Champion Anatoly Zlotnikov!

Two Triton first-timers played deep into the North Cyprus night tonight, eventually settling the first $25,000 single-day turbo event of the festival with a heads-up deal and a rapid conclusion.

The winner was Anatoly Zlotnikov, completing a Russian double on Monday night after his countryman Viacheslav Buldygin took down the $50K tournament that ran alongside this action-packed turbo.

Zlotnikov beat Niko Koop heads up, a matter of minutes after the pair decided to chop the prize money and lock up close to $500K apiece. With $16,000 on the side for the winner, Zlotnikov walked away with $496,100 to Koop’s $480,100.

Both players bettered their entire previous tournament cashes in one fell swoop, giving Triton another new champion to add to its glittering roster. Zlotnikov, whose previous best tournament score was $69,000, will now find his photo alongside the megastars that make the Triton Series their home.


There were 83 entries to the event, including 19 re-entries, the rate of which sped up as the end of the registration period approached. Of course, entering or indeed re-entering didn’t guarantee anything, and many of the world’s best players were scattered aside before the money even got close.

Much as in the $50k event taking place at the same time, this turbo raced through its bubble and then landed at a final table in double-quick time.

Ding Biao knocked out both Fedor Holz and Robert Kuhn on the same hand, trimming the field of 13 down to the 11 who would be paid. Biao had pocket jacks as Holz shoved with a raggy queen and Kuhn reshoved with AsQs. The jacks held.

A massage rudely interrupted for Fedor Holz
Robert Kuhn was looking for a triple up, ended up looking for the door

After Damir Zhugralin and Dylan Linde went out on the next two hands, it was time for a group hug — sorry, group photo — and time to play some more turbo poker for heaps.

The stacks entering the final looked like this:

Ding Biao — 71 BBs
Niko Koop — 68 BBs
Paul Phua — 61 BBs
Elton Tsang — 39 BBs
Barak Wisbrod — 29 BBs
Linus Loeliger — 21 BBs
Anatoly Zlotnikov — 20 BBs
Phil Nagy — 13 BBs
Santhosh Suvarna — 9 BBs

Event 7 final table players (l-r) Biao Ding, Linus Loeliger, Barak Wisbrod, Anatoly Zlotnikov, Paul Phua, Santhosh Suvarna, Phil Nagy, Elton Tsang, Niko Koop.

The final table was, of course, intriguing — made all the moreso by the presence of two players who had already won tournaments this week: Ding and Suvarna. They were bookending the counts at this stage, but things can change so quickly.

They certainly changed for Elton Tsang. He went from middle of the pack to out first, losing a big one to Loeliger’s pocket queens (Tsang had pocket fours), and then being bounced for good by Barak Wisbrod. This time Tsang ran into kings.

After a surprisingly long period without an elimination, Survana then did take the fall. It came after another three-way all-in, with Koop knocking out India’s Triton champion, and doubling up through Zlotnikov at the same time.

Koop had pocket eights, Zlotnikov had AdKd and Suvarna had Tc2d. Suvarna’s tribute to Doyle Brunson didn’t help him today, and even a king wasn’t enough for Zlotnikov. Koop was the only player with a spade and there were four on the board. Survana won $77,800.

Niko Koop was the dominant force for a long time at the final

If further proof was necessary about how volatile this kind of tournament can be, it came when the next player knocked out was Ding. He had been sitting pretty at the start of the final table, but took a big dip when Wisbrod doubled through his big slick with pocket jacks. Then Ding tried to outlast the blinds going up until he decided to get it in with Ah5h, only to lose to Zlotnikov’s pocket sevens.

Ding, who won the mystery bounty event, picked up another $99,600 for seventh place in this one.

Phil Nagy was next to depart. The ACR founder was treating this tournament like a home game, and thoroughly enjoying every up and down. He experienced his fair share of both, until he called all-in from the button after Koop had open-shoved, and found out he had a dominated ace.

Nagy’s As9c never caught up against Koop’s AcJs. Nagy has four previous Triton Series cashes, and this one earned him another $126,500.

Koop had a decent strategy of shoving any two cards with short stacks behind him, and it accounted for the ever-dangerous Loeliger soon after. Koop shipped, even though he had only the Qs4s. Loeliger knew he had a very good chance of being ahead with his AcJd.

However, Koop flopped a queen and rivered a superfluous four, making two pair and sending Loeliger out. He picked up $161,900.

Zlotnikov wasn’t to be outdone either, and he did his bit by eliminating Wisbrod next. This one was a straight flip, with Zlotnikov’s KcTd beating Wisbrod’s 4d4s. Wisbrod was cashing for the first time on the Triton Series and earned $204,500.

Paul Phua is not only Triton’s founder, he is one of the tour’s most successful players. However, he only managed one cash in Vietnam — meagre by his standards — and hadn’t yet cashed through five tournaments here. That simply wasn’t like Phua.

He remedied things in this turbo, lasting all the way to third. He could go no further, however, and lost with 9s8s to Zlotnikov’s AdQh. Phua earned $265,600 for this one.

With stacks all but even heads-up — Zlotnikov’s 35 BBs versus Koop’s 31 BBs — the duo decided to look at the numbers. Both were playing at their first Triton stop, and were in the money for the first time. They locked up $480,100 each, leaving $16,000 on the side to play for.

Heads up players make a deal

It really didn’t take long. On one of the first hands of heads-up play, Koop got it in with pocket tens and Zlotnikov had Kh8h. Without the kerfuffle of a TV production to worry about, the flop, turn and river was quick. And a Kd in the window was decisive.

There will be more turbo action later in the series, but for now let’s congratulate our latest winner: Anatoly Zlotnikov.

Latest Triton champion: Anatoly Zlotnikov

Event #7 – $25,000 NLH 8-Handed Turbo
Dates: May 15, 2023
Entries: 83 (inc. 19 re-entries)
Prize pool: $2,075,000

1 – Anatoly Zlotnikov, Russia – $496,100*
2 – Niko Koop, Germany – $480,100*
3 – Paul Phua, Malaysia – $265,600
4 – Barak Wisbrod, Israel – $204,500
5 – Linus Loeliger, Switzerland – $161,900
6 – Phil Nagy, USA – $126,500
7 – Biao Ding, China – $99,600
8 – Santhosh Suvarna, India – $77,800
9 – Elton Tsang, Hong Kong – $59,100
10 – Dylan Linde, USA – $51,900
11 – Damir Zhugralin, Kazakhstan – $51,900

*denotes heads-up deal

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive