If his birthday is any indication, 26 is going to be a year to remember for Isaac Hagerling. This LA player and chess enthusiast celebrated his birthday by not only making his first career WSOP final table, but also winning his first gold bracelet and $372,387 after one of the more memorable heads-up battles of the summer.

Hagerling and his opponent, bracelet winner Max Steinberg, came into today as the last two players standing in the unique $3,000 Mixed Max event. They battled back and forth for three and a half hours before Hagerling prevailed. He now joins the ranks of Lev Rofman and Levi Berger as relative unknowns who have denied their heads-up opponent a chance at a return to the WSOP winner’s circle.

Sometimes it is difficult to muster up much sympathy for a bracelet winner failing to capture a second title. However, today that is not the case. Steinberg may have won a bracelet just a year ago, but this second place finish is more than a little bittersweet. In the past three years, Steinberg has proven to be one of the most consistent performers at the WSOP. He has been heads-up for a bracelet four times in the past three years. In fact, he was heads-up for a bracelet just last month at the National Championship in New Orleans. Yet, only once has he come out of those heads-up matches with a bracelet on his wrist.

The end here in Vegas today looked a lot like Steinberg’s result in the Big Easy. The poker pro was on the verge of a bracelet, but failed to fade a three-outer with one card to come. Steinberg threw up his hands in disbelief, but nonetheless managed to buckle down, keep his head in the game, and double up multiple times to give himself a fighting shot at the title. Today though, was not Steinberg’s day. Instead, the bracelet goes to the birthday boy, Isaac Hagerling, who is kicking off 26 with quite the bang.

Here are the paths each players took to get to the final round of this Mixed Max event:

Steinberg:

Round of 32: 25 seed David James
Round of 16: 9 seed Ariel Celestino
Round of 8: 1 seed Brandon Cantu
Round of 4: 12 seed Jason Koon

Hagerling:

Round of 32: 30 seed Markus Gonsalves
Round of 16: 19 seed Nick Binger
Round of 8: 6 seed Yevgeniy Timoshenko
Round of 4: 2 seed Jeremy Ausmus

This year is the second year the Mixed Max has been a part of the summer WSOP schedule. Last year, the $5,000 buy-in event drew 409 players. This year, the buy-in dropped to $3,000 and the field grew to 593 players. That field generated a prize pool of $1,618,890 with the top 68 players finishing in the money.


The unique-format tournament had players seated at nine-handed tables on Day 1, six-handed tables on Day 2, then seeded the final 32 into a heads-up tournament bracket based on chip count, with the top seed playing the 32 seed, etc, etc. Bracelet winner Brandon Cantu was the top seed headed into the heads-up portion of the tournament, but fell to none other than Steinberg in the round of eight .

The second overall seed was November Niner Jeremy Ausmus, who fared a little better than Cantu, making it to the semi -finals before falling to Hagerling. Other notables who advanced to the heads-up portion of the event included Jason Koon (3rd), Yevgeniy Timoshenko (5th), Mike Watson (10th), bracelet winner Taylor Paur (17th), and bracelet winner Matthew Waxman (26th).

Here are the top eight finishers in the $3,000 Mixed Max Event:

1st: Isaac Hagerling - $372,387
2nd: Max Steinberg - $231,501
3rd: Jeremy Ausmus - $132,748
4th: Jason Koon - $132,748
5th: Yevgeniy Timoshenko - $51,561
6th: Dan Healey - $51,561
7th: Chris Johnson - $51,561
8th: Brandon Cantu - $51,561

A profile and interview with our latest gold bracelet winner is available on WSOP.com.