Isaac Haxton doesn’t need a full deck to win. The Partypoker ambassador scooped Poker Masters Event #4 — the $10,500 Short Deck Hold’em — for $176,000. Now he’s just 30 points behind Brandon Adams for the overall series lead.
“Ike” trails Adams by 30 points (510 to 480) with three events remaining. The player who accumulates the most points during the 2018 Poker Masters will earn a purple jacket. Steffen Sontheimer is the defending champion.
Opera Ain’t Over
Adams, however, still has a huge lead in total earnings throughout the first four events of the series, with $543,000. Keith Lehr, winner of the $26,000 PLO event that concluded Monday, is second with $333,000. Haxton now sits in third place with $309,900 in earnings.
But total earnings don’t factor into determining a Poker Masters champion: only points count. Tournament winners receive 300 points, runners-up get 210, third place is worth 150, foruth is good for 120, fifth place earns 90.
Haxton and Adams both have three cashes during the series. They are clearly the favorites to win the purple jacket as the 2018 Poker Masters finale starts on Thursday.
2018 Poker Masters top performers now include Adams with his $543,000 in earnings, three cashes, one title for the $26,000 No-Limit Hold’em, three final tables, and 500 Points. Following next is Haxton with $309,900 in earnings, three cashes, one title for the $10,500 Short Deck Hold’em, three final tables, and a close-to-Adams 480 Points.
Inexperience with Short Deck Poker
Among the 55 entries in the short deck event were some of the top players in the world. Many of those were playing this poker variation for the first time, including runner-up Maurice Hawkins, whose inexperience may have cost him a shot at the title during heads-up play against Haxton.
Hawkins — mostly a mid-stakes tournament grinder who was playing above his normal limits — made a few costly mistakes. In one hand, he checked back in position on the river, unaware he had a straight against Haxton.
Since the 2-5 cards are removed from the deck in short deck poker, an ace plays as either a five or the highest card. The board ran out 7-6-A-7-9, giving Hawkins a straight with his 8-6 (A-6-7-8-9). But he checked it back on the river, apparently confused, despite having an opportunity to get value against Haxton’s pair of aces.
“Five, six, seven,” a discombobulated Hawkins said after Haxton showed his hand. “Oh, sh*t, I’m sorry, straight.”
Maurice wasn’t slowrolling his opponent: it just took him a few seconds to realize what he had. Haxton wasn’t exactly upset, however.
“If you want to check back a straight, you don’t have to apologize,” he joked.
On the following hand, Hawkins called an all-in bet with pocket queens against A-J, but a lucky ace on the turn kept Haxton alive and gave him a massive chip lead.
Hawkins appeared deflated after that: a few hands later, he was still mumbling about the bad beat he suffered. He never recovered and was eliminated in second place for $115,500.
PokerGo announcers Ali Nejad and Jeremy Ausmus were often critical of Hawkins’ play. Afterwards, Maurice was gracious in defeat and complimentary to his heads-up foe.
“I love this place, I love this event. I was playing a legend. I’m glad that I got the opportunity and you played well,” he said to Haxton.
Poker Masters Short Deck Hold’em Final Table Results
Isaac Haxton ($176,000) 300 pointsMaurice Hawkins ($115,500) 210 pointsRyan Tosoc ($77,000) 150 pointsAndrew Robl ($55,000) 120 pointsCary Katz ($44,000) 90 pointsDominik Nitsche ($33,000) 60 points