If you drew up a list of the last 30 players at EPT Sanremo, then put an asterisk beside the name of everyone who has never cashed in the main event of an EPT festival, you would be looking at 17 little stars.
You might think, though, that at least one of them had been incorrectly applied, for alongside the likes of Negjdet Avdylaj, Giuseppe Cefalu and Artem Metalidi is the name of some complete rookie named Isaac Haxton*. Yes, his name would have a star by it too.
By common agreement, Haxton is among the top ten poker players in the world, both online and off. His cash game winnings online are reported to run into the millions, while he has recorded at least one six-figure live tournament score every year since 2007.
In most years he has actually recorded significantly more than that: an $861,789 score for second place in the PCA (before it was on the EPT), $1,168,555 for second place at the $40,000 WSOP 40th anniversary event in Las Vegas, plus another combined $960,000 and change for two third places in High Roller events either side of New Year 2011-12.
But it doesn’t matter how hard you look at his resume, there are no cashes there from EPT Main Events, a peculiar anomaly that he has set right this week. He might actually be much further up the leader board had he won a big flip on the last hand of last night.
As players around him were bagging and tagging last night, Haxton got at least half of his stack in against Eric Nhouyvanisvong, and they were flipping. Nhouyvanisvong had queens and flopped a set; Haxton had suited ace-king and flopped a flush draw. Haxton couldn’t hit, though, and Nhouyvanisvong took the 800,000-ish pot.
Nhouyvanisvong is long gone now, though, busted in 44th. Haxton is in the top 15 and few would bet against him marking his maiden cash with a maiden final table. Maybe even the win.
*If we exclude the PCA, we can also add Yevgeniy Timoshenko.
Keep an eye on the live tournament reporting from EPT Sanremo for all the news from the tournament floor.