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When Winning a Poker Tournament Feels Like a Dream

“This is insane what’s happening! Is this even real life?”


poker tournament winner

Photo: Triton


Mark 'Weazel_1991' Rubbathan got the chance to experience what dreams are made of at the Triton Super High Roller Series in Hoi An, Vietnam.


Coming into the poker tournament, his lifetime live earnings sat around a modest $45,000. He was certainly a poker pro, but far from a high roller—he had even qualified to play in the Triton tournament instead of buying in outright.


He was best known for his Twitch stream, where he grinded out low stakes tables in front of his community to turn $1,000 into $10,000.


Winning the Triton tournament turned his life upside down. Taking home the trophy and $609,000, he won 13.5 times more in a single day than he had won in his entire career.


The Final Table


“I have made the final table,” says Rubbathan in a documentary. “Eight players left to get through. Every decision is super easy. I just look down at Jacks and go all in, look down at Ace-King and go all-in, and win. If that can keep happening,” he laughs, “I’d be pretty f---ing happy.”


While we’re sure that skill was essential to overcoming the tough field at the final table, Rubbathan himself admits that he was a bit of a luck sack. “It’s completely surreal,” he says. “Everything’s kind of a blur. Just all the hands! I just keep getting good hands and going all in. I’m running obscenely well.”


Before long, he’s heads-up for a Triton title against Limitless, a known high-stakes crusher. Though Rubbathan has a bigger stack, he loses a couple big hands and lets Limitless double up. “Maybe there’s a chance he comes back,” he thinks.


When Limitless shoves with K9, Rubbathan calls with J9c. He’s dominated and it doesn’t look good. The flop brings Qc6h8h, giving Rubbathan a gutshot and backdoor clubs in addition to a Jack as outs.


The turn is the Ace of diamonds: no good. With the backdoor clubs gone, he’s left with 16% equity.


“Then the Jack of diamonds rolls off, and I’m like ‘Oh, wait a minute, I’ve won,’” he recounts after hoisting the trophy.


The Moneymaker Effect


In a cloud of euphoria, someone hands a phone to Rubbathan who is delighted to find Chris Moneymaker himself on the other end of a video call. “Oh my god, the man himself! I did a you!” exclaims Rubbathan.


Just like Chris Moneymaker’s meteoric rise to going from a virtual nobody to a poker hero overnight, Rubbathan has followed in his footsteps. Like so many others, he got into poker because of the Moneymaker effect—the chance to turn nothing into something huge—and here he is living the dream.


Just having Moneymaker say congrats to him is “again, so surreal,” says Rubbathan.


“Once I get the trophy back home, that’s when it’s really gonna feel real…” he concludes. “This whole experience has been like a dream, like a fairytale.”


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