When you come to the final table of a poker tournament holding more than half the chips in play, you’re pretty much expected to win the tournament. That’s the exact situation that Isaac Haxton found himself in on Saturday at the Super High Roller Bowl VIII, and he didn’t disappoint. On his way, he picked up another seven-figure payday for 2023 and etched his name in the record books of the SHRB.
First – Who Gets the Money?
There was a little work to be done for the six men who returned on Saturday for the final table. Only four players would receive any of the $6 million prize pool, generated by the 20-entry field, meaning that two players would leave with nothing to show for their efforts. Isaac Haxton was one of those who would be guaranteed to be a part of that Final Four, but who would be the other recipients?
Haxton was guaranteed to at least make the money as he held over half of the six million chips in play. None of the other five men in the battle – Chris Brewer, Stephen Chidwick, Andrew Lichtenberger, Bryn Kenney, or Jason Koon – even had a million chips to their stack, with Brewer closest with an 845,000 stack. Thus, it was a battle to see who would face Haxton, and the men went to work fairly quickly.
On one of the early hands, Kenney thought he had found his “go-hand” and pushed all in with pocket treys. He found a dance partner in Chidwick, sitting on Big Slick, and the duo was off to the races. Kenney had to feel pretty good after the J-7-2-4 flop and turn, but that disappeared when the King hit the river to give Chidwick a better pair. Out in sixth place, Kenney left with nothing to show for his three days of work.
Down to the money bubble, the next elimination was a bit of a surprise. Lichtenberger would get a double up through Brewer in a blind versus blind battle, his pocket Kings flopping a set against Brewer’s A-7, but it was the next hand that was more dramatic. This time on the button, Lichtenberger raised and Brewer, in the small blind, three bet the pot. After the big blind got out of the way, Lichtenberger moved all in and Brewer nearly beat him into the pot.
This time, Brewer had the dominant edge. His pocket Aces were strong against Lichtenberger’s K♠ 10♠, but the Kx 4♠ 3♠ flop had other ideas. An Ace came on the turn, but for Brewer, it was the wrong Ace – an A♠. Now needing the board to pair, Brewer would be a bit irritated to see an innocuous 7♦ come on the river, ending his tournament short of the money in fifth place.
Second – Who Gets the MOST Money?
With the Final Four determined, it was now time to figure out who would win the tournament, and Lichtenberger did his best to do just that. He would knock out Jason Koon (fourth place) and Chidwick (third place) to move to heads-up action against Isaac Haxton with the chip lead, 3.22 million to Haxton’s 2.78 million. After less than ninety minutes to determine the final twosome, Lichtenberger and Haxton would then go deeper into battle.
Haxton would immediately seize the lead back from Lichtenberger on the first hand of play and put Lichtenberger’s shoulders close to the mat on a few occasions. But Lichtenberger fought back hard, swapping the lead between the men over an epic four-hour battle. It was going to take a massive clash to decide the title, which is exactly what occurred.
After Haxton opened the action to 125K, Lichtenberger popped it to a half-million and Haxton called. A 3x 3♠ 2♠ flop greeted the men, with Lichtenberger offering a continuation bet and Haxton moving all in. After considering his options, Lichtenberger made the call with pocket Kings running against Haxton’s A♠ 7♠. A Q♠ delivered the nut flush for Haxton, but Lichtenberger still had outs with a trey or a King giving him the boat. Alas, neither came on the six river, knocking Lichtenberger down to fumes.
It was over on the next hand. Haxton kept the pressure on with an all-in move and Lichtenberger made the call. His 9-3 wasn’t great, but Haxton’s 10-7 wasn’t much better. After a seven flopped, however, Lichtenberger could never find something to top it, earning the title for Haxton and the first-place prize of $2.76 million.
1. Isaac Haxton, $2,760,000
2. Andrew Lichtenberger, $1,680,000
3. Stephen Chidwick, $960,000
4. Jason Koon, $600,000
It was a huge win for Haxton on several fronts. With the victory, Haxton becomes the only player to win the Super High Roller Bowl twice, with his first win coming in 2018. The points earned by Haxton for winning the SHRB VIII also catapult him into the second-place slot on the PokerGO Tour leaderboard for 2023. Finally, the victory moves Haxton into the Top Five in both the CardPlayer Magazine and Global Poker Index Top Five lists for their 2023 Player of the Year races.
(Photo courtesy of PokerGO.com)