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Legendary poker pro falls short of 8th career WSOP bracelet

Lonnie Hallett has quite a story to take home to Big Valley, Alberta.

Not only did the 54-year-old win the World Series of Poker’s $1,000 buy-in Seniors No-limit Hold’em Championship on Monday at Horseshoe Las Vegas, he took down a poker legend in the process.

Hallett defeated seven-time WSOP winner Billy Baxter in a brief heads-up battle for the $765,731 first prize.

“You can make money, but you can’t buy a bracelet,” Hallett said. “For (Baxter) to end up heads-up, how incredible was that for him? It was special, and he was such a nice guy the whole time. I loved it. It’s unbelievable.”

Baxter was looking to become the seventh player with eight or more WSOP bracelets, awarded for tournament victories. The 82-year-old would have been the oldest player to win a WSOP bracelet.

Baxter is famous for staking champion Stu Ungar in the 1997 WSOP Main Event, and the Las Vegas resident also is a renowned sports bettor.

His last bracelet came 21 years ago in the $1,500 buy-in Razz event, and Baxter was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2006.

After starting play third in chips with seven players remaining, Baxter was card dead for most of the final table. He scored a double-up through Hallett during five-handed play, but was able to avoid the fireworks that took place and moved up the payout ladder.

Hallett was involved in the most stunning hand of the tournament when he clashed with two-time bracelet winner Dan Heimiller. Those two held almost 90 percent of the chips in play, but put them all in the middle as Baxter sat back and watched.

Heimiller, the 2014 seniors event champion, was unable to improve after Hallett flopped two-pair and was eliminated in third place. Hallett carried an 8-to-1 chip advantage into heads-up play and was able to close out Baxter after a few minutes.

Baxter won $473,212, almost twice his largest career recorded tournament cash.

“You want to win when you get that far, but the blinds were so high,” Baxter said. “Obviously to come second, everything fell perfect for me to get that high. When two big stacks get involved like they did and I get second, that was just a bonus.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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