“I need to win one of these now.”
Those were the words from Ben Heath in an interview at the beginning of May following his fourth-place finish in the EPT Monte Carlo €50,000 High Roller. At the time, the €298,240 ($333,013) he won for that result was the second largest in his live poker career and his comment was referencing that he’s been close in big events and it’s time to finally break through. Well, he got that breakthrough when he won the 2019 World Series of Poker $50,000 High Roller for a career-best $1.484 million.
“The first three days I think I played really well, a few mistakes,” Heath said in the moments after the win. “Today, definitely one or two mistakes but it just happens, I guess. Overall, I’m very happy. Compared to the last four years of my career, there’s a lot fewer mistakes than I’m used to.”
Coming into the final table, Heath had the chip lead with a stack of 7.63 million. He was only slightly ahead of Sam Soverel, but with Heath’s demeanor, you’d never know one way or another if his emotions were getting the best of him. Heath is a very centered and calm player, but even though he couldn’t fight off the smile the beamed from his face as he described how he felt at the final table.
“I wasn’t sure at the start, because I had the exact same chips as Sam,” Heath said. “Then, I think at around one point I had around 16 million and dipped to 8 million four-handed and it was kind of tough to feel like it’s not slipping then. But then it just turned back around.”
He admitted to only having slept two and a half hours the night before and that he hadn’t slept much all tournament. The young Brit couldn’t pin the reason on jet lag, though, as he mentioned he was only coming over to Las Vegas from Montreal and not all the way across the pond. Armed with adrenaline and coffee and forced to play under the bright lights of the Amazon Room feature table that could keep anyone awake, Heath powered through and found his way to the winner’s circle.
“I think it’s mainly the tournament,” Heath said of his lack of sleep. “I only came from Montreal and I was surprised there was any jet lag, but there was for three days. Then, on the third day, when I expected it to end, I remembered from my Aussie Millions run that I only slept three hours the night before. I think I’m just not good at sleeping. I just had a lot of coffee today and probably won’t sleep for a while now.”
Not only did Heath have to fight off a lack of sleep, but he had to do it against some very tough competition. Andrew Lichtenberger was the player Heath had to defeat in heads-up play, and the final six also included the aforementioned Soverel along with Dmitry Yurasov, Nick Petrangelo, and Chance Kornuth. Heath’s five opponents in the final six have more than $46 million in live tournament earnings
Back in 2017, Heath took second in the Aussie Millions Main Event for a score of A$1 million ($755,229). Up until now, that score was the largest of his live tournament career. It’s now taken a back seat to this mammoth gold bracelet victory.
After he finished his post-win photos and interviews, Heath jumped in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em and bagged a stack for Day 2. No sleep, no problem.