Isaac Haxton: From Chess Prodigy to Poker Legend

Isaac Haxton: From Chess Prodigy to Poker Legend

A guy in Harry Potter glasses will rarely give the impression of an word-renowned poker player. Still contrary to what meets the eye, many believe that Isaac Haxton is one of the smartest poker players of our time. So, in this article, we'll see where his journey began and fill you in on where he is now.

Isaac Haxton: Before Poker

Like just about everyone, Isaac was once a child, so that's where our story starts - his childhood.

Isaac Haxton

Isaac was born in September 1985, into, in our opinion, an intelligent family. His father was a university English professor who wrote in his spare time, while his mother worked as a psychiatrist. Isaac's family, including his two sisters, lived in Westchester, where life was measured and comfortable.

If e could pinpoint one important event in Isaac's childhood, it would have to be his introduction to chess. At the age of four, Isaac's father taught him to play chess, and at the age of six, Isaac had already participated in competitions. During his formative years, he often spent time reflecting on successful solutions on the chess board. In one of the tournaments, Isaac managed to take home 8th place at the New York State Championship. On the topic of chess, Isaac Haxton said:

"With my dad, we started playing with forfeits. A few of my pieces were already moved. We played like that until I won three games in a row. Then we'd play with a smaller handicap. By the time I was ten years old, I was winning all the games."

At the age of ten, Isaac had found a new hobby, Magic: The Gathering. He participated in local tournaments several times a week, all while discussing strategies with friends and playing online. At the age of 14, he participated in a major tournament among professional players. Unfortunately, at that time, the level of play was still too high. Still, he was passionate enough about the game that he decided to devote all his time to this game.

An Introduction to Poker 

Fast forward a bit to his college and adult years, and you'll see many of Isaac's Magic friends started playing poker. It was these guys that introduced Isaac to variants like Texas Hold'em. The first poker games were played between friends, only later deciding to visit casinos.

It was there that Isaac realized that you can not only win when playing friends, but also when playing opponents, ones that were much older and more experienced than him. Because traveling to casinos was inconvenient at the time, Isaac began testing out the waters in cash games of different poker rooms.

The Goal Is to Earn a Million Dollars

In 2004, Isaac went off to study programming at Brown University. At this point, online cash with limits of $3/$6 was a thing of the past, as Haxton was winning with stakes ten times higher. Interestingly, his father didn't think Isaac would develop a gambling problem while playing poker, saying:

"Isaac got into poker like I got into poetry at one time. If gambling didn't become his profession, he would still play for the soul."

Somewhere around the fall of 2006, Isaac had come to realize that programming was not his passion nor his profession. So, he started taking poker more seriously, with his first big wins coming at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (861,700 USD) and the Aussie Millions Poker Championship (2,500,000 USD).

At the same time, news reports started circling about a bill being discussed that would make online money games, including poker, illegal. However, t that point, the law was due to come into effect in about a year. Therefore, Isaac decided to postpone his studies and focus entirely on poker. At one point, his family asked him about how much money he wanted to make in a year playing poker. Isaac thought about it and answered:

"I think about a million dollars."

Isaac Haxton

Good news - the US government postposed the law for five years. At that point, Haxton did not waste his time. Isaac went up in limits, gradually beginning to master live tournaments. In 2007 Isaac won a membership package for the Bahamas, which included accommodation as well.

In this tournament, Isaac reached the final table as a huge chip leader, the youngest player at the table. When he was one-on-one with his opponent, he played a hand that is now listed as one of the best bluffs in poker history. While Isaac couldn't beat his opponent heads-up, second place still gave him 861,700 USD.

Even though poker was was his career, Haxton still went back to university and got his degree, saying:

"I figured it was better to get a degree than not to get one. There's no telling where I could have ended up if poker had been banned. I was already playing poker for a living at university. I ended up just taking my exams, skipping my graduation so I could go to Las Vegas and play my first tournament as soon as possible."

Black Friday

Isaac ended up moving to Las Vegas, where he and other poker pros settled. Just as 2011, one of the best years for Haxton rolled around, Black Friday came with it. In poker, Black Friday is known as the day when the US blocked access to several major poker sites that had several serious violations. As a result, tens of millions of dollars that belonged to players were frozen in their accounts.

After this event, Isaac decided to take a breath from poker, marrying his long-time girlfriend Zoe and eventually moving to Malta.

Isaac Haxton's Achievements

Throughout his poker career, Isaac Haxton has had more than a few big tournament wins. You'll find the most notable ones below:

2007PokerStars Caribbean Adventure2nd $ 861,789
2014Aussie Millions Poker Championship2nd $ 2,525,841
2016European Poker Tour1st $ 594,356
2017World Series of Poker 20173rd $ 595,812
2018Super High Roller Bowl V,1st $ 3,672,000
2019Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Jeju6th $ 802,589
2022Triton Poker Series Madrid3rd$ 809,173
2023PokerStars Caribbean Adventure1st$ 1,555,360
2023World Series of Poker 20231st$ 1,698,215
2023PokerGO Tour - PGT Super High Roller Bowl VIII (SHRB)1st$ 2,760,000
2023World Poker Tour - WPT World Championship4th$ 1,224,800

Even though Isaac has been in poker for about 15 years now, he doesn't seem even close to retiring. He's a players with some serious goals and we can't wait to see what he does next!.

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