Fedor Holz continues to fail miserably at retirement. PokerStars continues to tinker with its player rewards. “The Open” now has its first name. And more.


Fedor “CrownUpGuy” Holz came up just short of winning yet another ultra high-stakes event, this one the biggest buy-in online event in the history of poker, the 2016 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Event #28: $102,000 NL Hold’em 8-Max Super High-Roller. He was ahead in the chip counts for a large part of the final table, and was responsible for several of the eliminations, including the one which burst the money bubble, shoving 5-3 suited into Isaac Haxton’s big blind, getting called by the latter’s pocket Tens, and rivering a flush to bust him, despite Haxton having flopped a set. Even in “retirement,” the relentless rungood of the German prodigy has folks on Twitter whether the universe might, in fact, be rigged in his favour.

Of course, we should remember that he did not in fact win the event. That honour went to online legend (and fellow German) “bencb789,” who prefers to keep his real name a secret. Even in losing, however, Holz managed to win, as the two had agreed to a heads-up chop when their stacks were nearly even, allowing Holz to take home over $1 million despite the runner-up finish. Moreover, there’s evidence that the two are real life friends, for instance their joint offer of a WSOP prop bet last year. That being the case, and given the stakes of the tournament, it seems like a fairly solid guess that they were swapping pieces as well.

Only three seats were paid. The other player to cash was Salman Behbehani, who received $560,000 for his third-place finish.

Before the event started, most of the hype was around Jason Mercier, who had agreed to stream his tournament with hole cards up. However, despite firing two bullets, he failed to come anywhere close to the money, finishing 26th (of 28 entries) on his first attempt, and 18th on the second.

Another early exit was Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo, but he at least managed to recoup a large portion of his buy-in by shipping the Super-Sized Sunday for $72,000 that same day.

Quick Hitters

– PokerStars has announced that it will be revamping its VIP Rewards program yet again in 2017, but this time is at least announcing that fact voluntarily in September, rather than having it leaked in November like last year. The changes are expected to remove even more benefits from high-volume players while – hopefully – rewarding recreational players more. It’s also been revealed that they will involve a move away from the existing monthly structure for rewards tiers, will be more customized to individual players’ habits, and will cross over between PokerStars and other Stars-branded gambling products, such as the online casino, sportsbook and DFS offerings.

– Last week we mentioned that PokerStars had launched a No-Limit Hold’em tournament which would be named for any player to final table it twice in a week. I suggested that it probably wouldn’t take very long to find the first such champion, but even I didn’t expect it to happen in the first week. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened, and “The Open” is now – and for the time being – named “The Bookmaker_85 Open.” The name will change again if another player repeats the feat, though if it continues to be a weekly occurrence, we can probably expect the challenge to be toughened somehow.

In an interview with Card Player, American Gambling Association president Geoff Freeman opines that Las Vegas getting an NHL team and possibly an NFL team as well suggests that major sports leagues are changing their stance on sports betting, and recognizing that regulation poses fewer risks than attempting to outlaw betting, which only serves to drive it underground.

– James Guill at Poker Update has penned an op-ed on this year’s Hall of Fame nominees, and reaches a similar conclusion to me, namely that it’s pretty much guaranteed to be Chris Moneymaker and Carlos Mortensen this year.