For the better part of this decade, the World Series of Poker Big One for One Drop reigned as the most expensive tournament in poker history with a stunning $1 million buy-in. This weekend, it was overtaken by the Triton Million – A Helping Hand for Charity tournament, part of the Triton Super High Roller Series in London. The Triton Million had a buy-in of £1 million, which equates to about $1.216 million, depending on when you do the currency conversion. The non-refundable entry fee for the Triton Million was £50,000 ($60,815), all of which went to charity. With 54 players, that meant £2.7 million ($3.284 million) was split among ten different organizations.
When all was said and done, it was Aaron Zang, a recreational player, who won the Triton Million and £13,779,491 ($16,754,497) after a deal with his heads-up opponent, Bryn Kenney (more on that later). One of the twists of this tournament was that it was only recreational players who were invited to play. Those 27 players were permitted to bring along a pro player, which is how the field reached 54 runners total. Zang’s “other half” was Tan Xuan. Kenney, a professional, was extended an invite by Cary Katz (no relation to yours truly).
Heads-up deal still left jackpot in the middle
Zang and Kenney began the eight-handed final table in the middle of the pack, but when heads-up rolled around, Kenney had a gigantic 4-to-1 chip lead. Though he may have opted to just roll with it in most other tournaments, the enormity of the prizes up for grabs might have been why Kenney agreed to a chop with Zang. Anything can happen in poker, and with more than a £7 million difference between first and second, sacrificing some potential winnings in a deal is better than losing it all.
As such, Kenney got the larger portion of the remaining prize pool, £16,890,509 ($20,537,187), while Zang agreed to £12,679,491 ($15,405,582). £1,100,000 ($1,336,500) was left on the table for an incentive to keep playing hard.
Even though he started way behind, Zang held steady and eventually used a huge double-up with Sixes versus Kenney’s K-Q to get within striking distance. He took the lead when Kenney stuck with a flush draw that didn’t pan out and on the very next hand, Zang won the whole thing. With 8♦-5♦, Zang moved all-in over the top of Kenney’s check raise with A♠-6♠ on a board reading 8♠-4♠-3♣. Kenney was behind with a cornucopia of outs, but was unable to hit anything, giving Zang the title.
“I think I played really well,” Kenney told the media afterward. “Everything went well until the heads up. At least if something’s going to go wrong, it goes wrong in heads up after you make a deal, take the most money and the biggest prize.”
Major accomplishment for both players
And speaking of biggest prize, that $20.5 million that Kenney won is literally the largest prize in the history of tournament poker. It also put him atop the all-time career winnings list with more than $55.5 million.
As for Zang, he proudly exclaimed, “This feels like a dream come true!” when handed his trophy by Trion Million co-founder Paul Phua, a friend of his.
“Aaron is not a tournament player normally. I hope this shows to all non-pros they can win. Aaron is good but I didn’t think he was that good!” Phua quipped.
Zang was extremely gracious in victory, saying, “Bryn played better than me, but I always thought maybe the dream can come true. I am so happy and also very honored to have played against everyone.”