2014 WCOOP ME winner – Fedor Holz: ‘Most players don’t sleep enough’

German pro Fedor Holz played his first Super High Roller at the Barcelona EPT, and shipped €58,000 in the €2,000 8-max event, before it was all eclipsed by his $1.3m score in the WCOOP Main Event. Luke Haward caught up with him after his huge win…

PokerPlayer: Congrats on the massive score! How does it feel?
Fedor Holz: It feels amazing – this is the most prestigious tournament online, and to win it is just indescribable.

You’re only 21 – when did you start playing?
About three years ago. I moved up too fast really from $2 sit-and-gos to $30 buy-ins. That was a mistake, but it created a great challenge for me that spurred me forwards. The big moments in recent years were shipping the Super Tuesday on PokerStars and an FTOPs ship on Full Tilt.

Did you play a lot of other WCOOP events this year?
I just played two! I was travelling in California, hiking in the mountains for most of the WCOOP.

You won a last minute satellite to the event – were you going to play it anyway?
I was already registered direct, but I always play the last minute satties because they are such good value. I would have played the Main Event either way though.

How do you prepare for such a long tournament?
I slept a lot. I deliberately slept through until 5pm that day. So that long sleep really helped me to maintain focus through the long Day 1. For Day 2 I woke myself up at 8pm! While that’s obviously extreme, I think most players don’t sleep enough, or get into a good cycle suited to the tough online grind. It’s so important.

What did you use your five minute breaks for?
Refilling my water! Sometimes I watch a motivational video, I’m a pretty big fan of those. If I start to feel I might not ship a tourney I watch one.

How did the event go overall, apart from winning it! It seems you were pretty stacked for most of it.
Yeah, I think there were maybe two phases where I was like okay, maybe I’m not winning. One was three-handed because of the chip stacks. Mentally, when there were about 30-40 players left I was convinced I was going to win it. I don’t know why.

How did you feel about the final table line-up?
I was happy with it. I had notes on everybody – I had one important read on a player which allowed me to win a lot of chips later on, a bet sizing tell.

The deal went on for a long time, and almost broke down over a single $1,000. Was there a lot of ego involved?
I think it’s reasonable and just a matter of plain value. It’s just a matter of time before someone chimes in and says, ‘just take the $1k.’ It depends on the ego of the table overall.

How did you feel mentally before and after the deal took place – did it take a lot of the pressure off?
It didn’t change much. Before the deal I wanted to win the tournament and after the deal I wanted to win the tournament. After the deal you do have a couple of minutes where you’re just crazily happy, but after the game resumed I just got on with it.

What’s the secret of your success?
Don’t feel down when it’s not going as planned. Being mentally balanced and having non-poker inputs around you is so important. Growing as a person, not just as a poker player, is the most important lesson I’ve learned I think.

What are your plans for the future?  
In poker, I really want to get a big live score. Winning the side event in Barcelona was so different from winning online – it just kicks me so much more. I will focus on playing all the big events, EPTs, the Super High Rollers. I also hope to start some business ventures too, maybe a start-up. Just as in poker, I aim to start small, learn from my mistakes, and maybe find some success.

Watch Fedor ‘CrownUpGuy’ Holz win the $1.3m!


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