Breaking Down the Action:
  • The First of His Kind
  • A British Double Breaks Records
  • European Duo Claim Glory
  • The Later Years Provide Drama
  • Romanello the Latest Triple Crown Winner

Winning a major event in poker is a massive feather in the cap of any player, but to win a World Series of Poker bracelet, a World Poker Tour Main Event and a European Poker Tour Main Event? It’s almost unheard of.

Only nine poker players have won poker’s elusive ‘Triple Crown’… but who are they?

Since the first winner of this prestigious trio of tournaments back in 2008, just eight others have replicated the achievement, with a surprising four British players featuring in the list.

Let’s take a look back through poker history at the winners and where they made their names.

The First of His Kind

The first Triple Crown was won back in 2008 by the American poker player Gavin Griffin, who sealed the deal by winning the three tournaments in an order that has never been replicated.

It was in 2004 that Griffin won his World Series bracelet, taking gold in the $3,000-entry Pot Limit Hold’em event for $270,420 that also featured Ram ‘Crazy Horse’ Vaswani (5th for $52,320) and a certain Phil Hellmuth, who won $34,880 for finishing 7th, a full 17 years before his grudge Heads-Up High Stakes Duel against Daniel Negreanu.

Gavin Griffin playing poker

Gavin Griffin was the first winner of poker’s fabled Triple Crown

Griffin (right) would have to wait three years to win an EPT Main Event, but when it came, it was one for the books. Taking down the Monte Carlo EPT Grand Final for a massive €1,825,010, Griffin outlasted players such as Vaswani (again) and Andy Black at the final table.

It took just nine months for Griffin to complete the set, winning the $9,700+300 WPT Borgata Winter Open, outlasting 506 others to triumph at an all-American final table featuring Noah Schwartz.

A British Double Breaks Records

The next two winners of the Triple Crown were both British, but they could hardly have been more different other than their nationality. Roland De Wolfe (below) triumphed at the Rendez Vous a Paris to win €479,680 and the WPT Main Event, before following that up with his EPT Dublin Main Event win 15 months later. It took De Wolfe almost four years to complete his set when he won the WSOP $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha hi/Lo event in Las Vegas for $246,616     – inspiration perhaps for any British players hoping to return to Sin City when the World Series of Poker returns to the Rio in September this year.

Roland de Wolfe

Legendary British pro Roland de Wolfe at the poker felt

Next to win the Triple Crown was the fastest winner in the history of poker, and it’s not even close. In January 2010, Britain had a ‘Brat Pack’ of highly-skilled players, all of whom seemed to know each other, and poster boy for this group was a young man from Rochdale by the name of Jake Cody. With a shock of black hair and a fearless nature at the felt, Cody was perfect for the time of poker he worked so hard to be a part of, and his domination of tournament poker was, at the time, untouchable.

First stop was the now-defunct EPT stop of Deauville, where Cody won €857,000 for his triumph against players such as Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald and Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier who, having already won an EPT and WPT, was going for the Triple Crown himself for three years. Little did he know that he would be beaten to it by the prodigious Brit inside a year and four months. Cody went from Deauville to winning the WPT London Poker Classic for £273,783 before travelling to Las Vegas the following summer to embark on his quest to make history.

Once in Sin City, Cody set about winning the bracelet, clinching it by winning one of the hardest ones of all – the $25,000-entry Heads-Up Championship. By beating Gus Hansen in the semi-final and Yevgeniy Timoshenko in the final, Jake Cody became both the youngest player ever to win a Triple Crown and the player to do it in the fastest time as he sat on top of the poker world aged just 22.

European Duo Claim Glory

As we mentioned, Grospellier would watch as Cody got there first, but his own Triple Crown victory was sealed in a very different manner. If anything, he was quicker to win his first two trophies, with his PCA win in 2008 earning him a cool $2 million and his victory later that year at the Festa Al Lago Classic for $1.4m on the World Poker Tour coming just nine months after his EPT win.  

It then took Grospellier three years to seal the treble, however, as he won the $10,000-entry Seven Card Stud Championship in Las Vegas to become the fourth Triple Crown winner.

Belgian poker player Davidi Kitai

Belgian poker player Davidi Kitai won his Triple Crown in controversial fashion

The fifth winner of the Triple Crown was fellow European Davidi Kitai (left), who hails for Belgium. Kitai’s wins at the 2008 WSOP in PLO and 2009 WPT Celebrity Invitational event set up his chance to complete the Triple Crown, which many considered controversial. The Invitational event may have featured almost 500 terrific players, but some fans argued the legitimacy of the win as a Main Event. The World Poker Tour moved to clarify the tournament as a bona fide Main Event and when Kitai won the 2011 EPT Berlin Main Event for €712,000, his hat-trick was complete.

The Later Years Provide Drama

There were three Triple Crown winners in one year in 2017, with two Americans and one Brit all winning WSOP bracelets to seal their achievement in that year. Mohsin Charania won the EPT Grand Final in 2012 in Monte Carlo to take home €1,350,000, and would add the WPT Grand Prix de Paris and Five Diamond in Paris and Las Vegas respectively to double the second leg of the three required. Only a WSOP bracelet would do, however, and Charania waited four years before winning the $1,500-entry NLHE event at the 48th World Series of Poker and land the Triple Crown.

Harrison Gimbel playing poker

American Harrison Gimbel, one of three Triple Crown winners from the U.S.A.

Charania’s countryman Harrison Gimbel (right) claimed his Triple Crown by winning at the 2017 World Series when he won a $3,000 buy-in NLHE event. It had been seven years since that journey had started for Gimbel, with his 2010 PCA Main Event win followed by a WPT Rolling Thunder victory in 2016.

The final Triple Crown winner of 2017 was British poker legend Niall Farrell. Known as Firaldo, Farrell won the EPT Malta Main Event in 2015 before scooping up the WPT Caribbean title in 2016. That only left the bracelet win to complete the set and Farrell achieved that dream in November 2017, winning the $25,000 High Roller in Rozvadov for €745,287.

This look at Farrell’s incredible career highlights the sacrifices and study that have been the cornerstones of his poker journey:

Romanello the Latest Triple Crown Winner

Plenty of modern poker stories involve players winning major titles online, of course. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting live tournaments almost without exception, it was to be expected that an online tournament would win one player the Triple Crown.

Roberto Romanello

Roberto Romanello is the latest player to win the Triple Crown

That Roberto Romanello (right) waited almost a decade to achieve his dream is something else, however and after winning EPT Prague in 2010 and the WPT Bratislava Main Event three months later, the Welsh Wizard would wrap up an emotional Triple Crown victory almost a decade after he started it last year when he won the $1,500-entry NLHE event on GGPoker.

Stay tuned to Gamble Online this week for an exclusive interview with Roberto Romanello as we look at what a Triple Crown should mean and whether the trio of events specified in the past should still be the only majors that count towards a Triple Crown.

Poker Triple Crown Winners in Order:

# Player Country EPT WPT WSOP Time to Achieve
1  Gavin Griffin U.S.A. 2007 2008 2004 3 years, 8 months
2  Roland De Wolfe United Kingdom 2006 2005 2009 3 years, 10 months
3  Jake Cody United Kingdom 2010 2010 2011 1 year, 4 months
4  Bertrand Grospellier France 2008 2008 2011 3 years, 5 months
5  Davidi Kitai Belgium 2012 2011 2008 3 years, 10 months
6  Mohsin Charania U.S.A. 2012 2013 2017 5 years, 2 months
7  Harrison Gimbel U.S.A. 2010 2016 2017 7 years, 6 months
8  Niall Farrell United Kingdom 2015 2016 2017 2 years, 1 month
9  Roberto Romanello United Kingdom 2010 2011 2020 9 years, 7 months

 

Paul Seaton

Paul Seaton has written about poker for many years, travelling the world to report live from such poker events as the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour. As well as reporting live from the felt, Paul was Editor of BLUFF Europe magazine and has written for major poker brands including PokerStars, 888poker and partypoker where he was Head of Media. Paul has interviewed many of the world’s greatest poker players, such as Sam Trickett, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Bryn Kenney, the current all-time money list leader.

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