Isaac Haxton finally wins his first WSOP bracelet, hitting a record-breaking $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller event. [Image: PokerGO.com]
Hearts fade on the river
In 2014, American poet and translator Brooks Huxton penned a beautiful poetic memoir entitled Fading Hearts on the River: A Life in High-Stakes Poker or How My Son Cheats Death, Wins Millions, and Marries His College Sweetheart. In it, he conjures up the familiar image of a father living vicariously through his son’s exciting life. He also captures a more specific and unfamiliar picture: watching his son play for more money in one hand of poker than he earned for all his books of prose and poetry combined.
That relationship between people and games, how we’re drawn to them like transitional things
Danger looms in the book like a foreboding shadow, both of the uncontrollable kind that comes from without and the kind we welcome into our lives. When an early health scare is juxtaposed with a life of gambling, the stakes are clear, but so, too, are the relationship between people and games, and how we are drawn to them as transitional objects, blankets of comfort that provide the illusion of control in a chaotic world.
Navigating through different times in his son’s life and churning out stately, evocative language, Huxton’s book is a poignant rumination on the nature of chance. It is also an unfinished biography, and the adventures of a man whose journey in the strange world of professional poker is far from over.
The new school has arrived
The 2007 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure was Isaac Haxton’s first major live tournament and he delved into it. It was already an important winner online, but this was a much bigger stage. With his long hair blowing in the wind at the outdoor end table, he looked like a young rock star, just a touch of swagger. When he finally got a showdown against Ryan Daut, another young weapon and producer of the online poker revolution, it was an advertisement of sorts. The new school has arrived.
Haxton finished second at $862,000, a position he would find himself in many times during his poker career. In 2009, he finished runner-up to Vitaly Lunkin at the $40,000 World Series of Poker 40th Anniversary event. In 2014, he was again a bridesmaid in Aussie Millions AUD $250,000. Later that same year, he placed second in the $100,000 Aria Super High Roller category. Poker can be funny in this way. By the end of 2017, Haxton had amassed over $15 million in live earnings, but if you asked any of the elite players who fought the worst, they would all say it was him.
Haxton has dominated live and online broadcasts, cash games and tournaments, and in 2018, he got that huge victory and a well-deserved feather in his cap when he won the $300K Aria Super High Roller for $3.7M. He has since added another $19 million in live tournament winnings to his tally, placing himself 13th on the all-time live poker money list.
A passionate advocate for the rights of poker players
While establishing himself as one of the greatest poker players of the modern era, Haxton has always been an outspoken voice in the poker community. In 2016, he left PokerStars in the midst of the Supernova Elite scandal, citing unethical behavior by the online site.
It was a very principled position during a troublesome time for poker and Haxton never gave up. In 2018 Alex Dreyfus tweeted about all the good PokerStars does for the community to which Haxton responded:
“Nah, it’s good for the industry that they die like other brands that have lost track of the line between their customers’ money and theirs.”
Haxton has always shown a willingness to always use his platform to speak truth to power
On a whole host of issues over the years, Haxton has always shown a willingness to always use his platform to speak truth to power. When he signed as a poker ambassador in 2018, poker author Paul Seaton echoed those sentiments, saying, “Haxton has long been known as a righteous and passionate advocate for poker player’s rights.”
Best without a bracelet, no more
Despite all his successes, one thing has been missing from his illustrious resume. One of the perennial favorite activities of the poker media is making a list of the “best without a bracelet”. It’s all a little silly in a game with so much variation, but there was a lot of ado when Jason Koon got that monkey off his back last year. Given his standing in poker, one cannot help but place Haxton at the top of that list. That’s until yesterday.
An astounding 301 entries made their way into the prize pool for Event #16: $25,000 Hold’em High Roller No-Limit, a record for a buy of this size in the WSOP. Fittingly, the championship ultimately came down to Haxton and another Ryan – Ryan O’Donnell – to battle it out for the top prize of $1,698,215. When the dust settled, Haxton prevailed, his third win in the past nine weeks and sixth this year.
“One of my greatest achievements”
In his post-tournament interview, a grateful Haxton spoke of his satisfaction at winning an even bigger tournament:
“I’ve been second and third a few times for the biggest money, so it’s nice to finally win. A field of three hundred players for $25,000, yeah I think he has to be up there with one of my biggest accomplishments.”
This is the cherry on top of an incredible career.”
Haxton’s close friend and fellow poker pro Steve O’Dwyer could not have been happier.
O’Dwyer said on Friday that “I stayed up until 9am Dublin time watching live coverage of Day Two yesterday and until 7am watching him win”. “It was cool to see me and it made me remember how long our group of friends had been doing this and how far we’d all come. I was about to participate in Ike’s first ever final table at the WSOP in the $1k NLHE buyout renewal in 2007 and get He finished second in the first ever WSOP event, the $40K NLHE Anniversary Event in 2009. Despite being considered one of, if not the best in the world, he did rather poorly in the closing stages. of live championships throughout his career, so it was great to see him put together such an incredible string of wins in the first half of this year. This is the cherry on top of an incredible career.”
A moving target, the story of Brooks Huxton’s son isn’t over yet, but this momentous occasion certainly deserves its own chapter.