WSOP Event #2: PokerStars' Isaac Haxton runner-up for $1.1million
It was a classic heads-up battle. After busting Greg Raymer in third place, PokerStars player Isaac Haxton went head-to-head with Russia's Vitaly Lunkin with a 2:1 chip advantage. It sounds a lot, but these things change quickly. And that's exactly what happened - quite a number of times as the lead switched repeatedly.
The two were locked for hours trying to determine who would collect the $1,891,012 first prize, but in the end Lunkin, who won the PokerStars RPT Moscow event only a few weeks ago, dealt the final blow when his aces held up against Haxton's flopped bottom pair and flush draw. Lunkin had bested 200 others, the world's top no-limit players among them, to grab the bracelet.
A litlle earlier his aces had been cracked when Haxton hit a five-outer on the river to regain the chip lead. But a double up soon after, then the winning aces hand, meant he took the crown - and his second WSOP bracelet to whoops of delight from his supporters on the rail.
Haxton, a renowned online and tournament player, had impressed with his play in this $40,000 buy-in event, staged in recognition of this being the 40th annual WSOP jamboree. He confirms his status even more, and will be a force to watch for the rest of the series.
The story tonight could have been so different, not just for Haxton, but also for Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer, who had been desperate to secure his second WSOP bracelet after winning the Main Event in 2004. The Fossilman came so close, but lost a huge all-in against Haxton - 5-5 v 9-9 - to send him tumbling to the rail, albeit with a $774,927 cash.
Team PokerStars Holland Pro Lex Veldhuis started the final table big in chips, but never got going, ending his day in seventh place for $277,940 when he walked his A-7 into Raymer's pocket kings.
Congratulations to Vitaly Lunkin on a superb performance.
All photos © Joe Giron, IMPDI