With 20 years of experience battling against the best poker players in the world and winning tournaments in countries near and far, the one prize that has escaped Isaac Haxton's grasp is a WSOP bracelet. Haxton has reached the final table in a WSOP event seven times, but it would take his eighth visit for him to break through to win WSOP gold.
"This is my 20th year as a professional poker player, and it does feel good to finally get that bracelet," Haxton said on how special it was to win his first WSOP bracelet finally.
Haxton topped the 301-entrant field to win Event #16: $25,000 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller at the 2023 World Series of Poker for $1,698,215 in prize money. Not even at the halfway point of 2023, and Haxton has produced results that put him in the running for one of the greatest years on the poker felt. Haxton has won six events with a buy-in of $25,000 or more and has ten top-three finishes to amount to more than $7.6 million in winnings. With this win for his first WSOP bracelet, Haxton now moves to 12th on the All-Time Money List - leaping over Steve O'Dwyer and Cary Katz - to now sit with more than $37.5 million in lifetime tournament earnings, according to The Hendon Mob.
"I tend not to think about that kind of thing too much," Haxton said about having a mission to win a WSOP bracelet after such a hot start to 2023. "I mostly just want to play well, make some money. But sure, it feels great to win."
The final day in Event #16 would see 13 players remain, with the action kicking off on the Horseshoe Table stream on the PokerGO YouTube channel. Before the first break, the final table of nine was reached, and after two more levels, the final seven would head on a dinner break before play was picked up on the Main Stage. Haxton held a sizeable chip lead over his opponents, and on the resumption of play, Brian Rast was eliminated when he shoved from the small blind with jack-ten and Lewis Spencer called with ace-five, and the board bricked out.
Frank Funaro fell in sixth place when he check-raised all-in with a straight draw but was against the pocket aces of Spencer. The turn and river blanked out for Funaro, and he was eliminated while Spencer took the chip lead. Overnight chip leader Roman Hrabec ran his ace-jack from the small blind into the pocket kings of Darren Elias in the big blind to fall in fifth place as the four-time WPT Champion moved into the chip lead and was eyeing his maiden WSOP bracelet.
A few pots didn't go Spencer's way before he was all-in with king-nine against the pocket tens of Elias. No help fell for the Brit, and just three players remained with Elias holding roughly half the chips in play. Haxton doubled into the lead, winning a race with ace-jack over Elias' pocket sevens, before he doubled when a lucky river card improved his holding to trips against Haxton's top pair. Haxton returned the favor with another double through Elias, and although he mounted a small comeback, Elias' run ended in third place when he was all-in with ace-jack against the king-jack of O'Donnell, and the Brit rivered a straight.
Haxton held a slight lead entering heads-up play and immediately extended that to nearly a three-to-one advantage. The final hand saw O'Donnell limp-call all-in holding ace-ten to be in bad shape against Haxton's ace-jack. The window brought a ten to thrust O'Donnell into the lead while Haxton turned a straight draw. Needing a king or jack to claim the win, Haxton saw the jack roll off on the river to eliminate O'Donnell in second place, and was finally crowned a WSOP bracelet winner.
|1st||Isaac Haxton||United States||$1,698,215|
|2nd||Ryan O'Donnell||United Kingdom||$1,049,577|
|3rd||Darren Elias||United States||$725,790|
|4th||Lewis Spencer||United Kingdom||$511,782|
|5th||Roman Hrabec||Czech Republic||$368,134|
|6th||Frank Funaro||United States||$270,238|
|7th||Brian Rast||United States||$202,532|
"It's a little bit of a monkey off my back, I guess," Haxton said on if it was a release to get this WSOP bracelet win finally. "I've had a funny career in terms of finished distributions. Prior to this year, all my biggest scores were second-place and third-place finishes except for the Super High Roller Bowl. Then this year, I've got six wins, all of them in pretty big stuff."
With Haxton now climbing to 12th on the All Time Money List and having spent 20 years as a professional poker player, what is it that still motivates him? Is it playing his best poker or eventually trying to run down one of his closest friends Justin Bonomo who holds the top spot?
"I don't think about the All Time Money List at all," Haxton said on his motivation. "It just feels good to still be around, still able to win the toughest tournaments. I like playing cards to make money."
|1st||Isaac Haxton||United States||$2,796,615||1,436|
|2nd||Sean Winter||United States||$1,355,274||988|
|4th||Darren Elias||United States||$1,150,100||859|
|5th||Cary Katz||United States||$1,086,382||819|
|6th||Sam Soverel||United States||$850,848||775|
|9th||Ryan O'Donnell||United Kingdom||$1,049,577||700|
|10th||Alex Foxen||United States||$791,490||683|
Haxton's win was also his third-qualifying victory on the PokerGO Tour (PGT) for 2023 and vaulted him to top spot on the PGT leaderboard. Haxton now sits nearly 450 PGT points clear of Sean Winter in second place, while another big mover was Darren Elias, who has climbed into fourth, and Ryan O'Donnell, who collects his first PGT-qualifying result to move into ninth overall.
Players that finish in the top 40 on the PGT leaderboard for 2023 at the season's-end will qualify for the PGT Championship $1,000,000 freeroll held in the PokerGO Studio starting December 4. The final table will be in the money, while $500,000 is reserved for the eventual winner of the 2023 PGT Championship. Every $10,000 buy-in event or greater during the 2023 WSOP counts a PGT-qualifying event, while there are many upcoming events hosted in the PokerGO Studio that will give players ample opportunity to qualify.