Koray Aldemir and his journey to the WSOP Main Event title

“I can’t deny that I would like to win a bracelet.”

That’s what Germany’s Koray Aldemir told PokerNews’ Frank Op de Woerd back in April 2017. It would take him a further four years to achieve his goal but on Wednesday, November 17, Aldemir got the job done in the most spectacular way imaginable:

He won the World Series of Poker Main Event for $8 million.

The 31-year-old outlasted a field of 6,550 players to claim poker’s grandest prize and did so with humble ease and serenity that only comes after years of experience.

When Aldemir put his desire for WSOP success out there in 2017, he was already one of the heavy hitters on the high roller scene. In July 2016, he finished third in the $111K buy-in High Roller for One Drop for a then career-best $2.15 million score.

“It was by far the most expensive event I have ever played,” he said. “I had played the WSOP Main Event twice before, but other than that I had only played one or two $10Ks in my life. So playing a $100K was kind of crazy, but I was super-confident at the time.”

He followed that up in 2017 with a $1.21 million Triton Poker win and recorded an incredible 26 six-figure scores leading up to 2021.

But it wasn’t always this way.

“I wasn’t successful immediately,” Aldemir told PokerNews. “I didn’t put that much effort into playing or professionally or anything.”

Aldemir started playing freerolls when was 18 and moved up to the low/mid stakes, but it wasn’t until he met fellow German low-stakes grinders Fedor Holz and Julian Thomas that he started to take poker seriously.

“All of us were kind of playing low at the time. So, it’s kind of funny, almost all of us got to be successful.”

He turned professional after university and joined a study group with Holz, Thomas, and other up-and-coming German players. Through vigorous study habits, everyone in that group saw their games improve drastically.

“People are just trying to play optimal and are getting better and better at it at the highest level,” he said. “I also have the programs on my computer, but talking about hands with friends helps a lot as well.”

Aldemir’s performance in the 2021 WSOP Main Event–and his career overall across the past four years–shows that he’s been putting those computer programs to good use.

Today he has a jaw-dropping $20,334,110 in career tournament earnings, placing him 31st on poker’s all-time money list and 4th on Germany’s all-time money list.

The only way the rest of us can hope to play as well as Aldemir did throughout the WSOP Main Event is to study our asses off and try to get better. By doing so, the results will come.

“As long as I’m enjoying it, I want to continue doing it,” said Aldemir. “It makes sense for me.”

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