Koray Aldemir, 31, took the reins from defending champ Damian Salas Wednesday night as he became the 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event champion, topping a 6,550-player field to win $8 million and the coveted gold bracelet.
On the 223rd hand of the final table, Aldemir finished off his unrelenting heads-up opponent — George Holmes — and now sits atop the poker mountain until July 2022.
Aldemir’s victory propelled him to fourth all-time among Germany’s winningest live tournament players with just north of $20 million in cashes, $12 million shy of Fedor Holz. More importantly, he’s the champion of the world and joins an exclusive club that includes legends of the game such as Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, and Johnny Chan.
“It’s the one tournament family and friends know of basically. It does mean a lot to me to win it,” Aldemir told media moments after shipping the bracelet.
Aldemir, Holmes, and Jack Oliver were the lone remaining players with dreams of becoming poker’s 2021 World Champion entering Wednesday’s session. Clearly, Aldemir was the favorite entering Day 9, not only due to having a massive chip lead but also because he’s more experienced in tournaments than his opponents.
But he’d quickly discover that his opposition was ready for battle. Holmes played masterfully all evening and pulled off a number of impressive bluffs that even shocked the PokerGO commentators. The gap in experience between Aldemir and the competition wasn’t evident much on this day.