Martin Staszko had the button, and he open-shoved all in for 39.5 million. This time, Pius Heinz squeezed out a good one, and he made the quick call with his covering stack and a chance to win it.
The tension in the room became palpable, and the fans from both sides began screaming for their cards.
"Ace! Ace! Ace!" Heinz fans yelled in unison, while Staszko's contingent were cheering just as fervently for their guy. "Staszko! Staszko!" With the theater rising to a deafening roar, the dealer burned a card and ran out the first three cards of the decisive board. It came . An awkward moment lingered briefly as neither side had reason to erupt just yet.
After the initial indifference quickly wore off, though, the noise began to grow again in anticipation of the turn card.
It was the , giving Staszko another four outs to the win. He needed to catch any seven, eight, or ten to double back into contention. Ten outs once.
Ultimately, the smiley man from the Czech Republic could not get there. The river was the final card of the day, and stage right exploded in a frenzy of noise. Heinz rushed over to the rail to be mobbed by his fans, and the celebration has officially begun.
For Staszko, it's the end of a long, hard run. He really did play some fantastic poker for the past two sessions, and going back into July for that matter. When the dust settled, though, his efforts came up just one spot short of poker immortality. The first bracelet will have to wait for now, but Martin Staszko is a name we're likely to be seeing again.
The last image we have of Staszko is of him on the rail, head down, clutched in the arms of those closest to him. The smiley man was suddenly saddened. It's all over now, but he'll will wake up with a consolation prize of more than $5.4 million in the morning. That should help take the sting off a bit.