Fighting words: Isildur1 and Haxton discuss their Showdown

ps_news_thn.jpgIsildur1 isn't pleased. It's not necessarily that he lost forty grand over the weekend. It's more about how he lost it and who he lost it to. In short, in the land of good sports, Isildur1 isn't running for mayor.

"I want to play this guy again, because I didn't feel he was so good," Isildur1 said of Isaac Haxton. "I dont think he deserved to win."

Isildur1 is not Don Quixote's windmill. He is not a shadow-boxer's foil. Fighting Isilidur1 is like grappling with a ghost that battles back. Most people who speak of him have no idea what it's like to have their money at stake against the King of Swing. Haxton is one man who can speak from experience. This weekend he walked away with more than $40,000 of Isildur1's money...and he's still getting over it.

"No one has ever more consistently made me miserable when playing against them," Haxton said.

This is coming from a man who played 2,500 hands across four tables against Isildur1 in Sunday's SuperStar Showdown...and won. This is coming from Haxton, a man that most people in the poker world regard as a tremendously good heads-up player. It's this man who--without provocation or incentive--rates Isildur1 as one of his toughest-ever heads-up opponents.

"I guess I'd put (Phil) Ivey in second for that, but it's honestly not that close. Isildur's brand of over the top--but carefully balanced--aggression is unlike anything I've played against and really takes me out of my comfort zone in a lot of situations," Haxton said. "As someone who's probably played half a million hands of high stakes HUNL, that's saying something."

That's a long way of saying, Haxton's candidacy for the Mayor of Good Sports is still strong.

What Haxton is careful not to do, however, is declare Isildur1 the best. Why? Well, you'll have to talk Haxton about that. This is as far as he will go:

"I'm not saying he's definitely the best I've ever played, and I'm not saying he definitely isn't, but, damn, is he a pain to play against," Haxton said.

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Isaac Haxton, $40K to the good against Isildur1

Haxton's bonhomie is an easier sell. After all, he won what was to this point the most publicized PokerStars heads-up match in recent memory. He harpooned the Moby Dick of heads-up poker players. He stuck it to the international man of mystery and did it on a very big stage.

Isildur1, as previously mentioned, isn't very happy.

"(Haxton) is too passive and a weak player. He did get lucky," Isildur1 said. Then, to drive home the post-game needling, Isildur1 said of Haxton: "He never had the guts to play me higher limits before either."

Isildur1 went on to say he craves someone who will give him more action. He wasn't used to Haxton's style and said he had never purposefully sat with someone who consistently min-raised their button. It appears that might have been Haxton's plan all along.

"I was on the defensive a lot of the time--a lot more than I'm used to--but that had been my plan going in," Haxton said. "I think I did a fairly good job of neutralizing his strengths and exploiting his weaknesses."

Haxton said, while he had a lot of fun, he doubts that either he or Isildur1 fully understood what was going on in the other's head over then 2,500 hands. Moreover, Haxton said, the thousands-deep rail probably missed a few of the nuances going on across the four tables.

"One thing I noticed which was probably hard for railbirds to spot was just how frequently and dramatically Isi's game plan shifted," Haxton said. "He would do one thing for a few hundred hands, I'd make a call that made it clear I knew what was up, and suddenly his bet-sizing and frequencies were different on every street."

In case you're not good at reading between the lines, Haxton has just offered Isildur1 something that few poker players get from their opponents: respect. While Isildur1 might be among the world's best players, he's not about to return Haxton's respect in kind.

"He ran too good and I want re-match in a game for 5,000 hands," Isildur1 said. "I would beat him easily. I am certain."

Them's fightin' words in most circles.

So, could it happen? Could there be a re-match in the offing? It appears both sides may be amenable to the idea.

Asked who he thought was the better player, Haxton only said with a smile, "Man, it's close. I guess we'll just have to play some more."

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in News