Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Pius Heinz just won the 2011 WSOP. But I'm writing in commendation of Martin Staszko. I really liked how he played. He made a crucial mistake near the end calling an all-in with just a flush draw, which is probably what cost him the match in the end. But before that, he had been in the lead for most of the heads-up battle. He looked completely unflappable, whereas Heinz showed obvious signs of the stress and frustration. He said hardly a single word. He tamed the wild Heinz by using the call as his primary tool--just as Mike Caro advises for dealing with a maniac. He supplemented that with some impressively well-timed bluffs, deadly traps, and perfectly sized value bets. His style of play is not flashy or sexy, in the way that Heinz's daring high-wire act of unrelenting aggression is, but it is highly effective. It's the classic tortoise and hare story. I've always been partial to tortoises.

I think I was with most observers in seriously underestimating him coming into tonight. I mostly thought of him as having luckboxed his way to the final table, and then coasting on his chip lead to the final three. He always struck me as looking confused, like he didn't really know what was going on. But we learned from a Kara Scott interview late in the evening that, to everyone's surprise, most of Staszko's online play is heads-up, so he came to the end-game not nearly at the experience disadvantage that most of us assumed. And it showed--he never seemed the least bit intimidated by Heinz's aggression, and actually managed to force Heinz to dial it down, frustrating him by calling light, and usually correctly.

I'd like to think that I would have played about the way he did, in both decision-making and composure.

Good game, sir.


lightning36 said...

Completely agree. I thought he was overmatched by the aggro boys going into the final table, but showed amazing composure.

The 15-minute delay with hole cards shown was great for the November Nine. And the play seemed to be mega times better this year than the last two.

Wine Guy said...

I have to agree with you. I thought that when he took the lead he was going to close it off, but Pius kept getting the advantage over him, and there was never a situation (that I was able to see) of monster hand over monster.

My only difference from your thoughts were that I never thought he looked confused. Personally I thought you could really see the analytical side of his mind working on the bets and opportunities, which is why he made some great calls and bluffs. I guess a lot of people will now be taking up chess!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to see the end, but I did give Heinz the edge in my mind due to his agressive abilities. I felt that, as long as he didn't try too many big time bluffs (as he did with the 7-9), he would come out on top.

It was great viewing, and much more entertaining than the chopped up ESPN 2 hour show they have done in the past. I didn't think I would enjoy this take on the final table but I will be back next year..

Rakewell said...

I should clarify that I'm not saying he WAS confused. I'm saying that the facial expressions and mannerisms that I interpreted (wrongly) as him looking confused really meant something else entirely.

Rob said...

I agree, it was compelling television and I stayed up way later than I wanted to in order to see the conclusion.

I really thought Staszko was going to win, and I was mildly routing for him. He played great, but I wonder what you think of his decision on the final hand. Was he in that bad of shape chip-wise that he should have shoved with his 10-7 suited? I realize it was bad luck that Heinz had AK. Still, was that the hand to risk it on?

Given his chip lead, it was doubtful Heinz would fold against the shove, so it seemed too risky to pick that hand try to double up on. Or was his situation so bad that it was the right play?

Memphis MOJO said...

I haven't ready any comments on Lamb's play, but if I went all in with K-J off and plenty of chips, you can call me a fish and I wouldn't disagree.

He was the best player at the table and didn't need to do anything crazy like that.