Mike Holtz Wins WSOP.com NV/NJ Player of the Year; Zach Gruneberg Takes PA Title

Mike Holtz Wins WSOP.com NV/NJ Player of the Year; Zach Gruneberg Takes PA Title

Although he knew it would happen by the summer, Mike "BrockLesnar" Holtz officially secured the WSOP.com Player of the Year award in Nevada/New Jersey at the end of December.

The same online poker award in Pennsylvania went to Zach "CaptainLevi" Gruneberg. Both players have something in common beyond their online prowess they're also skilled live poker tournament players.

Nevada Online Poker Legend Does it Again

Holtz, who won the award in 2021, has been crushing it on WSOP.com Nevada for quite a few years now. If you play in the multi-table tournaments (MTTs) regularly, you'll frequently see his screen name, "BrockLesnar," among those who reached the money.

When PokerNewscaught up with the online poker star during the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, he gave himself -800 odds to win Player of the Year, essentially saying there wasn't much of a shot he'd fall out of first place before the end of the year.

"I had (the lead) up to 10k or so points ahead in July but when December started we were 2,200 points apart, so I was very concerned about losing."

As it turns out, he was spot on with his prediction, although Qinghai 011POKERDR Pan did give him a bit of a race. Holtz finished the year with 95,306 points, about 6,000 more than Pan. No other player hit the 70,000 mark, with Krista "Pollux" Gifford in third place at 68,437 points. Gifford finished runner-up by a wide margin to Holtz in 2021.

"It feels fantastic to win Player of the Year again," Holtz said. "Im relieved after a long hard battle with 'pokerdr' that I came out on top. I had done really well early on and had a commanding lead from the start. I had (the lead) up to 10k or so points ahead in July but when December started we were 2,200 points apart, so I was very concerned about losing it at the last second."

Holtz admitted chasing Player of the Year is "stressful" as it requires consistent positive results throughout the year and many hours of grinding. Contenders can't take much time off or another player will pass right on by them. After winning it for a second time in three years, "Brock" said he will continue playing online and live, including some travel to certain events, but "won't be going for Player of the Year" in 2024.

"I really want to get into content creation," says the online poker crusher. "I think the vast majority of online pros are corny as hell. When you envision an online crushers setup you would think multiple monitors, charts everywhere, calming music, etc. For me the truth is I play on a laptop in my kitchen. I'm playing other video games at the same time and or watching TV. I'm playing with my dogs half the time and Im doing this while Im running over everyone in the player pool."

Holtz, who also finished 15th in the live WSOP Player of the Year race last summer and has over $550,000 in The Hendon Mob results, beat some tough competition, including World Poker Tour (WPT) co-commentator Tony "Panoramic" Dunst (ninth place), and AJ "sacakewalk" Sacher, the defending champion.

For winning the award on the Nevada/New Jersey shared liquidity platfrm, Holtz received $10,000 in cash, a WSOP.com Player of the Year ring, and $1,500 in online tournament tickets.

2023 WSOP.com Nevada/New Jersey Player of the Year Standings

1Mike BrockLesnar Holtz95,306
2Qinghai 011POKERDR Pan89,404
3Krista "Pollux" Gifford68,437
4Benjamin "MrLarryDavid" Felson59,726
5Josh "YoelRomeo" King56,354
6Aram "X69Podheiser" Zobian55,835
8Jonathan Art.Vandelay Dokler54,488
9Tony "Panoramic" Dunst52,417
10AJ "sacakewalk" Sacher50,993

Mike Holtz Wins 2021 WSOP.com Player of the Year

Gruneberg Wins a Close Race in Pennsylvania

Over on WSOP.com Pennsylvania, the battle for Player of the Year was closer, but Gruneberg grinded it out to the finish line, thanks in part to a number of WSOP Circuit Online deep runs in the Fall.

"CaptainLevi" won his sixth WSOP Circuit ring in September when he took down a $215 buy-in no-limit hold'em online event for $7,769. He reached nine final tables in WSOPC online events during the last four months of the year.

Gruneberg, who racked up 45,147 POY points, faced a tough battle from "Albertcamus," a player who finished just over 2,000 points off the lead. Justin "yumdubz" Vaysman took third place, quite a bit behind the top two performers at 31,763 points.

David "DrKool" Kuder was the first to ever win WSOP.com Pennsylvania Player of the Year in 2022. He had another solid year on the virtual felt, but inevitably finished in ninth place this time around (22,345 points).

Much like Holtz, Gruneberg received $10,000 in cash, a ring, and $1,500 worth of tournament tickets on WSOP.com. The 2023 champion, also like Holtz, is an accomplished live player as well. Even more accomplished. Gruneberg has over $2.2 million in live tournament cashes, including a $490,617 score for finishing runner-up to Jesse Sylvia in the 2016 WPT Borgata Poker Open.

"DrKool" Wins First Ever WSOP.com PA Player of the Year

2023 WSOP.com Pennsylvania Player of the Year Standings

1Zach "CaptainLevi" Gruneberg45,147
3Justin yumdubz Vaysman31,763
5Casey "sdddave" Hatmaker24,585
6Michael FutureWhale McNicholas23,962
7Dean "TheRealYoshi" Morrow23,433
9David "DrKool" Kuder22,345
10Andrew "LoveToLose" Porter22,182


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