$8.7M WSOP winner no longer worried about future - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

$8.7M WSOP winner no longer worried about future

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Image courtesy of World Series of Poker Image courtesy of World Series of Poker

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A win at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas has given 22-year-old Pius Heinz of Germany more than just $8.72 million.

He can finally relax after 3½ months of dwelling on the final table. And before then about whether poker was a good choice.

"Before, the series was definitely like do-or-die time for me," Heinz said Wednesday after sleeping off an evening of high-stakes poker and a night of partying in a Sin City high roller suite with 50 friends and relatives.

"Playing online was rough, and I definitely felt like, if my series does not go well, I'm definitely going to start doing something real, basically," Heinz said. "Definitely focus on making progress in my life because I didn't want to waste the next five years of my life — which are arguably the best five years of your life."

His win in the no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event means he no longer has to worry about how he'll pay the bills. He says he'll now play poker around the world without having to do it for the money.

"This is the spot you want to be in, where you do not have to grind and you can just play when you actually do feel like it," he said. "When you're a professional who hasn't had a huge score, it doesn't work like that."

Heinz says he'd lost tens of thousands of dollars in the six months prior to the series' start in May, and was thinking about going back to school instead of making his money playing cards. The 58-tournament series at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino was his first trip to the United States.

His run at the main event's final table saw him shoot from having the least chips among nine players at the table to first in chips, ending up with more than half the chips in play after six eliminations on Sunday. But four hands into Tuesday, Heinz was behind 35-year-old Martin Staszko with 26-year-old Ben Lamb bounced in third place.

That set up a prolonged heads-up battle that included nine lead changes. Heinz ultimately won by taking the chip lead with an ace high, then winning the final hand with an ace high.

Staszko, a chess expert from the Czech Republic, won $5.43 million — a decent consolation for players looking to win the most coveted prize in all of poker, the gold bracelets given to winners at the series.

"I'm never happy if I don't win," Staszko said. "But it's not too bad. Second place is OK."

Heinz, who was signed by online poker operator PokerStars as a sponsored professional on its German team, said he plans to play in top tournaments all over the world, starting with an upcoming European Poker Tour event in Prague.

But first, he plans to spend a week in Las Vegas with his family away from poker, decompressing from the thinker's game that resulted in personal excitement, frustration and eventually triumph.

"The last couple weeks were so exhausting," he said.

___

 

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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