Amid a packed fan rail where one side sported black “KORAY” t-shirts and the other in white with “Show em the Lights – Bring it on Holmes” printed on, the exciting conclusion of the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event World Championship had just unfolded. And it couldn’t have been a more climactic end as Germany’s Koray Aldemir tank-called USA’s George Holmes monster shove to take down the biggest and most coveted title in the world of poker. Aldemir was crowned the 52nd world champion and became the first player from Germany to win this prestigious event. For his outstanding achievement, he clasped the championship gold bracelet and scored the gargantuan US$ 8,000,000 champion’s purse.
On the final hand with both players still deep Aldemir (84 BB) was ahead of Holmes by just 5 BB. Holmes raised on the button, Aldemir called. At the flop , Aldemir check-raised his flopped two pair, Holmes called, the turn came giving Holmes top pair. Switching it up, Aldemir led out and Holmes flat-called. The river , Aldemir checked, Holmes announced an all in overbet, Aldemir tanked for a few minutes then called. Holmes turned over his top pair, Aldemir showed his US$ 8 Million victory hand, and headed to his booming rail filled with emotion. Upon speaking to media, Aldemir said,
“On the flop, I kind of have the nuts almost all the time. On the turn still happy. My plan was to check-call on the river because he showed he was capable, but I had to think about it because it’s a big moment obviously. If I lose the hand I don’t have much left. I’m glad I made the call. It’s the one tournament family and friends know of basically. It does mean a lot to me to win it.”
Final day rundown
The final day of the Main Event saw the return of three players. Aldemir entered as massive chip leader and as the most accomplished in live tournaments. Prior to the victory, his past tracked earnings amounted to over US$ 4 Million, the bulk of it gained at two events – US$ 2,154,265 for 3rd place at the 2016 WSOP $111,111 NL Hold’em High Roller for One Drop and ~US$ 1,292,500 for his win a the 2017 Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Philippines Main Event. Third place finisher Jack Oliver from the UK had roughly US$ 117K in earnings and Holmes only had one prior tournament cash of US$ 50,855 for placing 213th at the 2019 WSOP Main Event.
Given Aldemir’s portfolio and chip advantage, he was clearly favored to win, however before doing so, he had to overcome the fearless Holmes who mixed it up with big bets and calls during their heads up bout that lasted 55 hands. Holmes entered the final day running last in chips then grinded down Oliver, eventually cleaning him out in 3rd place with outdrawing on a board . He entered heads up nearly 2:1 behind Aldemir.
Early heads up action was dominated by Holmes who overtook Aldemir on just the eighth hand. From there, it was clear that this would be no easy ride for the German pro. Aldemir regained command and held on for several hands until Holmes tabled two pair with on a board . The chip lead bounced back and forth between them, and with just a 5 BB difference to Aldemir’s advantage, the final hand was tabled.
Main Event recap
The 52nd World Series of Poker headliner Main Event was unlike any other this year. For starters, it was uncertain as to how many would attend given the vaccination requirement and travel restrictions. However, when the US announced it would open its borders on November 8, the WSOP immediately added two more entry days, and for the first time in history, late registration was open on Day 2. After the rush, the event attracted 6,650 players for a more than worthy prize pool of US$ 62,011,250. In fact, the turnout was just 100 players shy of the 2016 and 2017 Main Events. Out of the 1,000 players that earned a profit, the final 9 players each banked a life changing seven digits.
Among the players that attended were numerous past Main Event champions, Doyle Brunson, Scotty Nguyen, Johnny Chan, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Moneymaker, Joe Hachem, Ryan Riess, Jerry Yang, Hossein Ensan, Joe McKeehen, Qui Nguyen, Martin Jacobson, Adrian Mateos, Scott Blumstein, and defending champion Damian Salas. Also making an appearance was German pro Fedor Holz.
The money bubble burst signifying the end of Day 3 with 1,000 players remaining. Kevin Campbell’s were cracked by Chris Alafogiannis two pair on a board . As consolation, Campbell was given a seat to the 2022 WSOP Main Event. At the end of Day 4, the field trimmed to 292 players with Spain’s Ramon Colillas as chip leader and Germany’s Koray Aldemir wedged quietly in the middle of the pack. Also in the mix were 11 Asian players led by Singapore’s Norbert Koh.
By the end of Day 5, only 96 remained with Aldemir as frontrunner and Colillas down to second rank. The last of the past Main Event champions had also departed. Qui Nguyen fell in 241st place and Moneymaker in 260th place. Three Asian players remained which dropped to just one by the end of Day 6. Bracelet winner Abhinav Iyer fell in 60th place and Japan’s Mikiya Kudo in 51st place. On Day 7, Koh finished in 27th place for US$ 241,800, Colillas was stopped in 14th place, and Aldemir railed both Ark Onikul (12th) and Demosthenes Kiriopoulos (10th) to form the final nine with a towering stack that dwarfed all others. All nine were guaranteed a minimum US$ 1 Million dollars.
The final table race to victory ran for two days with the only bracelet holder in the mix, Chase Bianchi ousted in 9th place by Oliver. Holmes emptied out Jareth East, and Alejandro Lococo couldn’t produce a back to back victory for Argentina as he fell to the leader Aldemir in 7th place. Aldemir’s improved to a full house on the flop to beat Lococo’s who called for all his chips on the river. Next on Aldemir’s chopping block was Hye Park whose pocket sevens were outdrawn by Ace-Queen offsuit, queen on the turn. Thirty-one hands later, Turkey’s last hope, Ozgur Secilmis, met the Aldemir axe in 5th place. The day closed with Joshua Remitio eliminated by Oliver in 4th place.
On the final day, each player was guaranteed US$ 3 Million. Leading up to the win, a total of 98 hands were played. Oliver tumbled out in 3rd place on the 43rd hand with Holmes raking it in. During the next 55 hands, Aldemir lost his once massive lead to Holmes, then both played tug of war for command. With only 5 BB separating them and Aldemir ahead, the winning moment arrived. Aldemir shipped the coveted title with two pair over top pair. With this win, he zoomed into third rank at the WSOP Player of the Year race and fourth rank at the No Limits Velo leaderboard. To date, Aldemir’s live tournament career earnings climbed to a massive US$ 12 Million.
Final table payouts
1st Koray Aldemir – Germany – US$ 8,000,000
2nd George Holmes – USA – US$ 4,300,000
3rd Jack Oliver – UK – US$ 3,000,000
4th Joshua Remitio – USA – US$ 2,300,000
5th Ozgur Secilmis – Turkey – US$ 1,800,000
6th Hye Park – USA – US$ 1,400,000
7th Alejandro Lococo – Argentina – US$ 1,225,000
8th Jareth East – UK – US$ 1,100,000
9th Chase Bianchi – USA – US$ 1,000,000
Stay tuned to Somuchpoker as we bring you recaps of the remaining bracelet events as they conclude.