That group will join those who survived Tuesday’s Day 2a/2b for today’s Day 3. I believe the total number of players left is 1,765 (out of the 6,598 who started).
One player who didn’t survive Day 2c was Viktor “Isildur1” Blom. He began the day with a healthy stack of 110,225, well above the average and one of only about 100 or so players who had more than 100,000 to start yesterday. The swingy Swede saw his stack go up and down all day, peaking at around 200,000 before he finally busted during the last half-hour of the night.
This year marked Blom’s first World Series of Poker, as he only turned 21 last September. I’m not sure how many events Blom played overall this summer. I know he cashed in a couple including finishing 14th in Event No. 45, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. But I hadn’t really had the chance to cover him yet since I arrived a little over three weeks ago.
As it happened, Blom was seated in my section yesterday and thus I was able to watch him frequently and report on a number of hands he played. I decided early on I’d try to get over to his table at least once or twice per level, primarily because he’s a player a lot of visitors to the live blog would want to follow, although I was also kind of personally intrigued to watch him live after so many years of watching him play online.
The situation reminded me of a couple of years ago when I first had a chance to watch Annette Obrestad play at the WSOP, then wrote a post here titled “Observing Obrestad.” (I haven’t seen Obrestad this summer, although I know she played events early on and cashed in a couple.)
When Blom finally busted it came near the end of the night amid the frenzy of finding big stacks, and we didn’t see the actual bustout hand. I was also writing the final recap post at the time, and so even though I knew he was short on chips and in danger of busting, I couldn’t camp out near his table as the night wound down.
I had kind of felt all day there was a possibility pretty much at any moment that he might get eliminated, given how active he was and how willing he often seemed to put his chips at risk. In other words, I knew there was a good chance he would get knocked out during a time when we were not standing nearby. But I was able to get the story of his bustout hand from another player once play concluded for the night, and so reported it.
It was funny to hear the player refer complainingly to Blom opening the hand with a raise. “He was always raising,” said the player with a note of exasperation, and I nodded knowingly. Every time I passed Blom’s table he was involved in hands, it seemed. While I can only really guess, I’d bet his “VP$IP” was somewhere around a third of the hands played, perhaps more. In any case, it was definitely higher than that of his opponents.
I’d end up writing more than a half-dozen posts on Blom. Probably the two most interesting were “Blombarded” and “What To Believe With Blom.” In the first, Blom raised with 9-8-suited, flopped trip eights, and managed to get value from a couple of opponents. In the second, a river bet by Blom won him a hand without a showdown, and his subsequent behavior and table talk suggested a bluff to have been highly likely.
Blom wore a light white hoody with the usual PokerStars patches, only occasionally putting the hood up over his head during the latter part of the day. He had on shorts and with his messed up hair looked even younger than 21. There was a moment late when the lights in the Amazon room were finally turned up after being dimmed for most of the day, and when I saw Blom squinting uncomfortably I couldn’t help but think of the stereotypical young online poker player who spends hours and hours inside in darkened rooms.
While he’d sometimes listen to music or check messages on his phone, he mostly seemed very intensely focused on the game, watching others carefully even on those rare occasions when he was not involved in a hand. When in a hand he’d often steal looks at his opponent(s), and I sensed a kind of nervous energy at times -- kind of an odd mix between being intimidating and vulnerable, which I know doesn’t exactly make sense.
What I mean is I think he was daunting largely because of his constant betting and raising and the fact that he really could show up with any hand at showdown, but he also showed a kind of anxiousness at certain moments that weirdly made him seem less invincible.
For example, in that hand in which he may or may not of bluffed the river, he covered his mouth with his shirt while his opponent thought about what to do, a kind of petrified look in his eyes, then after the fold was exhaling in a way that definitely looked like he was glad not to have been called (although I realized what seemed natural behavior could have been “overacting”).
Blom also engaged in table talk frequently, although usually only after a hand was done. And I only heard him talking about hands, not anything else.
If I had more time, I might be able to come up with a better summary of what it was like watching and writing about Blom all night. I know some of my colleagues like to do these “An Orbit With...” posts in which they watch a particularly compelling player play an entire orbit’s worth of hands and report on each. It occurred to me to try something like that last night -- Blom was playing so many hands, it was virtually certain something interesting would come amid a selection of nine consecutive ones. But I didn’t, both because there were many other tables to follow and because I tend not to want to hover too long in the same place when on the floor.
My buddy Brad “Otis” Willis is here in Vegas now, reporting on the WSOP for the PokerStars blog. He, too, is fascinated with Isildur1, and for a more studied example of blogging Blom, see his piece from yesterday “Viktor Blom Versus the World.”
It goes without saying that Blom is a “player to watch” going forward, not just because he’s a talented player who is likely to win, but because he’s a fascinating representative of a type -- the seemingly fearless online player who now finds himself in a live setting.
Where he can be watched.