Champion Artsiom Lasouski!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That, quite literally, is all Artsiom Lasouski had to do here in Montenegro at the first Triton stop of his career. The 25-year-old from Belarus has never been to this Super High Roller Series before, and arrived unannounced to play the first three events of the series.

He whiffed Events 1 and 2. But attempt three made him a champion. Lasouski tonight took down the $40,000 Mystery Bounty tournament banking $669,000 — and then added a further $680,000 from his 12 bounties when the draw took place the following day. He is the youngest Triton champion since Linus Loeliger burst onto the scene in 2019, and now has more than $1.3 million in his bankroll to continue his journey.

Not many players sample such success so soon. There are plenty of Triton regulars who have been coming to the tour for many years without ever hoisting a trophy. But Lasouski was the picture of calm in a roller coaster of a final table today, only breaking into grimaces and smiles during a topsy turvy heads up battle with Samuel Ju.

Ju had been down to one big blind at one point of the final, but pulled off a miraculous surge to the point that he could have won it himself. But Lasouski managed to claim that crucial last bounty, the one that came with the title.

“I am very excited about this moment,” Lasouski said, through a translator, at the awards ceremony. “I can’t believe how great it is.”

An emotional winner: Artsiom Lasouski

It will surprise few to learn that Lasouski learned his trade online and that he has some significant results to his name with a mouse in his hand. But this is by some measure his biggest tournament series and, it follows, his biggest win.

Remember, this tournament was only partially done on the first day. The draw for the Mystery Bounty prizes took place the next night, at which point the second half of the prize pool was awarded. Lasouski had 12 of the 47 bounties on offer, knowing that one bounty envelope contained $400,000 and two of $200,000 apiece.

As he left the stage on the opening night, Ju admitted he only had one bounty to pull tomorrow, but said hopefully: “It’s the bounty of Chris Moneymaker. It’s a good one.” It wasn’t really. It was “only” $40,000.

Samuel Ju will pray to turn his one bounty into more riches


The Mystery Bounty element changes poker gameplay in mostly marginal ways–slightly looser calls, perhaps, in touch-and-go spots–but other times it’s more obvious. With bounty tokens not introduced until the second day, far fewer players bust on Day 1 than would normally be the case. They came back for today’s play with 47 players and the bubble still some way off.

Jason Koon scores the bubble-up

After the usual rush of bustouts, with players collecting their first knockout tokens, Jason Koon became one of those to be threatened with elimination on the stone bubble. Luckily for Koon, he had pocket aces and they held. The Sword of Damocles hovered over Paulius Vaitiekunas instead, and his AdJd went up against Anson Ewe’s pocket fives.

Paulius Vaitiekunas can’t bear to look as he falls on the bubble

The dealer showed an ace on the flop but also a five. And Vaitiekunas was drawing dead by the turn. That put everyone left on the right side of the bubble, with dual aims: collect as many bounties as possible and progress to the final table.

Koon slipped back to one big blind, then raced up to 33, but then was knocked out in 18th. Ewe too went out before the final.

The last elimination before the final table sent Sam Grafton heading away. Grafton made a straight draw with 9cTc on a flop of Qh7s8c. But Nikita Kuznetsov had hit a pair of sevens and Grafton couldn’t shift him.

Final table bubble for Sam Grafton

Grafton took $68,000 for ninth and the final table was set. For the third day in a row, the overnight chip leader was top of the charts heading to the final too.


Nikita Kuznetsov – 7,400,000 (74 BBs)
Artsiom Lasouski – 6,250,000 (63 BBs)
Daniel Rezaei – 5,000,000 (50 BBs)
Chris Moneymaker – 3,675,000 (37 BBs)
Samuel Ju – 3,000,000 (30 BBs)
Dylan Linde – 1,975,000 (20 BBs)
Stephen Chidwick – 1,950,000 (20 BBs)
Danny Tang – 925,000 (9 BBs)

Triton Montenegro Event 3 final table players (clockwise from top left): Dylan Linde, Samuel Ju, Artsiom Lasouski, Danny Tang, Chris Moneymaker, Nikita Kuznetsov, Daniel Rezaei, Stephen Chidwick.

Tournament organisers had planned a dinner break at the point the final table was set, but with registration potentially closing soon on Event 5, the last eight in this one unanimously agreed to crack straight on and eat at the table, if they wished.

The two players most anxious to forego dinner were the two shortest stacks — nothing worse than only min-cashing *and* missing reg — and lo and behold, Danny Tang and Stephen Chidwick were the first players out from the final.

Stephen Chidwick busts in eighth, free to take a seat in the next event

As Moneymaker requested a menu, settling in for the long haul, Chidwick ran AcJd into Moneymaker’s pocket jacks to bust in eighth. Then Tang couldn’t get pocket eights to beat Daniel Rezaei’s AsTs, especially when the suited cards made a flush.

Chidwick added $82,000 to his ledger. Tang took $114,000. And, yes, they both made it in time to play the next one.

Danny Tang managed one double, but this time he was out

Despite the bounties in front of all the players still, or perhaps because of them, we had to wait a good couple of hours before the next elimination. Short stacks repeatedly doubled up, with Dylan Linde in particular pulling off a Lazarus-style resurrection when seemingly dead and buried. Meanwhile players like Moneymaker and Kuznetzov bounced up and down the leader board.

Daniel Rezaei mostly sat this out, but had to make a move sooner or later as the blinds began swallowing up his stack. He wasn’t in terrible shape when he opened/called all-in with JcTs agaisnt Artsiom Lasouski’s Ah2h. However any equity he had vanished when the flop brought an ace, and Rezaei’s second final table of the week finished in sixth. He took $156,000 plus whatever he’ll get in bounties.

Another slowdown descended and it resulted in the average stack among the last five slipping t just 15 big blinds. We were once again in that purgatory where any slip up is potentially terminal and a boatload of equity slides away.

Germany’s Samuel Ju, at his first Triton final table, enjoyed and endured both the highs and lows of the experience in quick succession. He shoved with 8s8h and got looked up by Kuznetsov, ending the hand with a straight and a double up.

But two hands later, his chips were in again with Ac8c and this time he lost to Kuznetsov’s pocket jacks. Although he now only had three big blinds and was in the big blind next hand, he must have been thrilled to see Lasouski three-bet shove over Linde’s raise, with Linde not having the stack to do anything but call.

Ju folded and left them to it, and Lasouski’s KcJh made two pair to beat Linde’s Ad2d. That put Linde out in fifth for $202,000 and allowed Ju to see another hand.

Dylan Linde managed to double when staring at elimination

And what a hand it was. Ju found AcJh and was obviously happy to get his chips in after Lasouski shoved his button. Amazingly enough, Kuznetsov called all in from the big blind too, having seen Ad5h.

Lasouski wasn’t bluffing, though. He had AcQc, putting the two others at risk. A jack on the flop saved Ju but Kuznetsov was knocked out. It meant another step up the ladder for Ju as the erstwhile leader bust in fourth for $253,000.

Nikita Kuznetsov was knocked out by the only player who could

Ju had five big blinds now, with Moneymaker sitting with 10 and Lasouski riding high with 60. How long was left in this one now?

Well, Ju certainly wasn’t giving up the ghost. He was all in again on the next hand and turned pocket tens into a flush to beat Lasouski’s ace high. That gave him 12 big blinds and put him in second place, with Moneymaker now on the ropes.

Samuel Ju begins a sensational comeback

Having come back from one big blind himself to win the GG Million$ earlier in the festival, Moneymaker must have appreciated Ju’s escapology skills here. But it was now Moneymaker who fell victim to it. The American shoved the button with Js3d and, with the confidence of someone who could do no wrong, Ju snapped him off with KhTs.

Moneymaker didn’t hit anything and was out in third, adding $311,000 to what is already a very, very good week here in Montenegro.

Chris Moneymaker falls a little short of a second title of the week

What had seemed to be a pushover was now a contest. Ju had a miraculous 20 big blinds entering the heads-up portion of play, with Lasouski sitting with 55. It was a big lead, but one double and the tables would turn. And that’s exactly what happened.

Ju had edged closer when the pair got to a flop of Qd6d8h. A bunch of chips went in there, but the remainder got in the middle after the 5s turn. Lasouski showed his AdKd but it now needed to hit a diamond because Ju’s 8c5c was now two pair. The diamond missed and Ju was now in a significant chip lead.

Artsiom Lasouski can’t bear to watch during heads-up play

Could he close it out now? No. He could not. Lasouski quickly doubled back into the chip lead with KdQs holding against KhTc. But then the pendulum swung back into Ju’s favour after a dry runout kept his JdTd better than Lasouski’s Jh3h.

However, after Lasouski nudged back into the lead, they once again butted heads in a major coup. With a board of 6c3dJd9c9s out there, Lasouski bet enough to put Ju all in.

Ju agonised, but made the call. However, Lasouski’s pocket queens were still better than Ju’s 8s6h. And with that, we have a new champion. Third time lucky.

Artsiom Lasouski can’t quite believe it


Event 5 – $40,000 – Mystery Bounty NLH – 7-Handed
Dates: May 15-16, 2024
Entries: 151 (inc. 52 re-entries)
Prize pool: $6,040,000 (inc. $3,020,000 in bounty pool)

1 – Artsiom Lasouski, Belarus – $1,349,000 (inc. $680,000 in bounties)
2 – Samuel Ju, Germany – $492,000 (inc. $40,000 in bounties)
3 – Chris Moneymaker, USA – $511,000 (inc. $200,000 in bounties)
4 – Nikita Kuznetsov, Russia – $553,000 (inc. $300,000 in bounties)
5 – Samuel Ju, Germany – $282,000 (inc. $80,000 in bounties)
6 – Daniel Rezaei, Austria – $716,000 (inc. $560,000 in bounties)
7 – Danny Tang, Hong Kong – $214,000 (inc. $100,000 in bounties)
8 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $282,000 (inc. $200,000 in bounties)

9 – Sam Grafton, UK – $188,000 (inc. $120,000 in bounties)
10 – Aleksandr Zubov, Russia – $177,500 (inc. $120,000 in bounties)
11 – Danilo Velasevic, Serbia – $217,500 (inc. $160,000 in bounties)
12 – Anson Ewe, Malaysia – $90,000 (inc. $40,000 in bounties)
13 – Andrew Chen, Canada – $50,000
14 – Mario Mosbock, Austria – $85,000 (inc. $40,000 in bounties)
15 – Xianchao Shen, China – $45,000
16 – Pieter Aerts, Belgium – $40,500
17 – Phil Ivey, USA – $40,500
18 – Jason Koon, USA – $36,000
19 – Thomas Santerne, France – $36,000
20 – Roland Rokita, Austria – $36,000
21 – Leon Sturm, Germany – $293,000 (inc. $260,000 in bounties)
22 – Hossein Ensan, Germany – $33,000
23 – Henrik Hecklen, Denmark – $33,000
24 – Alex Boika, Belarus – $30,000
25 – Stoyan Madanzhiev, Bulgaria – $30,000
26 – Benjamin Chalot, France – $30,000
27 – Santhosh Suvarna, India – $30,000

Other bounty winners:

Anvar Muratov – $40,000
Orpen Kisacikoglu – $80,000

Luca Vivaldi and Ali Nejad prepare for the bounty draw

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive