Billy Baxter is one of the greatest lowball poker players to ever live. He started his gambling career like most back in the early days, inside a pool hall. By the time he was 18, he had discovered poker. Unlike many other poker players who focused on Stud or Holdem, Baxter’s talents seemed specific to Lowball Draw poker.
In 1975, he took his first bracelet at the World Series of Poker in a lowball game when he won the $ 1,000 2-7 Lowball Event. Three years later he won the $ 10,000 2-7 Lowball Event. Three years later, he won the same event again in addition to the $ 2,500 Ace to Five Lowball Event. 1987 and 1993 saw Baxter win bracelets in the $ 5,000 2-7 Lowball Event judi slot.
It wasn’t until 2002 that Baxter finally won a bracelet outside of the lowball when he won the $ 1,500 Razz event. Of course, Razz is a lowball form of stud. Max Shapiro wrote about Baxter, “Don’t tug on Superman’s cape and don’t play in a low-draw game with Billy Baxter.”
In addition to his 7 bracelets, Baxter has 9 other cashes in lowball style events at the WSOP. All but two are final table appearances and 2 are runner up finishes. His most recent cash in lowball was in the 2008 WSOP when he just missed the final table by 1 spot. Lowball is not the only game Baxter excels in. He is also an accomplished No Limit player. Amazingly, most of Baxter’s NL prowess has developed later in life. In 2008 alone he won two NL events and final tabled two others. In total, Baxter has over $ 1.7 Million in tournament winnings. Odds are that much more than most of the records before 2000 are sketchy at best outside of his World Series accomplishments. Baxter was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2006.
While Baxter is a champion poker player, his greatest contribution to poker may have been off the blanket. In 1986 a tax case authorized William E. Baxter Jr. v. United States paves the way for professional gambling earnings to be declared as earned income. Before this ruling, earnings from gambling could be taxed up to 70%, where a business could be taxed up to 50%. After further investigation, a Nevada judge ruled in favor of Baxter and as a result, professional gamblers are eligible for the same deductions as other small businesses.
Billy Baxter is a poker player who found his niche in poker with lowball and took his skills all the way to 7 world titles. He was then able to adapt to the changing climate of poker and continues to be a strong force in poker. Outside of the felt, his tenacity forever changed the landscape for professional gamblers and helped bring an air of legitimacy to gambling. At 68, Baxter shows no legitimate signs of slowing down. In fact, he seems to be hitting his second wind in poker. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Baxter take another title or two before the end of his fantastic poker career.
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