Champion David Yan!

The biggest buy-in event of the Triton London Series so far produced yet another final table of ridiculously high quality from which New Zealand’s David Yan emerged victorious for a famous first Triton triumph.

This one was very hard won.

Despite the huge buy-in, the tournament attracted a massive field and Yan had to keep his composure past 3.30am local time, a titanic 14-hour session. He had to endure a turbulent heads-up battle against Argentina’s Nacho Barbero, who had the chip lead when the last three players agreed upon a deal.

It meant that Yan took $3,052,002 to Barbero’s $3,445,807, with Espen Jorstad, the third party to the arrangement, locking up $2,766,191. They only came to that agreement after previous negotiations between the last four failed to satisfy all parties. It stalled action for around an hour and contributed to the fatigue.

For all that, this final table was one for the ages, featuring not only the three eventual podium finishers, but form player Chris Brewer, Triton greats Timothy Adams and Danny Tang, and fearsome Europeans Aleks Ponakovs and Juan Pardo. Yan admitted that he hadn’t expected to prevail so soon on the Triton Series, having only played his first event in Vietnam earlier this year.

“It’s three stops,” Yan said. “It’s been an OK amount of tournaments but you still have to be really lucky. I’m over the moon, obviously.”

He is preparing to play the Luxon Invitational tomorrow, which is set to be even bigger than this one, but said he hopes today’s exploits can roll over.

“I am a believer in momentum so I hope I can keep it up,” Yan said. Referencing the rest of this series, he added: “We’re only half way through so there’s still a lot of poker to be played.”

The momentum is with David Yan

But this is a significant boost to bankroll and confidence, and Yan is perfectly placed to make the most of both.


The $200,000 buy-in for this tournament marked it out as the biggest open event of the festival. And it duly attracted all the names you would expect, including a handful who crammed themselves in at the final opportunity this afternoon.

By the time registration closed, there were 81 entries, including 30 re-entries, which put an enormous $16.2 million in the prize pool. The top spot was worth $4.3 million. No one bar the winner of the Luxon Invitational will get that kind of money this week.

Most of those last-gasp entries were unable to turn their handful of blinds into a cash. Yuri Dzievielski, for example, played only one hand. But this was the kind of tournament where there was no shame in busting before the money. Three of this weeks winners — Jason Koon, Fedor Holz and Ole Schemion — as well as Phil Ivey, all crashed out before the money.

With a so-called min-cash worth $325,000, the bubble was one of those that took a good long while to burst. Seth Gottlieb cracked Tim Adams’ jacks to double; Dan Dvoress found aces to double his own short stack and stay alive.

When the bubble finally burst, it sent four-time champion Mikita Badziakouski to the rail. He had been one of the biggest stacks overnight, but shoved with pocket sevens on the button, got a call from Espen Jorstad in the small blind with AsKd, and then saw the dealer put a king on the river.

A huge bubble to suffer for Mikita Badziakouski

Badziakouski has probably given up on the idea of catching Koon’s Triton trophy haul, but this kind of thing really doesn’t help his cause.

The pre-bubble short stacks were now able to play with slightly less anxiety, but all of Christoph Vogelsang, Dvoress and Sam Grafton will still have been disappointed to hit the rail before the final table.

They were homing in on that stage of proceedings when a dinner break was also imminent, and it wasn’t clear initially which would come first. But then all of a sudden two players hit the rail simultaneously: Seth Gottlieb busted to Danny Tang with QcJc < AhTc, and Seth Davies perished at the hands of Chris Brewer. This one was AdKc < pocket sevens. It was a very bad couple of minutes to be named Seth. The final eight was therefore confirmed, and lined up as follows: Espen Jorstad - 61 BBs Nacho Barbero - 46 BBs David Yan - 38 BBs Chris Brewer - 37 BBs Danny Tang - 37 BBs Tim Adams - 23 BBs Aleks Ponakovs - 15 BBs Juan Pardo - 13 BBs Final Table Players[/caption]

As you would expect at a final table where every pay jump is plenty more than $150K, the tempo was a good deal more measured here than in other events (particularly in comparison with the boisterous turbo taking place in the same room).

Even so, Juan Pardo wasn’t able to grind up a short stack. He was patient, but also card dead. Pardo was eliminated in eighth, taking $600,000, after taking a stand after David Yan’s opening raise. Pardo’s Kh6c was dominated by Yan’s KcTh and there were no surprises on the flop.

Eighth place for Juan Pardo

Aleks Ponakovs had managed to keep himself afloat with some well-timed shoves, and bought himself enough time to ladder up at least one more spot. That’s because the North American pair of Tim Adams and Chris Brewer went to war, with the latter this time landing on the receiving end.

Brewer has been running oven hot this summer, but he couldn’t win a crucial flip at this final table. Adams’ AsQs spiked a queen on the flop to beat Brewer’s pocket tens, and that left Brewer as the shortest stack. Danny Tang took the last crumbs of Brewer’s chips, while Brewer picked up $770,000 for his seventh place.

Chris Brewer’s face says it all

Ponakovs was back with the short stack, but a double through Nacho Barbero soon helped his cause and left the Argentinian with 10 big blinds. There were still six players left and not all that many chips split between them. It was the kind of situation that can sometimes prompt a hastening of the pace.

So it proved as Ponakovs and then Danny Tang departed in quick succession, and Barbero more than doubling up to move in the opposite direction. David Yan knocked out Ponakovs with Kh8c beating Ac2c. They were all in pre-flop, but Yan hit his king.

Aleksejs Ponakovs bids farewell

Barbero doubled through Yan to give himself some breathing space, and then took another massive leap by knocking out Tang. This one also went in pre-flop, with Barbero’s AdKd ending with a straight to beat Tang’s Ac8s.

Ponakovs won $970,000, while Tang became the first millionaire from this event. He won $1,247,000.

A seven-figure score for Danny Tang

After a few more orbits of play, the stacks continued to even out. Barbero actually pulled ahead, and the four players agreed to look at the numbers with the prospect of making a deal. They had the following stacks at this point, and it took the best part of an hour to negotiate:

Yan – 34 BBs
Barbero – 45 BBs
Adams – 20 BBs
Jorstad – 30 BBs

When they finally emerged from their concave, which included phone calls to backers, the had reached an impasse. There would be no deal. However, very shortly after, Adams perished at the hands of Barbero, and the negotiations started again.

Adams lost all of his chips to Barbero, in back to back pots. In the first, Barbero pushed Adams off with a shove on the flop. On the second, Adams couldn’t get pocket nines to hold against Barbero’s 6h4h. Barbero turned a flush.

Adams took $1,550,000 for fourth. It was less than he had been offered in the deal, but that’s all part of the calculation.

Timothy Adams out in fourth

Barbero now had 55 big blinds, which was more than Yan and Jorstad combined. They tried again to do the deal — and this time they succeeded. Barbero locked up $3,445,807; Yan would get $2,952,002 and Jorstad was guaranteed $2,766,191. There was $100,000 to play for, plus the trophy.

They also agreed to trim the length of the levels, with the clock ticking past 2am and all of them booked to play the Luxon Invitational in less than 12 hours. The modified structure seemed to have the desired effect as chips started to fly around much more readily.

Jorstad took a bit of an early hit, but then landed on the wrong side of a cooler that turned into a rough beat. He had pocket queens when Yan had pocket nines, and they got it in pre-flop.

Four hearts on the board matched the only heart in Yan’s hand and that was a flush. Jorstad’s incredible week continues, but he had to settle for this and the $2,766,191 he had already been guaranteed.

No more Espen Jorstad

The elimination of Jorstad put Yan into the chip lead. It was 47 BBs to 34. But they played about another hour before the next major confrontation: an all-in pre-flop encounter in which Barbero’s Ac3h stayed good against Yan’s Ks9s. By this point it was past 3am, and Barbero now had a four-to-one chip lead.

In they went again.

Yan this time had Kd8h, with Barbero turning over Qd2h. Another dry board and Yan doubled back. It was now just a two-to-one advantage.

They weren’t hanging around any more, however. The very next hand and they were all in again, this time Yan’s Ah8s taking a big advantage over Barbero’s Ac6d.

Nacho Barbero took the most despite heads-up defeat

Yan flopped two pair, faded a straight draw, and retook the chip lead.

That wasn’t the end of it, of course. When Barbero was down to 10 big blinds, he doubled up once more. This time Ks7d remained ahead of Qd8c. Was another comeback on its way?

This time, finally, it was not. The next time they got their chips in, the player with the best hand had the most chips. Yan was sitting with Ad4c while Barbero had Kh6c and the dealer didn’t have any more tricks up his sleeve.

Barbero slunk away, but must be happy with another exceptional payday. Yan picks up his biggest Triton payday too, plus the first trophy of his career and a first for New Zealand.

Just another day on this most remarkable poker series…

Event #7 – $200,000 NLH 8-Handed
Dates: August 1-2, 2023
Entries: 81 (inc. 30 re-entries)
Prize pool: $16,200,000

1 – David Yan, New Zealand – $3,052,002*
2 – Nacho Barbero, Argentina – $3,445,807*
3 – Espen Jorstad, Norway – $2,766,191*
4 – Tim Adams, Canada – $1,550,000
5 – Danny Tang, Hong Kong – $1,247,000
6 – Aleks Ponakovs, Latvia – $970,000
7 – Chris Brewer, USA – $770,000
8 – Juan Pardo, Spain – $600,000
9 – Seth Davies, USA – $453,000

10 – Seth Gottlieb, USA – $348,000
11 – Sam Grafton, UK – $348,000
12 – Daniel Dvoress, Canada – $325,000
13 – Christoph Vogelsang, Germany – $325,000

*denotes three-way deal

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive