Thailand’s Punnat Punsri won the $100,000 buy-in tournament of the Triton Super High Roller Series, earning $2.6 million for defeating a 99-entry field. Punsri finished third in a $50,000 buy-in event at the World Series of Poker this summer. He won two $10K High Roller tournaments on the Poker GO Tour in January.
The Triton Super High Roller Series is not a good place to start your poker career. The quality of play is the best in the world, and the stakes are enormous. It is not the kind of environment to cut your teeth in.
The game may have discovered a new star at the most recent main event, held as part of its two week festival in Northern Cyprus. Punnat Punsri, from Thailand, won the $100,000 buy-in tournament and earned over $2 million for defeating a 99-entry field.
Punsri has a tournament record that suggests he is more than just a flash in the pan, or a wealthy punter who got lucky. Punsri has a cash-game background, as he described a couple of unconventional plays at the final table. He finished third in a $50,000 buy-in event at the World Series of Poker this summer, and also won seven other bracelet events. He won two $10K High Roller tournaments on the PokerGO Tour on consecutive days at the Venetian in January, and made three finals at the WPT Five Diamond a month before.
The Triton success was streamed live to an audience of thousands, but Punsri’s resume suggests that the 30-year-old from Bangkok has game.
He had signed up as a businessman to play in the coin rivet invitational, which was held during the Cyprus festival. Punsri is a graduate of Bristol University and University College London, both in the UK, and he describes himself as an investor but with a passion for community revitalisation and environmental preservation. He won a UNESCO award for the restoration of a 150-year-old historic inn in the town of Chanthaburi in eastern Thailand. He is not your average poker player.
It is possible to crush opponents and storylines
Before Punsri took over proceedings on the final day, there were a lot of other potential headline- grabbing storylines in the offing. The last eight in the tournament featured both the defending Triton main event champion, who had won in Madrid in May, and the darling of the tour, who was aiming for a record-setting fifth Triton title.
The smaller player pool on the super high roller series makes repeat champions more common than on other tours, but Koon’s four previous wins, matched only by the Belo wizard Mikita Badziakouski, speaks to Koon’s particular affinity for tour on which he is a brand ambassador.
Short deck hold’em is the variation that many Asian high rollers prefer, and Koon and Badziakouski are both happy to play it. The short-deck tables can be a good hunting field for western players, particularly if they accept the instability of the game and that their edge is much diminished.
Koon became one of Punsri’s victims and fell in fifth place in this one, earning $762,000.
His fall from near the top of the chip counts to the payouts desk in fourth was one of a series of dramatic moments that upended expectations in this tournament.
He came to the final with the second-biggest chip stack, but was on the wrong side of an enormous cooler against Punsri. When Punsri had kings and queens, the pair got everything they needed, vaulting Punsri into contention and ending Hecklen’s back-to-back hopes. In comparison to the $2.3 million he won in Madrid, the third place earner was only $946,000. He didn’t have to find a solution to the problem that would have been unique if he had won. A watch from the top-end American jewellers Jacob & Co could have ended up being one for each wrist for the main event champion.
If the departure of Hecklen was a surprise, the implosion of the third part of Malinowski was a catastrophe. Malinowski had been the clear chip leader for for the entire second and third days of this three-day event. Malinowski is best renowned for his fearless exploits at the high-stakes online cash tables, where he plays as “Iimitless.” He had a commanding advantage at the start of the final and continued to hold it after Hecklen had left. Everything went horribly wrong.
With Wayne Heung sitting with a short stack and looking on with glee, and ICM proponents cowering behind the sofa, Malinowski and Punsri got involved in an outrageous pre-flop confrontation. Punsri four-bet jammed 70 big blinds with pocket tens, and Malinowski called it quits with ace-king. Punsi told Heung that whatever happened would be good for him. When the board ran dry, it was even better for Punsri. Knowing it could have been double that, Malinowski was crushed and out on the next hand, taking $1.21 million.
Punsri said in his postgame interview that it was hard to analyse the pivotal hand. He conceded that calling the three-bet and playing after the flop was probably correct, but he took the high variance line and came out smiling. Fans of a tour who like to see poker played fast and loose and for millions of dollars were the ones who were going to get the pulse racing.
Heung wasn’t able to put up much resistance when the pair got heads up, and lost with a dominating ace after Punsri found another good run-out. Heung won almost two million dollars.
Punsri said that he had been lured to Cyprus by the coin Rivet event and stuck around to play one final tournament before heading home.
He could become a new national hero when he arrives in Thailand. Although he explained that there are no legal casinos in Thailand, he said that more and more people are beginning to watch and play the game, with a couple of other Thai pros making a few waves on the Triton Series. He said that poker is booming in Thailand and that it was nice to see.
Thailand might finally have its Chris Moneymaker.
The main event of the Triton Cyprus is $100,000 NLH.
September 12th to September 14th, 2022.
There were 99 entries. 34 entries were re-entries.
There was a prize pool of over $9 million.
The results are here.
Punnat Punsri is in Thailand and has a value of $2,600,000.
Wayne Heung is from Hong Kong and has an estimated value of $1,825,000.
The total cost for 3 was $1,210,000.
The cost was $946,000 for 4 of them.
The Koons are from the USA and have a price tag of $762,000.
$595,000 was spent on Gregoire Auzoux, France.
Artur Martirosian is from Russia and has a price tag of $470,000.
Artem Vezhenkov is from Russia and has a salary of $366,000.
Hong Kong has a price of $280,000 for the 9th.
USA’s Seth Davies has a price tag of $225,000.
Paul Phua is from Malaysia and is worth $225,000.
Laszlo Bujtas is from Hungary and has a salary of $198,000.
Haxton is from the USA and has a price tag of $198,000.
Joe Giron is associated with Triton Poker.