The Grateful Eight
“I pride myself on just trying to win the most amount of money I can from poker. I think I’ve done a great job. I think I’m one of the biggest winners in the history of the game in terms of profits, whether it be cash games or tournaments,
that’s what I’m most proud of.”
A grateful Jason Koon threw down the gauntlet to his fellow highstakes professionals last night as he took down event #6 – the $60,000 No-Limit Hold’em 7-Handed event of the Triton London Series, declaring that he has his eye on back-to-back Player of the Year titles. A purple patch late in Season 2, including winning the Main Event in Cyprus, propelled him to victory in the Player of the Year which is named after his late friend Ivan Leow.
Koon bested a star-studded field and a final table that featured fellow nosebleed legend Dan Smith, Austrian crusher Matthias Eibinger, World Series of Poker Highroller champion Alex Kulev, rising poker star Justin Saliba, and the two men who duked it out heads-up in event #3, ten-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey and 2022 WSOP Main Event champion Espen Jorstad.
It is Koon’s eighth title on Triton felt, double his next nearest rival Mikita Badziakouski.
Best version of himself
Triton ambassador Jason Koon was something of a slouch, only winning three Triton titles prior to May 2022. However, it seems as though fatherhood may have sharpened his focus as the dad of two knuckled down in the last 15 months to win five more. His wins have come in Madrid (the €150,000 ($164,782) Short Deck One Bullet), Vietnam (the $50,000 NLH Turbo), North Cyprus (the $20,000 NLH 7-Handed and the $100,000 NLH Main Event) and now in London (the $60,000 NLH 7-Handed) with the result in the English capital adding $1,570,000 to the diaper-fund.
when I show up I’m very focused and I’m the best version of myself.”
In the same way that Phil Hellmuth is the undisputed king of the WSOP, so too is Jason Koon on this elite circuit. In a post-match interview, Ali Nejad joked that these trophy presentation ceremonies were becoming predictable, to which Koon jibed back:
“It might be getting old for you, man, but I like it, I’ll keep doing it. It’s the same story in a lot of ways. I play because I love the game. I play a lot less than I used to but when I show up I’m very focused and I’m the best version of myself.”
Koon then spoke about his drive and motivation in a poker world that gets tougher and tougher with each passing year:
“You have to have the drive and grit to want to win, but at the same time there were several times along the way in my career when I wanted to quit. Really it just comes down to staying fresh, staying in the chair, doing what you love. And for me that’s poker. Surround yourself with people who are better, smarter, and better than you are at your job. And for me, I have a crew of guys that are probably better poker players than me. I just keep learning from them and getting better.”
Koon goes wire to wire
On his way to creating history once again, Koon came into the final day with the chip-lead, navigated past the competition, and then battled with the best on a murderer’s row final table. Eibinger dispatched Kulev in the eighth after Koon had crippled him. Jorstad and Ivey were the next to go, followed by Eibinger who bust in fifth. With the elevated blinds taking their toll, Saliba found himself on the short stack and was fortunate to ladder into the top three after Smith ran his A♣️7♣️ into the pocket Tens of Koon.
a heads-up battle between Koon and Brazil’s Rodrigo Selouan
Koon would be executioner again as Saliba re-shoved King-Eight into his King-Nine. The $690,000 payday was a new personal best for the talented Saliba but his departure made way for a heads-up battle between Koon and Brazil’s Rodrigo Selouan. It wasn’t long into the clash before Selouan decided to hero call with J ♣️ 6 ♣️ on a board of 3❤ K♠️ 6♦️ A♠️ T♣️ only to run into Koon’s A♣️ K❤. Selouan won $1,060,300 for his runner-up finish, another career top score, but it was Koon who once again found himself in the winner’s enclosure:
Afterward, Koon demurred when asked if he was the best player in the world but did say that when he is playing well and running hot he wouldn’t bet against himself.
The Ivan Leow Player Of The Year
Koon said that with every victory, he imagined his dearly departed friend Ivan Leow giving him a hug and admitted to getting emotional when thinking about him. Aside from his eight titles, he currently holds the title of ‘Ivan Leow Player Of The Year’ and he has insisted that he will be trying to retain that honor this time around.
a chance for us to recognize the immense contribution Ivan made to the poker community”
Leow, who was one of the most successful Triton poker players, passed away suddenly in September 2022. The player of the year on the circuit gets $200,000 and a trophy named after Leow. Andy Wong, CEO of Triton Poker said:
“This is a chance for us to recognize the immense contribution Ivan made to the poker community and to express our profound admiration for the way he has inspired us all.”
He seems to have inspired one man most of all.
Triton London Series Event #6 final table payouts
1 – Jason Koon, USA – $1,570,000
2 – Rodrigo Selouan, Brazil – $1,060,300
3 – Justin Saliba, USA – $690,000
4 – Dan Smith, USA – $571,000
5 – Matthias Eibinger, Austria – $460,600
6 – Phil Ivey, USA – $363,000
7 – Espen Jorstad, Norway – $277,500
8 – Alex Kulev, Bulgaria – $209,000