Beyond the Grindhouse: Fedor Holz and Charlie Chiu on their new Asian coaching collab

Fedor Holz and Charlie Chiu
Mo Afdhal
Posted on: February 23, 2024 04:04 PST

FedorHolz has firmly established himself as one of the world's best poker players. In 2016, the German pro went on one of poker's most legendary tournament runs, cashing for over $20,000,000.

In 2019, Holz launched Pokercode alongside fellow high-stakes professional Mattias Eibinger and, unsurprisingly, found quick success as a poker coach and training site operator. The following year, the first iteration of Pokercode's Grindhouse – an intensive poker bootcamp – brought together a crew of aspiring poker professionals for 'the ultimate study environment.' The success of that first Grindhouse spawned second and third iterations.

Grindhouse 3 introduced Holz to Charlie Chiu, a Taiwanese-born poker professional. The two found common ground when discussing the Asian poker sphere and planted the seed that would one day grow to become Monsterstack – a collaboration between Pokercode and Chiu to bring Holz's MTT Masterclass to the Asian markets.

PokerOrg spoke to Holz and Chiu to get an inside look at how Monsterstack came about.

How did the two of you come together to collaborate on this project?

CharlieChiu: I met Fedor at Grindhouse 3, which was organized by Pokercode. I was trying to get better at poker and level up my game, so that's why I applied. We spent two weeks together and we talked a lot about poker in China. And that was the start.

Fedor Holz: From my perspective, I had about 150 or 200 applicants, and Charlie sent a really nice video. So, that's how I got to know him because he had the nicest application video – you know, very well thought through. There was a whole story, like a YouTube video, basically.

Charlie Chiu Grindhouse 3

In the end, it was very close because I think we had about 14, 15 people that we liked, and we only had eight spots. So, it was very difficult to select because it's always a challenge to find the right chemistry as well. It's not only about who's the best, but also about the fit of the group.

And I thought that Charlie would be a great addition because I think a lot of people, especially in the Western world, are not aware of how big poker is in Asia and how passionate people are about poker in Asia. And I think it was a great decision. That's how we met, and that's what led to our collaboration now.

What are your goals?

CC: I always knew that the Chinese poker world has a really big market, but nobody sees it. And when I was in Grindhouse 3, we got talking and thought, 'Hey, maybe we should do a course in Chinese and just get into the Chinese market.' But I wasn't ready at that time. You know, I was still very bad at poker. I was grinding micro-low stakes and was a break-even player, barely winning.

So, it would have been hard for me to convince people to buy our course. At that time, I was going to study really hard and try to get better. If I got some big scores or if I made my name in Taiwan, poker-wise or YouTube-wise, that was going to be the time to do it.

After the WSOP last year, we talked seriously about it because I had a couple of big scores. That was just the start, and we said, 'Hey, we should just bring this into the Chinese community.'

FH: And from my perspective, a lot of people don't know this, but I did coaching in China, and it was actually pretty big. I was overwhelmed with the reception. And I feel like I have a bigger fan base in Asia than the rest of the world, which I did not know or even consider before. I realized when I won Triton – I think it was the first Triton event in 2016 or 2017 – that it was overwhelming how many people were into poker, and wanted a picture, and it was very different from what I was expecting.

I think Asia in general and the Chinese market have always been things I understood pretty early. There are a lot of people who love poker, are passionate about the game, and also want to learn because they're quite behind in terms of their skill level, behind the guys who have been playing it for a few decades longer.

For me, it's never been that I didn't believe in it. I want the right partner because I don't speak Chinese, I don't know the Asian culture very well, and entering a market where you actually have no idea what's going on doesn't really make a lot of sense. So, it was mostly waiting to find the right partner.

Where does the content on Monsterstack come from? Is it Pokercode teachings translated into Chinese?

CC: Yeah, so the only product that we sell right now is Pokercode's MTT Masterclass, made by Fedor. And that class is just very systematic, from basic to a little advanced, pre-flop, post-flop, and some advanced content.

And I made 10 bonus videos based on what Fedor has taught in the class. Let's say he briefly talks about pre-flop, then I'll do more advanced stuff. And if he talks about post-flop stuff, then I'll do some node locks for some post-flop spots and just do extra content. So, it's coordinated.

I'm doing my part of the content in Chinese, and we add Chinese subtitles for Fedor's content.

What do you think about collaborative coaching as a concept? Do you think that style will be more popular going forward?

CC: For this collaboration, I think it's really important because Fedor has the fundamentals and the solid stuff that I cannot explain as well. And for my part, I understand what Chinese players are lacking. I know what they need and which part of the content they're not good at.

FH: I have done a few collaborative pieces, but I think it's generally more like brainstorming, right? You have a particular spot, and you bounce back and forth on ideas, sometimes that can be very nice. It's actually some of my favorite content pieces I've made – when I put one other really top player in there and then you do hand reviews and discuss on a pretty high level. I think that can be very interesting to watch. I think those are a bit different because you have people who have different thoughts, and you exchange in a different way.

Here, I felt like functionality-wise, it's very important because I don't speak Chinese and I don't know Charlie's audience extremely well. I think this had to be a collaboration.

Fedor Holz Champion Fedor Holz Joe Giron/

Do you guys have any big poker trips coming or any big plans? Will we see you in Las Vegas this summer?

CC: My next stop is going to be APT Taipei. It's probably the biggest series that happens annually in Taiwan. And after that, Vegas, I think. I'm probably going to stay for the whole series, like last year. So, I hope I run good and play well.

FH: Charlie will have better chances than me to win a bracelet. I will probably just do a quick dip this year, but my next one is Triton Korea, and I'm excited about this one. I think it will be massive, and then probably in May there's going be another one that I'll do. Maybe EPT Monte Carlo.

And then I'll go to Costa Rica to play some online poker with my group of mentees. My personal Grindhouse type of thing.