Poker Tales – The Legend of ‘Isildur1’5 years ago
The story of Viktor Blom, aka ‘Isildur1’is one that saw the creation of one of the best known poker legends of the modern era. The young Swede created a big splash in the world of high stakes poker when he first appeared in 2009 and for that his name will forever remain a part of poker history.
In the beginning…
Anybody who was around online poker back in 2009 certainly remembers that it was a lively period for high stakes action on Full Tilt Poker. The likes of Patrik Antonius, Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan and Phil Ivey regularly met to play for hundreds of thousands.
In such a highly competitive environment, finding fish at the tables was a very welcome occurrence and when ‘Isildur1’ first came around, nobody could predict the havoc he was about to create. Sitting down to play against the best in the world usually does not end well for new challengers, but the young man from Sweden was about to shock the entire community.
‘Isildur1,’ whose identity was not known at that point, started off playing at the $25/$50 NLHE tables, but quickly moved up the ranks. Blom cared little, if any, about bankroll management and just wanted to play as high stakes as possible and as much as possible.
Being a ‘nobody,’ he didn’t have a hard time finding action, especially since his style of play was recognized by regs as wild and reckless. At the outset, it seemed like ‘Isildur1’ just wanted to gamble, creating big pots and stacking off super light so everybody was eager to play the Swede. However, as they played more and more hands against him, many players started recognizing that there was a serious method to Blom's madness.
In his initial matches against the likes of Haseeb Qureshi, Brian Hastings and Cole South, Blom was able not just to hold his own but he actually ended up winning a decent chunk of money. Although many believed it was just a matter of time before he gave it all back, they didn’t seem to be able to find a magic formula to beat the Swede.
Although Blom was starting to attract some attention, it was his clash with Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan that would turn him into a legend. The contest started at $300/$600 limits but quickly moved up to $500/$1k and the two were a perfect match for each other.
Both ‘durrrr’ and ‘Isildur1’ were able and willing to put in extremely long sessions and to play for huge amounts of money. This was ideal for the Swede, who barely slept any during the match, spending most of his waking hours at the tables.
November of 2009 will never be forgotten by the railbirds who were able to observe great high stakes action almost around the clock. People were logging on to Full Tilt just to watch the two go at it while numerous appreciation threads were appearing on 2 + 2 forums. It was as if time stopped and everybody was just asking for more of ‘Isildur1.’
Things did not really start well for Dwan and after the first day of play he was down about $1.5 million. The match continued in the same direction in the coming days as well, with ‘durrrr’ almost mounting a comeback at one point only to be once again destroyed by the force from Sweden. By the time the match came to a stop, Blom took around $3 million off of Dwan.
This profit, combined with the money made playing against Patrik Antonius and others of the high stakes society, put Blom's profit at around the $6 million mark as November was drawing to an end. A lot of chat and table banter from that period has been gathered in this 2 + 2 post, so if you somehow missed it and have a little time on your hands, check it out. You will not regret it, guaranteed.
The legend broken
Blom’s rise was faster than anyone’s before or after him. In a span of two weeks, ‘Isildur1’ went from being the new kid on the block to becoming one of the most feared players around. He was afraid of no one and he was always game; it seemed like there was no stopping him.
However, Blom’s demise turned out to be a quick and painful death at the tables. It took only 48 hours for the Swede to drop the majority of his profits to a single player – Brian Hastings. Up to this point, ‘Isildur1’ had already started experiencing some variance, giving some of his profits back to his opponents, but it was nothing in comparison to what would take place on December 8.
Blom and Hastings sat down for a long session; it was nothing out of the ordinary for the Swede, but it was somewhat unusual for Brian, who wasn’t actually a regular at the $500/$1k stakes. Be that as it may, the match got underway and before the night was over, Blom felt, perhaps for the first time, the sting of a crushing defeat.
It was a combination of many factors, as Hastings undoubtedly ran well but he also played well and Blom probably started steaming after a while too. When they parted, ‘Isildur1’ was $4 million lighter. The legend was broken, the myth – busted.
The poker community was in shock. To see ‘Isildur1’ broken to pieces like that was not something one would expect to see. It wasn’t until somewhat later that Hastings came forward and admitted that he actually came into the match extremely prepared.
Brian Townsend, Cole South and Hastings came together and went through a large database of hand histories they had on ‘Isildur1’ in an effort to find out his patterns and come up with the best way to beat him. Many saw this as a form of cheating.
Full Tilt Poker did get involved to an extent as they stripped Hastings of his Red Pro status for a month, but they saw no reason to take any more serious action against the perpetrators. While sharing hand histories and analyzing them to get an edge may be shady, it definitely belongs to a gray area as far as poker sites are concerned, and on this particular occasion, there wasn’t much the Swede could do. Some in the community protested, others were defending the trio, but at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. The fairytale had ended.
According to some estimates, ‘Isildur1’ was left with a bankroll of around $500,000 after that night. It was a tough pill to swallow for the Swede whose identity was still a secret. He disappeared for a while, with people still guessing who was hiding behind the notorious ‘Isildur1’ alias.
There were many speculations bandied about, some of them true, but it wasn’t until early 2011 that ‘Isildur1’ was officially confirmed to be Viktor Blom. The revelation came during the PCA event following Blom’s signing with PokerStars.
As much as we all wanted to know, once Blom came out of the shadows, it did kind of ruin the magic of it all. If he remained forever the anonymous guy who took the high stakes world by storm, this story would have been even more epic.
Regardless, what Blom did in 2009 is a feat that has never been repeated since. There is no doubt that he ran extremely well for a while, but there is also no arguing that doing what he did took some serious heart.
He sat down with the legends – and he beat them! Whatever happened after that doesn’t really matter; Viktor Blom will forever be remembered for his epic quest and we, as railbirds, will remain forever in his debt for those few weeks of ultimate poker entertainment.
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