It has been quite the profitable fortnight for Belgian poker pro Pieter Aerts. The three largest recorded scores of his tournament poker career have all come in the past two weeks, totaling more than $2.5 million between them. Arts run kicked off with a win in the World Series of Poker Online $5,000 six-max event for $400,213 and his first gold bracelet. Just a handful of days after that, he finished third in a $10,000 buy-in event during the same series, adding another $586,020. The biggest payday of them all came this week, though, when he defeated a field of 117 entries in the 2022 Triton Mediterranean Poker Party $50,000 six-max no-limit hold’em event, earning $1,472,000.
Aerts now has more than $2.9 million in recorded career earnings on the live circuit and in online events with full real-name results. His big win in Cyprus came just a few days after he was knocked out on the stone money bubble of the $25,000 buy-in kickoff event of the series.
“Obviously, I feel very, very good,” Aerts told Triton reporters after bouncing back from that bubble to win this event. “I got luck to be in this position, but I guess that’s always the case.”
In addition to the title and the money, Aerts was also awarded 1,020 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year, but it alone was sufficient to move him within reach of the top 400 in the POY race standings presented by Global Poker. He also earned 700 PokerGO Tour points as the champion, enough to climb to just outside the top 60 on that leaderboard.
The strong turnout for this event built a prize pool of $5,850,000 that was paid out among the top 17 finishers. Day 2 began with nearly twice as many players remaining. Eventually, Vladi Chaoulov was knocked out on the bubble to ensure that the remaining contenders all cashed for at least $92,000. Among those to make the money were reigning WSOP main event champion Espen Jorstad (17th), bracelet winner Ben Heath (16th), high-stakes online star Linus Loeliger (13th), Winning Poker Network CEO Phil Nagy (11th), Paul Phua (10th), bracelet winner and four-time Triton champion Jason Koon (9th), and two-time bracelet winner Fedor Holz (7th).
Isaac Haxton was the first to hit the rail at the official final table. He called all-in from the big blind with 88 for 13 big blinds facing a button shove from Matthias Eibinger, who held A3. Eibinger spiked an ace on the flop and held from there to narrow the field to five. Haxton earned $340,300 for his sixth-place finish, increasing his lifetime earnings to nearly $31.6 million in the process.
Despite winning that pot, Eibinger was ultimately the next to fall. He lost a sizable pot where his turned nine-high straight was beaten by a rivered ten-high straight for Aerts. Shortly after that he ran A-Q into the A-K suited of Sam Grafton to be left on fumes. His final hand was another case of a dominated ace, with his A-10 being in rough shape against the A-Q of recent Triton event winner Ben Tollerene. Eibinger picked up the nut flush draw on the flop and a straight draw on the turn, but was eliminated in fifth place when the river was a blank. He earned $431,800, bringing his career total to more than $12 million.
Tollerene was the shortest stack, even after knocking out Eibinger. In his last hand, big-stack bully Aerts open-shoved from the button with K-10 suited. Tollerene called off his last 13 or so big blinds with A-8 suited of the same suit. Aerts turned a pair of tens to take the lead and avoided Tollerene’s overcard and open-ended straight outs to secure the pot. Tollerene was awarded $535,000 as the fourth-place finisher, bringing his earnings for the series to more than $1.3 million.
Kannapong Thanarattrakul lost a big pot with a multi-way draw blanking out against the pocket sixes of Grafton to fall to just over six big blinds. He eventually got all-in with Q-7 trailing the K-7 suited of Aerts. King high played in the end to send Thanarattrakul home in third place ($646,500). This was his second cash of the series, having also placed tenth in the previous event for $75,000.
With that, Aerts took better than a 2:1 chip lead into heads-up play with Grafton, with the shorter stack still having 48 big blinds to play with when cards got back in the air. The two battled it out for a bit, with Aerts able to extend his advantage a bit from the starting point by the time the final hand was dealt.
Aerts limped in for 250,000 from the button with A2. Grafton looked down at AQ and raised to 1,250,000. Aerts limp-shoved for 6,450,000 effective out of his 16,700,000 stack and Grafton quickly called. The board ran out J9726 and a turned pair of deuces was enough to lock up the pot and the title for Aerts. Grafton earned $994,500 as the runner-up, the second-largest score of his career. He now has more than $6.4 million in recorded earnings to his name.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:
|Place||Player||Earnings||POY Points||PGT Points|
Photo credits: Joe Giron / Triton Poker.