A few days ago, the world watched Team PokerStars Pro Pius Heinz conquer the World Series of Poker Main Event and win $8,715,638. PokerNews was able to sit down with Heinz the following day. In Part 1 of the interview, Heinz talked about how he feels as champion, and what he plans to do with the money. In Part 2, Heinz let us know how he responded to the final-table atmosphere and playing heads-up with Martin Staszko. He also discussed some of the key hands at the final table.
What was your overall reaction to the atmosphere of the final table; being under the bright lights and the cameras?
The atmosphere was just sick. It was just really, really exciting to be there.
Did you get nervous at all?
Yeah, especially when we started nine-handed play. For the first half hour, I was really nervous, which I didn't expect before hand, but I really was. My hands were shaking when I put the chips in and all of that. It was only this half an hour where I had to get used to it.
How was it to come back to three-handed play, instead of heads-up play?
It was interesting. Obviously it went really, really fast, which nobody expected. But yeah, I think it's a cool idea to make three people come back instead of two.
On Sunday, you took the chip lead and started to really run away with the tournament in a way. Would you have rather just played the entire final table out on Sunday as opposed to having a break with Monday off, which could possibly let the other players regroup?
No, I was actually fine with taking this break. By the time we got down to three-handed play, I was fairly exhausted. I think it was about around midnight, so we played for like 12 hours, basically. So yeah, I definitely wasn't sad at all about taking a break.
On Tuesday, what was your reaction when you saw Ben Lamb and Martin Staszko get all the money in on the very first hand, and who were you rooting for?
Personally, as a person I was more rooting for Ben because I like him and I think he's a great guy and I respect him a lot. Considering just what's good for me at the poker table, I was rooting for Martin. Which doesn't mean I want to take anything away from Martin, I think he's a really, really good player, but Ben is just sick, you know.
How was playing heads up with Martin Staszko? He limped a lot of buttons and presumably because he felt that you'd be three-betting him a lot. Did you change you game plan when he started doing this or did you plan for him to do this?
I think, actually, this was really smart for him to do that. And I definitely had my problems with his strategy. Usually I would react just by punishing a lot of his limps from the big blind, but when you look down at three-five off every single time he limps the button there's not much you can do.
So yeah, I think it was really smart of him to do and I definitely had my problems with this a bit because you're really forced to play bad hands like three-five off out of position post-flop, which against a player as smart as Martin is always hard to do.
You guys played heads up for a really long time, and you didn't have too many breaks because the final table was airing live on ESPN. Did you think you were getting tired at all? Would you have liked to have taken some more breaks?
Yeah, I mean I understand that ESPN has to run the show and all that, but definitely as a player being there — we're playing for the difference between first and second was like, the better part of three million [dollars] — yeah, I definitely would've liked some more breaks.
How did you feel you were handling things emotionally when you and Martin kept trading chips back and forth? For a while it seemed as though you would grind, grind, grind, grind, take a lead and then lose one big pot and reset things.
That's basically how it went, yeah. At some point, I definitely started to get frustrated in the match because I could just never make a hand and he did. It was really, really tough at this point, but I just tried to not lose my focus and play as well as I could and hope the cards eventually fell my way.
There are a couple hands we'd like to ask you about. The first one would be the king-queen hand where you decided to bluff-raise the river. Can you talk us through your raise on the river after checking back the turn?
Yeah, sure. First of all, my preflop play is reasonably standard. I can definitely three-bet, but I thought that I was just going to flat here. The flop play is also really standard. I have the best hand there a lot. When a nine comes [on the turn] and he checks, first of all I thought that my king-queen is good most of the time so there's not really the need to bet a as a bluff because he's not folding. He might fold a six sometimes, but rarely, or a hand like two fives or two fours, maybe, but that's all I can get him to fold out. So there's really no sense in betting.
And I thought, which I guess he disagreed because he made a really big call with kings, that by checking back I could rep a nine fairly well. I can also rep a hand like ace-ten or ace-jack, which I probably wouldn't three-bet. I probably wouldn't three-bet ace-queen, ace-king I probably three-bet.
We're not sure whether you saw the coverage from last night, but when you did check back the turn and ended up raising the river, Antonio Esfandiari commented that you should never have a nine there taking that line.
OK, yeah, I disagree. I disagree pretty strongly.
Were you surprised that he called with two kings?
Yeah, I was pretty surprised. I mean, it's just like a line people don't take as much as a bluff that often. Usually when people float this flop with a hand like jack-ten or something, they're going to bet the turn. That's what you expect and that's why you check a hand like ace-six there a lot because then you can check-call and get value from all of the floats.
When you check [behind] you kind of rep showdown value, and my showdown value on this board has got to be nine-x or ace-x. And some very, very, very small percentage of hands that I can or have to turn into a bluff on the river, which would be king-queen, king-jack, king ten and a six, basically. So yeah, I think my line makes — I'm just going to say I have a nine there fairly often.
The other hand we'd like you to talk about is the big hand, the momentum swinger in the whole match, which was your ace-queen versus Stasko's queen-nine. Could you just talk us through that hand?
Yeah, well preflop was standard of course other than his limp maybe, but he had been doing that. When the flop comes, I flopped a gut shot. The flop is not great for my hand and there's not even a heart, so I don't have backdoor hearts. It's a flop that should crush my big blind punishing range fairly hard because I haven't been doing it at all in the whole match, that's why I was pretty surprised by him raising. I thought he would think that I flopped a good hand here fairly often.
When he raised I was pretty perplexed, but I also had a small tell on him, I think. Which was, when he would put chips in the pot and not look at me when I was looking at him, he would fold more often than not, or have the weaker part of his range more often than not. And when he would stare back at me, he would be stronger a lot more often. So when I stared him down for maybe a minute or a minute and a half, he did not glance at me once. So I was pretty sure he had the weaker part of his range.
Looking at his range, there really aren't that many hands that hit his limp-calling range basically. He never plays a king like that, first of all. He's definitely raising king-ten, he's definitely raising kings, he's definitely raising tens and he's definitely raising sevens [preflop]. So the only hands he could have is basically ten-seven suited or king-seven suited, maybe king-seven off, but that's a big discounted again because I'm not really sure if he calls 5.5 million more when I only had 80 million — 33 big blinds or something — to start the hand. So basically, he just almost never has a hand that would make sense to raise on the flop. And I had a gut shot, as well, so I just went with it.
Knowing that earlier in the match he folded queen-six of hearts for a flush draw on a the flop, looking back are you surprised he called here?
Yeah, I don't know what he was doing in that hand.
If he was raising the flop in that hand, you'd think he'd calling off there, too.
I honestly don't know what his general idea was there. I think his line is, honestly, pretty bad there. I don't know what his reasoning was, maybe he had a really good reason, I don't know. He's definitely a great player, but I just disagree with him on that line he took there. Makes no sense to me.
On the final hand, what was going through your head when the final card fell and you were officially the new world champion?
I was just really, really happy that it was over. I just went over to my rail and got hugged by everybody. I almost couldn't breathe because everybody was hugging me so hard, and I disappeared in the big crowd. It was just an awesome moment.
After the media storm is over and your life settles back down, where are we going to see you next?
The next thing I'm going to do is play the EPT in Prague. I'm definitely really looking forward to it. And then I'm just going to play a bunch of EPTs. I'm probably not going to be traveling overseas as much to play poker tournaments because I don't really enjoy traveling that much.
Will we be seeing you at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January?
Yeah, that's something I'm going to do. I'm definitely going to do PCA and Berlin, Vienna, the Grand Final in Madrid. Basically, almost every stop of the EPT I'm going to play this season.