Estonian GM Ottomar Ladva wins partypoker Super High Roller, turning $530 into $525,089

23-year-old chess grandmaster and 4-time Estonian Champion Ottomar Ladva just won partypoker’s Super High Roller after beating one of the best poker players in the world, Justin Bonomo, in the heads-up final!

Ottomar, the chess player

Born in 1997 in the country that gave Paul Keres to the chess world, Ottomar shot to national fame when he won the Estonian Championship at the age of only 15, beating Lembit Oll’s record.

After his first success in 2013, Ladva again won the Estonian Championship in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Ottomar is currently Estonian n°2 with a 2513 rating, behind Kaido Kulaots.

Ottomar, the poker player

In August 2019, Ottomar was in Barcelona at the time of the famous Sants Open. However, Ottomar was not in the capital of Catalonia to play chess, but poker! The Casino Barcelona was hosting the European Poker Tour, where Ladva won Event #12, a €550 buy-in tournament, ahead of 3,259 opponents, for a €223,870 first prize!

Up until Wednesday, this accounted for most of Ottomar’s tournament earnings, that Hendon Mob shows as $281,279.

From $530 to $525,089

Event #11 of the partypoker MILLIONS Online was a $25,000 buy-in Super High Roller. This is one of the biggest buy-ins for an online tournament, but not every one of the 70 participants had to pay the 25k in full. Actually, it cost Ladva only $530 to enter the tournament!

In poker, satellite tournaments make it possible to qualify for an expensive tournament for a fraction of the normal cost. The Estonian grandmaster first won a $530 tournament to qualify for a $2,650 satellite that he also won, earning the $25,000 ticket to the Super High Roller!

After two days of competition, Ottomar was guaranteed to win at least $327k and was one Heads-Up away from the $525k first prize. There were only two problems:

  1. His stack. Ottomar started the Heads-Up with a 1 to 4 disadvantage in chips.
  2. His opponent. Ottomar was facing the legendary Justin Bonomo, n°2 on the All-Time Money List with $53 million in live earnings! Justin Bonomo was widely regarded as the best player in the world in 2018, the year he won two of his three World Series of Poker events, including the Big One for One Drop for $10 million!

Despite all this, after two hours of battle, Ladva managed not only to survive but to be ahead in chips. The chess grandmaster then snap-called with Top Pair/Top Kicker and a Flush Draw as the poker legend went all-in:

In short, after winning three tournaments in a row, GM Ottomar Ladva had won more than half a million dollars and fully deserves a place on my list of Great minds: 10 players who excel at both chess and poker. (I wouldn’t say in whose place!)

In collaboration with partypoker we will soon be announcing chess and poker competitions, one of which will involve Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler! If you’d like to receive further information, send an email to or leave a comment below.

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