Champion Tan Xuan!

One of Triton Poker’s most captivating favourites tonight secured a second Triton title, nearly five years since he first held aloft the famous trophy.

China’s Tan Xuan has been a stalwart of both tournaments and cash games on this tour since its earliest years, and Triton co-founder Paul Phua was the first player on stage to congratulate him after Xuan won the $50K Short Deck Main Event in Jeju, South Korea.

Phua has crossed swords with Xuan many times during that period, with the enthusiastic crowds who watch the Triton live streams always thrilled to see the 37-year-old at the table. It always means action, aggression and a devil-may-care attitude.

“I’m a loose player, I love the fear of the bluff!” Xuan explained in his winner’s interview.

But just how much Xuan cares was clearly evident tonight in Jeju, where Xuan roared his delight as he hit a winning flush and defeated Martin Nielsen heads-up to book a $922,000 triumph.

He also wins an exclusive Jacob & Co timepiece, only available to winners of Main Events on the Triton Series.

Xuan played a slightly lighter tournament schedule than normal this time around, possibly because of some lively cash game action. But he was focused and committed today, first overhauling a runaway chip leader in the form of Rene Van Krevelen, then beating a short deck specialist, Nielsen, in the final duel.

“Luck is very important, but my experience was bigger than his,” Xuan said, explaining how he navigated through a characteristically tough tournament field. Nielsen landed his first Triton cash, picking up $655,000 for second.

Xuan and Nielsen just about got the tournament wrapped up before the midnight deadline to play the $100K short deck, also starting today in Jeju. But perhaps it’ll be straight back to the cash tables for Xuan, with viewers to expect thrills and spills when the episodes air later this year.

The new champion Tan Xuan begins the celebrations


With 12 players left, it was bubble time and in short order three players were all-in and called. Lun Loon survived with AcKd against Phil Ivey’s KsTs. That was a double up. Then Michael Zhang chopped to survive against Tan Xuan when they both had king-jack.

Sam Greenwood was the third player to be put at risk on the bubble, but was in good shape with KsKd against Ivey’s AcTc. Good shape, that was, until the river. It was As and spelled the end for Greenwood.

Interested parties come over to watch Sam Greenwood learn his fate on the bubble

Ivey’s delight turned to rubble immediately after, when he became the next out, clashing with Van Krevelen. That was one hand in an incredible run for the Dutchman: he subsequently knocked out all of Loon, P Aorigele and Stephen Chidwick to set a final table of seven.

Van Krevelen was a mile ahead and, having seen what Mike Watson did to the other short deck final yesterday, took his seat and hoped to repeat the speedy resolution. (It’s just that some others thought differently.)


Rene Van Krevelen – 13,505,000 (270 antes)
Tan Xuan – 6,875,000 (138 antes)
Martin Nielsen – 2,920,000 (58 antes)
Michael Zhang – 2,040,000 (41 antes)
Jason Koon – 1,680,000 (34 antes)
Zhou Quan – 1,605,000 (32 antes)
Seth Davies – 1,530,000 (31 antes)

Triton Jeju Event 17 final table players (clockwise from back left): Seth Davies, Zhou Quan, Martin Nielsen, Michael Zhang, Tan Xuan, Rene Van Krevelen, Jason Koon.

It certainly started well for the chip leader. Van Krevelen was on hand to send Seth Davies out in seventh. This one started with a raise from Davies, with As9s, continued with a three-bet from Van Krevelen, and then it went shove/call.

Van Krevelen had JcQc, which was technically behind at this point, but quickly caught up through a board of QsTsKc8h9c.

Davies made back-to-back short deck final tables, taking $161,000 from this one.

Seth Davies hit back-to-back short deck finals

Michael Zhang, who had survived with a short stack through the bubble, became Van Krevelen’s next victim. Zhang had managed to double up through Tan Xuan not long ago, which in itself was good news for Van Krevelen as it dented his closest challenger.

And it got even better when Van Krevelen was able to pull off a come-from-behind victory with As9h to beat Zhang’s AdKs. A fair chunk went in pre-flop. Then the rest went in with 7h6cJc on the table.

The 9d in the turn was what really hurt Zhang, and the Qc river proved immaterial. Zhang cashed for $205,000.

Michael Zhang was bad beat out of it in sixth

And then, suddenly, the power dynamic started to shift.

While Van Krevelen sat back for a while, the noose gradually began to tighten around Zhou Quan. Another player with a title this week, Quan lost a massive flip against Martin Nielsen, with queens losing to AcKc, before losing another big one to Tan Xuan.

This one was terminal for Quan: his Jd9d lost to Xuan’s KsQd, which made a straight. Quan talked about how his PLO victory took some of the self-imposed pressure off himself, and this second deep run of the week will have helped some more.

He earned $261,000 for fifth.

Zhou Quan, not quite empty handed, but out in fifth

Xuan now had the bit between his teeth and took over from Van Krevelen had left off. Shortly after knocking out Quan, Jason Koon landed in the crosshairs. Koon has not (yet) won a title here in Jeju this trip, which in itself seems something of a shock for a 10-time champion. But here he was again at a final, and clearly the man everyone feared the most.

But Koon couldn’t quite get this one done, losing after three-bet shipping Ad7d and running into Xuan’s KdKs. This big pot put Xuan into the tournament chip lead, and left Koon looking for $330,000.

Jason Koon: The man in black busts in fourth

Nielsen was now the short stack, but he remedied that pretty quickly with a double through Van Krevelen. Nielsen rivered an ace to help Ah8c beat Van Krevelen’s pocket kings, and to reveal a chink in Van Krevelen’s armour.

Nielsen then pierced that chink again to open a mortal wound: finding pocket queens and flopping a set to beat Van Krevelen’s KdQd. Just like that, there were two players left and Van Krevelen was not among them. The Dutchman picked up $428,000 for third, his second career cash on the Triton Series.

Rene Van Krevelen converted final table chip lead into third place

The two remaining players couldn’t have been more distinct. Nielsen, the short deck specialist from the Faroe Islands, had yet to record a single cash on the Triton Series, having first shown up to play in Madrid in 2022.

By contrast, Xuan has been a stalwart since the earliest days and had one title and 14 cashes to his name already. Stacks were fairly close, promising more play to come:

Nielsen 16,400,000 (164 antes)
Xuan 13,750,000 (138 antes)

Although, as usual, waves pushed chips in both directions, the prevailing tide was in favour of Xuan. He moved into a significant lead when his 7d8c made a straight and then the inevitable big skirmish finally arrived.

Short deck specialist Martin Nielsen finished second

Xuan was behind with AhJh to Nielsen’s AsKd when they got it all-in pre-flop, but celebrated when he saw the 9hJcQh flop. The 6h turn was even better and rendered the Ts river irrelevant.

By that point, Xuan was already shaking hands with Nielsen and admitting, “I got lucky.” But he later told interviewers, “I feel great, awesome,” and there’s no doubt he deserved that.

Congratulations Tan Xuan!

Event #17 – $50K – Short Deck Main Event
Dates: March 19-20, 2024
Entries: 67 (inc. 33 re-entries)
Prize pool: $3,350,000

1 – Tan Xuan, China – $922,000
2 – Martin Nielsen, Faroe Islands – $655,000
3 – Rene Van Krevelen, Netherlands – $428,000
4 – Jason Koon, USA – $330,000
5 – Zhou Quan, China – $261,000
6 – Michael Zhang, UK – $205,000
7 – Seth Davies, USA – $161,000
8 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $125,000
9 – P Aorigele, Portugal – $95,000
10 – Lun Loon, Malaysia – $84,000
11 – Phil Ivey, USA – $84,000

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive