The Day Brian Hastings Took Isildur1 for $4.2m

6 years ago
The Day Brian Hastings took Isildur1 for $4.2m
01 Sep

2009 was supposed to be the year of Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan. He ended 2008 over $5m up online and kicked off 2009 with his infamous ‘durrrr challenge’. But the young phenom was set to be overshadowed by a new player who appeared at Full Tilt’s $25/$50 NLHE tables in September.

No one knew who Isildur1 was but he started soliciting heads-up action, and on October 22 he took Haseeb Qureshi for around $500k at $100/$200 PLO. This marked the start of two months of crazy action at the nosebleed tables, with a supporting cast of the world’s biggest players.

It didn’t start well for Isildur1. On October 23 he lost $522k and dropped another $1m over the next two weeks. On November 5 he beat Cole South for $500k at NLHE before finally taking on Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan across PLO and NLHE. Dwan lost $1.2m on November 8 and another $460k on November 10, when he was on the wrong end of the biggest online pot of all time – $695k – with Ac-Kc against Isildur1’s Aces.

Isildur1 wasn’t done there though. On November 11 he won another $700k from durrrr before moving onto Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius. He won $500k from them on November 14 and then notched another $819k win on November 15, taking his profits for the year to over $5m. He lost $2m to Antonius on November 16, along with the biggest pot of all time – $879k – and then proved he was fearless (and possibly unhinged) when he played Dwan, Ivey and Antonius at the same time on November 17. He finished the session up $80k!

The action was non-stop and over the next two weeks Isildur1 carried on playing the legends of the game, recording huge wins and losses, before it all came crashing down on December 8.

The day started well enough for the mercurial Swede, who won $471k from Jungelman12 and $722k from Brian Townsend. Then Brian Hastings – in the middle of studying for his finals at Cornell University – stepped into the fray…

Over the course of 2,858 hands of PLO, Isildur1 lost a staggering $4.18m, still the single biggest losing session in the history of online poker. PLO is a swingy game but Isildur1 ran horrifically – $3m under EV for the session. If you want to know what it’s like to run that badly at nosebleed stakes, Isildur1 typed the following towards the end of the session.

‘Isildur1: ??????????

Brian Hastings: getting very tired...

Brian Hastings: I feel bad quitting tho

Brian Hastings: would be cool w/ playing someone else?

Isildur1: just f off

Isildur1: wåfä’qqqqqqqnhjwe4n

Isildur1: dW


Isildur1: Q

Isildur1: u know how lucky u are?

Brian Hastings: yes I know

Isildur1: i can promise this is the worst

Brian Hastings: ill give you 30 more min if you want

Isildur1: luck anyone had

Brian Hastings: but im rly tired

Isildur1: k 30 mins more

Isildur1: take my last $$

Isildur1: I don’t want it

Hastings said afterwards that it was a really good spot and admitted that he’d refused Isidlur1 NLHE action as he thought he had an edge at Omaha. Isildur1 was undone by a combination of bad luck, ego and lack of discipline – he thought he was unbeatable. He was unmasked as Viktor Blom shortly after. Blom was just 19 years old when he took on – and nearly beat – the poker world.

To rub salt in his wounds, Hastings conducted an interview with ESPN shortly after his win where he acknowledged the help of Brian Townsend.

‘Honestly, I give most of the credit to Brian Townsend here,’ Hastings said. ‘He analysed a database of heads-up hands that Isildur1 had played and constructed ranges of what Isildur1 was doing in certain spots.’

The internet blew up with accusations of collusion. Townsend lost his Full Tilt ‘Red Pro’ status for 30 days for an infraction of the rules after admitting that he’d purchased 30,000 hands from PTR (, but the damage had been done.

Isildur1 made another run at the high-stakes tables in 2010 but nothing since has matched the crazy seven-week run that turned the high-stakes poker world upside down.

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Dave Woods is poker writer and avid player. He has played in some of the biggest poker tournaments, interviewed the most prestigious players in the world and is considered to be an expert in the field. His love and enthusiasm for the game far outweighs his raw talent, although he did place 204th out...Read more


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