Pius Heinz, 22, of Cologne, Germany, 35-year-old Martin Staszko of Trinec, Czech Republic, and 26-year-old Ben Lamb of Las Vegas were each guaranteed a payday of at least $4 million on Tuesday night.
But they’re hoping to more than double their spoils in front of hundreds of fans at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and thousands more watching on television.
Heinz led at the start of play with just over half the chips in play, but both Staszko and Lamb had enough chips for him to be wary.
Each player must lose all his chips to be eliminated from the no-limit Texas Hold ‘em tournament, and win all the chips in play to take the crown.
For the first time, every hand at the final table was playing out nearly live on ESPN, including tense stretches of several minutes during which players mull difficult decisions. The play was being aired on a 15-
minute delay with hole cards revealed once hands ended – enough time to ensure gambling regulators that players can’t cheat.
Second place wins $5.43 million.