Fedor Holz is the winner of the 2016 High Roller for One Drop at the World Series of Poker.
The widely-respected 22-year-old poker prodigy and online sensation, a high-stakes poker pro from Germany, won the $111,111 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which was played over three days and nights at the Rio in Las Vegas.
For Holz, this was a smashing arrival on the public poker scene after becoming a near-mythological figure in online and sequestered high-limit cash game icon.
“I just so feel overwhelmed. I didn’t think it would be like this,” said an out-of-breath Holz just moments after winning his first gold bracelet. “I’m really happy right now….I was very focused coming into this. I told my friends even, that this was going to be a very important week. I had such a great feeling about this tournament and felt really intense about it, which is why it means so much to me to win it.”
The highly-competitive charity-themed event won by Holz has come to attract not only the best poker players in the world, but also leaders in business and finance, as well as some celebrities.
The One Drop initiative, originally created five years ago by grandmaster showman Guy Laliberte, founder of the Cirque Du Soleil global empire, along with his close friend and fellow Montreal native, Mitch Garber, CEO of Caesars Interactive Entertainment is the biggest charity event in gaming. So far, annual “One Drop-themed” tournaments held at the WSOP have raised more than $10 million combined since their inception -- all the funds raised going to the noble cause to help humanity. One Drop refers to several projects which actively help to provide clean water to peoples in developing countries.
That said, this talented group of poker players who entered might have been playing to raise money and awareness for a great charity. However, they weren’t in a charitable mood once the cards were dealt out. The action over three days was fast and furious.
In the end, Holz collected the largest prize of the entire summer, other than the WSOP Main Event Championship which also began play during this event. Holz received a whopping $4,981,775 in prize money, making this the biggest reported win of his career.
Holz won his victory by coming out on top at a final table which included a formidable lineup. No doubt, the biggest name among the finalists was Joe McKeehen, the reigning world poker champion. McKeehen won last year’s Main Event Championship, which paid nearly $7.8 million. Indeed, this has been quite an amazing 12 months for the young poker pro from the Philadelphia area and final tabling this event will do nothing to dispel his reputation as a top pro with a very bright future.
After Jack Salter busted out fourth, and Koray Aldemir went out third on a blistering 15-minute run that gave Holz a sizable chip advantage. The tidal wave of huge hands positioned the German pro to play against Dan Smith for the title.
“I just ran like a god for four hands in a row,” Holz said.
The closing moment came after about an hour of heads-up play when Holz scooped the final pot of the tournament. Holz was dealt an 8-7, he made a straight on the turn, and then improved to a flush in the river.
Smith, from Las Vegas, finished as the runner up. His consolation prize amounted to $3,078,974....not bad for three days of poker playing, which clocked in at a million dollars per day. In fact, all top five finishers all earned in excess of $1 million each.
When asked what accounts for such incredible skills and maturity beyond his 22 years, Holz was characteristically modest. “I will just try to appreciate it and enjoy this while it lasts,” Holz said. “I really have to credit a lot of the high-stakes players I play with in the High Rollers. From playing with them, they teach you. If you do not play well, they eat you alive. You play with them and you see their skill sets and get in tune with what they are doing.”
This amazing annual tradition stacked with many of the greatest players in the game generated plenty of excitement from start to finish. There were 183 entrants which created a huge prize pool totaling $19,316,565. The top 28 finishers collected prize money. Attendance for this event was the highest for any of the One Drop tournaments played, to date.
Interestingly, the earlier events are already having a carry-over effect in generating more interest. Even this year’s winner remembers watching the inaugural One Drop tournament when he was age 17.
“When Antonio (Esfandiari) won back in 2012, that’s about the time I started to get into poker,” Holz said. I was such a fanboy.”
This year's tourney has already raised more than $1 million for One Drop, with more funds expected to be donated from those who cashed. This also coincided with another Big One for One Drop tournament which was just announced to be played later in 2016 in Europe, with a buy-in of 1 million euros. That will make it the highest buy-in tournament in history.
Aside from the winner, here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Second Place: Dan Smith, a Las Vegas poker pro collected $3,078,974 in his 25th time to cash at the WSOP. He now has earned more than $5 million at the series, but has yet to win a gold bracelet.
Third Place: Koray Aldemir, a student and poker player from Vienna, Austria, came in third. He collected $2,154,265 in what was his 11th time to cash at the series.
Fourth Place: Jack Salter, from London, UK came in fourth. He earned $1,536,666 in his 11th series cash.
Fifth Place: Brain Green, from Decatur, TX earned $1,117,923 for finishing in fifth place, which was his third top-five finish in a series event. Green, who now has a 2nd, 3rd, and 5th on his resume, has now finished in-the-money 22 times at the WSOP, plus another 17 cashes in WSOP Circuit events.
Sixth Place: Joe McKeehen, the 2015 world poker champion added another $829,792 to his poker bankroll. He now has 14 cashes and nearly $9.5 million in series winnings.
Seventh Place: Nick Petrangelo, from Feeding Hills, MA finished in seventh place, which was worth $628,679. This was his 15th WSOP cash and put him well over a million in earnings. He was one of three former gold bracelet winners who made the final table – the others being Seiver and McKeehen.
Eighth Place: Niall Farrell, from Glasgow, Scotland came in eighth, which paid $486,383. This was quite a successful year for Farrell, who took second place in an event just days earlier and also had another sixth-place finish in another event. In all, he posted six cashes, worth $750K.
Ninth Place: Scott Seiver, from Las Vegas, a top cash-game pro as well as consistent high-roller tournament performer, finished in ninth place. He won a gold bracelet back in 2008 ($5K NLHE) and now has 37 cashes at the WSOP. After adding $384,425 to his bank account for this deep run, Seiver now has more than $3.7 million in career earnings at the series.
This was the 67th official event on this year’s schedule. This leaves 2 gold bracelet events still to go at the 2016 WSOP.