A couple that wins poker tournaments together, stays together. The $5,000 buy-in Mid-States Poker Tour Venetian Main Event had 178 entries and it came down to one of poker’s most popular couples – Alex Foxen and Kristen Bicknell – for the title Sunday night. What are the odds?
After losing a 60/40 situation on a pre-flop all-in with a short stack, Bicknell was eliminated in 2nd place for a $200,000 payday as her boyfriend officially took home the trophy and a $239,000 first-place prize.
With the $50,000 buy-in WSOP Poker Players Championship running concurrently across the I-15 in Las Vegas at the Rio, it was somewhat surprising to see such a stacked MSPT final table that included high stakes pros Jake Schindler, Kahle Burns, and, of course, the poker power couple.
After Phong Nguyen was eliminated in 4th place ($85,000), Bicknell and Foxen proposed a three-way chop, but Burns, who was third in chips at the time, wanted to play it out. Perhaps, he was hoping to win back most of the $300,000 he lost last month in the Super High Roller Bowl (1st place was set to pay $270,000).
That decision came back to bite him as he was eventually eliminated in 3rd place and although he took home a nice $120,000 payday, had he agreed to the chop, he would have won more.
MSPT Venetian Main Event Final Table Results
1 Alex Foxen $239,000
2 Kristen Bicknell $200,000
3 Kahle Burns $120,000
4 Phong Nguyen $85,000
5 Blake Wittington $65,000
6 Joey Weissman $51,000
7 Pavel Plesuv $39,000
8 Conor Beresford $30,000
9 Jake Schindler $24,000
Family Pot Payday
With Burns out of the way, the poker-playing couple unsurprisingly agreed to chop the remaining $439,000 prize pool. MSPT rules require players to openly announce a chop at the final table so that livestream viewers are aware of what’s going on.
Per the tournament’s rules, Bicknell and Foxen had play down to a winner instead of just taking the money and calling it a night.
The heads-up match only lasted a few hands before Foxen finished his girlfriend off by winning a 60/40 hand on a pre-flop all-in situation.
This wasn’t the first time the couple ran deep in a poker tournament together. In April, both made deep runs in a pair of high roller events at the Partypoker Millions Grand Final in Barcelona, including 7th (Foxen) and 8th (Bicknell) place finishes in the €25,000 Super High Roller.
A few weeks earlier, at the Asia Pacific Tour in Macau, Foxen won a high roller event just two days after his girlfriend did the same.
Bicknell, a Partypoker ambassador and the 2017 GPI Player of the Year, now has over $2 million in lifetime tournament earnings. Foxen has double those earnings and is currently ranked 5th on the Global Poker Index rankings behind only Stephen Chidwick, Adrian Mateos, David Peters, and Justin Bonomo.
Famous Poker Couples
Many poker players have found it difficult to sustain a long-term relationship, especially with someone who isn’t fond of poker. But some, including Bicknell and Foxen, have found love at the table, along with these famous couples.
Poker pro Phil Laak and actress Jennifer Tilly met during a “Poker After Dark” session years ago. Laak saw what he liked and successfully pursued the Academy Award-nominated actress. The unmarried couple is still together.
Jen Harman, considered the best female poker player of all-time by many, was famously married to stylist and poker pro Marco Traniello during the poker boom era. The couple played poker together but didn’t stay together and have since divorced. They have two children together.
The late Chad Brown and former PokerStars Team Pro member Vanessa Rousso were another popular couple during the poker boom days. They split long before Brown tragically passed away from cancer in 2014.
One of the most famous poker marriages became celebrity gossip fodder when the couple came together, but when they parted ways. High-stakes hedge fund manager and cash game player Dan Shak divorced future reality star Beth Shak in 2009, and would end up filing an additional lawsuit after discovering she had a secret shoe closet with 1,200 pairs of designer shoes valued at more than $1 million.
It’s not easy sustaining a healthy relationship in this industry. Maybe the secret to a happy relationship in poker is to win tournaments together. It seems to be working for Bicknell and Foxen.