Veteran Poker Writer/Reporter Chad Holloway Wins 2013 WSOP Opener

The 44th Annual World Series of Poker opened up in grand style.  The first tournament of the year came to a thrilling conclusion with the crowning of the first champion of the prestigious summer series.

Chad Holloway from Reedsburg, WI won the Casino Employees Championship (Event #1).  First prize paid $84,915.  Holloway was also presented with his first WSOP gold bracelet, the ultimate achievement in poker.

Holloway is a 30-year-old poker writer and reporter.  He has worked for the popular website PokerNews since 2009.  Holloway spends most of his time on the road, covering poker tournaments all over the world.  In fact, he arrived in Las Vegas to cover this year's WSOP as a floor reporter and editor.

The winner is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.  He later attended Tulane University in New Orleans where he completed one year of law school.  However, Holloway became infatuated with the game about four years ago and has been playing and writing about the poker scene ever since.

This victory sets up Holloway quite well financially for the summer.    With a bankroll that's now bigger than ever, he hopes to play in a few open events – on his days off, that is.  Remarkably, Holloway has every intention of returning to work only hours after his victory.  He'll be in the unusual position of covering players who hope to win a gold bracelet with one of his one dangling from his wrist.

The tournament was not easy, nor was the heads-up match without severe challenges and setbacks.  Runner-up Allan Kwong fought valiantly, but lost two big hands late and had to settle for second place.  Kwong is a 31-year-old prop player at the Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, CA.

The Casino Employees Championship has served the launching pad for most WSOP schedules since back in 2000.  The tournament was initially called the “Dealers World Poker Championship," since the inaugural tournament was open only to casino dealers at the time.  The following year, all casino employees became eligible.  The inaugural event attracted only 109 entries.

This tournament was added to the WSOP schedule and has been maintained to recognize the considerable contributions of many dedicated professionals in the gaming industry.  It has been an official gold bracelet event ever year since its inception.

Name:  Chad Holloway
Birthplace:  Baraboo, WI (USA)
Current Residence:  Reedsburg, WI (USA)
Age:  30
Marital Status:  Single
Children:  None
Profession:  Poker Writer (PokerNews)
Education:  B.A. University of Wisconsin, plus one year of law school at Tulane University
WSOP Cashes (including this event):  1 (played in four events total)
WSOP Final Table Appearances:  1
WSOP Wins (with this victory):  1


WSOP:  Talk about your path to the final table.
Holloway:  I was seated next to (WSOP Executive Director) Ty Stewart at my starting table yesterday.  Within the first 24 minutes of the tournament, I was down to just 1,000 (in chips) from the starting stack of 3,000.  Luckily, I was able to make a comeback and went deep into Day 1.  Then, there was a hand near the end where I was dealt pocket queens.  I three bet (versus an all-in short-stacked player).  Then, another player moved all in behind.  I only had about 10K left, so most of my chips were already in.  I tanked for a long time and then folded the queens, and correctly so.  The player who re-raised me showed aces and they would have won.  Had I not laid that hand down, I wouldn't be sitting here with a bracelet today.

WSOP:  You have spent so much time watching other players, including many great players.  Did you work covering poker help you in this tournament?
Holloway:  I think it helped immensely, especially when we were trying to make the final table.  When there were 12 people left, I reflected back to the countless situations I've observed where I have watched the mistakes people have made.  They get too aggressive, they push with the wong hands, or what have you.  And so I was patient.  I kept my head about me and I remembered all the mistakes I've seen players make of the years and try not to do that.  If I was going to go out, it was going to be from them having to crack my hand or come from behind.

WSOP:  Can you talk about leaving law school and the decision to start working full-time in the poker business?  Does this victory validate the tough decision you made six years ago?
Holloway:  When I left law school, I didn't know if it would be the biggest regret of my life.  It was my only plan in life.  It was due in no small amount to poker, back in 2007.  It was easier to make money back then and the games have certainly gotten harder.  But I took the job with Poker News two years later and I got to do something I love with a passion.  It wouldn't have been the same with a career in law.  So, I was always happy for that and then with the gold bracelet now that was the best decision I've ever made in hindsight.

WSOP:  You took a tough beat late and lost the chip lead.  How important was it to win versus just making it to the final table?
Holloway:  If I would have finished as runner-up, it still would have been a great experience.  I could still always say I was one card away from winning a WSOP gold bracelet.  I didn't want to have to say that, so I just buckled down and played my best game.  Fortunately, I was able to come back and win the bracelet.

WSOP:  Do you think this will be your first and only gold bracelet?
Holloway:  I'd love to win another one, but I've covered these events year in and year out.  Winning two is hard, but it's certainly not going to keep me from trying.  Not just this year but in the years to come.

WSOP:  Did you ever think this poker dream would come true?
Holloway:  As media members, we have all been in the seats where the winners sit or we hold the trophy or try on the hold bracelet.  But to actually think I would have one to call my own and to show my family was a pipe dream more or less – at least until today.


This tournament is open to persons who work in the gaming business.

From 2000 to 2003, the Casino Employees Championship was played as a Limit Hold’em tournament.  Since 2004, the event has been a No-Limit Hold’em tournament.

The largest turnout in history for this event took place at the 2006 WSOP when 1,232 players entered.