Monday, January 14, 2013

Blasé About Blom

Had one eye on that PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event playing out to its conclusion this weekend, with Dimitar Danchev of Bulgaria ultimately triumphing to land the $1.859 million first prize. I’ll admit, though, to having been more distracted by the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Three of the four games were above-average entertaining, and even the fourth (between New England and Houston) had enough drama attached to it to keep the majority of my attention.

It’s become something of a habit for me when watching sports to keep Tweetdeck open on my laptop and follow folks’ comments as the game goes by. Both poker and football work well for that sort of thing, actually, as the pause between hands/plays allows people enough time to compose and fire off reactions to what is happening. Was suggesting on Friday how Twitter isn’t so great for more involved carving out of positions and argumentation, but I do like sometimes to learn others’ immediate response to a live event we’re all watching together.

From @hardboiledpoker I follow both poker people and sports fans, and thus there was a lot of talk in my feed regarding both the PCA and the football games intertwining throughout the weekend. (I’d sign off just as the Golden Globes got going in earnest later on Sunday, thereby taking over Twitter.) Amid those conversations, though, I kept seeing the @BluffEurope feed butting in with references to an article about Viktor “Isildur1” Blom.

The tweets had begun on Saturday and continued into Sunday. After a while, I had to check back to confirm that I wasn’t just imagining seeing the same tweet over and again.

I suppose, technically, it wasn’t exactly the same:

I finally had to poke fun with a responding tweet of my own. “Hey, @BluffEurope,” I began. “Has Blom’s 2013 start been phenomenal, amazing, or fantastic?”

The short article -- yes, I finally did succumb to the unsubtle strategy being employed and clicked through to read -- noted how Blom was up $4.6 million so far in 2013 on Full Tilt Poker, and more than $5 million overall since the FTP relaunch in early November. For a more thorough report on Blom’s success, I then tripped over to the High Stakes Database website and read all about it, including how Blom recently took more than $600K off of Ben “Sauce1234” Sulsky in a three-hour session.

It was almost exactly a year ago that Blom -- then a PokerStars Team Pro -- achieved his first major live score at the PCA by winning the $100K Super High Roller and earning a $1,254,400 million payday. But this time around the games on FTP were too good for Blom to be bothered by a return to the Bahamas. Responding last week via his @RealIsildur1 Twitter account to someone asking about how he was doing at this year’s PCA, Blom explained “I don't participate in this years PCA. I have already made over 3 times as much money as I made last year playing in PCA.”

When I think about Blom’s phenomenalamazingfantastic run, I can’t help but follow a certain, cynical chain of associative thought.

I think about how Gus Hansen’s start on Full Tilt Poker 2.0 has also been remarkable, although there the story concerns how big he has been losing -- more than $3.5 million on the site since early November.

I also think about Blom’s sudden rise and precipitous fall on Full Tilt Poker back when we first started hearing about him in late 2009. Remember that swift saga that ended with Blom losing $4 million-plus to Brian Hastings, then talking about filing a formal complaint regarding allegations of of data mining? (Blom never did file such a complaint.)

Finally, even though I trust the new PokerStars-managed FTP to be above board, I can’t help but think about how those millions passed back and forth on the previous iteration of the site were in many ways bogus, and indeed during the latter stages of the site could have been said to represent non-existent funds.

I can’t put my finger on exactly how it all adds up, but there’s something about the combination of Hansen’s slide, the Blom-FTP backstory, and the formerly fraudulent machinations of the old Full Tilt that significantly mutes my response to Blom’s fast start as a newly-sponsored FTP pro. I don’t mean at all to suggest anything untoward, but am rather just pointing out that it’s hard for me to respond to the swingy Swede’s current adventures with anything close to the same sort of astonishment as I did three years ago.

There was another tweet in my feed last week that came from the @FullTiltPoker account, sent the same day as Blom’s response regarding his non-participation in this year’s PCA.

My first instinct was to think the tweet might have been a joke, but it fact it was not. I took a look, confirming that Blom really was playing at a table named “Yawn.” And then I yawned and logged off.

No, after what has happened over the last few years, it’s harder than ever to get too excited about Viktor earning the spoils. Heck, this morning I am seeing yet another report that Blom apparently managed to drop a milly to Phil Galfond yesterday. Ho hum.

On the other hand, that Baltimore-Denver double-overtime game Saturday night... now that was phenomenal. And amazing. And fantastic. (Unless you’re a Broncos fan, that is.)

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