The final 15 minutes of the World Series of Poker's Main Event was equally as furious and bizarre as the night's initial four hands some six hours earlier.
In the end, 22-year-old German college student Pius Heinz stood at the top of the poker universe, earning $8.715 million for his win in the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold'em World Championship at the Rio.
Even Heinz seemed perplexed about how the night unfolded.
"It was very surprising. I wasn't expecting it to happen that way," Heinz said in the Penn & Teller Theater lobby early Wednesday morning after he collected his gold world championship bracelet and posed for hundreds of photos at the poker table, surrounded by stacks of $100 bills and 205.9 million in tournament chips.
Going into Tuesday, Heinz's only payout ever at the World Series of Poker was $83,286 earned in an event earlier this year.
"I'm very proud to be the first German to win (the World Series of Poker)," Heinz said. "It was an amazing feeling."
What made the victory more unusual was that twice Heinz used the same poker hand -- an ace high -- first to regain the chip lead from the Czech Republic's Martin Staszko and then to win the tournament.
"Yeah, ace high. That doesn't happen too often," Heinz said.
Backed by a small but vocal group of supporters who chanted cheers and songs in German on almost every one of the 123 hands played Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Heinz said the rooting section helped him along, even when he faced elimination.
"That was awesome," Heinz said. "It was an amazing feeling having so many friends and family here to support you."
Heinz, American Ben Lamb and Staszko -- the three survivors from the event's original starting field of 6,865 -- took their seats on stage shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Four hands and 15 minutes later, crowd favorite Lamb was out of the competition, and Heinz and Staszko, a 35-year-old chess player who once worked in a Czech automobile paint shop, were settling in for heads-up action.
Staszko, who began play Sunday with the chip lead when the field was at nine players, remarkably knocked out Lamb using pocket pairs on each hand.
"I thought three-handed play would go for a long time," Heinz said. "I realized we were then going to be in for a long time of heads-up action."
Heinz was correct. He and Staszko traded chip leads nine times over the six hours.
Staszko took over first place when he eliminated Lamb. But Heinz, who began three-handed play as the chip leader, regained the top spot after about 20 hands.
Staszko led the tournament for much of the final two hours, at times having almost three-quarters of the chips in play stacked in front of him.
But Staszko couldn't seem to put away Heinz.
"I tried not to lose my nerve," Heinz said. "There were times I just wasn't making hands. But I just tried to play my best game. In the end, I got lucky."
The ace high first came into play on the night's 115th hand.
On the hand, Heinz and Staszko traded several raises before and after the flop, which produced a 10 of clubs, 7 of clubs and king of spades.
Heinz bet 8.2 million, and Staszko raised to 17.5 million.
Heinz spent several minutes considering his options and suddenly announced an all-in reraise for 72.95 million. Staszko called and flipped over a queen of clubs, 9 of clubs -- four cards to a flush or an inside straight draw.
Heinz showed ace of hearts, queen of hearts.
The turn card -- 3 of hearts -- and the river card -- 6 of spades -- made Heinz's ace high the winning hand, giving him 78 percent of the chips in play.
"He had a strong hand with a gut shot," Heinz said. "It just didn't happen."
With that hand, Heinz took down a monster 162 million chip pot and regained the lead shortly before midnight.
On the night's final hand, Staszko pushed his remaining 39.5 million in chips to the center of the table, and Heinz called. Staszko turned over a 10 and 7 of clubs while Heinz had ace of spades and king of clubs.
The flop was a 5 of clubs, 2 of diamonds and 9 of spades, the turn came with jack of hearts, and the river was a 4 of diamonds. The last card set off loud cheers from Heinz's German supporters.
Staszko, who earned $5.433 million for second place, said he was happy with the way he played, especially being the player who eliminated Lamb.
"I'm disappointed I didn't win but happy with my game," he said.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.