Champion Wiktor Malinowski!

The biggest buy-in tournament on Triton’s latest trip to Montenegro went tonight to one of the biggest stars in poker who hadn’t yet got a title to his name.

Wiktor Malinowski, 29, might not be familiar to everyone, but his online alias “Iimitless” is one of the most feared at the virtual tables, where he is a match for absolutely anyone. He is a relentlessly aggressive player, applying ceaseless pressure on each and every opponent. It sometimes means he flames and dies; other times he burns to the title.

Renowned mostly as a nosebleed cash-game player, he also has a fine tournament resume, and he once had a massive chip lead coming into a Triton Main Event final in Cyprus. That one ended in a third place, but this time he went the distance. And what a time to do it.

The buy-in was $200,000, there was $18.6 million in the prize pool and a first prize of $4,789,000. Malinowski, who was chip leader coming into the final, closed out the tournament by downing Adrian Mateos heads-up. Not many people do that. He even had the confidence to reject a heads up deal.

Wiktor Malinowski and Adrian Mateos come together at the end

When we flesh it out even further, and add the detail that the final table also included Jason Koon, Mikita Badziakouski, Steve O’Dwyer, Mike Watson, Jonathan Jaffe and Nick Petrangelo, you get an idea of how good this victory is.

“The table was very tough,” Malinowski admitted. “Many great players.” But he added that his online schooling gives him the confidence to take on anybody, and to prevail.

“I knew when I was coming to the final the job was not done,” he said. “I had had this chip lead before, so I had to stay focused.

“It’s the best feeling. There are so many moments in poker when it’s not so good, so when you win it feels very special.”

This is his biggest single tournament score, and pushes career earnings past $11 million. It is overdue. His potential is truly limitless.

Wiktor Malinowski: Job done


At the planning stage of the schedule for this trip to Montenegro, organisers weren’t sure whether to schedule two or three days for the $200K event. A buy-in like that may not appeal to the faint hearted. However, it quickly became apparent that the third day was very much the right call as 61 players sat down and put up 93 entries between them. It meant $18.6 million in the prize pool and another almighty event.

Every single seat was filled with a superstar, and even as plenty hit the rail after registration closed, the quality never dipped at all. Only 15 places were due to be paid, however, and so there was serious money quickly on the line.

For Danny Tang, there was even more than that. He is chasing the Player of the Year title, and currently sits at the top of the leader board. But he has players of the calibre of Phil Ivey, Dan Dvoress and Jason Koon breathing down his neck, all of whom will also take to the PLO tables. So it’s not yet a lock for Tang.

His elimination just short of the money in the $200K clearly hurt. And it brought them down to the most nervy stages with 16 players over two tables.

Danny Tang maintains a slender PoY lead

In comparison with previous boisterous bubbles, this one took place in an icy silence for the most part. It wasn’t the buy-in. nor even the €300K+ min-cash, it was more that this was the last no limit hold’em event of the trip and a last chance to make a big score (or get unstuck).

The first player to face the threat of elimination was Bryn Kenney. But he and Steve O’Dwyer had the same hand and chopped. They both ended with a Broadway straight. “Nuts, nuts!” Paul Phua observed, pointing at each player’s hand in turn.

On the outer table, Christoph Vogelsang and Adrian Mateos played a monster. These were the players ranked second and third in the chip counts, so this was serious. Mateos shoved the river, covering Vogelsang, and the German took a while before folding, vaulting Mateos to the top of the counts.

Tough decisions on the bubble for Mikita Badziakouski

O’Dwyer was next with his head on the chopping block. But his pocket queens doubled through Mikita Badziakouski’s AcQs and it left Badziakouski with four big blinds. No fear: he called a min-raise from Jason Koon in the big blind, flopped two pair to double. Then he took Ac6c up against Phua’s AhJs and hit two sixes on the board. That was another double.

The long period of hand-for-hand extended all the way to the scheduled dinner break. So the tournament director sent the last 16 for a 45-minute break as they pondered the bubble.

On their return, it didn’t take too long until Santhosh Suvarna put everyone out of their misery at the expense of his own tournament well-being.

Santhosh Suvarna’s pain is the rest of the field’s gain

Suvarna got his chips in as a three-bet shove with pocket nines over Badziakouski’s open. But Badziakouski called with KhTh to set up a flip, which he then won thanks to two kings appearing on flop and river. Suvarna was the 16th-place finisher. Everyone else could now focus on the final.

Phua bust next. Followed by Patrik Antonius, Ding Biao, Kenney, Vogelsang and finally Stephen Chidwick, which set up the final table. Just look at the quality in the six players who narrowly *missed* the final. This tournament was ridiculously good.

Stephen Chidwick fell one spot short of another final table

But there was only room on the final day for the following:

Wiktor Malinowski – 5,025,000 (63 BBs)
Mikita Badziakouski – 2,665,000 (33 BBs)
Jason Koon – 2,020,000 (25 BBs)
Jonathan Jaffe – 1,945,000 (24 BBs)
Steve O’Dwyer – 1,840,000 (23 BBs)
Mike Watson – 1,785,000 (22 BBs)
Adrian Mateos – 1,585,000 (20 BBs)
Nick Petrangelo – 1,000,000 (13 BBs)
Matas Cimbolas – 770,000 (10 BBs)

Triton Montenegro Event 11 final table players (clockwise from back left): Nick Petrangelo, Matas Cimbolas, Adrian Mateos, Wiktor Malinowski, Mike Watson, Jason Koon, Mikita Badziakouski, Steve O’Dwyer, Jonathan Jaffe

Although he is a familiar face on the tournament tables of Europe, Lithuania’s Matas Cimbolas is a relative newcomer to the Triton Series, making his debut in Jeju and returning for more in Montenegro. He made his way into the money of the Main Event, busting in 16th, and was then still involved during the tense bubble stages of the $200K.

Despite a short stack, Cimbolas mostly stayed out of dangerous situations, navigating his way into the final. And he found a very good hand with which to speculate his last 10 blinds as well: AhKd, against Mike Watson’s KcQc.

Although it was only a virtual all-in pre-flop, the last of Cimbolas’s chips went in on the turn, by which point the dealer had placed a queen on the flop. That marked a come-from-behind win for Watson, and sent Cimbolas away with $483,000, a new Triton best.

Matas Cimbolas got it in good, bust in ninth

Having landed a first Triton title in the Turbo earlier this week, Nick Petrangelo was aiming to lay all his demons to rest with a potential double in the $200K. He had done what was necessary to put himself in with a chance, even if he was another of the short stacks coming into the final.

In the event, this one wasn’t to be for Petrangelo. True to the pattern so far established, Petrangelo got his chips in good — he had AhTc to Wiktor Malinowski’s Ac7c — but a seven on the flop landed a crushing blow for the man known as “Iimitless”.

Petrangelo reached his limit in this one and took $661,000 for eighth.

Nick Petrangelo was back at another Triton final

With the first two players out from this final table getting their money in good, perhaps this was the time to be folding the big hands and getting it in with the worst of it. Certainly the unhappy pattern showed no sign of changing.

Jonathan Jaffe, who was among the players to have changed their original flights to compete in the final day of hold’em, became the next man out, and the next man to lose with the best hand. He got involved in a pre-flop raising battle with Adrian Mateos. After Jason Koon opened, Mateos three-bet, Jaffe cold four-bet fro the small blind and Mateos five-bet jammed.

Koon was long gone, but Jaffe called and learned he was in a dominant position with AdQh to Mateos’ KcQc. But the king fell on the flop to catapult Mateos ahead. There was no change through turn and river and Jaffe was done. He won $865,000.

Tough break for Jonathan Jaffe

The last six places all paid six figures, and all of the remaining players had played for this kind of money many times before. But the average stack was only 25 big blinds and so it was anyone’s game still.

Badziakouski managed to buck the trend of the best hand losing when he got pocket kings to stand up against Mateos’ QdJd when they got it in pre-flop. Badziakouski sweated it out in the company of his girlfriend on the rail, which means he maybe didn’t see the Qh on the turn making it a little bit nervy.

Malinowski had the biggest stack by a long way and so was entering the most pots, knowing his opponents would need to battle for their stacks if they wanted to play. Koon found Ac5s and opened, then called off when Malinowski jammed.

This time Malinowski had it — AhJs — and it held. Koon busted in sixth for $1,098,000.

Jason Koon is stuck on 10 titles after busting this one in sixth

There was a time when Koon and Badziakouski were neck and neck at the top of the Triton all-time champions leader board, before Koon went on a ridiculous run to pull five ahead. But Triton purists will have enjoyed seeing the two of them sitting side by side on another final, even if that particular subplot ended in a bang-bang double.

With Koon gone, Badziakouski became under threat, and he played another major pot against Mateos. This time Mateos had it. Pocket queens beat Ah7c to send Badziakouski out in fifth. He won $1,405,000.

Mikita Badziakouski couldn’t survive one last all-in

Mateos now had a stack to at least try to challenge Malinowski. It was still only half of the Polish player’s, but it was now considerably more than what both O’Dwyer and Mike Watson held. Mateos duly polished off the latter to give himself even more.

Watson has had a headline-grabbing week here in Montenegro, winning one title and bubbling another, before heading to the final of the biggest buy-in event. But Mateos has a knack of hitting card when he needs to (in addition to his immense skills) and Watson felt the truth of that at this final.

Watson shoved Kc7d from the small blind and Mateos called with Jc5d in the big. The jack on the turn was the crunch card and Watson was toast. He took $1,748,000 for fourth.

A long and successful trip for Mike Watson

O’Dwyer had his work cut out with a tiny stack relative to his opponents, but having had comparatively few chips all the way since the bubble, this was already a fine, gritty showing from him. O’Dwyer had little choice but to take a stab, which he did as a three-bet jam after Malinowski had raised his big blind from the small.

O’Dwyer had 9c4c and was behind Malinowski’s Ah3d. He couldn’t catch up and picked up $2.157 million for third.

Steve O’Dwyer shows his hand and awaits his fate

So here they were: Malinowski (94 BBs) against Mateos (30 BBs) for the title. It would be Malinowski’s first or Mateos’ third, and second of the trip.

Not this time, Adrian Mateos

Mateos, as is his wont, rarely backed down and drew stacks closer together. But this was really a case of irresistible force against immovable object. Neither player looked scared for even a second as they clashed with one another again and again.

The final hand came about when Mateos had 8h6d. Malinowski had 8s3h. This would not have been a relevant hand had the dealer not put the 8d4c3c on the flop, followed by the 7h turn and all the money went in.

Triton’s Kate Badurek celebrates victory with fellow Pole Wiktor Malinowski

The Ts river was a blank. And that sent Mateos to the cage for a $3,292,000 second prize. Malinowski banks the biggest total of anyone here in Montenegro this week.


Event 11 – $200,000 NLH – 8-Handed
Dates: May 21-23, 2024
Entries: 93 (inc. 32 re-entries)
Prize pool: $18,600,000

1 – Wiktor Malinowski, Poland – $4,789,000
2 – Adrian Mateos, Spain – $3,292,000
3 – Steve O’Dwyer, Ireland – $2,157,000
4 – Mike Watson, Canada – $1,748,000
5 – Mikita Badziakouski, Belarus – $1,405,000
6 – Jason Koon, USA – $1,098,000
7 – Jonathan Jaffe, USA – $865,000
8 – Nick Petrangelo, USA – $661,000
9 – Matas Cimbolas, Lithuania – $483,000

10 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $390,000
11 – Christoph Vogelsang, Germany – $390,000
12 – Bryn Kenney, USA – $344,000
13 – Ding Biao, China – $344,000
14 – Patrik Antonius, Finland – $317,000
15 – Paul Phua, Malaysia – $317,000

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive