Mikalai Vaskaboinikau Becomes Newest Triton Main Event Champion in Montenegro

Triton SHRS Montenegro
Triton SHRS Montenegro – Photo by Triton

Throughout the entire Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in Montenegro, the attendance numbers have been steady and produced decent figures without breaking any Triton records at the Maestral Resort in Budva.

That almost changed in none other than the $125,000 Main Event, which attracted a staggering 171 entries. It was the second-largest Triton Poker Main Event behind Jeju 2024 (216 entries) and ahead of London 2023 (151 entries) while also narrowly coming up short of Jeju’s prize pool figure thanks to the larger buy-in. The tournament created a staggering $21,375,000 prize pool across three days with 27 players taking home a share of it.

Mikalai Vaskaboinikau wins Triton Montenegro Main Event

Mikalai Vaskaboinikau Triton Montenegro Main Event champion
Mikalai Vaskaboinikau – Photo by Triton Poker

When only two players were left to battle for the biggest slice, many poker fans from all over the world following the Triton Livestream may not necessarily have been familiar with the two protagonists. Belarusian businessman Mikalai Vaskaboinikau only competes in select few high-stakes and super high-stakes tournaments while Montenegro’s Dejan Kaladjurdjevic is more of an online player.

However, they had overcome a star-studded field with many of the biggest names of the international poker scene not only in the tournament but also on the final table itself and showcase their talents to the global community. For example, they defeated Bryn Kenney and Phil Ivey en route to this heads-up duel with Wai Kin Yong and Aleksejs Ponakovs also falling along the way.

Money Flows at Day 2

Matthias Eibinger at Triton Montenegro
Matthias Eibinger – Photo by Triton Poker

The money bubble burst on Day 2 when three short stacks were fighting for survival on different tables. Triton co-founder Paul Phua spiked a double and Mikita Badziakouski sneaked into the money, while two-time Triton champion Matthias Eibinger became the bubble boy when his king-queen could not improve against Ivey’s ace-king.

China’s Joe Zou earned the min-cash of $214,000 alongside Badziakouski, Dan Smith and Justin Saliba, with each further pay jump becoming more meaningful. Indian businessman Santhosh Suvarna was part of a trio collecting $235,000, as was Hong Kong’s Stanley Choi for $256,000. Two players from China and one from Japan bowed out in the money after that including Yang Wang ($287,000), Xianchao Shen ($320,000) and Masashi Oya ($320,000).

Chris Brewer was on the verge of taking over the lead when he got it in with pocket aces against the pocket queens of Wai Kin Yong on the final two tables, having previously won all-in situations when he needed to come from behind. The pendulum swung back this time as Yong turned a queen and Brewer exited shortly after in 13th place for $353,000.

Phua’s short-stack ride ended in 12th place for the same amount while Colombia’s Mauricio Salazar Sanchez and Paulius Vaitiekunas both collected $406,000 but missed the nine-handed final table.

Final Table

Triton Montenegro Main Event final table
Triton Montenegro Main Event final table – Photo by Triton Poker

Yong entered the final table as the chip leader with fellow Asian Elizabeth Chen had ten big blinds at her disposal. The first female contender on a Triton Main Event became the first casualty when she was flipped out by Ivey with eights against king-queen to settle for $478,000. Next short stack to bust was Bryn Kenney, who cashed for $580,000.

Elizabeth Chen at Triton Montenegro Main Event
Elizabeth Chen – Photo by Triton Poker

As fortunate as Yong was against Brewer the previous day, as dry he ran on the final table itself. Vaskaboinikau scored a double through him and then hit a two-outer with pocket tens against the pocket queens of the Malaysian to send Yong from hero to zero in seventh place for $800,000.

Samuel Ju Runs Deep Again

Samuel Ju at Triton Montenengro
Samuel Ju – Photo by Triton Poker

German businessman Samuel Ju recently earned his first live poker trophy during the Irish Open in Dublin and finished as the runner-up in an early event at the Triton  Super High Roller Series Montenegro. Having crossed $1 million back in Ireland, he nearly tripled that figure now with another big score. Ju ran with queens into the kings of Vaskaboinikau and couldn’t get there to take home $1,098,000, unlocking yet another milestone in his live poker career.

The Ukraine’s Igor Yaroshevskyy came fresh off a victory in Event #6: $50,000 NLH 7-Handed Bounty Quattro and he added another six-figure payday to his live poker resume. Down to the last ten blinds, he got it in ahead but had to settle for $1,430,000.

Phil Ivey Takes 4th Place

Phil Ivey at Triton Montenegro
Phil Ivey – Photo by Triton Poker

Many eyes on the final table were on WPT Global ambassador Ivey, who is always a force to be reckoned in high-stakes contests, no matter if tournament play or cash game action is involved. Ivey rose up the ranks on the final table but suffered a major blow when his flopped top pair and back door queen-high spades flush crashed into the back-doored nut flush of Vaskaboinikau. His nemesis from Belarus then finished the job soon after and Ivey was gone in fourth place for $1,795,000.

Mikalai Vaskaboinikau Drops then Soars

Three-handed play saw the stack sizes evened out for a while. Latvian high-stakes regular Aleksejs Ponakovs even lost the minimum with a set of kings against the royal flush of Dejan Kaladjurdjevic when a four-liner came on the board. Vaskaboinikau was suddenly the short stack but doubled through Ponakovs once and then knocked out the Latvian in third place for $2,200,000.

Dejan Kaladjurdjevic at Triton Montenegro
Dejan Kaladjurdjevic – Photo by Triton Poker

When the heads-up stage was reached, Vaskaboinikau had a large lead with 44 big blinds versus 9 big blinds and just two more hands were played. Kaladjurdjevic got it in with a suited jack and received the call from pocket sixes, which held for Vaskaboinikau to be crowned the champion.

Mikalai Vaskaboinikau Triton Montenegro Main Event champion
Mikalai Vaskaboinikau – Photo by Triton Poker

It is needless to say that the top two finishers earned their biggest cash prizes on the live poker circuit so far. Online crusher  Kaladjurdjevic took over the number one spot on Montenegro’s all-time money list on The Hendon Mob with ease thanks to his massive consolation prize of $3,196,000.

The latest Triton Poker Main Event champion Vaskaboinikau has a tough task ahead to achieve the same feat for Belarus as Mikita Badziakouski has more than $53 million in live poker cashes. The top prize of $4,737,000 more than doubled his live earnings so far in just the sixth Triton Poker tournament attended, sending him to second place on his country ranking.

Main Event results

Buy in: $125,000
Dates: May 19 to 21, 2024
Entries: 171 (102 unique)
Prize pool: $21,375,000
ITM: 27 places

Final 9 payouts

1st Mikalai Vaskaboinikau – Belarus – $4,737,000
2nd Dejan Kaladjurdjevic –  Montenegro – $3,196,000
3rd Aleks Ponakovs – Latvia – $2,200,000
4th Phil Ivey – USA – $1,795,000
5th Igor Yaroshevskyy – Ukraine – $1,430,000
6th Samuel Ju – Germany – $1,098,000
7th Wai Kin Yong – Malaysia – $800,000
8th Bryn Kenney – USA – $580,000
9th  Elizabeth Chen – China – $478,000


First Four Winners Crowned in the 2024 Triton Super High Roller Series Montenegro Stop

*Article by Christian Zetzsche

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Tricia David

Tricia David has long experience as a recreational poker player and has been covering poker events since 2010 for numerous outfits in Asia. She spent one year working part time with Poker Portal Asia then became editor and lead writer for all event coverage of the Philippine Poker Tour (PPT). Under the PPT, she overlooked content for their website, and produced live updates on all their events. In addition, she served as the live and online events website content writer for the Asian Poker Tour. Currently, she does live events reporting in Asia for online news site Somuchpoker and is also one of their news contributors.

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