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Heinz Savors World Champion Spotlight
Pius Heinz came into the Main Event final table near the bottom of the chip counts and, when asked, said he'd happily take second-place money and walk away right then.
Having the most coveted WSOP championship bracelet on his wrist now, he's changed his outlook a bit.
“It’s an honor to be the world champion,” said the 22-year-old from Cologne, Germany.
“It’s more than just the money. It’s something that no one can take away from you.
“In 20 years I will be able to tell my kids that I won the WSOP Main Event.”
Since beating Martin Staszko heads-up last month to win the Main Event title and $8.7 million, it’s been a whirlwind of activity for Heinz as he’s hit the media circuit hard in his home country of Germany.
“It’s been surreal,” he said. “There’s been a lot of media attention and I’ve met a lot of interesting people. Most of the articles have been very positive.”
The media has consumed most of his free time over the last few weeks but Heinz has very few complaints.
“You can control it to some extent but it’s important to act as an ambassador for the game,” he said.
“I hope I’m able to help grow the game in Germany. It’s such a great, psychological game.”
Online poker is in a state of flux in Germany and, although there’s a chance it could be fully regulated by next year, Heinz was reluctant to guess when it would actually occur.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “Hopefully soon.”
The amount of exposure has cut into his poker playing time and he admitted he hadn’t played a single hand of online poker since winning the Main Event.
“I’m taking a vacation in awhile though,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to getting online and playing a few hands.”
The German signed with PokerStars just before the Main Event and he’s also been busy meeting his Team PokerStars Pro teammates including Sandra Naujoks and Jan Heitmann.
“I’m really excited to be with PokerStars,” he said. “They are the best company in the industry and it’s a huge honor to be a part of the team.”
At the very least it’s a sharp contrast to competitor Full Tilt Poker, where Heinz still has a small amount of cash stuck.
“It wasn’t nearly as bad as some of my friends,” he said.
Heinz mentioned he’s going to be very active on the poker circuit in 2012 and has plans to play as many as 10 European Poker Tour events including the upcoming event in Prague.
One place you’re not likely to see Heinz any time soon? The United States.
The German is trying to limit the amount of travelling he does in 2012 and crossing the Atlantic is not ideal for the Vienna-based pro.
He did say, however, that he plans on attending the 2012 WSOP in Las Vegas for the entire duration.
Heinz also shed some light on a few questions many poker fans had after watching the Main Event final table on ESPN.
First of all that signature white hoodie he wore?
He simply wore it because it was comfortable. After making the final table he didn’t want to change anything so he brought the sweater to the 2011 November Nine.
Heinz had no idea all his friends and fans would also be wearing white hoodies.
He also didn’t have anything to do with the catchy “Pius, Pius Heinz” song his friends came up with.
“One of my Scottish friends gets a little creative after he’s had a few beers and he made it up on the spot,” laughed Heinz.
The now infamous K-J vs. 7-7 battle that crippled Ben Lamb on the very first hand of three-handed play?
Heinz would have played it differently if he were Staszko.
“I would have certainly flatted with pocket sevens if I were Staszko in that situation,” he said.
Could Heinz’s victory signal the rise of German poker?
Heinz certainly hopes so and points to world-class German players such as Benny Spindler, Sebastian Ruthenberg and Tobias Reinkemeier as leading the charge.
Whoever it might be, there’s a good chance they’ll be chasing Heinz himself for a number of years.
With his well-earned WSOP championship, Heinz is the new all-time leading German money winner with $8.8 million. Ruthenberg is a distant second with $3.4 million.
“I’m living the dream,” said Heinz. “This is like winning an Olympic gold medal.”