Alex Foxen is crushing 2018 on a global scale. The 27-year-old owns High Roller wins from the L.A. Poker Classic and Asia Pacific Poker Tour stop in Macau. The ambitious streak within Foxen led him to rise in the poker ranks to fifth in the current Global Poker Index standings. Foxen’s game grows every time he plays and he is far from satisfied with his current status in the game.
Not here by accident
The work ethic administered by Foxen to move from playing three digit buy-in events just a few years ago to beating the best in the world on a consistent basis is a series of small additions made to his game over time.
Foxen enrolled in the Chip Leader Coaching program in the fall of 2016 and noticed ways he could make himself better. Those changes grew in Foxen’s game with every tournament entered. There was no “lightbulb” moment for Foxen, who is pleased with the long-term changes he made between then and now.
“I think that everything in poker is progression and you need to improve small things,” Foxen told USPoker. “Over that period of time, it’s been a steady progression making minor changes in small spots and it makes a significant change as a whole.”
Facing off against the best in the world on a regular basis, Foxen is devoting his non-playing time to study in order to stay ahead of top-notch pros. At the Macau final table, Foxen defeated Rainer Kempe, Patrik Antonius, and Brian Rast to claim the $963,880 first-place prize.
“I hate to lose,” Foxen stated. “When everyone in poker is trying to get better. You need to try and stay ahead of the curve. The constant focus is on trying to improve and looking at things I might have done wrong. When you have success, it’s easy to think you have the game figured out. You play a session of online or a tournament and [other players] think about what they did well and I think about what I didn’t do optimally.”
Inexperience has its advantages
The first $25,000 High Roller event played by Foxen was over a year ago. Foxen’s volume increases with every quarter and his game is still fresh relative to the players who have battled in the same streets for the better part of the decade.
Foxen studies the game using solvers and charts but finds the simple act of peer-to-peer discussion to be the best recipe for success.
“I think the number one thing to do is to talk to other players,” Foxen iterated. “Solvers have a lot of value in that you can understand what the best option is to take in certain situations that are understanding assumptions that are rarely true. Solvers are done under an assumption. Even the best players aren’t going to respond the way the solver thinks. Players understand the way people think about the game.”
The two players Foxen credited for being his go-tos to talk strategy with are Chance Kornuth and Nick Petrangelo.
Foxen also noted that his Kristen Bicknell has been helpful in this process. The two players started dating earlier in 2018 and Foxen says that having someone to immediately go over with hands is beneficial. Bicknell herself is a two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and former SuperNova Elite on PokerStars.
When Foxen enters a high roller, there is a basic gameplan to his process but it morphs per his competition at the table. Foxen doesn’t fear any player, regardless of results, stating that a player’s results from a few years ago have no bearing on that tournament day.
“I think my start, in general, is go in with a baseline and adapt the players at the table. It’s all about being fluid and responding by deviating from your baseline going in,” Foxen told USPoker. “It’s important to realize how the game has evolved when someone might have had a few scores a few years ago. You understand that these people are playing at a high level and understanding where their head is at. You realize that it’s just another poker game and there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Shooting for the stars
There is no limit to the buy-ins Foxen is willing to play. After he won the High Roller in Macau, Foxen jumped in the HKD$2.1 million ($268,000) Super High Roller Bowl China event. Registering for one high roller caused Foxen to miss another one.
Due to the time difference between Macau and the United States, Foxen mixed up the deadline to register for the Super High Roller Bowl lottery. A last-minute plea did not help his case and Foxen waits for next year.
However, the $1 million Big One For One Drop is fresh on Foxen’s mind. Foxen acquisition of a group of investors gives him no hesitation is registering for the event. The only hurdle for Foxen is the 11 percent rake of the event.
“The rake is pretty absurd right now. I get where they’re coming from. As someone who is selling to it, it’s hard to be profitable for investors. If they change the rake, I would definitely be in. You need confidence from other players to play those tournaments. It feels good to be able to play them.”
The big picture
Foxen’s current plan is to travel the world in search of more tournament glory and GPI points. Next up on his list is the partypoker Barcelona MILLIONS series which includes a €25,000, €50,000, and €100,000 event.
The first step after he lands in the United States for a period of time is to formally move to Las Vegas where he can play the ARIA High Rollers.
The former college football player is more concerned with the GPI crown than any immediate monetary gain. A fire burns within Foxen to be the best in this challenging game.
To become the best means to continue to learn and keep his sharp game refined. The work ethic required is already second-nature to Foxen who came up from $300 tournaments to $300,000 in the most demanding time in poker history.
“I’ve always loved competition and it’s something that has come naturally to me. You learn a lot of life lessons and I just really enjoy it. If I’m not competing, what’s the point?”
Lead image courtesy of World Poker Tour.