Canadian Lonnie Hallett foiled those who were looking to witness history Monday, as he defeated Poker Hall of Famer Billy Baxter heads-up to win the 2023 World Series of Poker $1,000 Seniors Event. It was history-making for Hallett, though, as it marked the first gold bracelet win of his career and a $765,731.
Hallett went into the seven-handed final table Monday as one of two odds-on favorites. Sitting with 55.3 million chips, he was a close second to two-time bracelet winner and champ of this very tournament in 2014 Dan Heimiller, who had 59.1 million chips.
Nobody else was remotely close to the two of them going into yesterday’s action. Baxter was next with 15.5 million chips and three players had under 10 million. It didn’t look like anyone else had a chance. But Baxter, gunning for his eighth career bracelet, isn’t a Poker Hall of Famer for nothing.
Baxter kept steady most of the way, at one point doubling through Hallett when the tournament was five-handed, though he was in desperate straits at that point and the double-up really only kept him alive.
In the meantime, Heimiller had fallen back slightly and Hallett, despite the Baxter double-up, was cruising, up over 70 million chips. Heimiller got a bunch back when he eliminated Shannon Fahey in fourth place, but then the biggest hand of the tournament happened.
Hallett raised to 2.5 million pre-flop and Heimiller re-raised to 6 million. Hallett called, only to see Heimiller bet 5.5 million in the dark, meaning that he was betting before the flop even came out. That flop was Q-4-J, all hearts. Hallett raised to 15 million and Heimiller went all-in for 61 million. Hallett made the call.
Heimiller had A-J with the Ace of hearts, so his bet in the dark was actually pretty good. He had middle pair and the nut flush draw. But Hallett had Q-4 of clubs, good for two pair. The turn and river were both low, non-hearts, making Hallett’s two pair good and knocking the chip leader to start the day out of the tournament.
So there was Billy Baxter, the beneficiary of all the carnage, with a long climb ahead of him if he wanted to win his eighth WSOP bracelet. Though he had made it to heads-up, he faced a gigantic chip deficit, 146.1 million to 17.5 million.
And really, there wasn’t much he could do but go all-in with a decent hand. He lost a big chunk quickly when Hallett put him to the test and then he finally had to just go for it with Q-2. Unfortunately, he was up against Hallett’s A-8 and couldn’t catch up.
After triumphing over a Seniors event record 8,140-entry field, Hallett said in his winner’s interview, “I just can’t believe it, such a huge field it’s almost impossible to do, and somehow it happened. I’m grateful, can’t believe it, I’m so happy.”
He was also extremely appreciative of who joined up on his final table run, saying, “I’ve played with Dan a few times before and he’s always so tough. It was just incredible to play with Billy Baxter and to end up heads up with him, what more could you want.”
2023 World Series of Poker Event #48: $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Championship – Final Table Results
- Lonnie Hallett – $765,731
- Billy Baxter – $473,212
- Dan Heimiller – $356,166
- Shannon Fahey – $269,841
- Gordon Eng – $205,799
- Loren Cloninger – $158,006
- Rudolf Fourie – $122,130
- Ron Fetsch – $95,040
- David Stearns – $74,464
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