Feature interview “Viktor Blom: Behind the Screen Name” by Dan Smyth
He’s one of the most iconic yet elusive poker stars in the world, but any time he steps out of the shadows and into the spotlight there’s always a crowd eager to watch. Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom first came to the poker world’s attention back in the days when 3-betting was still a mystery and the American’s had a vice-like grip on the virtual game.
Starting out on a selection of European sites (mainly on the iPoker Network), the screen name ‘blom90’ would soon cause waves of intrigue and awe. Tales of mammoth upswings followed by crushing defeats reverberated through countless forum threads, but it wasn’t until the young Swede made his first deposit on Full Tilt that the community really took notice.
Taking on the Americans
Registering as the now infamous “Isildur1”, Blom proceeded to spin a relatively meagre bankroll (meagre by high stake standards) into something special. Indeed, within a few weeks of playing against some of the toughest players Full Tilt had to offer, Blom was a bona fide legend. Taking on all-comers, including the likes of Phil Ivey, Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan and Patrik Antonius, Blom dazzled the rail with swings that had rarely been seen before.
As his bankroll and mystique grew it was only a matter of time before something had to give and following an upswing of more than $5 million, Blom eventually came down to earth with a bump. A $4 million downswing against Brian Hastings almost stopped the young pro in his tracks, but since that time he’s proven time and time again that he’s one of the very best heads-up players in the world.
No Limit Dominance
Indeed, while Pot Limit Omaha was the cause of many early downfalls, he’s now a force in any four-card game he sits in. However, when it comes to teaching the game’s finest a lesson, it’s at the No Limit Hold’em tables where Blom thrives.
Since PokerStars unveiled Blom as the man behind “Isildur1” he’s been reluctant to talk about his game, preferring instead to let his chips do the talking. However, thanks to some high stakes connections and a few favours, Nutblocker has managed to get a brief glimpse into the life of Viktor Blom and find out what really makes him tick.
Nutblocker: You’re known primarily for your cash game exploits, but are there any WSOP events you particularly enjoy playing?
Viktor Blom: I actually didn’t go to the WSOP this year because I prefer being in Sweden rather than Las Vegas during the summer. On top of that the World Cup has taken up a lot of my time and helped fill the gaps when there’s been a lack of cash game action.
Nutblocker: How do you think the skill levels of live pros compares to online pros?
Viktor Blom: I think online pros have an advantage because they get to play a lot more hands than live players. However, if an online player hasn’t played very much live poker and sat down in a tough live game I don’t think they’d do very well. Well, not at first.
Nutblocker: What’s your most memorable moment in poker so far?
Viktor Blom: Aside from going through million dollar upswings, I’d say my most memorable moment in poker so far was when I first started playing. I was playing a small stakes tournament (it either cost $6 or $11) and I got to the final table. My friends were watching and a rush just to make it that far.
Nutblocker: Your identity was a mystery for a long time, do you wish you’d have stayed an unknown high stakes player?
Viktor Blom: No, not really. I think going public was ok.
Nutblocker: What’s the longest poker session you ever played?
Viktor Blom: I think I played for around 48 hours without stopping once.
“My most memorable moment in poker was when I made the final table of my first small stakes tournament.”
Nutblocker: What’s the biggest leak you see in small stakes players?
Viktor Blom: Not knowing when to quit a session. Most small stakes players have the mindset that they will stop playing if they’re winning and keep playing if they are losing. In my opinion it should be the other way around.
Nutblocker: What’s the biggest prop bet you’ve ever made?
Viktor Blom: If I’m honest I can’t remember the exact amount, but I do know that I’m down a lot of money from prop bets.
Nutblocker: Apart from yourself, who do you think the best Swedish player is?
Viktor Blom: I’d have to say Mikael Thuritz. He plays online as ‘punting-peddler’ and ‘ChaoRen160’ and is a pretty big long-term winner.
Nutblocker: How do you unwind and de-stress after a losing session?
Viktor Blom: I enjoy hanging out with friends. We don’t talk about poker and I try doing something completely different. I think the best way to get over a loss is to do something that that takes your mind off poker completely.
“I’d say Mikael Thuritz is one of the best players from Sweden.”
Nutblocker: If you could go back in time and give the you from five years ago some advice, what would it be?
Viktor Blom: To have better financial awareness. If I could go back I’d advise myself (or any player looking to become a long-term winner) to set up a bankroll management system that suits your need.
You have to tailor it to your specific needs so that you don’t risk going broke. As well as this you should always play with a stop loss limit, so that even if you lose your maximum amount in a single day it won’t really impact on your bankroll too much.
The final piece of advice I’d offer would be to quit a session if you feel like you’re running bad. If things don’t feel right, even if you’ve only lost two buy-ins, it’s best to stop. Some days it’s just not your day and you’ll be a one way train ride to destruction no matter what you do.
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