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September 19, 2014

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Pius Heinz aces World Series of Poker Main Event

German is fourth consecutive Final Table champion to be 22 years old or younger

Image

Steve Marcus

Pius Heinz of Germany holds up stacks of cash after defeating Martin Staszko of the Czech Republic to win the championship bracelet and $8.7 million in first-place prize money during the World Series of Poker Main Event early Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, 2011, at the Rio. In the background are 2010 winner Jonathan Duhamel and ESPN reporter Kara Scott.

Pius Heinz Wins 2011 WSOP Main Event

Pius Heinz of Germany holds up stacks of cash after defeating Martin Staszko of the Czech Republic to win the championship bracelet and $8.7 million in first-place prize money during the World Series of Poker Main Event early Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, 2011, at the Rio. In the background are 2010 winner Jonathan Duhamel and ESPN reporter Kara Scott. Launch slideshow »

2011 WSOP Final Day

Pius Heinz, left, of Germany smiles as he competes heads up against Martin Staszko of the Czech Republic during the World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Chip Counts

  • Pius Heinz — 205,900,000
  • Martin Staszko — 0
  • Ben Lamb — 0
  • Matt Giannetti — 0
  • Phil Collins — 0
  • Eoghan O'Dea — 0
  • Badih Bounahra — 0
  • Anton Makiievskyi — 0
  • Sam Holden — 0

2011 WSOP Main Event Final Table Payouts

  • Pius Heinz (1st) — $8,711,956
  • Martin Staszko (2nd) — $5,430,928
  • Ben Lamb (3rd) — $4,019,635
  • Matt Giannetti (4th) — $3,011,665
  • Phil Collins (5th) — $2,268,909
  • Eoghan O'Dea (6th) — $1,720,000
  • Badih Bounahra (7th) — $1,313,851
  • Anton Makiievski (8th) — $1,009,910
  • Sam Holden (9th) — $782,115

Pius Heinz’s mother rushed down to the Penn & Teller Theater lobby with outstretched arms ready for a congratulatory embrace approximately 15 minutes after her son won the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event.

She had left the theater long ago, finding it too stressful to watch Heinz compete in the biggest moment of his life for so many unimaginable goals and $8.7 million.

Heinz himself was never nervous. Not a trace of fear was present when the 22-year old from Cologne, Germany, had barely 20 percent of the chips in heads-up play against Martin Staszko. Not a twinge of doubt entered his mind when he trailed Staszko in chips for more than two hours.

Heinz credited that attitude for why, a few minutes after Midnight Wednesday morning, he received poker’s world championship gold bracelet.

“The heads-up, for the most part, just didn’t go my way,” Heinz said. “I just never made a hand. I just thought I’m going to play my game, play as good as I can and hope the cards eventually fall my way.”

Other than winding up the winner, nothing went the way Heinz planned in the final day of the tournament that started in July. He prepared to play three-handed with Staszko and 2011 WSOP Player of the Year Ben Lamb for hours.

Instead, it lasted minutes. Lamb, who was in second at the start of play, lost an 85 million chip pot to Staszko on the first hand of the night when his King-Jack failed to catch up to pocket 7s.

Lamb was out three hands later, when he shoved his dilapidated chip stack into the middle with Queen-6 against Staszko’s pocket Jacks.

“I wanted to come in aggressive and I did it,” said Lamb, a 26-year old who lives in Las Vegas. “I was just trying to give myself the best chance I could to win the tournament.”

The attempt appeared to hurt Heinz’s chances to win. Heinz sat down at the table with more chips than Lamb and Staszko combined.

But Staszko winning the two pots off of Lamb — and a third against Heinz during three-handed play when Staszko had pocket Kings — gave the 35-year old from Trinec, Czech Republic, an improbable chip advantage four hands into the action.

Although Heinz wrestled the lead away multiple times — heads-up play featured nine lead changes — it was never for long. Staszko commanded the play and usually won at least six out of every 10 pots.

“At some point, it was where I never made a hand,” Heinz said. “I was getting pretty frustrated, honestly, but I just tried to still play my best game and I think I did.”

Even in victory, Heinz didn’t make a hand. He oddly won with Ace-high in both the final hand of the night and the one that led him to double his stack to take control.

He bluffed on hand No. 111 by announcing all-in with Ace-Queen of hearts after a flop of 10-7-King with two clubs. Having already committed chips with a raise, Staszko weighed his options and decided to call with Queen-9 of clubs for a flush draw.

Neither the 3 on the turn nor the 6 on the river were clubs, so Heinz survived. Heinz’s Ace-King also failed to improve in the decisive encounter, but Staszko didn’t make a pair with his 10-7 either.

“I’m disappointed because I had a lot of chips,” said Staszko, who made $5.3 million for second place. “But he played well.”

Heinz was just one of many unrecognizable faces out of the 6,865 players who started in the Main Event this summer. He had less than $100,000 career tournament earnings and was considering going back to college.

Heinz is now one of the most famous and richest card players in the world.

“It’s just awesome,” Heinz said. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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