Sunday November 13, 2011 : HEINZ THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION FOLLOWING WORLD SERIES OF POKER WIN
Young poker pro feted like a sports hero in Germany
Just after midnight Thursday, 22-year-old German poker pro Pius Heinz eliminated his final opponent to become the 2011 World Series of Poker main event champion.
He was the first from his country to achieve the honour, winning $8.7 million and immediately receiving celebrity treatment, particularly in his own country where the mainstream media has given him the sort of adulation usually reserved for German sport superstars like Boris Becker, Sebastian Vettel, Martin Kaymer and Michael Schumaker.
One publication went so far as to somewhat irreverently refer to him as Poker Pope Pius, and stories on his victory and German background appeared in most newspapers.
The reports revealed that Heinz was attracted to the game after watching late night televised poker programs whilst studying economic psychology at the university of Cologne; he went on to develop his skills in internet tourneys using the handle MastP89 before basing himself in Vienna and becoming a pro.
It was a good move, given his inherent skills in the game; only two years after playing his first hand he had won the Full Tilt Poker Sunday Mulligan for 61,000 dollars in 2010 and another $29,000 dollars in a Pokerstars competition.
That encouraged him to travel to Las Vegas and invest $10 000 buying into the main event…and the rest is history, with the young pro reaping a $8.7 million return on his investment and becoming a global celebrity.
Judging by the media reports, Heinz remains a modest and disciplined individual, with ambitions to provide financial assistance for his sister's education, buy a house for his mother and an expensive watch for himself.
Heinz joins a slew of young poker stars who have distinguished themselves in WSOP tournaments, including Peter Eastgate, Joe Cada and more recently Josh Duhamel, all under the age of 25.
One poker expert said the young guns are a new generation of professionals who learned their trade in the fast and tough poker competitions on the internet.
“They examine things with psychology and mathematics. The older generation played more with their gut," one expert told a German newspaper carrying the Heinz story.