O'Dwyer bests Holz in clash of the titans at PokerStars Championship Macau

It's the conundrum that has vexed physicists and philosophers since time began: What happens when irresistible force meets immovable object?

Ontologically speaking, the jury is still out. But we got to see precisely that showdown in a poker sense this evening in Macau where Steve O'Dwyer went heads up against Fedor Holz for the Super High Roller title at the PokerStars Championship.

O'Dwyer has won everything. Holz has won everything too. And after dispatching all others in a tournament that drew 88 entries costing $400,000 apiece, it was only fitting that it was these two modern titans--arguably the most dominant tournament players of their generation--who faced off for the first time in their careers.

They negotiated a deal heads up. Of course they did. Each of them knew that his opponent is unbeatable. But the man hoisting the trophy aloft, and picking up HK $8,460,830 to his vanquished opponent's HK $6,749,170, is that man O'Dwyer.


Steve O'Dwyer: Champion. Again

The 34-year-old from Colorado is a former EPT Grand Final champion. He has also won a Super High Roller title at the PCA, a Super High Roller title on the APPT, a Super High Roller title on the EPT in Prague and added a High Roller title at the rebranded PokerStars Championship in Panama last month.

Now he is a PokerStars Championship Super High Roller winner too. He has also beaten Holz--a feather that very few players can wear in their caps.

"We were the two shortest with eight left, I guess we're just lucky guys," O'Dwyer said of he and Holz.

He then paid tribute to a new lucky mascot he brought with him to the tables this week: a mango, which had been given to him by his friend Yan Li.

"I think I've used up all the luck with the mango winning this tournament," he said, before adding that he now intends to eat it. "It's been rolling around on the table all tournament; I've got to give it a good wash."


O'Dwyer, fruit and Yan Li, the mango lady


By Macau standards, play was pretty slow at the end of the night yesterday, meaning we couldn't quite burst the bubble. Thirteen players were due to be paid but 14 returned today with hopes of offering a consoling handshake to somebody else.

It was initially looking bleak for Dan Smith when he was all-in with tens against Steve O'Dwyer's queens. But Smith binked the ten and went on to finish in ninth place. However, it wasn't so good for Behzad Ahadpour. After flying into the chip lead 24 hours previously, he endured a turbulent evening of play and was a short stack when he got his last chips in with A♣8♣. O'Dwyer had him dominated with A♥9♦ and it held.

The bubble was thereby finally burst and Isaac Haxton, Daniel Neilson and Michael Egan, followed by Stanley Choi and then Smith brought us down to a final eight in very short order. They all got paid--head over to the payouts page to see how much--but they felt short of the biggest prizes.


Right from the word go, when play began on Saturday, it was clear this was going to be a big tournament. Few people were surprised then the number of entries ticked up to 88. But although there were a lot of chips in play, the blinds were comparably huge and the average stack with eight left was only about 27 big blinds.

If therefore followed that action was frantic. There were double-ups and bust-outs aplenty as Kahle Burns, O'Dwyer and Manig Loeser won big pots while Qiang Lin and Holz, who were first and second going into the final, became the short stacks.

However China's Zhao Hongjun was the man out in eighth when his A♠8♣ lost to Loeser's 9♣2♣. Ahem. (Hand history) Hongjun was the only man in the field on the last day who had had multiple entries to the tournament, three of them to be precise. It meant that his $1.215 million payout represented a $15,000 profit.

NEIL9684_Zhao_Hongjun_Stanley_Choi_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Zhao Hongjun, left, with Stanley Choi

James Chen and Qiang Lin were next out the door, both of whom made the mistake of attempting to tangle with O'Dwyer. Chen, from Taiwan, has forged quite a reputation for himself in the card-rooms of the Asia-Pacific region, following back-to-back triumph in Macau Poker Cup High Roller events with victory in the $25,000 Challenge at the Aussie Millions in January.

But his run ended in this one when he ran A♥Q♠ into O'Dwyer's pocket kings. (Hand history)


James Chen, left, sees his last flop

Significantly less is known about Lin, but he took to this event like a duck to water and played bully-boy against some of the world's established high rollers. His elimination to O'Dwyer might have been a chop when they both flopped top pair, but O'Dwyer rivered a flush to complement his bigger kicker. (Hand history). That's how O'Dwyer rolls.

NEIL9831_Qiang_Lin_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

A decent performance ends for Qiang Lin

For all of O'Dwyer's apparent dominance, Manig Loeser had the biggest chip stack at this stage. He only added to it when he ended Asian interest in this tournament by knocking out Zuo Wang in fifth place.

Wang too had been chip leader today and at one point was raising every single hand, adding relentless aggression to a solid reading of the game. However, he doubled up Kahle Burns in an unfortunate under-cards incident, before getting the last of his chips in with a dominated ace. (Hand history) Wang won $HK2,603,000 (in US, that's roughly $334,962).


Wang walks

Four handed, between Burns, Holz, O'Dwyer and Loeser, it was anyone's game. At least in theory. Holz was the short-stack but has feasted on four-leafed clovers for most of his 24 years. He duly doubled up. And then again. It quickly left Burns feeling the heat and Holz finished him off.

Burns made the final table of the ACOP Main Event here in Macau last November, and it was a welcome return to the feature-table stage for the Australian cash-game grinder. But he couldn't get Holz to fold pocket nines after a short-stack shove and Burns picked up $3.228 million for fourth. (Hand history)

NEIL9711_Kahle_Burns_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Kahle Burns: Another fine show in Macau

With three top-ranking players, huge blinds and short stacks remaining at the table, it was fairly predictable that they would discuss a deal three-handed. Loeser still had the most chips, followed by O'Dwyer and then Holz, but they couldn't reach an agreement.

That was particularly bad news for Loeser, whose fine run in this event ended in third. He lost a huge pot to O'Dwyer and then the same player's pocket eights ended Loeser's tournament. (Hand history)


Manig Loeser: Could not deny poker destiny

That brought them heads up: boss vs. boss, and now they did strike a deal. O'Dwyer had a massive chip lead and locked up $8,160,830 for himself, with Holz getting $6,749,170 and leaving $300,000 on the side.


Fedor Holz and Steve O'Dwyer: Destiny heads up

With the clock ticking down towards a dinner break, they got things done in a matter of three hands. O'Dwyer got there with J♦T♦ against Holz's 6♣6♦ to settle bragging rights and the destination of the first major trophy of this festival. (Hand history)

As he said, "I guess we're just lucky guys."

Action continues with the Main Event tomorrow. Stick with us.

PokerStars Championship Macau Super High Roller
Dates: April 1-3, 2017
Buy-in: HK$400,000
Entries: 88 (64 unique players plus 24 re-entries)
Total prize pool: HK$33,802,560

PlaceNameCountryPrize (HKD)USD approx
1Steve O'DwyerIreland8,460,830*1,088,636
2Fedor HolzGermany6,749,170*868,401
3Manig LoeserGermany4,124,000530,689
4Kahle BurnsAustralia3,228,000415,389
5Zuo WangChina2,603,000334,962
6Qiang LinChina2,028,000260,969
7James ChenTaiwan1,605,000206,536
8Zhao HongjunChina1,215,000156,350
9Dan SmithUnited States947,000121,863
10Stanley ChoiHong Kong727,00093,553
11Michael EganAustralia727,00093,553
12Daniel NeilsonAustralia676,00086,990
13Isaac HaxtonUnited States676,00086,990

*denotes heads-up deal

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Live