Koray Aldemir outduels George Holmes to claim 2021 WSOP Main Event bracelet

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: November 18, 2021 18:05 PST

Germany's Koray Aldemir has claimed the title of World Series of Poker Main Event champion after surviving a fierce comeback by American George Holmes on Wednesday at the Rio Convention Center in Las Vegas. Aldemir, who currently resides in Austria, earned $8,000,000 for topping the Main Event's 6,650-player field in the last year the WSOP will be contested at the Rio.

Aldemir dominated the last five days of the Main Event and began both the Day 8 nine-player final and the Day 9 three-player conclusion with a commanding lead. In the end, however, he had to withstand a fierce battle against Holmes, a noted home-games player from Atlanta who plays only one "official" live tournament, the WSOP Main Event.

Holmes earned $4,300,000 as the runner-up after being on the brink of elimination on Day 7. He began the final table on Tuesday in second spot, hung on to make Wednesday's final three, and eventually found himself in a duel against Aldemir for the win. Third place and $3,000,000 went to the United Kingdom's Jack Oliver, who Holmes eliminated to set up the final duel against Aldemir.

Aldemir check-calls with two pair for the win

The skilled live/online pro Aldemir successfully laid a trap for Holmes to secure the greatest win of his career. After retaking the chip lead from Holmes, Aldemir called a pre-flop raise. Holmes had K-Q, with a modest 10-7.

A huge 10-7-2, two-heart flop put Aldemir far ahead, though he checked to Holmes, who then bet 6 million in chips. Aldemir then check-raised to 19 million, and Holmes, perhaps believing Aldemir was on a draw, called the bet. A spade king on the turn looked great for Holmes by giving him top pair, but he still trailed Aldemir's flopped two pair. Aldemir bet 36.5 million after a lengthy tank and Holmes called again.

The river card was the nine of clubs, and though it could have filled a gutshot straight, that was unlikely. Here, Aldemir checked, then had to rethink after Holmes shoved his remaining chips, 133 million, into the pot. After another lengthy tank, Aldemir called. Holmes showed his top pair, but Aldemir turned up his 10-7 for the winning two pair, the pot, and the title.

Aldemir tops $20 million in live tournament winnings

The huge $8,000,000 winner's payday gives Aldemir more than $20.3 million in recorded live tournament winnings in a career dating back to 2012. Just over $11 million of that has come at the WSOP. Though this is his first bracelet win, Aldemir's previous largest payday was in 2016, in that year's WSOP $111,111 Big One for One Drop event. Aldemir earned $2,154,265 for a third-place finish.

Aldemir's largest victories before Wednesday's triumph also came in high-roller affairs. In 2017, he earned $1,292,509 for capturing an event in the Philippines-based Triton Poker Super High Roller Series. In 2019, he took down a $50,000 high-roller event at the US Poker Open for another huge payday of $738,000.

"It felt great," said Aldemir following his win. "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.'"

Featured image source: WSOP.com