big blind left and Chouity took that two hands later. Greenwood banked $272,500 and a healthy chunk of Player of the Year points. However, registration was closed on Event 2, so he wandered into the night for a rare night off.

Plenty of POY points for Sam Greenwood
Big moment for Santhosh Suvarna

With four left, the stacks had evened out. No one had more than 40 blinds; no one had less than 29. Any pot that went to a flop changed things at both top and bottom of the counts.

This was a great time for Suvarna to find another gear. Having weathered the early storms, the Indian player suddenly became the dominant force and watched his chip graph trend upward and upward. He took a massive pot from Yaroshevskyy when the Ukrainian bet on every street looking at a board of Qs3s8h9dQh. Suvarna called all the way, until he raised the river. Yaroshevskyy nodded his head and folded.

The reason for all this? Suvarna flopped two pair with his QdQc and filled up on the river. Yaroshevskyy was bluffing with his Th6c.

Yaroshevskyy didn’t have the option of a dignified retreat on the next hand, however, when he shoved with pocket sixes and Suvarna called with KsJd. There was a jack on the flop and a king on the turn and Yaroshevskyy was done.

He earned a tidy $339,500 from his first try at the Triton Series, but it ended there.

Disappointment for Igor Yaroshevskyy

With only three players remaining, none of whom had been in this kind of position in a Triton event before, they asked tournament staff what they could do to remove some of the variance. The players seemed happy to agree to a deal they had negotiated personally and let Suvarna take the trophy. But with two trophies actually on the line (the regular one and the GG Millions trophy), as well as the Shamballa Jewels bracelet, they learned that they couldn’t just finish things there and then. They needed to leave a significant amount to play for and play it out.

They looked at the official even so, and after some friendly gesticulating agreed speedily on how they would chop it. It was neither ICM nor a chip-chop, and was more than slightly controversial. Suvarna was an enormous chip leader, but agreed to lock up $630,000. Chouity, was the most experienced player, and earned himself $636,000, while Bedir was guaranteed $620,000.

The last three discuss a deal

There was $70,000 and all that bling still to play for.

Suvarna wore a huge smile despite having given up quite a lot of money; Chouity was keen to get back to it; and Bedir banged his chest, Tarzan-like, and called over to his friends in another tournament. Everyone seemed very happy indeed.

Players had intimated at this point that part of the deal meant they were happy to let Suvarna have the trophy. He desperately wanted it, and had apparently given up such a large portion of his equity to guarantee it. Bedir and Chouity seemed less concerned about that and were content to let the chip leader get what he wanted, handing him the chips if necessary.

Deal-maker extraordinaire Nicolas Chouity
Selahaddin Bedir: Deal maker II

Tournament director Luca Vivaldi explained that it wasn’t really something the series wanted. Triton titles are prestigious and worth fighting for, and he encouraged the last three to play in the spirit of the game, while admitting he was powerless to stop them doing whatever they wanted. He repeated in public that he thought the deal was not strictly fair. His concerns were listened to, the players thanked him, but then got on with their plan.

Within two hands, it was done. Suvarna had As7s and made a flush on a board of 3s6sKd4s4h. Bedir and Chouity got their chips in but they couldn’t beat that flush.

With that, this festival is up and running. Congratulations Santhosh Suvarna: India’s first Triton champion.

Suvarna celebrates with Triton commentator Ali Nejad and GG Ambassador Bertrand Grospellier


Event #1 – $25,000 NLH GG Super Millions Live
Dates: May 10-11, 2023
Entries: 158 (inc. 57 re-entries)
Prize pool: $3,950,000

1 – Santhosh Suvarna, India – $700,000
2 – Nicolas Chouity, Lebanon – $636,000
3 – Salahaddin Bedir, Turkey – $620,000
4 – Igor Yaroshevskyy, Ukraine – $339,500
5 – Sam Greenwood, Canada – $272,500
6 – Robert Heidorn, Germany – $211,300
7 – Tobias Schwecht, Germany – $156,400
8 – Alex Boika, Belarus – $115,000
9 – Christopher Putz, Germany – $91,600

10 – Orpen Kisacikoglu, Turkey – $77,000
11 – Karim Rebei, Algeria – $77,000
12 – Henrik Hecklen, Denmark – $67,100
13 – Kevin Paque, Netherlands – $67,100
14 – Dao Minh Phu, Vietnam – $61,200
15 – Enzo Vito, UK – $61,200
16 – Mike Watson, Canada – $55,300
17 – Sergio Aido, Spain – $55,300
18 – Brian Kim, USA – $49,700
19 – Viacheslav Buldygin, Russia – $49,700
20 – Stoyan Madanzhiev, Bulgaria – $49,700
21 – Patrik Antonius, Finland – $45,800
22 – Dylan Linde, USA – $45,800
23 – Adrian Mateos, Spain – $45,800

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive