Jason Koon stands alone as the most accomplished Triton Poker player ever. Koon already held the record for the most titles on the high-stakes tour with six, having added to that total with a victory in the $20,000 seven-max event at the 2023 Triton Super High Roller Series North Cyprus festival on May 12. Just ten days later, Koon managed to extend his lead even further when he emerged victorious in the $100,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event at the series, earning a record-extending seventh title and the top prize of more than $2.4 million. He now has a three-title lead on second-ranked Mikita Badzakiakouski, who has four wins on the tour.
“This is a dream come true for me. When I first started playing these [Triton events], it was a dream to even be in them. I don’t know why I’ve gotten to run so good in these big spots, but I definitely don’t take it for granted. I feel blessed, and it’s something I’ll never forget,” Koon told Triton reporter Ali Nejad after coming out on top.
Koon has now cashed for nearly $21.8 million in Triton events, making him the second-highest earnings player on the tour as well. He trails only Bryn Kenney, who secured nearly $20.6 million of his $30.6 million in total earnings on the tour when he made a heads-up deal in the largest buy-in tournament ever held: the £1,050,000 Triton London Charity Invitational.
This latest win brought Koon’s overall lifetime tournament earnings to $46.9 million, enough to see him surpass David Peters to move into fifth place on poker’s all-time money list.
This tournament ran over the course of three days. With 101 entries, the prize pool swelled to $10,100,000. Only the top 15 finishers made the money, with players like two-time Triton winner Chris Brewer (15th – $175,00), two-time bracelet winner Fedor Holz (13th – $190,000), four-time bracelet winner Michael Addamo (12th – $190,000), current POY race leader Nacho Barbero (11th – $215,000), and two-time bracelet winner Aleksejs Ponakovs (10th) all making them money but falling short of the final table.
The final table was arguably one of the most accomplished in poker history. The nine contenders that took a seat had more than $266.8 million in combined prior tournament earnings between them, for an average of $29.6 million per player. Three of the nine players (Koon, Stephen Chidwick, and Dan Smith) were already among the top 10 on poker’s all-time money list, with two more top 20 players in Steve O’Dwyer and Sam Greenwood.
The first to hit the rail was recent $50,000 seven max event champion Viacheslav Buldygin. The Russian player lost a big chunk of his stack to a full house held by Greenwood. He then got all-in with A-9 and was up against two opponents, with Koon ultimately showing down K-Q for top pair to win the pot and eliminate Buldygin in ninth place ($263,000).
Chidwick was the next to fall. The two-time Card Player POY award winner got all-in with middle pair and an ace kicker trailing the top pair of O’Dwyer. Chidwick received no further help on the turn or river and was eliminated in eighth place ($358,500). He now has more than $48.5 million in lifetime earnings after this latest deep run, keeping him in fourth place on the career earnings leaderboard. With three titles and eight final-table finishes in 2023, he has climbed into 13th place in the POY standings as he looks to go back-to-back after winning in 2022.
Two-time European Poker Tour champion and World Poker Tour main event winner Michael Watson’s run ended in seventh place thanks to a preflop coin flip. His pocket sevens were unable to outrace the A-J suited of Henrik Hecklen, who spike a jack to win the pot and narrow the field to six. Watson earned $469,500 for his sixth final-table finish of the year, with three titles secured along the way. He moved to eighth in the POY standings as a result, while increasing his career earnings to nearly $20.7 million.
Koon overtook the chip lead during six-handed action, winning a race with A-K against the pocket sixes of O’Dwyer. He then picked up A-10 and raised from the button, prompting a critically short-stacked Sean Winter to call all-in for less than a big blind with 8-4. Neither player connected and Winter was knocked out in sixth place, earning $595,000. He now has more than $26.6 million in recorded tournament cashes to his name after this result.
The lead continued to grow for Koon, who next found pocket tens against the A-Q of Smith. The pair held up and Smith was sent packing in fifth place ($762,000). The bracelet winner now has more than $43.1 million in lifetime tournament cashes, placing him ninth on the all-time money list.
Just a couple hands after that, Koon again found himself involved in a big all-in. This time his A-Q suited was not flipping, though, as Henrik Hecklen had been dealt pocket queens. Koon found an ace on the flop to take a commanding lead, though, and he held from there to eliminate Hecklen in fourth place. The Danish pro earned $946,000 for his efforts, increasing his career haul to more than $11.4 million in the process.
O’Dwyer found a double-up through Koon early in three-handed play, but lost a showdown with the same pair and a worse kicker not long after that to fall back down to around 20 big blinds. O’Dwyer was soon involved in another massive pot against the eventual winner.
The hand in question began with O’Dwyer limping from the small blind with QHeart Suit. Koon checked his option with 6Heart Suit3Heart Suit and the pair saw a flop of 9Heart Suit4Club Suit2Diamond Suit. O’Dwyer check-called a stab from Koon and the turn brought the 5Club Suit. O’Dwyer check-called again, this time for a bet of around two-thirds pot. The 8Club Suit completed the board and O’Dwyer checked. Koon moved all-in, putting O’Dwyer to the test for his last seven or so big blinds. O’Dwyer thought it over for a while before making the call with his fourth pair, only to be shown the straight. He earned $1,171,000 as the third-place finisher. He now has $37.7 million in lifetime earnings after this podium finish.
With that, Koon took roughly a 4:1 chip lead into heads-up play against Greenwood. The two came to an agreement to redistribute the remaining prize money, leaving $84,000 and the title to play for while locking up $1,923,918 for Greenwood and $2,367,082 for Koon.
The heads-up battle ended up lasting just a single hand. Koon limped in from the button with QSpade Suit10Diamond Suit and Greenwood shoved for 21 big blinds with ADiamond SuitKClub Suit. Koon called and the board ran out QHeart SuitJClub Suit9Heart SuitJSpade Suit7Heart Suit to give Koon queens and jacks for the win. Greenwood increased his career earnings to more than $34.2 million thanks to his runner-up showing in this event. The Canadian has won two titles and made six final tables so far in 2023, and as a result is just one spot shy of the top 20 in the POY standings.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table: