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Vin Narayanan

Vin  Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the former managing editor at Casino City and has been involved in the gaming industry for over a decade Vin is currently based in Hong Kong, where he runs his own consultant group and works as head of gaming and public relations for Mega Digital Entertainment Group.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

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Pius Heinz wins World Series of Poker Main Event

9 Nov 2011

By Vin Narayanan
LAS VEGAS -- Germany's Pius Heinz beat the Czech Republic's Martin Staszko in a six-hour heads up duel to win the World Series of Poker Main Event and win $8,715,638. Staszko won $5,433,086 for finishing in second. Ben Lamb, from the United States, took third and won $4,021,138.

Heinz outlasted a field of 6,865 to lay claim to poker's top prize. He is the first player from Germany to win the WSOP Main Event.

Even though there were eight lead changes in heads-up play, Staszko controlled most of the heads-up action. At several points during the heads-up match he held 75 percent of the chips in play, but he couldn't put Heinz away.

Pius Heinz shows off the spoils of victory after winning the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Pius Heinz shows off the spoils of victory after winning the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

"I wasn't making any hands. So I just tried to keep playing my game," Heinz said of playing from behind.

Heinz also said he received a boost of confidence from the information he was receiving from the almost-live (it was on a 15-minute delay) broadcast of the event.

"I found out that every time I lost, Martin had a good hand," Heinz said. "It can get frustrating losing hand after hand not knowing if he's bluffing. But finding out he had good hands gave me confidence."

After chasing Staszko for most of the night, Heinz finally passed him when he reraised all-in for 81.15 million on a board of 10c-7c-Ks. Staszko thought about it for a moment, and then called with Qc-9c. Heinz turned over Ah-Qh and hoped for the best. A three of hearts on the turn and the six of spades on the river were of no help to Staszko, and Heinz doubled up to 162.3 million while Staszko slipped to 43.6 million.

A short time later, Staszko moved all-in pre-flop with 10c-7c for his remaining 39.8 million. Heinz called with As-Kc and won the tournament when the board ran out 5c-2d-9s-Jh-4d.

Staszko, who is the first player from the Czech Republic to reach a WSOP Main Event final table, had mixed feelings about his second-place finish.

"It's good and not so good," Staszko said. "I play to win. And I had 150 million [in chips] and I felt like I was close. I'm not happy when I don't win. But second place is not too bad."

Staszko was the tournament's chip leader when play was suspended in July with just over 40 million chips. But after Sunday's final table action, he trailed Lamb and Heinz with 42.7 million. Heinz had 107.8 million when Tuesday's play began and Lamb had 55.4 million.

Heinz, Lamb and Staszko entered Tuesday's play with a day of rest under their belts after the tournament played down from nine players to three on Sunday.

Staszko, who admitted he was feeling tired at the end of Sunday's action, looked fresh as play began, winning the first three hands to knock Ben Lamb out of the tournament and grab the chip lead from Heinz.

The fireworks began on the first hand of the night with the blinds at 600,000/1.2 million. Stazsko three-bet Lamb to 7.1 million, and Lamb reraised all-in. After pausing for just a moment, Staszko called. Lamb, who had Staszko covered, flipped over Kh-Jd. Staszko showed pocket sevens.

Lamb, who sucked out twice Saturday to stay alive, ran out of luck Tuesday night when the board came out 3h-9s-2d-3s-10c. Staszko's sevens were good, and Lamb was crippled.

On the very next hand, Staszko grabbed the chip lead when he raised from the small blind to 3 million. Heinz called from the big blind and the dealer put out a 9h-Ac-6s flop. Staszko bet another 3 million, which Heinz called. The turn revealed the 9d. Staszko and Heinz both checked the turn and out came the Jc on the river. Staszko bet 4.5 million on the river and Heinz raised it to 14.2 million.

Staszko called with pocket kings, and Heinz's Kx-Qx was no good, giving Staszko the chip lead (106.2 million) after just two hands of play.

On Tuesday's fourth hand, Staszko eliminated Lamb. Lamb pushed all-in with Qd-6h. Staszko called with pocket jacks, and the jacks held up to send Lamb packing.

"Martin [Staszko] played real well all tournament long," Lamb said after his elimination. "I didn't think he was super strong when I pushed all-in [on the first hand]. But his hand was a lot stronger than I expected."

"He had to call with sevens," Lamb added. "I thought I might be able to get him to fold ace-six or ace-seven."

Heinz, who was barely involved in the elimination of Lamb, was surprised at the early turn of events.

"I expected three-handed play to go for a long time," Heinz said. "But when it ended in [four] hands, I knew heads-up would take a long time."

Heads-up play did take a long time. But the cheering sections for both players kept their spirits up. Chants of "Pius Heinz, Pius Heinz" rang through the night. And Heinz called the support "just wonderful."

"I loved the atmosphere here," Staszko added. "It felt like the biggest poker tournament in the world."

Heinz said he didn't know what he was going to do with the more than $8.7 million he had just won. But he had at least one idea.

"I'm going to buy some gifts for my family," Heinz said.
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