Pius Heinz: the Unlikely Title
From the beginning, the chances were against the 22-year-old German Pius Heinz. He wanted to achieve the great feat that practically every poker enthusiast in the world would like: winning a World Series of Poker and walking around with the famous bracelet. The road to the 2011 WSOP main tournament started with Heinz and 6,864 other competitors from 85 different countries competing in the preliminaries.
All of them broke into the Penn And Teller Theatre at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas to participate in what was then ranked as the third largest live poker tournament in history. The initial stages took 8 days to finish. Heinz outnumbered nearly 7,000 other hopefuls to reach the finals and won the opportunity to return to Las Vegas a few months later to complete his saga for a WSOP title.
In an interview after securing his spot at November Nine, Heinz reported leaving college after two semesters to focus his attention on poker. He discussed what he learned about the game, how he applied pressure during a bluff, the art of getting into the minds of opponents to cause confusion, and how he faces opponents’ decisions to do exactly the opposite of what they expect.
He used these skills to navigate the field in the early stages and secure a place at the final table, which would begin on a Sunday afternoon. Of the 9 finalists, Heinz had the 7th smallest stack of chips. However, he would still go head-to-head with two great players in the title fight: Czech Republic star Marti Staszko had $40 million in chips. Ben Lamb, considered the best player in the world at the time and winner of the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year election, had $20.8 million in chips.
However, Heinz bet his chips on one of the most shocking and unlikely turnovers in history, winning a $9,715,638 cash prize, the third highest prize ever paid to a poker player and becoming the first German world champion in history.
After 8 hours of one of the most exhausting poker games, only Staszko, Lamb and Heinz were left for the big decision on Tuesday night. Heinz came out of Sunday’s events as chip leader, controlling more than half of the chips available at the table.
In the grand final, it didn’t take long for the trio of finalists to become just a duo. Everyone present seemed not to believe when Lamb was eliminated in style. Lamb made a high-risk bluff and saw his chances practically end when Staszko, who had a pair of 7, went all in before the flop. It was 5 cards that the dealer turned, and none helped Lamb, who was eliminated in the fourth hand of the night.
Staszko and P.Heinz were left, battling for the title and the Czech with a small chip lead. For the next 6 hours and 28 minutes, the match seemed to go back and forth, with the chip lead changing sides all the time, with the two players fighting bravely.
Heinz regained the chip lead for the ninth and last time that would happen. He began to distance himself from Staszko shortly after, and opened a 5-1 lead. In the final hand, Staszko tried to push a 2 and 7. Heinz had an ace and a king and paid immediately. As no player made a pair, Heinz won the championship for holding the highest card.
Feel like history is coming!
We have separated one of the most impressive stories of overcoming poker history, just to challenge you to do better. Do you think you can do it? The story chosen for this article is so impressive that it will leave you with that urge to access an online casino or leave home and go straight to a poker club trying to repeat what you have just read.