Breaking Down the Action:
  • How Did It All Begin?
  • Holz Books the Five-Figure Win
  • Did Poker Fans Get What They Expected?

After just four sessions at the felt, German GGPoker Ambassador Fedor Holz has beaten Wiktor ‘limitless’ Malinowski in the pair’s heads-up battle over almost 2,000 hands of poker.

After six months of waiting for the duo to hit the online felt, should fans be satisfied with just four sessions of poker? We take a look back at the challenge.

How Did It All Begin?

German tournament prodigy and Pokercode co-creator Holz was challenged to the heads-up way back in August of 2020 by Polish online boss Wiktor ‘limitless’ Malinowski. With six months between the gauntlet being thrown and Holz picking it up, both players had time to talk trash and bone up on heads-up poker, which has become something of the go-to discipline during the Coronavirus pandemic. Not only are Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu spoiling for a rumble in their forthcoming clash, but Michael Addamo’s triumph in the recent MILLIONS Online Mega High Roller at the heads-up stage earned him $1.3 million.

With Malinowski pledging to ‘drink a bottle of red wine live on air’ in order to tempt Holz online, the four sessions were booked and the first match was set for March 5th, with a follow-up taking place on March 8th. While the first session was at a single table, all the action thereafter took place at two tables simultaneously, guided by the expert commentary and analysis of Joey Ingram.

Holz Books the Five-Figure Win

With the first two matches played in pretty quick succession, Holz was able to quickly establish a lead. Doug Polk made mention of Malinowski’s profligacy in an online accusation that the Polish player was teasing the German in for bigger action later in the event, but as it happened, that set-up simply ran out of time to be useful if it was ever employed.

The first two matches were played on March 5th and March 8th and Holz managed to race into an early lead in fine style.

Over the first 459-hand session, Holz established a lead worth a cool $37,420 and he improved on that by another $14,652 in the 472 hands that made up the second session. In the third session, Holz had his best win by far, but it didn’t start that way, with Malinowski initially wiping out a third of the German’s advantage. That trend was reversed over the course of the 562-hand session, however, with Holz taking down a massive profit of $108,196 over the longest session of the challenge.

In the fourth and final matchday, the $160,268 lead that Holz had built up (the equivalent to eight buy-ins) was reduced a little as the Polish player belatedly found his feet. Malinowski won the 465-hand session over three hours by $69,893. It was a great performance, but not enough to prevent him losing overall to the tune of $90,375. After 16 hours and 22 minutes of action, the GGPoker ‘Face Off Challenge’ was in the books.

Did Poker Fans Get What They Expected?

Overall, it’s hard to say that the match surpassed everyone’s expectations, though it delivered some terrific moments along the way. Despite the small sample size of hands by comparison with many other heads-up challenges, Holz certainly impressed with a lot of his play. Any suggestion that a number of ‘retirements’ have blunted the razor-sharp edge of a man for whom the word phenomenon could be redefined in his image in poker terms were quashed early.

Holz merits a lot of praise for his play but also his part in the marketing of an intriguing match-up. Malinowski brought a lot of fun to the game too, and hopefully, this battle is more of an opening skirmish in a war that rages on between the two online poker peers over the years to follow. It would be a shame if the pair don’t revisit the rivalry soon, however, as all good duels need relevance to stay interesting.

While ‘limitless’ action wasn’t on the cards, there was enough in the four sessions to suggest that with a deeper context and more of a long-form narrative like the Negreanu vs. Polk match or Phil Galfond’s challenge against ‘VeniVidi’, the pair could yet give plenty more poker fans much to talk about in the ensuing years.

Watch the final session of a thrilling game between the two men right here:

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Paul Seaton

Paul Seaton has written about poker for many years, travelling the world to report live from such poker events as the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour. As well as reporting live from the felt, Paul was Editor of BLUFF Europe magazine and has written for major poker brands including PokerStars, 888poker and partypoker where he was Head of Media. Paul has interviewed many of the world’s greatest poker players, such as Sam Trickett, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Bryn Kenney, the current all-time money list leader.

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