Champion Espen Jorstad!
Three of the best players in world poker played an improbable short-stack shootout tonight to decide the latest winner on the Triton Super High Roller Series. The fickle finger of fate finally pointed at Espen Jorstad and named him the winner of what was an extraordinary contest.
“The three-way was the craziest three-way I’ve ever played,” Jorstad said, shortly after securing the first Triton title of his career. It was every bit as hard fought as the WSOP Main Event victory that vaulted him into the esteemed company he finds on the Triton Series.
“Legends left, legends right,” Jorstad, 35, said of his first impressions of this tour.
The Norwegian was the last man standing after a captivating conclusion to a $40,000 buy-in Mystery Bounty tournament, which had 133 entries and an incredible final three: Jorstad alongside the UK’s leading talent Stephen Chidwick and the player many consider to be the greatest of all time, Phil Ivey.
Three handed play
It was an irresistible line-up but the three players must have often felt like mere pawns in some metaphysical game. The stacks grew incredibly short and each player was both chip leader and short stack numerous times as a series of double ups kept things going late into the night.
Jorstad came back from about two big blinds on more than one occasion, eventually downing Chidwick in third and then busting Ivey heads up. Ivey missed out on the chance to become a four-time winner, as Jorstad banks $639,000 for his win — so far.
Half of this $5.32 million prize pool is still technically to be played for. They will draw the Mystery Bounty envelopes tomorrow, with a top prize of $400,000 still lurking inside one of them, alongside a minimum $40,000 per bounty token. Jorstad has five of them, so a minimum $200K more.
We have all of that fun to look forward to tomorrow, but take a deep breath and prepare for an epic recap from this final day. It was full of bizarre twists and turns and incredible comebacks, none moreso than from that man Jorstad.
FINAL DAY ACTION
The second and final day of the tournament began with 38 players still involved — otherwise known as 38 bounties now on offer. The regular payout structure offered prizes to the top 20 finishers, so there was a delicate line to be trod between bounty hunting and self-preservation.
One of the biggest pre-bubble pots took place between Henrik Hecklen and Eric Wasserson, with the former three-bet shoving his big stack over Wasserson’s only marginally smaller holding. Wasserson had the goods — — which dominated Hecklen’s , and Wasserson scored an enormous double. It left Hecklen with only two big blinds.
Henrik Hecklen weeps over his one big blind
Chris Brewer, sitting between Wasserson and Hecklen, will have greatly enjoyed watching the hand play out, especially because he had only seven big blinds in front of him. However, Hecklen managed to cling on a few more hands, enough time for Wasserson to turn his attention to Brewer.
Wasserson open-shoved with three tiny stacks sitting to his left, including both Hecklen and Brewer. Brewer looked down at pocket eights and spent a couple of time-bank chips before deciding whether to risk his tournament life. He determined that it was.
What he didn’t know at this juncture was that Wasserson hadn’t even looked at his cards. It was only after Brewer had called off that Wasserson saw he had pocket kings.
Brewer leapt out of his seat in mock incredulity and, after action finally concluded on neighbouring tables, the dealer put out five cards that all missed Brewer’s eights. Brewer has been in incredible form of late, including a second-placed finish yesterday, so he didn’t seem too cut up about this bubble. Everyone else was now in the money, including Hecklen and his one big blind.
Chris Brewer bubbles: “How do you find kings when you haven’t looked!?!”
There were, of course, only eight spots around the final table so the focus now shifted to reaching that marker. Players such as Nacho Barbero, Elton Tsang and Ben Heath couldn’t rally sufficiently to get to final stages. (Hecklen surrendered his short stack too.)
Spain’s Ignacio Moron led the field for some portion of the day, but it was his elimination in ninth place that set the final. He took a rough beat too: he was involved in three-way pot against Phil Ivey and Keat Liu Chun and had the best hand with to Ivey’s pocket jacks and Chun’s . However, the dealer put a jack on the turn to give Ivey close to a triple up and send Moron out.
Ivey is good enough without that kind of assistance.
We therefore assembled the following final table:
FINAL TABLE STACKS
Johannes Straver – 69 BBs
Phil Ivey – 59 BBs
Daniel Dvoress – 39 BBs
Espen Jorstad – 37 BBs
Stephen Chidwick – 28 BBs
Eric Wasserson – 18 BBs
Keat Liu Chun – 15 BBs
Alek Boika – 3 BBs
Event 3 final table players (l-r): Keat Liu Chun, Stephen Chidwick, Johannes Straver, Eric Wasserson, Phil Ivey, Daniel Dvoress, Alex Boika, Espen Jorstad
Alek Boika was obviously the man in most jeopardy, but he found aces to double through Stephen Chidwick and was then able to hang on long enough to watch Chun’s unfortunate streak continue. Chun picked up in the big blind, which was plenty good enough to ship all in after an open from the chip-leading Straver.
However Straver had a real hand, , and it stayed best. It sent Chun to the rail, earning a second Triton cash, worth $82,500.
Boika’s stay of execution endured for another few orbits, but his stack was still the smallest at the table and it couldn’t last forever. He ended up getting his last chips in in a decent spot — sitting with to Ivey’s , but fortune favoured Ivey again as he hit an eight on the river to take another bounty.
Boika won $111,500 for seventh.
Alex Boika brought a short stack to the final but laddered one spot
There was no let up in the fierceness of this competition, of course, and players of the calibre of Stephen Chidwick and Daniel Dvoress now found themselves the shortest. Chidwick clung on a bit longer, but Dvoress perished at Ivey’s hands too. Dvoress was in the big blind after Ivey open-pushed the small blind. Dvoress found and called all in. Ivey had pocket fives, however, and held.
Dvoress, who won his first Triton title to end the recent Triton Cyprus festival, banked $149,000 for this sixth-place finish.
Daniel Dvoress fell short of a second title
Three hands later and there was another elimination. But this one was a pretty gross cooler, which accounted for Wasserson. Wasserson has only one tournament cash on his resume outside of the United States (in the Bahamas, in 2012), but he has been tempted to London by the Luxon Invitational taking place later this week.
He had enjoyed his time in this tournament though, particularly during that bubble period where he was central to all those fun and games. Back then, Wasserson had pocket kings, the very same hand he now found at this six-handed final table. It was plenty good enough to get his chips in again. The problem this time was that Straver had aces and there was no getting away from it. (They were in the blinds too, to make it even more gross.)
Wasserson couldn’t hit the two-outer and so headed to the payouts desk to pick up $190,000. He can come back tomorrow and cash his bounties, of course.
Kings accounted for Eric Wasserson
The last four headed to a quick dinner break, with Straver’s 69 BBs in front of Ivey (35), Jorstad (19) and Chidwick (10). It didn’t take very long after the resumption for the shortest of those stacks to go in, but Chidwick’s won a race against Jorstad’s pocket jacks for them to swap places on the leader board.
Never mind. Jorstad doubled back up through Straver on the next hand, with turning a four to beat Straver’s . That brought the stacks pretty even again.
The formidable Phil Ivey
The first two final tables so far in this festival have been characterised by topsy-turvy late stages, where double ups were far more common than bustouts. This one began to follow the same pattern. Jorstad doubled up through Ivey, with beating . But then Ivey doubled through Straver, getting pocket fours to hold against .
The Straver v Ivey sub-plot had been compelling, with the less known Dutchman putting Ivey into the tank for numerous, extended periods, Ivey invariably emerging having made the correct laydown. But Ivey went on to double Straver right back again, when pocket kings stayed good against Ivey’s .
That put Ivey on a downward tick, and he lost a race to Chidwick soon after — Chidwick’s besting Ivey’s pocket sixes — for the two to swap positions again. Ivey was down but he wasn’t out, and one final skirmish with Straver got him relatively healthy again.
Straver’s pocket nines lost to Ivey’s pocket jacks, and it was terminal this time for the Dutchman. He won a stack of bounty tokens that he’ll cash in tomorrow, but his own bounty went to Ivey. Straver, for the time being, wins $236,500.
Johannes Straver tangled frequently with Phil Ivey at his first Triton final
The average stack was now only 30 big blinds, but this was a mouthwatering final three. Ivey, by most estimation the best player the world has seen, up against Chidwick, a man whose name always appears on the “best of” lists, and Jorstad, who has done something neither of his opponents has done in winning the WSOP Main Event.
Chidwick was the first to apply serious pressure on Ivey, assuming the chip lead in a huge pot against Jorstad. Chidwick had aces and bet all the way, finding calls at every street from Jorstad’s , which flopped a flush draw and turned top pair. It left Jorstad with only a couple of big blinds, but true to form he doubled up almost immediately, with beating Chidwick’s .
He then did it again, also through Chidwick, with beating . And even Ivey struggled to collect the bounty when Jorstad hit a flush with and beat Ivey’s .
That meant that when Jorstad found aces soon after, he had enough to put a serious dent in Chidwick’s stack, especially because Chidwick had and the money went in. Jorstad was now back in the lead.
The players took a break and pushed into Level 28, further than the pre-published structure sheet had planned. But all Jorstad’s good work was undone in one hand after the break when his lost to Chidwick’s . “We’re back to where we were about an hour ago,” Chidwick said, looking at his own chip lead and Jorstad’s micro-stack.
Jorstad moved his last 3 BBs in on the next hand, and Ivey called. And it looked like Jorstad might be mounting another comeback when his stayed better than Ivey’s . It got better for Jorstad on the next hand, when Chidwick shoved, Ivey folded pocket fives and Jorstad called with to Chidwick’s . “Wish I’d have called now,” Ivey said when the board ran completely dry.
A sheepish Espen Jorstad on the comeback trail
This wasn’t done yet. Ivey, now the short stack, picked up red pocket aces and doubled through Chidwick’s . He did it again soon after with through Chidwick’s . Chidwick had now taken the journey from leader to short stack.
But he started his own move back into contention with a couple of blind steals and then a come-from-behind double, finding a five with to beat Jorstad’s . No matter for Jorstad. He got the chips back on the next hand with against Chidwick’s . They were trapped in the never-ending story.
Jorstad nosed ahead of Chidwick, as Ivey started applying big stack pressure. And the dam wall finally crumbled when Chidwick was simply forced to defend his big blind to a shove from Jorstad, even though he was sitting with only . Jorstad’s was ahead all the way — particularly as three more threes appeared to give him quads.
Chidwick won $287,000 for this third place, but a second title still eludes him.
Stephen Chidwick had to settle for third
After that titanic three-handed battle, Ivey sat down behind 28 BBs to take on Jorstad’s 17. However, tables quickly turned as Jorstad moved into the lead without showdown and left Ivey on the ropes. The American great got out of jail when he was all in and called with to Jorstad’s but they chopped it up.
However, he couldn’t wriggle free a couple of hands later when went up against and nothing changed on flop, turn or river.
“Playing heads up against Ivey, the biggest legend of the game in my opinion, just makes it even more special,” Jorstad said, adding, “I’m extremely grateful for all the run good I’ve had on the last three years. It’s insane.”
It certainly was.
Note: Total do not yet include Mystery Bounty payouts, which will be drawn on Monday.
Event #3 – $40,000 7-HANDED MYSTERY BOUNTY
Dates: July 29-30, 2023
Entries: 133 (inc. 43 re-entries)
Prize pool: $2,660,000
1 – Espen Jorstad, Norway – $639,000
2 – Phil Ivey, USA – $434,900
3 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $287,000
4 – Johannes Straver, Netherlands – $236,500
5 – Eric Wasserson, USA – $190,000
6 – Daniel Dvoress, Canada – $149,000
7 – Alek Boika, Belarus – $111,500
8 – Keat Liu Chun, Malaysia – $82,500
9 – Ignacio Moron, Spain – $63,800
10 – Antoine Saout, France – $53,200
11 – Thai Thinh Chu, Vietnam – $53,200
12 – Ben Heath, UK – $46,600
13 – Christoph Vogelsang, Germany – $46,600
14 – Dan Shak, USA – $42,600
15 – Elton Tsang, Hong Kong – $42,600
16 – Nacho Barbero, Argentina – $38,600
17 – Jonathan Pardy, Canada – $38,600
18 – Brian Kim, USA – $34,600
19 – Henrik Hecklen, Denmark – $34,600
20 – Roberto Perez, Spain – $34,600
Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive