WSOP 2016 One Drop: Holz on a heater

He’s only 22 but on the eve of his biggest win to date the German pro announces that this will be his last ‘full WSOP’

Fedor Holz first appeared on our radar in the summer of 2014. The young-looking 20-year-old won a side event at EPT Barcelona and then finished fourth in the next before cashing in the Main Event and the €10k High Roller.

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He followed that up by winning the WCOOP Main Event, playing as CrownUpGuy, for $1.3m. Kid on a heater? Not exactly. Over the next year Holz became a fixture on the live circuit, playing the Super High Rollers – he finished fourth and seventh in the €50k and the €100k at the EPT Grand Final for a combined haul of €667,300. It was clear back then we were looking at another German superstar.

At last year’s WSOP – the first Holz was legally allowed to play – he came third in the $10k Six-Handed event and then made a super deep run in the Main Event, threatening the November Nine but eventually crashing out in 25th for a cash of $262,574. If that felt brutal it’s fair to say that he’s been on the right side of variance ever since.

In December, Holz won a $100k buy-in WPT Alpha event for his first seven-figure score of $1,589,219. Two weeks later he won the $200k buy-in WPT Super High Roller in the Philippines for $3,463,500. That’s the sort of win that doesn’t come round too often but it took Holz less than five months to top it when he finished runner-up in the $300k Super High Roller Bowl at the Aria for $3.5m. Staying with the Aria for the time being, Holz won three more High Roller events for $637,392, $393,120 and $276,012 respectively, before chopping another for $407,310.

And his ridiculous run didn’t stop there. When Holz won this year’s $111,111 One Drop High Roller, he took the biggest cash of his short career – $4,981,775. It means that just this year he’s won an astonishing $14,658,144. To put that into context, it puts Holz first on the all-time Germany winnings list, ahead of high stakes veterans like Ole Schemion, Tobias Reinkemeier and Philip Gruissem, and ninth on the all-time money list, just behind Phil Hellmuth and Scott Seiver. And he’s only 22.

Hotter than the sun

He might have the skills to beat the world’s best but you need luck to win a poker tournament too, and Holz is running like god at the moment. One short passage of play from the final table of the One Drop High Roller sums it up. With six players left, Jack Salter limped UTG, Holz limped on the button and Joe McKeehen checked his option in the big blind. The flop came down Q♥-J♥-3♥ and Salter bet 1,450,000. Holz called and McKeehen moved all-in. Salter folded and Holz quickly called. McKeehen had flopped the second nut flush with K♥-6♥ but was drawing dead against Holz’s A♥-T♥. McKeehen was out in sixth for $829,792.

The very next hand Holz moved all-in from the cutoff with A♦-9♦ and was called by Brian Green with J♥-J♠. The board came down A♥-5♥-5♦-A♠-6♦ to eliminate Green in fifth. And Holz wasn’t done there. He moved his stack all-in on the next hand as well, this time with K♥-7♥. Jack Salter was his victim this time, calling with T♠-T♦ and seeing a op of K♠-Q♠-6♥. If that wasn’t bad enough the 5♥ turn meant he was drawing to one out, which he didn’t find on the J♥ river.

Dan Smith took out Koray Aldemir in third but he couldn’t cope with Holz on a heater either. He did take the chip lead for a short time but doubled the German pro up with two pair against trip Sixes and lost a few hands later. Holz moved all-in with the bigger stack with 7♣-8♣. He was behind Smith’s A♠-9♠ and stayed behind on the T♠-9♣-2♥ op, but not for long. Holz was open-ended and made his straight on the 6♣ turn. The A♣ river improved him, unnecessarily, to a flush.

‘I’ve played a lot of online poker, so I think I understand the variance pretty well,’ Holz said after his win. ‘I think I’m on a heater that will only happen once, to me at least, and I just am trying to appreciate it and enjoy my time while it lasts.’

And, despite only being 22, Holz also said that this would be his last full WSOP. ‘The WSOP has been very interesting, with lots of different emotions,’ he said. ‘But there are just too many situations in which I don’t enjoy it 100%. Poker gives me freedom, and I don’t want to give that up. I feel like in Vegas, I give too much of it up. I’ve decided that I’m not going to do it like this anymore.’ If he sticks to his word the rest of the poker world can breathe a sigh of relief.

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Lower stakes players do their bit for one drop charity

The $10k Main event is normally the last bracelet event of the year in las Vegas, but this year the organisers did something different. They scheduled the $1,111 buy-in little one for one drop charity event afterwards to mop up the bust-outs from day 1 of the big one. It attracted a decent 4,360 runners, down from last year’s 4,550, but it will still be seen as a success. As the last bracelet event of the summer it attracted a lot of big name pros all keen to take their last shot at the gold. The likes of Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Jason Mercier mixed it with the amateur players to create a real epic feel.

It was a fast and furious format as well – just 786 players made it back to the combined day 2, with Yaron Zeev Malki out in front of big names like Jeff Madsen, Daniel Negreanu, Martin Jacobson and Benny Glaser. Malki made it through day 2 as well, with a stack good for 14th. Madsen survived too (30th), along with Calvin Anderson (11th), Chris Ferguson (25th), Marvin Rettenmaier (56th) and Benny Spindler (73rd).

Only 12 players made it through day 3. Malki fell in 35th ($14,138), Rettenmaier (38th), Ferguson (58th), Madsen (63rd) and Spindler (95th) were also eliminated. Thai Tolly had the chip lead, with Calvin Anderson in second and Ryan D’angelo in third.

Anderson had already won a bracelet but if he was one of the most experienced players left in the tournament he still had to rely on luck to keep him alive. He was down to 8bb when he picked up a-t in middle position. He shoved and was called by Lucas Blanco who had aces. The Q-Q-6 flop was pretty bad for Anderson and it looked like he was heading out, but the board ran out K-J to deliver him an unlikely straight.

He capitalised on his fortune and with five players left he had half of the chips in play and was cruising to victory. When he knocked out Ryan D’angelo in third only pro Michael Tureniec stood between him and his second bracelet.

Anderson had double the chips of the Swede but Tureniec was made of stern stuff. He dug in and over the course of 69 hands wrestled the chip lead off anderson and sealed an emphatic comeback win when he called a shove with Q-J and hit a Jack on the flop. It’s Tureniec’s only cash at this year’s WSOP but it was a chunky one.

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