Online poker can be an extremely volatile game, even for the most skilled players. High stakes legend Viktor Blom has experienced the biggest swings in online poker history.
The Swede, who goes by the screen name “Isildur1,” has captivated the poker world with his hyper-aggressive play and fearlessness.
He’s been taking on the world’s best ever since he was a teenager and continues to be relevant on the high stakes scene today.
Many remember Blom as the poker player who came from out of nowhere to crush the top grinders on Full Tilt Poker in 2009. But he also experienced the first of many extreme downswings in the ensuing months.
Isildur1 suffered such a bad run that he was down $2.4 million at Full Tilt when the site shut down in 2012. What’s amazing about Blom, though, is that he always bounces back and is still playing in the biggest online games today.
Keep reading to find out more about the most volatile online poker player ever. I’ll discuss Blom’s origins, mysterious identity, insane introduction to high stakes poker, and what he’s been up to in recent years.
How Did Viktor “Isildur1” Blom Get His Start?
Viktor Blom learned how to play poker from his older brother. He was introduced to no-limit Texas hold ‘em in middle school and played heads-up against his sibling.
The Blom brothers were hit by the poker bug after watching “Pokermiljonen,” a Swedish live tournament broadcast that ran for five seasons.
Viktor eventually taught some of his friends how to play NLHE. They’d play both during school breaks and in the evenings.
Blom and his brother did well enough to make $100, which they deposited onto an online poker site. They parlayed this into a $300 score after finishing fifth in an online tourney.
The Bloms eventually went their separate ways in poker. Viktor created the screen name “Blom90” and worked his way up the sit and go stakes.
It was in these SNG’s that Blom learned how aggression wins the game, especially in the later stages. Aggression would become a hallmark of his high stakes play.
Blom became more immersed in the poker world to the point where he was spending less time on schoolwork. Of course, it was hard to concentrate on studies when the money was rolling in.
He continued playing SNG’s, eventually working up to $210 stakes at partypoker. This was definitely a risky move when considering that he only had around a $3,000 bankroll at the time.
The risk-taking finally caught up with Blom as he busted his bankroll. Lucky for him, though, he had some Party Points and used these to grind his way back up the ladder.
The Swede continued playing online poker heavily into his college years. His swingy play also continued, as he lost a bankroll that he’d been sharing with a friend.
Blom lost so much of his own money that he couldn’t afford to pay for his rent. Viktor’s parents wanted him to move back home at this point.
But he convinced them to let him stay in school, provided he get a job. Viktor never got a job, though, and took one more shot at the game he loved.
Blom Begins Crushing iPoker Network
After suffering through horrific downswings that put him in danger of having to leave school, Blom started experiencing some of his greatest poker successes.
He grinded his way up to a $15,000 bankroll on partypoker. He then took $10k of this amount and deposited it onto the iPoker Network.
Viktor’s volatile play continued, though, as he lost the $10k and had to reload his account with the remaining $5k. This was it: His money was all on the table once again.
The good news for Blom is that he finally found his groove and began experiencing success at 200NL. He earned enough money to make some withdrawals and pay his bills.
Blom also built his bankroll to the point where he felt confident moving up to 400NL. It didn’t take long before he was progressing through the cash stakes.
First, he went up to 600NL, 800NL, and so forth until reaching $10/$20 NLHE. All of this was a big relief for a poker player who’d lost lots of money in the previous three months.
Viktor had some difficulty at the 2000NL games and his bankroll took a hit. But he eventually conquered these games and built his bankroll to $300,000.
Blom would later work his way up to the $25/$50 and $50/$100 limits, where he faced off against some of the iPoker Network’s top online poker players. Despite the tougher competition, Blom won $1.7 million in just two weeks.
The only problem now, though, was that few iPoker players were willing to give him any action. This left Viktor needing a new spot to play online poker.
Isildur1 Becomes a Star on Full Tilt Poker and Crushes the Regs
Despite his success on the iPoker Network, Blom was still a relative unknown when he moved to Full Tilt Poker in September of 2009. But it wouldn’t take long for him to make his presence felt.
Using the screen name “Isildur1”—which comes from a World of Warcraft character—Blom played well enough to where he felt confident taking a shot at $500/$1,000 stakes.
This was an intimidating move when considering that the site’s best online poker players like Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, Tom Dwan, Cole South, and Brian Townsend resided here. But Blom proved that he was more than capable of competing against and even beating these famed grinders.
Isildur1’s first opponent was Haseeb Qureshi, whom he met at $100/$200 stakes. Blom won nearly $500,000 off Qureshi and moved up to $200/$400 and $500/$1,000 NLHE tables.
Here, he played against Antonius, South, and Townsend, suffering a combined $1 million loss to the trio.
Undeterred, Isildur1 made a comeback against South and Townsend by winning $2 million off them in October 2009.
Isildur1 also multi-tabled against Dwan on six simultaneous NLHE tables. Blom wrecked one of the game’s elite players to the tune of $4 million.
Next, he challenged Antonius again and won $1.6 million off the Finn. Isildur1’s winnings peaked at nearly $6 million by mid-November.
Naturally, the poker world was buzzing about the mysterious player who was already crashing top online players just months after appearing on Full Tilt.
Antonius called Isildur1 an “extremely dangerous” poker player who always forces opponents to make tough decisions.
Ilari Sahamies questioned Blom’s mentality when considering that he was multi-tabling against the world’s best.
“He’s been playing nine tables at once against Patrik Antonius, Phil Ivey, and Tom ‘Durrrr’ Dwan,” Sahamies told the Finnish radio show Radio Rock Korporaatio. “The guy must be missing a chromosome.”
Making things all the more fascinating is that nobody knew Blom’s true identity up until this point. They merely knew that the screen name Isildur1 that was crushing Fill Tilt’s nosebleeds.
Unfortunately for Blom, the good times were about to stop, and he was headed for his biggest downswing yet.
Blom Experiences Massive Losses
Fresh off beating Antonius out of $1.6 million, Isildur1 challenged Phil Ivey to a match at $500/$1,000 NLHE. This was a bold decision, given that Ivey was widely considered the world’s best all-around poker player at the time.
Ivey prevailed in this matchup, winning $3.2 million off Isildur1. The latter subsequently stated that Ivey was the toughest opponent he’d ever faced when playing real money poker online.
Blom took another huge gamble by accepting a challenge from Antonius in Omaha, a game that he had little experience with. The results were again a disaster, as he lost $3 million to Antonius in a single day.
This was the largest amount of money that an online poker player had ever dropped in one day. However, Blom would break this inglorious record again when playing Brian Hastings on December 8th, 2009.
He lost $4.2 million to Hastings, which still stands as the biggest single-day win and loss in online poker history.
It was later discovered that Hastings had received improper information from Townsend and South. The poker pros shared their hand histories involving Isildur1 with Hastings, a very questionable move considering that Hastings didn’t accumulate the data himself.
Full Tilt Poker later punished South and Townsend on grounds of “accessing or compiling information on other players beyond that which the user has personally observed through his or her own game play.”
Townsend, a Full Tilt Red Pro at the time, lost his Red Pro status for 30 days. But this could hardly be considered justice from Isildur1’s standpoint, given how much he lost.
Blom’s Full Tilt results sat at -$2.1 million following this incident. He played sparingly on the site afterward, briefly experiencing a $3 million up and downswing in April 2010.
Following these huge swings, Isildur1 went largely dormant on Full Tilt until the site closed following the events of Black Friday.
Isildur1 Signs With PokerStars and Later Reveals His Identity
PokerStars was still the world’s largest online poker site at the turn of the decade. But they were tired of sitting idly by while Full Tilt reaped all the high stakes headlines.
Stars tried to remedy this by signing Isildur1 in December 2010. They also had him reveal his identity at the January 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
The poker world had speculated frequently about Isildur1’s identity, typically throwing out the names of big-time pros. But it turned out that Isildur1 was a little known 20-year-old named Viktor Blom.
Perhaps some of the iPoker Network high stakes poker players remembered Blom. However, he was still largely unknown to the poker world abroad.
He subsequently began playing more on the PokerStars’ high stakes tables, competing in everything from pot-limit Omaha (PLO) to mixed games.
Blom also began challenging top pros to the Superstar Showdown. The showdown saw Blom and his challenger multi-table four tables of $50/$100 NLHE.
Viktor competed against a number of notable poker players in these challenges, including Daniel Negreanu, Isaac Haxton, Eugene Katchalov, and Tony G.
Blom’s Superstar Showdown was an effective marketing campaign for PokerStars and their nosebleeds. Stars, which had purchased Full Tilt following its closure in 2012, decided to a shuffle Isildur1 to the newly reopened FTP.
Along with Gus Hansen and Dwan, Blom was one of only three sponsored pros at the new Full Tilt Poker.
He didn’t waste any time making a splash after winning $5.4 million at FTP during the first two weeks of 2013. Swingy as always, Blom would lose $1.5 of this amount over the next couple of months.
More Upswings and Downswings for Blom’s Career
Given Blom’s poker history, it’s not surprising that he’s continued seeing his bankroll yo-yo up and down throughout the 2010s.
As mentioned earlier, Viktor’s reintroduction to Full Tilt involved winning $5.4 million in 2013. He spent the rest of the year on a rollercoaster ride that saw him win and lose millions of dollars.
2014 began very badly for Blom, because his career FTP winnings went from $200k to -$3.5 million in a matter of months.
He spent the remainder of 2014 and most of 2015 experiencing mini runs and losses. But Viktor saw more downswings and was sitting at $4.75 million in career Full Tilt losses by July 2015.
The site got rid of their high stakes cash game tables around the same time. Blom has yet to play a high stakes hand there ever since.
Lucky for him, he’s done much better at PokerStars. He first appeared on the Stars high stakes tables in February 2011 and ran his winnings up to $1.65 million by January 2012.
Unfortunately, this was followed by a drop down to -$1.2 million by the end of the year. It’s at this point when Isildur1 became a sponsored Full Tilt Pro and exclusively played throughout 2013 and 2014.
Blom would return to PokerStars with smashing success in 2015. He lost $1.9 million through the first couple of months, only to go on one of the greatest online poker runs ever.
From February 2015 to October 2015, Isildur1 earned over $5.2 million in profits. Even with his big losses at Full Tilt in the same year, he ended 2015 with around a $2 million profit.
Blom has continued to see his bankroll rise and fall in the aftermath of his historic 2015. He experienced a run in the summer of 2017 where he won $1.7 million. Isildur1 has since lost $1.3 million from then until the time of this writing. His PokerStars profits currently sit at $1.8 million.
Few poker players have ever experienced the types of upswings and downswings that Blom has dealt with. In fact, I’m pretty sure that no online poker player has gone through this many highs and lows in their career.
A lesser grinder would’ve quit long ago after seeing millions of dollars vanish like Viktor has. Somehow, though, he’s been able to deal with these crazy swings and continue playing at the highest online stakes.
However, one major problem for Blom is that the high stakes online poker scene has somewhat died down. PokerStars still features some big games, but nothing compared to what Full Tilt offered in the late 2000s.
Blom has responded by competing in more live tournaments in recent years. His most-notable finish includes winning the 2018 partypoker MILLIONS Rozvadov Main Event along with €850,000 ($1.05m).
He currently has $2.9 million in live poker tourney cashes, which is a number that should grow as he continues entering these events.
Regardless of how strong the high stakes online scene remains, Blom appears dedicated to the game. That being said, don’t be surprised to see the Swede still playing poker decades from now.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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