Beating the best: bencb789 reflects on $1M win vs. Fedor Holz
"See you at the final table."
How many times in the last decade or so have you heard that? How many times have you said it to one of your friends at the beginning of a tourney? It's one of those sweet dreams players have: to start a tourney with a buddy and meet heads-up for the title.
Now, imagine that scenario in one of the toughest tournaments of all time. That's exactly what happened when this year's World Championship of Online Poker $100,000 Super High Roller played out.
"The field was super tough if not the toughest tournament ever," said winner bencb789.
There are people out there who know who this man is, but he isn't a man who wants to broadcast his real identity far and wide. He asked us to keep his name private, but he was willing to clear up one important suspicion that a lot of people had.
After making his way though the field of 24 big money wizards, he found himself heads-up with Fedor Holz, someone with whom a lot of people suspected he was friends. That turns out to be 100% true.
"We are good friends. We became close friends in Canada two years a go where I and a couple of another friends grinded the SCOOP together," bencb789 said. "He is also part of the TeamGatsbykemphino which is a circle of good German poker friends. We do a lot of content together and try to improve every single day."
When it was done, bencb789 had beaten his good friend (after, of course, making a heads up deal that guaranteed them both more than $1 million). The champ is a 27-year-old who has been a pro for the past three years. He's a meditating, kickboxing, freeletic-enduring self-improvement aficionado who studied business administration before turning his attention to poker. He bounced around a bit before landing in Sweden...a place he moved before even visiting.
"I always wanted to live in a Scandinavian country because I really like the Scandinavian mentality, but other than I didn't really know what to expect there. I hadn't been to Sweden once before moving there," he said.
Before today, you might have happened across bencb789 on his blog Raise Your Edge, a coaching site where he writes not only about poker, but exploring life outside the areas where you are naturally comfortable.
"I really enjoy doing things like comfort zone challenges where you put yourself in daily awkward situations to expand your comfort zone and hence carry less in life," he said.
Nevertheless, when it came time to play heads-up in one of poker's toughest events, this guy was up against the reigning king of tournament poker, Fedor Holz.
"He is the best tournament player. I didn't mention the word 'now' on purpose. He is it not only for now. He's been it for more than a year," bencb789 said. "I think when he started playing the cash game nosebleeds on PokerStars against the best of the best, he brought his game to a new level. He was always an excellent tournament player, but he built so much confidence when competing against the best cash game players in the world. He is the perfect all-rounder. He knows how to play every stack size perfectly, which you need to stand your ground in today's tournament poker."
In the end, bencb789 took the title, besting his buddy, and being able to--at least for that day--claim he could beat the best in the world. It was not only a nice confidence boost but another cash infusion to the man's goal to live with as much freedom as he can.
"I was obviously supper happy to stand my ground in such a tough field. And winning the first $102,000 online Super High Roller is apparently something special," he said. "I try to improve day-by-day, not only in poker but also in life. If it is in sports, nutrition, mindset or a new skill or ability, I want to learn. I am really happy and proud that I have this inner fire to work really hard."
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Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Follow him on Twitter: @BradWillis.