If you are studying for a degree in computer science and started playing Magic: The Gathering at age 10, some might call you a geek. But all the years in front of a computer screen have paid off for Isaac Haxton, who has transformed himself into one of the brightest young poker players in the world.
The man nicknamed ‘The Lizard King’ has live tournament cashes in excess of $1.3million: all before graduating from university. As Haxton explains in a Poker Listings interview:
“I’ve sort of been a gamer my entire life. I started playing chess when I was 4. I started playing Magic: The Gathering when I was 10. Lots of my friends who were Magic players took up poker when they got to be 18 or so, and when I turned 18 I started playing a home game with some of my high school friends and was better than all of them.”
So how did he get from home games to poker millionaire? Not without hard work, it seems, as it is reported that he has read almost 30 books and divided his time at Brown (yes, Brown) between studying and winning thousands of dollars online. Before long he had enough to make regular trips to the local Turning Stone Casino outside Syracuse (his original residence but currently in Providence, RI for his senior year at Brown) and began winning there as well. When his bankroll reached $100,000 and beyond, he decided (wisely) to take a year away from school to focus on his poker career (though he does maintain that he will finish his degree at some point).
Since then he has taken his prowess to a far wider audience. Despite starting out as an online mid-stakes cash player (on Full Tilt as ‘luvthewnba’), Haxton really shot to poker fame in January 2007. This was during the WPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, when he recorded his first major live score when coming 2nd for a cool $861,789. Perhaps even more infamous were his subsequent problems withdrawing the winnings, as this was during the NETeller scandal in which many players saw their accounts with the company frozen following an investigation by the government. Having over $800,000 in his account, however, made Haxton the unfortunate ‘poster boy’ of this scandal.
He has continued to make significant offline scores since, with 8 WSOP cashes to his name (the biggest being in the 2007 $1,000 NLH, where he came 7th for $96,798). And in 2008 he made another final table ($5,000 Mixed Hold ‘Em), though his stay was brief as his AK was busted by eventual winner Erick Lindgren’s QQ early on (finishing 9th for $35,109: see his elimination below).
October 2008 saw another high profile cash, this time in the PokerStars £20,000 ‘High Roller’ London event – another final table but another frustrating finish, this time 6th for $188,603. But even if that first major title still eludes him, he already has the respect of the online community for his short-handed NLH game and has been involved in some notable confrontations with the likes of Jason Rosenkrantz & Aaron Jones over the virtual felt (see a couple of hand reviews here).
Now he has a blog on Card Player and is one of the newest coaches on training site Poker Savvy, where his videos to date have received considerable praise from users. Anyone looking for further nit-bits of his thinking can also check the new Poker Road ‘Red Pro’ strategy forums. For entry to this exclusive forum, Barry Greenstein states: “I will invite players to be red pros if they have a good tournament resume or consistently good results in cash games where normal wins are more than $10,000.” You would imagine that Haxton will fit this bill for many years to come.