Last week, the poker world was fascinated by the news that “Isildur1,” the mysterious Swede who rose to fame at the highest-limit online cash games in the world, had become the newest member of Team PokerStars. At the same time, PokerStars announced the creation of the SuperStar Showdown, a heads-up match consisting of 2,500 hands between Isildur1 and any challenger. This weekend, the SuperStar Showdown will kick-off its inaugural match, which will see Isildur1 square off against Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton.
While some poker fans may feel the SuperStar Showdown is just PokerStars’ version of the "durrrr" Challenge, they’ll soon find there are substantial differences. The "durrrr" Challenge was first issued by Tom “durrrr” Dwan in January 2009 when he said he would play against any opponent except Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond. Dwan offered 3-1 odds on a $500,000 bet, which both Patrik Antonius and Daniel “jungleman12” Cates have accepted. Per the challenge, the pairs will play heads up for 50,000 hands four-tabling $200/$400 or higher no-limit hold'em or pot-limit Omaha. The winner would be whoever was ahead after 50,000 hands. The "durrrr" Challenge proved to be quite popular at its inception, but its slow pace and inconsistency has tried the patience of the poker community. Neither of Dwan's two challenges are even close to finishing.
Unlike the "durrrr Challenge," the SuperStar Showdown is designed as a one-time high-stakes match. Challengers will face Isildur1 heads up in a single session of 2,500 hands played across four tables of $50/$100 or higher no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha. The winner will be whoever shows a profit at the end of the match or felts his or her opponent in the process. What’s more, the SuperStar Showdown matches will be announced in advance so poker fans can enjoy the action, live, on PokerStars.
Coincidentally, the first challenger of the SuperStar Showdown was announced this week. The inaugural match will feature Haxton (who plays under “luvtheWNBA” at Full Tilt Poker) squaring off against Isildur1. The match is set to take place this Sunday, December 19, at 6 p.m. EST. According to the PokerStars Blog:
"On December 19 at 6 p.m. EST, Haxton and Isildur1 will face off at four $50/$100 no-limit hold'em tables. On the line is $150,000 apiece over 2,500 total hands. The match, one of a series known as the SuperStar Showdown, will be played in public on PokerStars for everyone to watch. This isn't some run-of-the-mill promotion or made-for-tv event. The players are putting their own money on the table. Whoever loses is losing up to $150,000 from a real bankroll. Simple as that."
The highly anticipated match will feature two of the most popular high-stakes cash games players in the world. As most know, Isildur1 rose to fame in late 2009 by playing heads up $500/$1,000 PLO and no-limit hold’em against the likes of Dwan, Antonius, Brian Hastings, Cole South, and Brian Townsend. He peaked at $5.8 million in profits on Full Tilt Poker, with a vast sum coming off of Dwan before losing it all in dramatic fashion.
Haxton, who bypassed a computer science degree at Brown University to pursue poker, made his presence known to the world at the 2007 World Poker Tour PokerStars.com Caribbean Adventure where he finished second to Ryan Daut for $861,789. He then found success online before finishing second to Vitaly Lunkin in Event #2 of the 2009 40th Annual World Series of Poker, the $40,000 No-Limit Hold’em for $1.168 million. While a prestigious title has eluded Haxton twice, he is largely regarded as one of the best young guns in the game.
In other exciting SuperStar Showdown news, Pokerstars has announced that any player, with the proper bankroll, can challenge Isildur1 to a match simply by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; however, only serious applicants will receive a response. More realistically, most players will be interested in facing off against the Swede in a special 1/10th-sized version of the SuperStar Showdown open to all PokerStars players, with qualifiers running now. At the very least, you can watch the Haxton vs. Isildur1 match this Sunday, December 19, at 6 p.m. EST, which is sure to be quite the treat.
Want to take on Isildur1? PokerStars is running online qualifiers giving you the chance to play Isildur1 in the SuperStar Showdown heads-up match format, with a bankroll of $15,000. All you need to get started is an account.