Who Is Pius Heinz?

November 11, 2011

When 22-year-old Pius Heinz became the first German to win the WSOP Championship title, he became an instant hero in his country. Since his win, he’s been bombarded with media attention in Germany, where they are referring to him as the “Poker Pope.”

Being compared to other German sports legends like Boris Becker, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, and Martin Kaymer, Heinz is being hailed as a sports hero in Germany. Born in Swisttal, Bonn started playing poker about four years ago after watching it on late night TV. He was studying economic psychology in Cologne before moving to Vienna to take up poker full time in August of this year.

Online, Heinz is known as “MastP89,” and before he walked into the November Nine, he hadn’t had many tournament results. He did win the Sunday Mulligan at Full Tilt back in 2010 and won $61K for the first place finish, and he also won $29K for a PokerStars $150K Guarantee also in 2010, but that was about it. Despite this though, he managed to work his way through 6,864 opponents in the Main Event which started back in July.

To prepare for the final table showdown, Heinz worked out with mental and fitness coaches and went on a nutritional diet. He brought 25 of his buds to cheer him on in white hoodies in Las Vegas, and apparently all the preparation and good luck wishes worked.

While Heinz is the first German to win the WSOP Main Event, he’s not the first to make the final table. Back in 2001, Henry Nowakowski from Frankfurt lost to Carlos Mortensen (Ecuador). And Heinz is part of a new trend in poker that has been developing since the emergence of online poker—the young guns. He is the second youngest to win the championship title behind the US’s Joey Cada who won in 2009 just before his 22nd birthday. Other young guns to win the WSOP include Jonathan Duhamel in 2010, also from the US, and Denmark’s 25-year-old Peter Eastgate who won the title in 2008.
After winning, Heinz’s Facebook status read, “I hereby proudly announce that I am the 2011 World Champion of Poker!! I did it for Germany.”

In an interview, Heinz stated, “The feeling of course is unbelievably good—but sometimes difficult to realize. I am proud to represent my country, and the support that I received from Germany was overwhelming.”

When asked what he had planned for the money he won, Heinz said h hoped to help pay for his sister’s education, buy a house for his mom, and purchase a watch for himself. He’s likely to have a lot left over.

Just before winning the WSOP, Heinz signed a sponsorship deal with PokerStars and is now a Team PokerStars Pro and will play online and around the world representing the online poker site that apparently knows how to pick a winner.


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