$5,300 High Roller
Days:
123

Event Info

Buy-in $5,300
Prize Pool $676,200
Players 147

Level Info

Level 31
Blinds 125,000 / 250,000
Ante 250,000

Players Info - Day 3

Players Left 1
Entries 17
$5,300 High Roller
Day 3 Completed

Toni Kaukua Picks Up Dominant Win in $5,300 High Roller at Merit Poker Western Series ($170,000)

jeffmcmillan • Level 31: Blinds 125,000-250,000, 250,000 ante
Toni Kaukua
Toni Kaukua

The Merit Poker Western Series has reached its conclusion with the $5,300 High Roller coming to an end in the early morning after an exciting final day. Some 147 entries made for a $676,200 prizepool, which was more than double the guarantee. Only 17 players returned today to battle for the $170,000 grand prize.

Coming out on top with the grand prize victory to his name was Toni Kaukua of Finland who scored his biggest live poker result by a significant margin. The mainly online player has a plethora of big online results, but had a much lighter live resume before this event with his biggest live cash prior this being for just over $29,000.

2023 Merit Western Poker Series Final Table Results

PlacePlayerPrize Money
1Toni Kaukua$170,000
2Andreas Christoforou$119,400
3Roman Kolotiuk$77,100
4Joseph Mouwad$57,200
5Viktor Ustimov$43,000
6Fausto Tantillo$34,500
7Osman Ihlamur$28,700
8Iulian-Remus Blebea$23,100
9Yauhen Kontush$17,500

Winner's Reaction

This victory nearly didn’t happen as he explained afterward. He entered at the very end of registration on Day 2 to ride to the victory.

“I used three bullets and I bought the last one and the very last moment that it was possible,” Kaukua said in his post-win interview.

Kaukua entered the day as one of the larger stacks.

“I think from the moment I sat down, I just felt good. I just felt that I had such a big edge that I could nail this thing down.”

And nail it down he did indeed as he was the steady force throughout the day, gathering chips from the onset of the day and continuing to rise. He would hold the advantage at the top for much of the day, as the carnage would ensue among the shorter stacks below him.

Action of the Day

The day began with 17 players and would kick off quickly as the third largest stack, Jenya Gavrilovich shockingly went out in 16th place to start of day chip leader Fausto Tantillo to begin the day with some fireworks. After that, the eliminations would come very rapidly as half the field was lost in the ruckus and the final table was reached in under two hours.

After a break, the nine remaining players returned to battle at the final table where things would not go according to chip count plan. The final table largely became a game of chicken with the multiple very short stacks waiting to see who would blink first.

Yauhen Kontush ran an unsuccessful three-barrel bluff to cut his stack from one of the large ones to the short stack where he would succumb in ninth place as the first exit from the final table. Iulian-Remus Blebea joined him to the rail shortly after in eighth place.

Turkish local player Osman Ihlamur started the final table as the big chip leader as he had a great start to the day. But things would not go as swimmingly at the final table as he lost multiple big pots and be ousted in seventh place. The same story would happen to Tantillo as his once big stack chip lead would not last and he was eliminated in sixth place.

The main beneficiary of the large stacks faltering was Viktor Ustimov, who was down as low as two big blinds at one point and was able to claw his way to several pay jumps with his small stack into a fifth-place finish.

The elder statesman of the final day by some distance was Joseph Mouwad of Lebanon who showed his skills by having an impressive display on the stream which was enough to earn him a fourth-place finish.

Roman Kolotiuk was one of the most interesting characters at the final table as he embraced the western theme with a cowboy hat and was often talking with his opponents. He had an up-and-down day that ended on a high as he gained momentum late to make it to third place.

Andreas Christoforou was one of the more entertaining players at the final table as he was often the driver of action with a wide opening range and showed multiple times that he was not afraid to put his chips to work. That style worked wonders against many of the short stacks and Christoforou was able to make it into heads-up play against Kaukua.

Heads-up play would last for about 30 minutes as Kaukua’s advantage remained the same throughout with the trading of small pots before the Finn was able to end it for the title.

That wraps things up for PokerNews here on the glistening shores of North Cyprus after a successful Merit Poker Western Series.

Tags: Andreas ChristoforouFausto TantilloIulian-Remus BlebeaJenya GavrilovichJoseph MouwadOsman IhlamurRoman KolotiukToni KaukuaViktor UstimovYauhen Kontush

Andreas Christoforou Eliminated in 2nd Place ($119,400)

jeffmcmillan • Level 31: Blinds 125,000-250,000, 250,000 ante
Andreas Christoforou
Andreas Christoforou

After a series of back and forth small pots, Toni Kaukua raised from the small blind with the {a-Hearts}{9-Diamonds} to 600,000. Andreas Christoforou three-bet jammed in the big blind with the {a-Clubs}{4-Spades} and Kaukua snap-called.

The flop came {2-Clubs}{6-Spades}{j-Clubs}. The turn was the {3-Clubs} to open up a plethora of outs for Christoforou but the river was the {8-Diamonds} to end it and eliminate Christoforou in second place.

Toni Kaukua fi
Toni Kaukua
fi 14,700,000 4,700,000
Andreas Christoforou cy
Andreas Christoforou
cy Busted

Tags: Andreas ChristoforouToni Kaukua

Kaukua Takes One With Turn Lead

jeffmcmillan • Level 31: Blinds 125,000-250,000, 250,000 ante

Toni Kaukua limped the small blind with the {q-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}, while Andreas Christoforou checked his option from the big blind with the {9-Spades}{8-Hearts}.

The flop came {10-Diamonds}{k-Spades}{8-Spades}. Christoforou bet 250,000 and Kaukua called.

The turn came the {a-Clubs}. Kaukua led for 1,250,000 which shed Christoforou.

Toni Kaukua fi
Toni Kaukua
fi 10,000,000 -725,000
Andreas Christoforou cy
Andreas Christoforou
cy 4,700,000 725,000

Tags: Andreas ChristoforouToni Kaukua

Level:
31
Blinds:
125,000/250,000
Ante:
250,000

Roman Kolotiuk Eliminated in 3rd Place ($77,100)

jeffmcmillan • Level 30: Blinds 100,000-200,000, 200,000 ante
Roman Kolotiuk
Roman Kolotiuk

Roman Kolotiuk jammed from the button for 2,220,000 with the {3-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}. Andreas Christoforou was in the small blind with the {7-Hearts}{7-Clubs} and jammed as well for slightly more. Toni Kaukua had the {8-Spades}{8-Spades} in the big blind and had a big decision on his hands. He eventually would fold.

The board would not help Kolotiuk as it came {9-Spades}{2-Diamonds}{q-Spades}{k-Spades}{5-Clubs} to leave him with less than one big blind which he would lose shortly afterwards.

Andreas Christoforou cy
Andreas Christoforou
cy 4,700,000 3,000,000
Roman Kolotiuk ru
Roman Kolotiuk
ru Busted

Tags: Andreas ChristoforouRoman KolotiukToni Kaukua

Joseph Mouwad Eliminated in 4th Place ($57,200)

jeffmcmillan • Level 30: Blinds 100,000-200,000, 200,000 ante
Joseph Mouwad
Joseph Mouwad

From the cutoff, Joseph Mouwad jammed from the cutoff for 1,300,000 with the {3-Hearts}{3-Spades}.
Toni Kaukua re-jammed from the button with the {a-Clubs}{j-Clubs} to isolate.

The flop came {k-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}{a-Spades} to sent Mouwad to the brink of elimination. The turn was the {2-Diamonds} and the river came the {2-Spades} to end his run in fourth place.

Toni Kaukua fi
Toni Kaukua
fi 10,300,000 2,230,000
Joseph Mouwad lb
Joseph Mouwad
lb Busted

Tags: Joseph MouwadToni Kaukua

Mouwad Left With Crumbs

jeffmcmillan • Level 30: Blinds 100,000-200,000, 200,000 ante

Joseph Mouwad jammed 1,735,000 from the button with the {a-Clubs}{4-Hearts}. Roman Kolotiuk called in the big blind with the {9-Hearts}{9-Clubs} with slightly more chips.

The flop came {2-Diamonds}{9-Spades}{8-Hearts} to give Kolotiuk a set. The turn was the {10-Clubs} and the river was the {k-Diamonds} to leave Mouwad with just two big blinds.

Roman Kolotiuk ru
Roman Kolotiuk
ru 2,700,000 900,000
Joseph Mouwad lb
Joseph Mouwad
lb 475,000 -1,680,000

Tags: Joseph MouwadRoman Kolotiuk

Level:
30
Blinds:
100,000/200,000
Ante:
200,000