Jason Koon has accumulated just shy of $33 million in poker tournament earnings throughout his career, placing him ninth on the game’s all-time money list. Heading into this summer, the 35-year-old poker pro from West Virginia had 22 tournament titles under his belt. Koon had not come out on top in a tournament for more than two years, though, with a large part of his drought attributable to the live tournament shutdown of most of 2020. Now that the live poker scene is amidst a boom following the re-opening of poker rooms around the globe, Koon has returned to the felt and quickly found his way to the winner’s circle.
Less than a month removed from his first post-shutdown tournament cash, Koon emerged victorious in the 2021 PokerGO Cup $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em high roller. He overcame a field of 36 entries to capture the title and the first-place prize of $324,000.
Koon has now made six cashes since the start of June, adding more than $860,000 to his lifetime earnings in the process. His recent victory saw him earn 336 Card Player Player of the Year points. When combined with his 640 prior points, earned for a third-place showing in the $50,000 event at the U.S. Poker Open and a runner-up finish in a $10,000 buy-in PokerGO Cup event, Koon now sits inside the top 100 in the 2021 POY race standings, which are sponsored by Global Poker.
With both first and second-place finishes through the first six events of the PokerGO Cup, Koon now sits in second place in the player of the series standings. The 240 PokerGO Tour points he earned for his win have moved him into 17th place on that leaderboard.
The final day of this event began with John Riordan in the lead and Koon on the second-shortest stack among the remaining six players. Steve Zolotow was the first to fall. He ended up running top pair into the nut flush of Riordan. The chips went in on the river, with Zolotow calling all-in to bust in sixth place. The two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and Card Player columnist earned $45,000 for his sixth cash in the past two months.
Cary Katz’s run in this event came to an end in a brutal fashion. He got the last of his stack in with pocket kings against the KJ of Koon on a jack-high board. Koon had just two outs. One of those outs was the J, which rolled off the deck on the turn to leave Katz in rough shape. No help came on the river and Katz was eliminated in fifth place ($72,000). The score increased his lifetime tournament earnings to just shy of $31.4 million.
Thomas Winters was the shortest stack through much of short-handed play, but managed to find some crucial double-ups to stay afloat until the next elimination took place. Anuj Agarwal lost the majority of his stack in a preflop race against Koon, falling to less than four big blinds after his suited overcards failed to run down Koon’s pocket sixes. Shortly after that, Agarwal got all-in with J9. Koon picked up AA and three-bet small. John Riordan four-bet shoved with K10, having both of his opponents covered. Koon quickly called and the flop came down QJ8, giving Riordan an open-ended straight draw. The 6 changed nothing on the turn. The 3 on the river was also a blank, and Koon took down the massive side pot to take a commanding lead into the final three. Agarwal earned $99,000 for his strong showing.
Riordan was the next to fall. He got all-in preflop with A10 leading Koon’s Q9. Koon found a nine on the turn to move into the lead in the hand, and dodged an ace or a ten on the river to send Riordan to the rail in third place ($144,000).
Koon took more than a 12:1 chip lead into heads-up play. The final battle lasted just a few hands. In the end, Thomas Winters moved all-in with K6 after Koon limped in with 99 on the button. Koon made the call and flopped top set. The final board of 964QA secured both the pot and the title for Koon, while Winters took home $216,000 as the runner-up.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:
Photo credits: PokerGO / Antonio Abrego.