EPT11 Prague: Lights out as Haxton gets off to lightning start
The cavernous Congress Room, in which the EPT Main Event is taking place, suddenly went pitch black. Some players looked flustered but most knew what was coming next. The TV screens around the room suddenly flickered into life and a montage of pictures of historic EPT moments, from Prague and beyond, played out to a soundtrack of "We're indestructible".
Then it went black again, before a spotlight picked out the EPT President Edagr Stuchly and Thomas Lamatsch, who is the Tournament Director here in Prague, they were both standing on the stage at the far side of the room. "Welcome to the wonderful city of Prague," began Stuchly who then went on to say: "This is our eighth visit here, thank you for joining and supporting us. I wish you success at the table and a good time off it. Dealers please shuffle up and deal."
As the lights came back on, Sebastian Pauli, one player who has certainly had success at the table, came into view and took his seat just in time for the first hand. The EPT11 London Champion defended his big blind but folded on the flop. His streak of winning hands on the EPT now over he folded for a couple of hands before taking two pots down to get his stack back on an even keel.
Pauli's table was playing four-handed and they had one more body at their table than Ike Haxton did on his. The Team Pro Online member, who plays a lot of deep-stacked short-handed cash games online, was in his element then and it would prove to be a profitable opening 15 minutes for the American.
Initially though the poker played second fiddle to a wonderful conversation between Haxton and another citizen of the world, Nicholas Galtos. "Did you play in the Super High Roller?" Galtos asked Haxton. His voice had a noticeable Australian twang to it. After Haxton had replied to Galtos in the affirmative the Aussie recounted his story from the £10,000 High Roller in London, which was his first buy-in of that size.
"It's the most fun I've had playing a tournament," Galtos said. "I played against Schemion, Mizzi, the young guy who won it (Andrew Chen) and Dan Colman who knocked me out. He turned a set to crack my kings."
As this conversation played out Haxton and Galtos were actually playing a hand against each other, a bet from Galtos on a J♠7♠5♠ flop won him the pot and he showed pocket jacks for a set of his own. "I live in Switzerland," said Galtos as the conversation resumed.
"You don't sound very Swiss," replied Haxton.
"I'm Australian, I run a number of language schools including one in Prague," continued Galtos before adding. "I used to be a professional (roller) hockey player, I played it Italy and Spain. I'm the only former Australian pro hockey player." The former professional athlete obviously still keeps in shape as Haxton was shocked when Galtos told him he was 56 years old.
The conversation then died down somewhat as Haxton got involved in back-to-back hands against Alexey Prager that would propel his stack from the 30,000 he started with to almost 50,000.
In the first, which was the smaller of the two, Haxton bet 1,600 on the turn of a K♠Q♠6♠A♥ board and Prager called. On the 8♦ river he fired another barrel, this time 3,500 was the bet and again it was met with a call. Haxton rolled over A♣A♦ and it was good.
The next pot started slowly, Haxton opened to 250 and picked up two callers, Prager and Ignat Liviu. The flop fell A♦K♣2♣, Haxton c-bet 450 and only Prager stuck around. The 9♦ turn is where this pot really picked up in pace. Haxton fired out a bet of 1,100, only for Prager to raise to 6,100. Back on Haxton he considered his options before raising to 11,600 total. "He raised it again?" asked a quizzical Prager to the dealer, a nod followed and soon after so did the calling chips of Prager.
The 6♠ rounded off proceedings. Haxton eyed up Prager's stack (around 12,000) and then set him all-in. The Russian immediately pitched his cards into the muck and Haxton took a meaty pot to get his day off to a great start.
Full coverage of the EPT Prague Poker Festival is on the main EPT Prague page. Super High Roller coverage, including blow-by-blow updates in the panel at the top, is on the Super High Roller page. And the Eureka main event is down to the final table and playing to a winner today. That's on the Eureka Prague page.