2012 World Series of Poker Rookie Roundup: Viktor "Isildur1" Blom
We were first introduced to our final Rookie Roundup selection in November of 2009, and initially Team PokerStars Pro Viktor” Isildur1” Blom was just a mysterious ninja avatar from Sweden that had more violent swings than Gary Sheffield on HGH. During his first 24-hour session on Full Tilt Poker, Isildur1 played nearly 3,500 hands and won $347,000 — the vast majority of which came from the now retired Haseeb Qureshi. Two weeks later, the Swede battled Tom “durrrr” Dwan for over four days, starting at $300/$600 NLHE, and eventually moving as high as $500/$1,000 NLHE. When the dust finally settled, Isildur1 had taken $3 million from Dwan, and had become the most fascinating online poker player in the world.
Astonishingly, only three weeks after crushing Dwan, Isildur1 was $1.2 million in the red. Patrik Antonius won $2.9 million from Isildur1 during a two-day, marathon session, and then Antonius beat the Swede out of $2.1 million a few days later. Phil Ivey swooped in and won $2 million from Isildur1, and Ilari “Zigmund” Sahamies profited as well. During this stretch of 10 days or so at the end of November 2009, Isildur1 played all five of the largest online poker pots in history, including a monstrous, $1.3 million-chip pot, which he lost to Antonius.
Isildur1 tried to battle back, and even recouped most of his losses against Ivey, Antonius, and Sahamies, but Brian Hastings delivered a knockout blow in mid-December, winning $4.2 million off of Blom in less than 3,000 hands. There was a bit of controversy with this win however, because Hastings admitted that he had shared hand histories with fellow high-stakes pro Brian Townsend, which was against FTP’s terms of service. Isildur1 told our own Matthew Parvis in an exclusive interview that he deserved some of his money back. Tony G came to Isildur1’s defense, saying he was wronged, and later offered to stake the Swede in the PartyPoker Big Game IV. Isildur1 initially accepted, but didn’t appear on the televised cash game, keeping his identity a secret.
Isildur1 returned to the virtual felt in February of 2010, but he continued to get pummeled, so he took another hiatus. We didn’t hear much from the Swede until October rolled around, when a rumor started about an anonymous online poker site that was going to offer Isildur1 a deal. Sure enough, in December, Isildur1 became a PokerStars Team Pro, and they announced that his identity would be revealed at the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
By that point, it was almost common knowledge that Isildur1 was Viktor Blom. Both Tony G and Luke “full_flush” Schwartz had confirmed his identity as early as 2009, and ESPN even covered Blom at the 2010 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event. Still, when Blom walked into the ballroom with a PokerStars patch on at the 2011 PCA, it was relieving to finally know, with absolute certainty, who the Swedish wizard actually was. Before the PCA, Blom began the PokerStars Superstar Showdown; a series of heads-up matches where challengers would battle the Team Pro on four separate tables. To date, Blom has defeated every challenger at least once, and his record is 11-3. The only player to defeat him multiple times is Isaac Haxton, but finally, in April of 2012, Blom was able to oust Haxton, winning $500,000 off of him in a $1 million challenge. Blom also profited outside of the Superstar Showdown, winning $1.5 million in ring games during 2011.
Blom hasn’t seen much success in online ring games in 2012 — he’s down over $1.2 million to date — but, his multi-table tournament winnings more than cover his losses. It all began at the 2012 PCA, where Blom found himself at the final table of the $100,000 Super High Roller with fellow Team Pros Daniel Negreanu, Humberto Brenes, and Jonathan Duhamel, along with Scott Seiver, Dan Shak, Galen Hall, and Mike McDonald. Blom ran over the table, and eventually defeated Shak heads up, earning $1,254,400, the title, the Shamballa bracelet, and his first live tournament victory ever. He then finished second in a €5,000 heads-up event at EPT Deuville ($17,623), seventh in a €10,000 re-entry event at EPT Berlin ($38,828), and seventh in a €10,000 turbo at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo© EPT Grand Final ($37,891).
To top it all off, Blom won two events on consecutive days during the 2012 Spring Championship of Online Poker. His first win came in SCOOP 2-M $200 NLHE, where he bested a field of 8,240 runners. Blom entered the final table with the chip lead, relinquished said lead within the fist half hour, but then battled back to win, taking home $247,200. The following day, 46 players remained in SCOOP 3-H $500 NLHE six-max with rebuys, and Blom reached another final table with the chip lead. The Swede eventually found himself heads up with Iulian-Georgian “Ruxandescu” Ruxandescu, and battled for more than a half an hour before Blom finally closed the door. Blom earned $160,000 for the victory, and another shiny SCOOP watch. Blom almost made another final table in SCOOP 20-H $2,000 NLHE, but he fell short, busting in 20th place when his aces were cracked by ”selinantis.”
Blom has competed in WSOP events overseas, but in the coming days he will set sail on his maiden voyage at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino. Unlike most first-timers however, we doubt that the Swede will be phased by the big crowds, large rails, or the giant mothership plopped in the middle of the Amazon Room. Blom probably won’t have butterflies the first time he sits down in a room surrounded by banners depicting legends like Stu Unger, Puggy Pearson, Johnny Moss, and Amarillo Slim either, but we fans will be mesmerized the first time Isildur1 puts a chip in a pot.
Can Blom continue to crush tournaments in 2012, or will we see the swingy ninja that first captivated us in the final months of 2009? We shall see over the next two months.