Just call him KidComeback.
Last week's SuperStar Showdown was nothing less than a disaster for Daniel Negreanu. A terrible run in all-in pots ended with all $150,000 of his challenge bankroll in Viktor "Isildur1" Blom's pockets after only 1,439 hands. What was supposed to be a two-part, 5,000-hand challenge looked to be over after only a few hours. But "KidPoker" wasn't finished with the 20 year-old Swedish wunderkind and was willing to put another $150k on the line for a rematch.
The rules were the same. Four tables of $50/$100 heads-up no-limit hold'em for 2,500 hands. And for a while there, the match unfolded in a shockingly similar fashion to last week's meeting. Blom played a dominating first half, claiming $120,000 of Negreanu's challenge bankroll within 1,300 hands. However, Negreanu turned it around in stunning fashion, mounting a comeback to finish $26,500 to the good and end Blom's five-game winning streak.
Blom leapt out to a fast start, winning close to $28,000 in the first 350 hands. Much of that sum came from two all-in pots-- in the first, Blom's pocket kings held against Negreanu's A♠Q♣ and a few minutes later, Negreanu called Blom's three-bet shove on a T♣8♣6♣ flop with K♣T♠ only to be shown pocket queens. Although Negreanu managed to win a bit back when Blom turned two pair against his set of sevens (which rivered quads for good measure), he was about to get involved in a hand that left most of the rail wondering if PokerStars really did have a "doom switch***."
Negreanu opened for his standard raise to $300, Blom three-bet to $1,000 and Negreanu called. Blom led out for $1,200 on the 5♥4♥2♥ flop, Negreanu raised to $3,100, Blom shoved and Negreanu called, turning up J♥8♥ for the flopped flush. Blom showed pocket jacks. The board paired with the 5♦ on the turn and in a gut-wrenching three-outer, tripped on the river with the 5♠, the $27,700 pot going to Blom with fives full of jacks.
One hour into the match, Blom was not only winning the big pots, he was taking more than his fair share of the mid-sized pots as well, especially those that did not end in a showdown. Blom's natural aggression coupled with his signature move, the river overbet, was quite effective.
As Blom's winnings crept past the $40,000 mark, Negreanu picked up A♣K♥ and called Blom's preflop five-bet shove. A 3 to 1 favorite over Blom's A♠Q♠, Negreanu's tilt-meter started pushing into the red zone as a queen hit the flop and his nemesis dragged the $20,100 pot.
"This is unreal," Negreanu wrote in the chat window.
Negreanu did his best to quell the bleeding, not only by throwing the river overbet right back at Blom, but with some good old-fashioned soul-reading. In a $12,000 pot, Negreanu called Blom's river bet holding an unimproved A♣K♣ after correctly deducing that Blom was betting a busted draw. A few minutes later, Negreanu called Blom's opening raise, then check-called his $500 lead bet on a K♠3♥2♣ flop. Negreanu check-called another $1,400 when the J♦ hit the turn, and checked a third time when the A♠ fell on the river. Blom shoved, setting Negreanu in for his remaining $8,700 and this time KidPoker couldn't call quickly enough, having rivered Broadway with Q♠T♦. Blom could only show 4♦6♠. Although Negreanu was still down overall, things were starting to look up for the four-time bracelet winner. But as we all know, in no-limit hold'em, everything can turn around on a dime.
Fifteen minutes and two preflop coolers later, Negreanu was down over $80,000. After five-bet shoving with pocket tens, he ran into Blom's pocket queens in a $22,500 pot, then made the same move with pocket jacks only to run into aces in a $41,900 pot. Negreanu was more than a little tilted.
"You run insane against me," he wrote.
"Yep its really insane," Blom replied.
Negreanu scarcely had time to recover before another hand sent him reeling. All the money went in on a A♦J♣6♦ flop, Blom making the final raise and Negreanu calling all-in. Although Negreanu flopped top two pair with A♣J♠, Blom's K♦3♦ turned a flush when the Q♦ hit. The river blanked with the 3♠ and another Negreanu buy-in sailed into Blom's stack, the damage now totaling $89,350 after 975 hands.
A pretty reckless river call from Blom with bottom pair against a king-high flush yielded Negreanu a $39,500 pot and put a small dent in Blom's lead, but it only took Blom a few minutes to regain that lost ground... and then some. Negreanu dusted off another buy-in when his pocket kings ran into Blom's pocket aces in a preflop all-in, then got the last of his remaining chips on Table 4 in the middle with A♠Q♣ against Blom's pocket threes. The board ran out so comically it... well, just see for yourself:
Down $119,600 in 1,279 hands, things were looking grim for KidPoker. His remaining $30,000 was spread across three tables, his $10k stacks dwarfed by Blom's virtual towers. Could Negreanu really go broke again? And in even fewer hands than last week's match?
The only thing Negreanu could do at this point was hope to double up while he still had enough chips left to do some damage. He did it on Table 2, pulling in a $17,600 pot when he made a better two pair than Blom, then did it again seconds later on Table 5 when his A♣8♥ caught an ace on the flop against Blom's pocket nines. On Table 1, Blom tried to wrest control preflop, five-bet shoving for $27,550 over Negreanu's $2,400 four-bet. Holding J♣T♠, he clearly didn't want a call, but Negreanu happily pushed in $12,800 more with his pocket queens, which held up to win the $30,400 pot. Finally, just past the 1,500-hand mark, the money went in on a T♥7♠6♠ flop, Negreanu with 8♦9♥ for the ten-high straight and Blom drawing to the same with 5♠9♠. No disasters on the turn or river and Blom suddenly found his lead cut in half.
After a short break, Negreanu returned to the grind and insta-doubled his stack on Table 4. After calling Negreanu's preflop four-bet with 7♥9♥, Blom shoved for $55,700 into the $4,400 pot when he hit middle pair on the T♣9♣4♦ flop. Negreanu called off the $9,550 he had behind with K♦K♣ and the overpair held, shrinking Blom's lead to $55,000. Only a few hands later on the same table, Negreanu made another preflop four-bet and Blom came along with Q♦J♥. Blom hit top pair on the J♠6♣5♣ flop but just couldn't let it go, even when he encountered some serious resistance. Blom checked, Negreanu bet $3,100, Blom raised to $7,650, Negreanu shoved, and Blom called off his remaining $17,700. Negreanu revealed A♥A♠ and picked up the $56,300 monsterpotten. While that hand played out on Table 4, Negreanu was also busy doubling his stack on Table 5 when he picked off Blom's river bluff:
Less than an hour after being down 80% of his buy-in, Negreanu trailed Blom by only $7,800. But with 842 hands to go, this roller-coaster ride was far from over.
Blom regained a bit of traction when he took down back-to-back $20k pots on Table 5. In the first one, Negreanu tried to use Blom's own signature move against him, shoving for $23,550 on the river with the board reading 2♣5♠2♥3♥J♠. Although Negreanu had the best hand through the turn with 5♥9♥, Blom called off the $5,800 he had behind having rivered top pair with Q♥J♥. On the next deal, Blom checked to the preflop raiser on the A♣K♥9♣ board. Negreanu bet $500, Blom raised to $1,600 and Negreanu called. The turn came the 2♥ and Blom made it $2,650 to go. Negreanu looked him up and they went to the river which fell the K♦. Blom checked, Negreanu bet $5,800, and Blom came back over the top, moving all-in for $16,350. Negreanu let it go and Blom took down the $20,700 pot.
With Blom back in the lead by $20,000 and 600 hands remaining, the largest pot of the match unfolded. On a K♣K♦3♠ flop, Negreanu check-raised Blom's $500 bet to $1,800 and earned a call. The turn came the 8♠ and Negreanu decided to fire again, betting $3,100. Blom called and the Q♦ hit the river. Negreanu bet $7,100 and Blom moved all-in for $34,700. With $17,450 behind, Negreanu went into the tank, using almost his entire time bank before deciding to look him up with K♠J♠. Negreanu's trips were no good, though, as Blom turned a boat with K♥8♣. In a situation where most players would just snap-call, you've got to hand it to Negreanu for actually taking the time to really think over that river bet.
Although Blom pulled out to a $46,650 lead after that pot, Negreanu went on another run over the next 20 minutes and closed the gap to $8,400. He even found a bit of "Isildur"-style run-good when he boated on the turn in this hand after Blom flopped a straight:
With 350 hands remaining, Negreanu pulled out to his first lead of the match. On a A♠7♣5♠6♥ board, Blom moved all-in for $6,400 holding 7♦8♦ for second pair and a straight draw and Negreanu called with A♥8♥ for top pair. The 8♣ on the river improved KidPoker to aces up, good for the $20k pot and a $9,150 overall lead. This was truly anybody's match now and like a basketball playoff game, it would all come down to the last few possessions.
The lead moved back and forth with nearly every hand until a massive cooler tipped the scales. This time, Blom was on the receiving end, getting his money in with a set of fours on a T♠9♣4♦ flop only to run into Negreanu's set of tens. The $36,300 pot put Negreanu out front to the tune of $15,350, but Blom quickly caught back up when he flopped the nut flush and got full value on it when Negreanu rivered a straight. Back and forth, back and forth it went until the action was briefly paused on all four tables with only 38 hands to go. Negreanu took the time-out to make a little confession in the chat box.
KidPoker: I was stuck like 120k at one point I think
Isildur1: yeah crazy =)
KidPoker: I broke lots of stuff in my room btw lol
KidPoker: smashed everything
Those final hands saw only one all-in confrontation, Blom three-bet shoving on a Q♦4♠3♥ flop with A♦2♥ and Negreanu making the call with A♠Q♥. There was no miracle wheel on the turn or river, which safely fell the 4♦ and the 6♦ to give Negreanu the $20,000 pot.
As it turned out, KidPoker and Isildur1 played a couple of bonus hands, bringing the evening's total to 2,502 when the tables finally closed. And much to his surprise, the final tally was Negreanu +$26,500.
Isildur1: gg, nice comeback!
KidPoker: I won? wow sick! gg man thanks
KidPoker: I broke so much stuff in this room the first half
KidPoker: my assistant has lots of cleaning to do lol jkjk
Negreanu scurried off to grab a celebratory cocktail to unwind, but not before offering his opponent quite the compliment.
"Isildur is incredible. I hope to do a training lesson with him one day. He's the best."
The SuperStar Showdown will return in one week with the first installment of another 5,000-hand, two-part match. Blom's next opponent? None other than nosebleed-stakes cash game fixture Scott 'urnotindangr' Palmer. Join us next Sunday, April 3 for what should be a thrilling, heads-up master class.
***= The doomswitch does not exist. Really. It's not in Negreanu's bathroom, you paranoid sickos.