Champion Richard Yong!

The Triton Super High Roller Series family is celebrating tonight after a famous victory for its co-founder Richard Yong in the first short deck event of this trip to North Cyprus.

Although Yong is often less prominent than his friend and partner Paul Phua in Triton’s tournaments and cash games, his passion for poker is undiminished, and he is a mean short deck player. Yong tonight beat a field of 38 entries, comprising the best players in the world, to win a second Triton title of his career and bank $323,000.

The money is perhaps of secondary concern. Yong epitomises the VIP side of Triton’s exceptional brand: he’s a player who does this for the fun, for the love of the game. If he is on the wrong side of the deck, no big deal. But when he wins, it’s time to celebrate.

“I know everybody like Triton Series tournaments because everybody is very friendly, like family,” said the man affectionately known as Mr. Richard. “I would like to see Triton go up and up. Be strong, the best in the world.”

After a hasty start to today’s final table, in which four players were knocked out in double-quick time, Yong had to survive multiple all-in encounters during a topsy-turvy heads-up battle with Chris Brewer, that lasted more than two hours. Yong won all the most crucial pots, denying Brewer a second victory of this series. Brewer took everything in fine spirits, ambling away from the tournament stage with a chuckle and allowing Yong to revel in the accolades.

“Short deck is easy for me to play, because full deck has a lot of super players and it’s difficult for me to beat them,” Yong said. “They’re so good and so young. I’m the old man. I can just play this gamble game, very fast.”

He added that Triton was a passion project for him and Phua, which just continues to get better every day.

“When we learned poker, me and Paul liked to play tournaments everywhere,” he said. “So we started Triton and we are very happy that Triton has grown so much.”

There will be no more popular champion this year.

Ticker-tape celebrations for Richard Yong


After the bubble burst last night, with Danny Tang finishing in seventh, play resumed this afternoon with six players involved and some familiar names near the top of the counts. In case you don’t recognise them, they include a four-time Triton champion, two previous winners from here in Cyprus, a man still chasing the Player of the Year title, plus the Triton co-founder, of course.

The stacks were as follows:

Mike Watson – 2.92m (146 antes)
Stephen Chidwick – 2.38m (119 antes)
Chris Brewer – 2.095m (105 antes)
Richard Yong – 2.08m (104 antes)
Anson Ewe – 1.12m (56 antes)
Mikita Badziakouski – 810,000 (41 antes)

Event 15 final table players (l-r): Richard Yong, Stephen Chidwick, Mike Watson, Mikita Badziakouski, Anson Ewe, Chris Brewer.

The previous day’s action had concluded with Watson winning a big pot to take the chip lead from Stephen Chidwick. The same thing had happened on the last hand of Monday night, when Watson assumed the chip-lead on the final hand of Day 1 in the PLO event that he later went on to win.

Although it looked ominous for the rest of the field, this Day 2 was cruel to Watson. He went from first in the counts to first out the door after a series of losses in big pots. Firstly, Watson doubled up Mikita Badziakouski, with AdTd losing to Badziakouski’s AhKc.

Watson held firm for a while, but then couldn’t avoid a confrontation with Yong, in a typical hold’em match-up. Watson’s pocket queens lost to Yong’s AdKc when four diamonds came on the board. Yong had marginally more chips and so Watson was eliminated in sixth for $66,500. (He still had his winner’s cap from the previous day, of course.)

Mike Watson, champion yesterday, out first today

Yong’s star was now very much in the ascendent, although he was able to briefly take a back seat to allow Anson Ewe to make his presence felt. Ewe accounted for Badziakouski, whose attempts to move up the counts had stalled. Badziakouski was eliminated with Ah7h, losing to Ewe’s AcJc.

They were all in pre-flop, but the run out gave spectators some thrills. It ran 8hTd6hQs9h. Ewe ended up with a better straight than Badziakouski as the latter’s flush draw also missed. Badziakouski won $85,500 for fifth.

Mikita Badziakouski still looking for a fifth Triton title

Although Chidwick hadn’t been involved in any of these early pots, he had slipped down the leader board as a result of the others all rising. And then he spotted a chance to get his chips in against Brewer, who had also managed to sit most things out. It turned sour for Chidwick as well, however.

Chidwick had QdQc to Brewer’s As7s and the brutal run-out this time came KhKdQsAhKs. Yes, Chidwick flopped a full house, but Brewer ended up rivering a better one when the third king appeared.

Calculations suggest that Chidwick’s fourth place, for which he also won $110,000, should put him back into the lead in the Ivan Leow Player of the Year race. But it may not be enough, with Jason Koon likely to pick up a bonus 100 points for being Player of the Series in Cyprus. That subplot continues to run.

Stephen Chidwick departs in fourth

Brewer was now the man with momentum, and the short deck gods were smiling on him. Brewer picked up JsTs — aka, the short-deck nuts — and found Ewe with AhAd, which is usually enough to get all the chips in in most games.

If you were in any doubt as to the jack-ten’s potency, however, the board of Qc6c9c9d8s should end that. Brewer rivered a winning straight to send Ewe out in third for $143,000.

Anson Ewe sees the funny side as he’s eliminated in third

Brewer, looking for a second title of this trip to North Cyprus, took a lead of 7.33m (183 antes) over Yong’s 4.075m (102 antes). Those were deep stacks to begin heads-up, but this tournament had been tearing along and anything was still possible.

Shortly before heads-up play commenced, Yong, Brewer and Ewe chatted on the rail and joked about how ridiculous the tournament had been so far. Brewer admitted the ace-seven hand, in particular, had been pretty crazy, while Ewe sought confirmation that he was potentially a three-time champion.

“I’ve got to win it yet,” Brewer said.

But then they sat down again and Brewer soon learned that winning it wasn’t going to be easy. He became embroiled in a crazy, yo-yoing fight.

Richard Yong and Chris Brewer heads up

Yong made the early running, picking up a succession of small pots. Brewer turned it around, however, and got the momentum moving back in his direction. Then they had the first major showdown: Yong’s KhQd beating Brewer’s KdTd earning Yong a big double.

It put Yong into the chip lead, 113 antes to 77. But the lead didn’t last long. Brewer found aces a little while later, while Yong had jacks. The money all went in again, and despite Yong’s rail calling for a jack (or as many cards as it took for him to hit one), the board bricked out and the aces held. Advantage Brewer once again.

Yong now had only 40 antes, but he soon scored another double. It was JsTh beating KhTs this time, and stacks were even once more.

Chris Brewer enjoyed the heads-up battle despite eventual defeat

The levels were increasingly quickly now and that took some of the play out of it. Brewer nosed ahead, but Yong doubled up once again, this time turning pocket queens into quads. It was pretty important because Brewer’s Td9d flopped two pair, only for running queens to come on turn and river.

Yong now had the lead once more — and was finally able to land a killer blow. When they got it all in for a final time, it was Yong with the Ah7s and Brewer with the JdJc.

Yong’s rail was being led by Tang, the bubble boy who was now back to support the potential champion. And when the flop came AcQcQs, that rail was delighted.

The turn 6d and river 9d changed nothing, and Yong was crowned.

His previous victory came in Montenegro in 2018, and he finally became champion again from his eighth short-deck final. And one thing we know for sure: he’ll keep coming back.

Jason Koon among the first to congratulate champion Richard Yong

Event #15 – $25,000 Short Deck Ante-Only (Two Bullets)
Dates: May 23-24, 2023
Entries: 38 (inc. 19 re-entries)
Prize pool: $950,000

1 – Richard Yong, Malaysia – $323,000
2 – Chris Brewer, USA – $222,000
3 – Anson Ewe, Malaysia – $143,000
4 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $110,000
5 – Mikita Badziakouski, Belarus – $85,500
6 – Mike Watson, Canada – $66,500

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive