Champion Webster Lim

Triton Vietnam named its first champion tonight as Webster Lim, from Malaysia, beat a record-breaking field to land his second title on this spectacular tour.

But in addition to the 965K payout, the trophy and the Shamballa Jewels bracelet Lim wins, there is no greater honour for him than to now find his picture on the two-time champion banner alongside his friend and mentor, the late Ivan Leow.

Lim was one of the strong contingent of Malaysian players who owe so much of their success to Leow, whose death in Cyprus last year was felt so keenly by everyone in the Triton family.

Lim was among those to offer the warmest tributes to Leow and to be affected most by his absence. The celebratory rail for Lim tonight was full of fellow Malaysians talking about how they felt the presence of their late friend guiding his 30-year-old protege Lim to victory.

Lim himself said: “All my close friends know mine and his relationship. Without him, I wouldn’t be here. So I just want to say that this win is for him. This is for you Ivan. I miss you.”

Lim celebrates his famous success

Lim had previously been a short deck specialist, the variant in which he had won his previous title and recorded most of his eight previous cashes. But Lim was chip leader when the tournament reached its final tonight and never relinquished it, ending with a defeat of Roman Hrabec heads-up.

Hrabec was a Triton first-timer, banking more than 650K in the first tournament he has ever played on the circuit. It was clearly worth the trip for the man from the Czech Republic, who has recently graduated from the online tables to the brick and mortar world.

Debutants made a very strong showing here in Vietnam, boosting the numbers to a record-breaking number of entries, and even cruising in herds into the in-the-money spots. But Hrabec couldn’t beat Lim, and found the Malaysian making a terrific call with Jh3s on a board of 9h2h3h6s9c. Lim called three barrels and was right: Hrabec had only 7c4c. This was a bluff that went awry.

Lim finished him off the next hand with KhTc to Hrabec’s 7c3h.

A fine debut from Roman Hrabec

“It does look like smooth sailing,” Lim said. “I don’t think I lost an all-in. But it’s never easy. My brain is kind of out of juice.”


After the overnight field of 32 shrank to 25, Triton Vietnam played its first bubble. There were a couple of double-ups before Lisawad Pakinai pushed Calvin Lee to risk his whole short stack — and gobbled it up.

After action folded to him in the small blind, Pakinai (who had doubled up through Michael Soyza a few hands earlier) found TsQd and he moved all in for 2.8 million. Lee was the effective stack with less than three big blinds, and KsJh was good enough in the circumstances.

A painful bubble for Calvin Lee

But the turn brought a queen, which gave Pakinai the win, sent Lee out the door and left the remaining 24 with a cash. A remarkable 11 in-the-money spots in this tournament went to players who were making their first ever appearance on the Triton Series, including Pakinai. He went on to win 81K for his 11th place.


The next significant landmark after bursting the bubble was finding a seat at the final table. While some events on the Triton Series play short-handed, this was full ring, and we were looking for nine players.

However, just as Alex Kulev on the feature table was pondering a call for his last 13 big blinds with AdJh, Mario Mosboeck was busing with pocket deuces to Sosia Jiang on the outer table. Kulev stuck his chips in and lost to Webster Lim’s KhQh.

Alex Kulev: Short of the final

It meant two players were knocked out simultaneously — they were both Triton debutants too — and they reconvened with eight after all.

Final table line-up:

Webster Lim, Malaysia – 10.1 million (67 BBs)
Chris Brewer, USA – 8.175 million (55)
Roman Hrabec, Czech Republic – 5.8 million (39)
Sosia Jiang, New Zealand – 4.375 million (29)
Seth Davies, USA – 4,075 million (27)
Nick Petrangelo, USA – 3.625 million (24)
Michael Soyza, Malaysia – 2.850 million (19)
Jonathan Jaffe, USA – 2.5 million (17)

Event 1 final table players (clockwise from top left): Seth Davies, Chris Brewer, Nick Petrangelo, Michael Soyza, Webster Lim, Roman Hrabec, Sosia Jiang, Jonathan Jaffe.


This is the point at which two of GG Poker’s online features made their Triton live circuit debut. Under the “Seat Swap” rules, final table players are offered the opportunity to swap seats. They get one swap only, and they get to pick in ascending chip-stack order — i.e., the chip leader gets last pick.

It gives players the opportunity to improve their table position, but with the big stacks getting to choose last, anyone moving early might have their preference overruled.

These eight guinea pigs hadn’t necessarily given this part of the tournament too much thought, but Brewer ended with position on Petrangelo, who had position on Jaffe. Chip-leading Webster Lim stuck where he was in Seat 1, with position on Hrabec.

All the jostling did seem a little pointless when it came time to bust our first player. In a straight-up pre-flop cooler, Jaffe’s short stack went in with pocket jacks and lost to Davies’ pocket kings. The same would have happened with their stack sizes regardless of position.

Jonathan Jaffe hits the rail

Jaffe, the overnight chip leader, picked up 121K.


Petrangelo and Soyza then played out the next major pot, and again, table positions probably didn’t matter so much. Soyza found AdJd and opened from the cutoff. Petrangelo, with AhQh, moved all in, covering Soyza’s 2 million stack.

Soyza called it off, lost, and then picked up 164K.

Another final table for Michael Soyza

That left us with six and, for this particular tournament, player numbers took on an even greater significance than usual. One of the other rules imported from the GG online tables governed the length of the levels. Instead of being dictated by time, as is customary, the levels here depended on how many hands were played.

During eight, seven and six-handed play, they would see 15 hands before raising the blinds. When there were five or four players left, a level would last for 14 hands. And when there were three or fewer players, a level was 13 hands long.

The tournament clock ground to a halt and reduced now in stuttering steps. Meanwhile the dealer kept a manual track of the hands dealt since the last blind level by shifting a chip from one end of a rack to another. Just one more thing for the tournament staff to take care of.

The dealer keeps count of when to raise the level


Regardless of the mechanism, the blind increases were eating up the players. Them and Webster Lim. In short order, Lim sent Sosia Jiang and Nick Petrangelo to the rail in sixth and fifth place, with Petrangelo in particular delighted to be visiting a cashier to pick up 286,300.

As baffling as it sounds, this was the first time Petrangelo had ever cashed on the Triton Series, and he’d played more tournaments than he’d care to mention. No one doubts Petrangelo’s immense talents, but he’d been on the wrong side of Triton variance for a little too long.

Sosia Jiang sees the bad news

After Jiang lost with Ad5d to Lim’s KsJs — Lim ended up with two pair; Jiang with 222,000 for sixth — Petrangelo got his last chips in with Ac9c.

Lim had pocket jacks to end Petrangelo’s run. But the latter’s long cashless streak ended on his 23rd try, dating through more than three years.

Nick Petrangelo ends a long Triton dry spell


Chris Brewer has had a stellar start to 2023 with a string of high-profile results already. His presence deep in yet another high buy-in event was no surprise. He has bounced back in spectacular fashion after essentially quitting the game after Triton Cyprus last year, and is barely putting a foot wrong.

He kept up that fine streak with the elimination in fourth place of the Triton stalwart Seth Davies, but he got caught in a huge bluff by Lim not long after to land himself on the rail in third.

Davies’ knockout was indicative of Brewer’s current purple patch. Brewer found pocket eights and raised his button. Davies picked up pocket nines in the small blind and three-bet, with Brewer then pushing over the top.

Seth Davies loses with an overpair

Davies had the smaller stack — around 18 big blinds — but called off, only to see Brewer hit an eight and win with the under pair. Davies took 357,000.

However it wasn’t long until Brewer had his wings clipped. He and Lim built an enormous pot through a board of Ah3s9c | Jc | Ad, with Lim betting and Brewer calling.

But Lim checked the river, prompting Brewer to scent weakness and move all but all in, leaving only a single blind behind. Lim called and showed that he did indeed have the ace. He had Ac8s. Brewer’s 5h2h showed plenty of courage, but not much else.

Brewer was out a couple of hands later, running a micro-stack into Hrabec’s aces.

Chris Brewer is running hot despite a failed bluff

That left the two of them heads-up: the newcomer and the old hand, but Lim was not for moving.

With that, this incredible festival got off to a flying start. This debut event in Vietnam set a new record for tournament entries, with 166 bettering the previous biggest field by 35. It meant those remarkable 11 in-the-money spots taken by players who were making their first ever appearance on the Triton Series.

Seven years since its inception, Triton continues to build at a precipitous rate — but all these newbies will not have it all their own way as long as players like Lim continue to play.

Lim was an amazingly popular champion

Event #1 – 25,000 GG Super Millions
Dates: March 1-2, 2023
Entries: 166
Prize pool: 4,150,000

1 – Webster Lim, Malaysia – 965,000
2 – Roman Hrabec, Czech Republic – 653,600
3 – Chris Brewer, USA – 435,500
4 – Seth Davies, USA – 357,000
5 – Nick Petrangelo, USA – 286,300
6 – Sosia Jiang, New Zealand – 222,000
7 – Michael Soyza, Malaysia – 164,000
8 – Jonathan Jaffe, USA – 121,000

9 – Alex Kulev, Bulgaria – 96,300
10 – Mario Mosboeck, Austria – 81,000
11 – Lisawad Pakinai, Thailand – 81,000
12 – Phachara Wongwichit, Thailand – 70,500
13 – Patrik Antonius, Finland – 70,500
14 – Keat Liu Chun, Malaysia – 64,300
15 – Jitrada Boonnak, Thailand – 64,300
16 – Daniel Smiljkovic, Germany – 58,100
17 – Michael Watson, Canada – 58,100
18 – Pablo Brito, Brazil – 52,300
19 – Tan Xuan, China – 52,300
20 – Markus Leikkonen, Finland – 52,300
21 – Erik Seidel, USA – 48,200
22 – Yan Liu, China – 48,200
23 – Alan Zheng, Australia – 48,200

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive