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The running gag in poker following the 2016 World Series of Poker is that Fedor Holz was “retired” from poker. Why a running gag? For those that haven’t been paying attention, after “retiring” from the game, he posted nearly $3 million in live and online tournament earnings.

After reading a piece penned by Will O’Connor at Poker Central, it appears that his Holz’s retirement is no longer a running gag. It seems that the 23-year-old has really stepped away from the game and focusing on something that he hopes will change the world.

Holz Shifts His Focus to People Instead of Money

O’Connor spoke with Holz on New Year’s Eve and discovered what the young German superstar has been doing with his time. Holz is presently running a company in Vienna that invests in startup companies.

He told O’Connor that he want to “create a globally working environment in place that empowers creativity on a large scale.” While the article didn’t mention what types of startups, it is clear that Holz has gone from being staked to staking people, just not in poker.

Holz revealed that money won in poker had “very little positive impact” on his life. Some might find such a statement hard to believe considering that he won over $20 million this year. How does one win $20 million and not see a positive impact?

Well it depends on your goals and aspirations in life. For some, money is just a tool to do things you want in life. It’s clear that Holz has greater aspirations than to chase poker titles and the All-Time Money List.

How Many of Us Would Make the Same Choice?

Sit there and think for a minute about your life. Let’s say you came into a windfall of money such as Holz. Let’s say that you were in a similar situation as Holz and out of that $20 million, you were able to keep as much as $8 million after paying back backers. What would you do with that money?

How many of you would continue playing poker on a high level and try to become one of the “All-Time Greats.” Would you increase the number of events played or even move up in stakes?

How many of you would walk away from the game altogether and try to make a positive impact on people or on the planet? Poker is often looked at as a personal and even a selfish pursuit. Many play the game with the sole purpose of earning money or becoming famous. Seldom do we hear of someone wanting to change the world as a result of becoming successful in the game.

Could you do what Holz did?

Good Luck and We Hope Never to See You Again

In the years that I have played and written about poker, I can think of many players that have “retired” or “walked away” from poker only to return in a couple of years – sometimes a lot less. Sometimes it is for another pursuit such as opening a new business while others are forced to leave the game because they are no longer winning.

Fedor Holz has left the game for another endeavor but he has done so while being at the top of the game. That is something that we rare, if ever, see from a poker pro. We often talk about how a particular pro is “inspiring” but to me, this type of move is one of the most inspirational that I’ve seen in this game.

Granted, there is a part of me that wonders whether he will start to get “the itch,” miss the competition or discover another reason to return to the game. Part of me hopes that this doesn’t happen.

What I would rather see is Holz go out and help a company grow that truly makes a difference in the world. I want him to make a legacy of taking his earnings in poker and making the world a better place. That would be the type of story that could motivate and inspire rather than “I’m a college dropout that won millions” story we have seen so many times.

As such, I wish Fedor Holz all the luck in the world and I hope to never see him again in professional poker.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.