The 2011 WSOP Main Event is over and 22-year-old Pius Heinz has become the first German world champion in poker history.
Defeating Martin Staszko to win $8.7 million and the most coveted title in poker, Heinz was cheered on to victory by friends and family at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Tuesday.
“I’m definitely proud of being the first German to win but it’s just an amazing feeling and the support from back home has been just great,” Heinz told the media after posing for photos with his prize money.
“It was just unreal to have so many of your friends and family following you and cheering you on, it’s just an awesome feeling,” he said.
After more than five hours of heads-up play Heinz scored a huge double up to take the chip lead and managed to put the final nail in Martin Staszko’s coffin shortly after.
Staszko open-shoved with T♣ 7♣ and Heinz called instantly with A♠ K♣. Staszko picked up a gutshot on the turn to go with his pair outs but after the river was dealt, Heinz’s ace-king high was enough to make his victory official.
Staszko received $5,433,086 for his runner-up finish. After the final river card was dealt Heinz ran to his rail and embraced the friends and family that had been rooting him on over the last three days.
“I was just fist-pumping and running to my rail and I disappeared in a big crowd of arms,” Heinz said. “I almost couldn’t catch my breath because it was just an awesome feeling."
2nd Straight Non-American to Win WSOP Main Event
Heinz is the fourth consecutive young poker pro to win the WSOP Main Event, and the second consecutive non-American champion.
Heinz entered this final table seventh in chips but by the time the first phase of the finale was complete and just three players remained, he had taken over the chip lead and controlled more than half the chips in play.
And after doubling through and subsequently eliminating Ben Lamb, Martin Staszko had the chips to go toe-to-toe with the German in the heads-up portion of the evening.
“The heads-up for the most part didn’t go my way because I basically wasn’t making hands and Martin played very well,” said Heinz.
“But I just thought, you know, I’ll just play my game and hope the cards fall my way eventually,” he said.
“He knows that the biggest part of my game is preflop aggression and by limping a lot he kind of took that away from me.
“I wasn’t able to punish his limps as much because when he limps your big blind and you’ve 5-3 off-suit every time there’s not much you can do about it.
“So I was forced to try to outplay him post-flop but he played very well post-flop also,” he added.
Heinz, Staszko and Ben Lamb all returned to the Penn and Teller Theater this evening to play down to a winner. Fresh from a day off since the final table played from nine players to three on Sunday, the trio couldn’t have predicted the hand that got things started.
Lamb, the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year, four-bet shoved K-J and got called by Martin Staszko with pocket sevens. The pair held up and Lamb was crippled. Staszko went on to knock out Lamb on just the fourth hand of the evening.
Ben Lamb received $4,021,138 for his third place finish. Click here to read Ben Lamb's exit interview story.
Hole-Card Info Invaluable
Today’s three-handed playdown lasted a total of 123 hands, and since Lamb was eliminated on just the fourth, heads-up was the name of the game.
And while Pius Heinz drew power from his very vocal rail of supporters, he was also given hole card information that proved useful in the heads-up match.
“It was good to know that Martin just had a hand every time he made a big bet or a big raise because when you think you’re getting bluffed or outplayed it messes with your confidence,” said Heinz.
“So when the rail tells you that Martin just had a hand every time then you’re thinking that you never did anything wrong and you’re lucky to still be in because I never called or bluffed him when he had a big hand,” he said.
Heinz exercised remarkable patience and discipline on his way to victory. And being the first German champion might provide unique opportunities to grow the game in a developing market.
“I’m proud of winning and I’ll try to do what I can to grow the game because poker’s such a great game, but I’ll be trying to do my part,” said Heinz. “I’ll be getting a lot of attention.”
Full payouts for the final table
- 1 - Pius Heinz - $8,715,638
- 2 - Martin Staszko - $5,433,086
- 3 - Ben Lamb - $4,021,138
- 4 - Matt Giannetti - $3,012,700
- 5 - Phil Collins - $2,269,599
- 6 - Eoghan O’Dea - $1,720,831
- 7 - Bob Bounahra - $1,314,097
- 8 - Anton Makiievskyi - $1,010,015
- 9 - Sam Holden - $782,115
For a full accounting of the final table action click through to our 2011 WSOP Main Event live coverage. For a photographic accounting click through to our WSOP November Nine Final Table Picture Book.