Twenty-Two Year Old Claims Poker's Richest Prize of $8.7 Million
In poker, it’s a mental battle, with yourself and against your opponent. The 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event final table featured thirty-five year old Martin Staszko of Czech Republic and 22-year-old Pius Heinz of Germany. A culmination of play that first started in July at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, the lone two remaining vie for the $8.7 million first place prize. Considering that second place still receives a whopping $5.4 million, simply being in this position is incredible – it took the efforts and stamina that outlasted 6,863 other players.
So it is the setting in the Penn & Teller theater where $8.7 million cash rested comfortably on the poker table felt just a few feet away from each player. They could see it and they could sense it – victory, yet one wrong move and a mental lapse could considerably swing the momentum to their opponent. Each player made their way to Las Vegas from their residences overseas, they came too far for these errors.
With staunch supporters in each of their respective “fan boxes”, all night they cheered, “Mar-teeeeen! Mar-teeeen!” while across the stage they yelled “Pi-us! Pi-us!” Original songs were sung and chants continued throughout the evening. More than a game of poker, it seemed like the World Cup of soccer. An electric vibe reverberated throughout the theater while both players seemed unphased. Each player stared intently at the other in hopes of picking up a read, a gut feeling.
Interestingly, when both players were asked prior to play opening if they would take second place money if it meant that they would not win, Heinz replied, “Absolutely.” Staszko, however, was opposite, he said, “No, because I would not win. The gold bracelet is worth a lot more than the money….there is only one bracelet.”Continued on the next page