WSOP 2011 Hero Martin Staszko: The Chess Expert Who Won $5.5 Million

In the highly competitive world of poker, as in most sports/games, the winner enjoys all the accolade and media attention while 2nd place is soon forgotten.
On Monday night, Pius Heinz won the 2011 WSOP Main Event for $8,715,638 and the poker world has been toasting his stunning victory ever since. However, before clearing the final hurdle, Heinz first had to battle his way through over six hours of heads-up play, at one time trailing in chips by 4 to 1, against Czech player Martin Staszko, before finally overcoming his formidable foe.
Despite the 35 year-old then collecting $5,433,086 for his runner-up finish, an amount which has ensured his financial future, Staszko still couldn’t disguise his dashed hopes and stated:
“I’m disappointed because I had a lot of chips. But he played well…I’m never happy if I don’t win. But it’s not too bad. Second place is OK…I’ll come back next year. I hope I can win a bracelet.”
Nevertheless, if Martin Staszko feels a little deflated after his near victory in Las Vegas, he is being hailed as a hero in his native Czech Republic, where on his return he is to be presented with a commemorative medal by town mayor Vera Palkovska.
Martin Staszko lives in the industrial town Trinec, which has just 37,405 inhabitants and is notable for its iron and steel plant.
The talented mariage and chess player started playing poker in 2007, while working as foreman at the Hyundai Nošovice automobile manufacturing plant in Trinec, and was then able to leave his €1,200 a month job in 2010 after accumulating sufficient winnings both online and live to pursue his new career.
Before becoming one of the November Nine, Martin Staszko had won $91,732 from live tournament, as well as  $180,763 playing online under the screen name “filfedra.”
After his incredible run at the 2011 WSOP Main Event, Martin Staszko has now become a millionaire and moved up to 53rd place on poker’s All Time Money List. Not bad for a player who only turned pro one year ago.
When Martin Staszko left for Las Vegas he was driving a 15 year-old Toyota and lived alone in a small apartment. When he returns he will rightfully be welcomed back as a local hero and may even be granted honorary citizenship of Trinec. As mayor Palkovska explains:
“A world wrestling champion lives in Trinec, as well as the hockey team that won the top league competition last year, but honorary citizenship has been granted to none of them.”

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