World Series of Poker Winner Aldemir Holds Back Late Challenge

World Series of Poker Winner Aldemir Holds Back Late Challenge
By Bill Ordine

Koray Aldemir, who built a huge chip advantage at the World Series of Poker Main Event only to find himself in a battle with a scrappy challenger, prevailed to win poker’s most famous tournament on Wednesday at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and earned $8 million.

Aldemir, an experienced German player with more than $12 million in career earnings even before his Main Event win, outlasted a field that started with 6,650 entrants in the $10,000 Texas Hold ‘em World Championship at the 52nd WSOP held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Although Aldemir, a veteran of high-stakes tournaments, had more chips than the two players behind him combined as the final day of poker began Wednesday, he was put to the test by a much less experienced George Holmes, of Atlanta.

After knocking out third-place finisher Jack Oliver, of Manchester, England, Holmes found himself with a small chip lead but Aldemir refused to be shaken.

Inside the Final Hand

The final hand was the 223rd hand of the final table. Aldemir was dealt 10-7 suited and Holmes had King-Queen. The flop came 10-7-2 giving Aldemir top two pair. With that two pair, Aldemir check-raised to 19 million chips. Instead of folding, Holmes called.

The turn brought a King, giving Holmes K-K but that still trailed Aldemir’s two pair. As it turned out, that was the card that doomed Holmes. Emboldened by his Kings, he called a 36.5 million chip bet. And after the river dropped a 9, Holmes went all-in. Aldemir called to win the Main Event.

Still, Holmes won $4.3 million, not too shabby for a player who had just one live tournament cash on his lifetime resume. Interestingly, that was also in the WSOP Main Event in 2019 for almost $51,000. Oliver, who has been playing mostly in England and had about $117,000 in lifetime winnings spread over more than 20 cashes, earned $3 million for third place.

Aldemir: 'It Felt Great'

“It felt great. It’s the biggest final table in the world, so it’s a dream come true. Probably every poker player thinks about this moment when they watch this, believing ‘maybe I could be there one day,’ ” Aldemir was quoted as saying in a WSOP news release.

This year’s WSOP was a return to live action after a 2020 tournament impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, when just about all WSOP events were contested as online poker events and the Main Event was a hybrid online-live tournament format won by Argentina’s Damian Salas.

Real money online casino gaming and online poker continue to help drive revenue to states where they are legal.

“This year’s Main Event has exceeded expectations across the board,” said Ty Stewart, senior vice president of WSOP. “To see five countries represented at the 2021 Final Table was amazing (players from Turkey and Argentina were also among the final nine), and after a classic battle, we’re looking forward to raising Koray’s banner this summer at Bally’s on the Strip.”

The mention of the Bally’s Casino was a reference to the recent announcement that the 53rd annual World Series of Poker tournament will be held for the first time at Caesars Entertainment’s Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, May 31 – July 19, 2022. The two casinos are connected. The WSOP had a 17-year run at the Rio.

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A longtime reporter and editor who began writing on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened, Bill covered the world Series of Poker and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for a decade.

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