The second of the All Star Showdown challenges ended this morning over at PokerStars with new Team Online pro Ike Haxton finally defeating his English rival Alex "Kanu7" Millar after seventeen gruelling hours of play at the $50/$100 NLHE tables with each player risking $100k in a winner takes all match.
It was always destined to be a long match between the two players who are not exactly "Isildur1" like in their approach and both play a far more considered game, rarely putting their stacks at risk without good cause. The word "nitty" may be a little harsh but this match up was never likely to be a railbirds dream. That said, there is no denying that these two players are certainly among the best NLHE cash game players in the world today, in fact some would argue the best.
The match started tentatively with both players trading small leads with Millar taking a c.$17k lead into the two hour break with players having bought in on four tables at $10k each per table . Soon after this break however Haxton strung together some pretty decent sized pots to take the advantage from Millar, including this, the biggest pot of the match to that point;
Kanu7 makes a hero call on the river but is soundly beaten by Haxton's top pair top kicker in this $44.3k pot
By the end of the third hour Haxton had grabbed a c.$35k lead. After the break and for the next two hours Haxton continued to dominate proceedings and shortly after the pair reached the thousandth hand Haxton had established a c.$80,000 lead and two tables had to be closed as Millar only had enough of is $100k stake remaining to continue on two tables. Millar refused to give up however and during the next 15 or so minutes before the end of the 5th hour he managed to get back over $40k and enough to repoen the other two tables.
Thus started the long, hard slog for Millar back to break-even which he achieved (with some roadblocks occasionally halting his progress) after another three hours play. By this time there looked to be no stopping the rejuvenated Millar who (in this context of this match at least) shot into a big lead, opening up a +$60k advantage over the next hour.
Soon after it was Haxton who was having to close tables as his stack fell close to $30k, although he pretty quickly recovered enough to reopen the fourth table once again. The match continued to ebb and flow although Kanu7 managed to maintain a decent lead up to the 3,000th hand when the blind (as per the rules of the showdown) doubled to $100/$200. At this point, Millar had a c.$40k lead in the match.
The change in blinds meant that Haxton only had enough to open 2 tables, and although he again quickly recovered enough to open a third he then proceeded to lose back to back hands worth over $45k total leaving Haxton with only one table open. The end looked like it was soon to be upon us, especially as Haxton soon put all his remaining money on the line with AK, only to find himself behind to Millar's QQ. An ace on the flop however doubled Haxton up.
With the blinds higher we started to see a lot more $20k-$40k pots with Haxton on the winning end of slightly more than his opponent. Over the next couple of hours Haxton eventually eliminated the young Brits lead and once more, after 15 hours play, honours were even with Haxton eventually reclaiming the lead after a cruel river cause Kanu7 to pay off Haxton's flopped set (see below);
Ike takes the lead - over 15 hours in
Over the next hour and a half or so Haxton kept hacking away at Millar's remaining chips as the English pro seemed to run a little card dead, with Haxton eventually crippling him with another +$40k pot after Millar's 99 (all in pre flop) was whooped as Haxton's KsQs made a straight on the turn and an unnecessary flush on the river.
The end of the match came after 17 long hours with Haxton's flush besting Millar's straight in a $10k pot.
It's hard to really call Haxton the better player here as Millar, let's not forget, was one flip (and one he held the slight advantage in) away from finishing the match but sadly only one of these worthy adversaries could progress to the semi final to meet Ben "Sauce123" Sulsky who defeated KTPOKP on Saturday.