Back in August 2020, Wiktor ‘Iimitless’ Malinowski issued a challenge and in particular called out Fedor Holz. It took a while for Holz to reply but on February 24th the German (retired) High Roller responded with a message on Twitter and the stage was set between the two high stakes giants. We didn’t have to wait as long for them to agree on the terms as we had to wait on the High Stakes Feud between Negreanu and Polk as cards were in the air between Malinowski and Holz only 9 days later.
The terms were agreed on. The blinds were $100/$200 and they would play four sessions where they would play between 400 and 500 hands. The first session was already scheduled for March 5th, with the other 3 sessions happening on March 8th, March 10th, and March 13th. GGPoker found poker media legend Joey Ingram prepared to do commentary in the battle between Holz & Malinowski, with Ingram himself now being a heads-up no-limit champion, recently taking down the $400 heads-up event of the Power Poker Series at Bally’s, Las Vegas.
No side bets, but as promised on Joey Ingram’s podcast, Malinowski whipped out a bottle of wine before the first session started, sitting already on his final glass when cards were in the air. One of the features of this match that we haven’t seen before in any other bout, is that the players were also in direct contact with each other, having a video call going on for the entire match.
At the start it felt like an awkward first date. After so many words being exchanged on social media the two were awkwardly quiet at the start, but as soon as the battle was going on in full force the banter came along with it. Holz took an early lead in the battle but it took a while until the first big pot of the day was played.
A little over an hour into the match Holz was dealt queen-jack of clubs on the button and he raised to $500. Malinowski called quickly with seven-six offsuit and the J-J-3 flop left ‘Iimitless’ with nothing while Holz flopped the world. Malinowski checked to Holz who continued with a small bet of $300, but Malinowski had different plans and he raised it up to $1,360. Holz just called and the 5 of spades turn card gave ‘Iimitless’ a lifeline. He continued with an overbet to the pot when he put $5,020 in the middle and Holz called once more. The river was the 8 of hearts and Malinowski was left with $15,969 in his stack that he pushed forward. Holz quickly called and took down the first big pot of the day, propelling himself into a $35,000 lead.
When the first break arrived after close to 2 hours of play the German was up $42,569. The second big pot of the day happened only a couple of hands after the break when Malinowski raised 64 of diamonds from the button to $500. Holz put in a $2,050 three-bet and Malinowski called to see the, for him, very decent 6-5-3 flop roll off. Holz check-called the $1,430 bet and saw the jack of diamonds appear on the turn to add a flush draw for Malinowski. Holz checked again to see Malinowski put in another bet of $2,240 and for Holz that was enough to put his entire stack in the middle. He covered Malinowski and the bet was for effectively $17,669. Malinowski snapped it off having 45% to win the pot but the 5 of clubs wasn’t one of his outs and Holz took down yet another pot, forcing Malinowski to reload.
By hand #182 Holz was up $86,866 but after these big pots it seemed that the pace and action slowed down a bit. When the second break of the day arrived Holz was ahead $87,066 about halfway through the first match of the challenge.
With Malinowski staging a comeback the stacks were slowly evening out, which upped the potential for the biggest pot of the night. With bigger effective stacks came more caution, however. Malinowski’s first big pot of the day came in after a long 4 hours of play had already passed. Holz opened up to the standard $500 sizing with queen-7 from the button and Malinowski called with pocket fives. The flop fell 5-4-3 and Malinowski flopped a set with Holz having a gutshot straight draw. Malinowski slowplayed his set and Fedor took the betting lead with a bet of $700 that Malinowski obviously called, but the 6 on the turn wasn’t a pretty sight for the Polish crusher. Malinowski opted to go for the check-call route yet again when Holz bet $1,200 and this time he was on the better end of a cooler when the 3 river was dealt. A third check followed by Malinowski and Holz bet $2,400. ‘Iimitless’ raised to $15,600 while smoking a cigar and Holz pressed the call button to see the bad news.
When all was said and done they both left the table with close to even stacks. Holz exited with $62,256 and Malinowski left the battlefield with $80,000. Resulting in a $37,420 win for Fedor Holz during the first 459 hands of the GG Face-Off Challenge between the two young poker giants.
There were some changes made before the two went after it again. The biggest of these changes was the amount of tables. Match 1 was played on only one table, as initially agreed, but because of the pace of play they decided to add in a second table for the second of four matches.
While Holz was dominant from the start in the first match it was a different story for Match 2. Holz started out the same way, winning a very nice pot of over $40,000 with jack-nine against the kings of Malinowski. The money went in on the jack-nine-eight flop and Holz held on to the best hand.
Two interesting hands followed that both ended in a chop pot. The first saw Malinowski four-bet to $4,960 with ace-five while Holz was holding ace-jack. The Pokercode Founder called to see the Q-T-8 flop which gave him a gutshot. Holz then check-called a bet of $2,400 from ‘Iimitless’ to see the ace of diamonds on the river. Both players made a pair and Holz checked again with $14,720 in the middle of the table. Malinowski bet $4,216 on the turn this time and Holz took his time to make the call and the T on the river paired the board to give both players the same hand, two pair aces and tens with the queen kicker on the table. Another check by Holz followed and Malinowski bet effectively $8,424, covering Holz when he put his stack in the middle. Holz took his time but eventually called after 90 seconds to chop it up.
Five hands later, at the same table of the previous chop pot, Holz raised to $500. Malinowski three-bet to $2,000 with pocket sevens and Holz called with his ace-ten suited. The flop fell K-5-5 and Malinowski continued with a small $1,200 bet that was called by Holz. A third 5 was dealt on the turn and Malinowski put $2,220 in the middle that was called yet again by Holz. The K on the river completed the board with a full house and it was looking like another chop pot, but Malinowski’s $7,388 bet sent Holz into the tank again. About 80 seconds later Holz clicked the call button to see that they indeed chopped the pot.
The first break of the day saw them already closing in on the 300 hands mark as play was twice as quick with another table open. Holz was ahead by about $13,989 with all still left to play for. This lead in the second match was already brought down to $6,689 when they played 350 hands, but the biggest swing of the match followed soon.
The hand started with Malinowski raising the king-ten of diamonds to $500 and Holz three-betting to $2,150. Malinowski then four-bet to $5,200 before Holz fired the first five-bet non-all in of the match. He clicked it back to $10,500 and Malinowski called. The flop was amazing for Malinowski who flopped it all when the 6-3-2- all diamond board appeared to give him the flush. Holz, however, did have the ace of diamonds for a draw to the nuts. Holz c-bet on the flop very small for $2,900 and Malinowski called. The turn was the four of clubs and Holz bet small again. His $4,700 bet was called by Malinowski and the pot was already at $36,200 when the Q of hearts fell on the river. Holz checked and Malinowski put his last $12,281 in the middle but Holz couldn’t call with ace-high.
Holz was now down $4,922 on the match, but he could eventually come back to end the day on a profit. When the last hand was dealt Holz was up $14,652 over another 472 hands. Holz is now up $52,073 after the first half of the match.
The next battle between the two is scheduled to go down March 10th at 6:45 pm CET. The fourth session is scheduled for March 13th. Betting on the sessions is possible in the GGPoker client before the other matches go down.
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