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Isaac Haxton Is No Longer The Best Poker Player Without A Bracelet

The 37-Year-Old Poker Pro Took Down The 2023 WSOP $25,000 Eight-Max No-Limit Hold'em Event For $1.7 Million


Coming into the 2023 World Series of Poker, Isaac Haxton was the highest-earning tournament player in the world without a WSOP gold bracelet to their name. The 37-year-old poker pro had more than $37.7 million in prior cashes before the 54th annual WSOP got underway.

After the conclusion of the $25,000 no-limit hold’em eight max event at this year’s series, Haxton can officially cross his name off the top of that dreaded list of the ‘best without a bracelet.’ He topped the largest $25,000 buy-in event ever held at the WSOP, emerging victorious from a record-setting field of 301 entries with the hardware and $1,698,215 in prize money.

“I agree it is a little bit of a monkey off my back, I guess,” admitted Haxton. “I’ve had a funny career in terms of finish distributions. Prior to this year, all my biggest scores were like second and third-place finishes except for the win in the Super High Roller Bowl. And then this year I’ve got like six wins, all of them in pretty big stuff.”

Haxton has indeed won six titles this year, with 14 final-table finishes and nearly $7.5 million in prize money earned across those scores. This latest huge win saw him earn 1,512 Card Player Player of the Year points, enough to overtake Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero for the outright lead in the 2023 POY race presented by Global Poker. He also claimed the top spot on the PokerGo Tour leaderboard thanks to the 750 PGT points he accrued with his latest win.

The other seven-figure victories recorded by Haxton in 2023 were a pair of title runs in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $100,000 super high roller events for $1,555,360 and $1,082,230.

He now has more than $39,418,364 in lifetime earnings, good for 11th place on poker’s all-time money list. His longtime friend Justin Bonomo, who sits atop the earnings leaderboard with nearly $63.3 million in total cashes, was there to support Haxton down the stretch of his bracelet win. When asked if he has designs on catching up to Bonomo, Haxton said, “Nah, I don’t think about the all-time money list at all. It just feels good to still be around and to still be able to win top tournaments. I like playing cards and making money.”

This event took three days to play down to a winner. The record turnout resulted in a prize pool of $6,204,000, with the top 46 finishers making the money. The final day of the event began with just 13 contenders remaining, with the Czech Republic’s Roman Hrabec in the lead and Haxton near the middle of the pack.

Heavy hitters like World Poker Tour champion Taylor von Kriegenbergh (13th), three-time bracelet winner Kristen Foxen (12th), and two-time bracelet winner Aleksejs Ponakovs (10th) hit the rail in the early going.

Haxton had climbed into the lead by the time the final table was set. Two-time bracelet winner Joao Vieira’s was knocked out in eighth place ($155,037) by five-time bracelet winner Brian Rast.

During seven-handed action, the UK’s Lewis Spencer doubled through Haxton to move into the lead. He then knocked out Rast (7th – $202,532) to pull even further ahead in the chip counts.

Bracelet winner Frank Funaro’s semi-bluff shove with an open-ended straight draw was looked up by Spencer, who had pocket aces. Spencer held from there to bust Funaro in sixth place ($270,238).

Darren EliasHrabec soon followed when his A-J suited ran into the pocket kings of four-time WPT champion Darren Elias. Hrabec flopped a pair of jacks, but received no further help from the board and ended up as the fifth-place finisher ($368,134).

Elias overtook the lead after that hand. He soon extended his advantage by making a full house in a sizable pot played against Spencer. Haxton followed that up by winning another big confrontation with Spencer, turning kings up against Spencer’s flopped top pair of aces that ended with Lewis’ stack in tatters.

He soon got his last few big blinds in preflop with K-9 facing the pocket tens of Elias. Spencer picked up a flush draw to go with his overcard, but a brick on the river saw him eliminated in fourth place ($511,782). This was his largest live tournament score yet. It increased his career earnings to over $1.1 million.

A preflop coin flip saw Elias and Haxton switch spots on the leaderboard. Haxton’s A-J outran the pocket sevens of Elias, making two pair to double him into the lead. Haxton and Elias would clash a few more times, trading the lead back and forth. Elias lost one such encounter to become the clear short stack, but managed to bounce back in time for the next key hand.

Elias got all-in with his A-J leading the K-J of Ryan O’Donnell. The flop gave O’Donnell an open-ended straight draw, which came in on the river to see Elias knocked out in third place. He earned $725,790 as the third-place finisher, the second-largest score of his career. He now has nearly $12.4 million in career earnings after this podium finish.

With that, Haxton took roughly a 5:4 chip lead into heads-up play with O’Donnell, whose supporters on the rail described him as an online player and poker coach. Haxton was able to stretch his lead to nearly 3:1 by the time the final hand arose. O’Donnell limped in on the button with ADiamond Suit10Heart Suit. Haxton moved all-in with AClub SuitJSpade Suit. O’Donnell made the call and the board came down 10Club Suit3Heart Suit3Diamond SuitQDiamond SuitJDiamond Suit to give Haxton jacks up on the river for the win.

O’Donnell earned $1,049,577 as the runner-up, far-and-away the largest live cash of his career.

Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points PGT Points
1 Isaac Haxton $1,698,215 1512 750
2 Ryan O’Donnell $1,049,577 1260 700
3 Darren Elias $725,790 1008 435
4 Lewis Spencer $511,782 756 307
5 Roman Hrabec $368,134 630 221
6 Frank Funaro $270,238 504 162
7 Brian Rast $202,532 378 122
8 Joao Vieira $155,037 252 93

Visit the Card Player 2023 World Series of Poker page for schedules, news, interviews, and the latest event results.