Germany’s Koray Aldemir is the 2021 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion, overcoming a massive field of 6,650 starters and a see-sawing heads-up battle against American George Holmes to claim the US$8 million first prize.
The 31-year-old, who lives in Austria, saw his mammoth final table chip lead, which included a 2:1 advantage when heads-up play began, dwindle away over the course of almost five hours on the final day before one massive hand ended it all.
With blinds at 1,200,000/2,400,000 and Aldemir holding the narrowest of chip leads, he check-raised a flop of 10♥7♠2♥ to 19 million and continued with another bet of 36.5 million on the K♠ turn after Holmes called.
On the 9♣ river, Aldemir checked, prompting Holmes to shove for another 133 million. Aldemir tanked before eventually making the call – his 10♦7♦ good against the K♣Q♠ of Holmes.
“He was really, really tough,” Aldemir said of Holmes following their duel. “I didn’t expect that at first but he played great. He put us in spots, not only against me, but against the other players. He made good bluffs, made good folds. As you could tell, it was really tough. I had the chip lead to start with and he grinded me down. Then I had to fight really hard to beat him.”
Describing the final table as a “crazy experience,” the German admitted winning the Main Event had not even been on his radar when he arrived in Las Vegas last month.
“No, I didn’t think that,” he said. “I kind of had the idea of winning player of the series once because I’m just starting in mixed games and to have a Player of the Year banner, but I never expected to have a Main Event banner. It’s incredible.”
Aldemir is no stranger to tournament success, with around US$20 million in live earnings to his name including victory in a US Poker Open High Roller event for US$738,000 in 2019 and a runner-up finish in another High Roller event at EPT Monte Carlo that same year for another US$734,000. He also took home almost US$1.3 million by winning the HK$1 million (US$128,000) buy-in Triton Super High Roller in Manila, Philippines in 2017.
This win, however, is sure to go down as his greatest achievement – one he is unlikely to top.
2021 WSOP Main Event final table placings:
|2||George Holmes||United States||$4,300,000|
|3||Jack Oliver||United Kingdom||$3,000,000|
|4||Joshua Remitio||United States||$2,300,000|
|6||Hye Park||United States||$1,400,000|
|8||Jareth East||United Kingdom||$1,100,000|
|9||Chase Bianchi||United States||$1,000,000|