Alex Kulev
Bulgarian professional Alex Kulev took home his first-ever Triton title for a career-high score of $2.56 million.

The Bulgarian player Alex Kulev won the biggest score of his burgeoning poker career as he claimed the $2.56 million top prize in the $100,000-entry Triton Montenegro Super High Roller. Beating a final table packed with superstars such as Danny Tang, Daniel Dvoress and Dylan Linde, the superb Kulev must now be seen in the most elite group of poker players on the planet.

Barbero Among Stars Who Make the Money

With 102 total entries, just 17 players would make profit on their six-figure buy-ins. Those included min-cashers Ben Heath (17th) and Seth Davies (16th), both of whom took home $160,000. Nacho Barbero won $168,000 in 14th place, while Stephen Chidwick (11th) and Sean Winter (10th) both claimed $209,000.

Out in ninth place was Bryn Kenney, who feathered his nest at the top of the All-Time Money List on The Hendon Mob with another $255,000. Kenney won a flip with pocket nines against the ace-king of Danny Tang but two hands later, gave it all back along with the remainder of his chips, his pocket queens slain by Tang’s pocket kings.

Out in eighth place was the Latvian Aleks Ponakovs. He has never won a Triton title and came seven places short here when his Ac8c lost to Linde’s pocket jacks. Losing that big pot to Linde, Ponakovs headed home in eighth place with $342,000. At that stage, the average stack was around 40 big blinds, considerably deeper than in the previous event when Adrian Mateos triumphed over a field that was far shallower.

Tang Falls Short of Sixth Title

With seven players left, it was Dylan Linde who was the next to leave. Linde moved all-in with As5s and was called by Xu Liang with AhTd. The China-based player held through the board as Liang flopped a ten and Linded hit his five. No more help came for either player and the American left with a score of $454,000.

Daniel Dvoress was the next player to go, exiting in sixth for $594,000. Moving all-in for 20 big blinds with AsQc pre-flop, Thomas Santerne called with pocket queens and Dvoress grimaced at the bad news, no ace coming to send him to the rail and send play five-handed.

Danny Tang had already won five Triton titles before the latest final table in his phenomenal run took place. Victories in Vietnam, London, Monte Carlo and Northern Cyprus (twice) in 2023 – worth $5 million in winnings – couldn’t be followed by another in Montenegro. First, Tang doubled up the eventual winner Kulev as the Bulgarian’s aces won through Tang’s pocket jacks. Then Tang’s pocket queens were at risk against Kulev’s ace-king.

“Big flip! Come on ladies, you’ve betrayed me so many times before!” lamented Tang as an ace landed on the flop. Kulev had hit but Tang couldn’t follow up with a lady and he blew out his cheeks in frustration as his loss was Kulev’s gain. Tang left in fifth place for $752,000 on his occasion.

Queens Love Kulev Instead

With the final four players all looking to book their debut Triton wins, Tunisian player Maher Nouira was the man to miss out on that honor first. Once again, pocket queens let down the at-risk player as his ladies lost to Santerne’s pocket aces, sending Nouira to the rail with a career-high Triton score of $933,000.

Out in third place was the Chinese player Xu Liang. His pocket sevens lost to Alex Kulev’s KdQh when a flop saw two kings land for the Bulgarian chip leader. Liang left with $1,127,000 and Kulev’s stack of 10,250,000 was just 100,000 chips higher than Santerne’s stack. It was almost dead level.

Santerne took an early lead only for Kulev to double-up with pocket queens. The Bulgarian moved into a lead before Santerne committed all of his chips with pocket sevens. Kulev’s AdTc needed to improve and it did, a ten landing on the flop. Another ten fell on the turn and the Bulgarian was close. Only a seven would save Santerne on the river and it didn’t arrive, confirming Kulev’s stunning victory for the top prize of $2,566,000, with Santerne taking home $1,735,000 in second place.

Kulev’s victory is his best result in a poker career that has already won him over $13.2 million in live tournaments alone. That’s been enough over the past six months to elevate him from 204th in the world to 88th across the globe, above stars such as Darren Elias (95th), WSOP Main Event winner Joe Hachem (94th) and French star Benjamin Pollak (91st) on that list.

Triton Montenegro Event #8 $100,000 NLHE Final Table Results:
Place Place Country Prize
1st Alex Kulev Bulgaria $2,566,000
2nd Thomas Santerne France $1,735,000
3rd Xu Liang China $1,127,000
4th Maher Nouira Tunisia $933,000
5th Danny Tang Hong Kong $752,000
6th Daniel Dvoress Canada $594,000
7th Dylan Linde United States $454,000
8th Aleks Ponakovs Latvia $342,000
9th Bryn Kenney United States $255,000

Photographs courtesy of Joe Giron for the Triton Poker Series, proudly partnered by PokerStake.