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Heinz, Lamb, Staszko on Brink of WSOP Main Event Title
Three players remain in the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event but only one will walk away with the title of World Champion and $8.7 million.
That’s the overriding storyline as Ben Lamb, Pius Heinz and Martin Staszko prepare for the final day of the 2011 WSOP, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The trio shared their thoughts on the journey thus far and their approach to three-handed play in a press conference on Monday.
German Heinz will carry the chip lead into three-handed play with 107 million chips. Despite entering nine-handed as one of the shorter stacks, Heinz was the most dominant player at the table and put an obscene amount of pressure on his opponents.
“It was pretty much the dream scenario,” said Heinz. “I just tried to play as well as I could and not make mistakes.”
The 22-year-old resident of Cologne, who has a background in online poker, has a chance to become the first German Main Event winner in the history of poker.
“It would be awesome,” he said. “Obviously I’ve got a ways to go yet but it would mean a lot to me to be the first German winner. It could have a really big impact on the game in my country.”
Heinz spent the last three months brushing up on his poker game and even worked with EPT and EPIC winner Mike “Timex” McDonald. Heinz admitted he’s always been more of a feel player and McDonald helped bring his math game up to speed.
Now, just two players away from the title, Heinz has his sights set firmly on poker’s ultimate prize.
“I definitely respect both players and three-handed there is going to be a lot of action.”
It’s a notion that Heinz does not seem uncomfortable with.
Meanwhile the famed Ben Lamb is second in chips with 54 million. A noted PLO player in the poker world, Lamb absolutely exploded this summer making four final tables, winning one WSOP bracelet, securing WSOP Player of the Year and taking down $2.1 million in profit with more on the way.
Lamb’s final table experience was swingy, to say the least, as he took a bad beat from Phil Collins but then laid his own beats on Eoghan O’Dea and Matt Giannetti.
“You can’t win this tournament without getting lucky,” he said. “Whoever is on the right side of it and plays well is hopefully going to be the winner.”
The 26-year-old Tulsa, Oklahoma, native had over 130 of his closest friends and family in the building and was obviously one of the crowd favorites.
“The arena is so loud and there is so much energy in there,” he said. “It’s great for poker and I hope it gets more people interested in the game.”
At one point Lamb had to even request his fans try to contain themselves while players were in a hand. It was to no avail, as some of his more enthusiastic fans simply couldn’t be contained.
Even Lamb who usually has a businesslike demeanor at the poker table was visibly excited after both of his suckouts.
“It’s just so much more money,” he said. “I mean $800,000 is a lot of money but $8 million is the amount where you can stop thinking about making money for the rest of your life.”
Now Lamb will attempt to win one more accolade at the 2011 WSOP.
“I woke up an hour ago,” he said at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. “I’m going to do everything I possibly can to be the most prepared. There’s $4.7 million between third place and first.”
Should Lamb win he mentioned that he has plans to get into business with his father although he will always play the game he loves.
“I’m not going to challenge Phil Ivey to play heads-up for $1 million though,” he laughed.
Finally the Czech Republic’s Martin Staszko, who entered the final table as the chip leader, is somewhat the darkhorse heading into the final three with the shortest stack of 42 million.
Staszko mentioned he had trouble getting cards throughout much of the day and had trouble finding good spots to get his money in.
“It was difficult but I still have my stack. It would have been a lot easier if I had good cards,” he said. “I hope tomorrow will be better. Maybe some hands I could have played better but I was not 100% yesterday. I was very tired.”
Staszko went on to say he plans on getting a good sleep before the final table but he isn’t going to overanalyze his opponents.
“I know these players and they know me,” he said. “Three-handed it’s a different game.”
Should Staszko win he would be the first player from the Czech Republic to win the Main Event.
“For my country it would be the biggest success in poker ever,” he said. “I think there could be a poker boom there.”
Staszko famously said he would take second-place cash if he was given the chance when there were still nine players.
That view has changed somewhat after yesterday.
“It’s different now,” he said in slightly broken English. “I will play for bracelet.”
After nearly four months of waiting a champion will finally be crowned at the 2011 WSOP on Tuesday.