Updated November 17, 2021 - 4:35 am
George Holmes barely plays poker tournaments, but he is becoming a Main Event specialist.
Holmes was one of three players left at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event, the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em World Championship, after play finished Tuesday at the Rio.
Overwhelming chip leader Koray Aldemir, Jack Oliver and Holmes will return at 2 p.m. Wednesday to determine who walks away with the bracelet and $8 million. (The WSOP awards trophy bracelets for tournament victories.)
Aldemir has 264.6 million chips, Oliver 77.3 million after a wild finish and Holmes 57.4 million.
Holmes, 49, of Atlanta, has cashed only one other time in a poker tournament, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database: 213th in the 2019 Main Event for $50,855.
Now he’s guaranteed at least $3 million for third place out of the field of 6,650.
“I only play the Main Event,” Holmes told PokerNews. “I’ve been to a WSOP Circuit stop in North Carolina a few years ago, but this is the only WSOP event I come out to play.”
Holmes said he concentrates on cash games and plays in a weekly home game in Atlanta.
He was nearly out the door on Day 7. According to PokerNews, he was down to just over one big blind (475,000) after losing an all-in pot. Holmes went all-in against four callers and won to get back to 2 million.
A couple of hours later he had 20 million, and by the end of the day, he was second in chips with 83.7 million.
“It’s a wild ride. It’s surreal,” Holmes said. “I don’t even think I’ll be able to take it all in until it’s over.”
Holmes and everyone else at the final table spent the day looking up at Aldemir, a high-stakes standout. He came into the day on top with 140 million chips and steadily built on his lead.
Aldemir, a Germany native who lives in Austria, has more than $12 million in career tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob. He has more than $3 million in earnings in WSOP events, but has never won a bracelet.
With seven players left, Aldemir flopped a full house with pocket nines on a jack-jack-nine flop and bet all the way. Alejandro Lococo called all the way with pocket tens and went from second in chips to out in seventh for $1.225 million.
Aldemir later knocked out Hye Park in sixth for $1.4 million and Ozgur Secilmis in fifth for $1.8 million.
Oliver’s big finish
Play was originally supposed to stop with four players left, but tournament officials wanted to play longer Tuesday to possibly avoid a longer day Wednesday.
The short-stacked Oliver protested, but eventually agreed to play another half hour.
He made it count.
Oliver went all-in with jack-nine of diamonds, Joshua Remitio went all-in with ace-jack, and Aldemir called both of them with pocket queens.
If Aldemir’s hand held, he would have been heads-up with Holmes for the bracelet. Instead, Oliver rivered a flush to triple up and move into second in chips.
Oliver, who is from the United Kingdom, described the hand in British fashion: “We binked it for the (expletive) lot.”
Remitio rivered a straight to win a small side pot and stay alive, but he was eliminated shortly thereafter by Oliver and took home $2.3 million.
Oliver said he was of course happy to win, but that he was tired and wanted to stick to the original structure sheet that called for play to stop with four players left.
“Everybody agreed to play to four,” he said. “… We were happy when it got to four, and then they wanted to play two hours more, and it was just like, no, I don’t want to do that.
“I want to go home, I want to sleep, I want to come back, and I want to play some good poker. I don’t want to play average poker. I want to play my best poker.”
Now he’ll have a chance to win the bracelet Wednesday.
The day started with two quick eliminations.
Chase Bianchi, the only player at the table already with a bracelet, shoved his short stack in with king-queen and lost to the ace-king of Jack Oliver. Bianchi won $1 million for ninth.
Jareth East followed on the next hand. He went all-in with ace-jack and lost to Holmes’ pocket queens. East won $1.1 million.