SuperStar Showdown: Blom beats qualifier DodgyFish72 by one big blind

isildur1.jpgIn the movies, the underdog wins, the guy gets the girl, and dreams come true despite overwhelming odds. Hollywood loves nothing more than a happy ending and it was only fitting that on Oscar Sunday, an online qualifier held his own against one of the world's best. Cast in the role of David versus Viktor Blom's Goliath, Hungary's Attila "DodgyFish72" Gulcsik won (via an $11 satellite) the opportunity to take on the infamous "Isildur1" in a special edition of the SuperStar Showdown. And by the time the credits rolled on this epic, only one big blind separated the two.

You read that right. One big blind. A ten-spot. €7.29. Dinner for two at Taco Bell. Considering Blom was up more than $10,000 at one point, Gulcsik's final result was nothing short of miraculous.

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Man. Myth. Isildur1.

While the format of the SuperStar Showdown remained the same-- 2,500 hands of heads-up no-limit hold'em played across four tables-- the blinds were set at $5/$10 rather than the usual $50/$100. Gulcsik was staked $15,000 for the match; he'd keep whatever remained of his challenge bankroll at the end of the session plus any profits. There was also a special $10,000 bonus at stake for either player if they managed to win their opponent's entire $15k.

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Gulcsik got off to a strong start, doubling up twice within the first twenty minutes. On Table 1, the money went in on a A♦4♥2♦ flop, both players holding top pair with Gulcsik's A♣Q♠ outkicking Blom's A♥T♣. Then, on Table 3, Gulcsik check-raised the river on a Q♠T♥6♠5♣5♥ board with queens up, Blom paying him off with tens and fives. As these two felt each other out, it quickly became apparent that Blom was playing this one fast and loose, fearlessly building large pots preflop with holdings like small suited gappers. Here's a prime example, as Blom's aggressive preflop action slowed Gulcsik down despite decent board texture for his pocket tens:

Although Gulcsik held a $1,323 lead at the end of the first half-hour, Blom quickly began to assume control over the match and pulled even when he scored a double-up on Table 4. Holding pocket threes, Blom opened for his standard 3x raise to $30 and Gulcsik three-bet to $110 with 8♦9♦. Blom called, hitting bottom set on the K♦9♠3♦ flop. Gulcsik led out for $125 with middle pair and a flush draw and Blom called. The turn was the T♥ and Gulcsik fired another $250. Blom looked him up. Gulcsik moved in for $515 when the 8♣ on the river made him two pair and Blom called, taking down the $2,000 pot.

Near the 500-hand mark, Blom caught the first wave of a tsunami of run-good that propelled him to a substantial early-match lead. Following a $20 opening raise from Gulcsik, Blom three-bet to $80 holding A♥6♦ and Gulcsik made the call with J♦9♦. Gulcsik hit top pair on the J♥5♥2♠ flop, but played it a little coy, smooth-calling Blom's $100 lead bet. Blom got what Tony G would call an "ace from space" on the turn, the A♣ falling to give him the advantage. Blom bet $220 and Gulcsik called. The 6♠ on the river made Blom aces up and he got full value on his hand, setting Gulcsik all-in for $745 and earning a call. Five minutes later, Gulcsik caught the the bad end of a cooler. In a $2,800 pot, Gulcsik flopped top pair with Q♣J♠, but Blom had him outkicked with K♠Q♠. Then, Gulcsik got his money in good, three-bet shoving a T♥7♥4♠ flop holding A♠T♠. Blom called with T♣5♣ only to receive another blessed turn card, the 5♠, to make him two pair. The river blanked with the 9♥ and after 634 hands, Blom's lead grew to $5,076. With 25% of the hands complete, Blom had already laid claim to more than a third of Gulcsik's challenge bankroll.

In another suckout of epic proportions, Blom hit a runner-runner straight to win a $2,300 pot after getting his money in with a dominated hand:

Blom grew his lead to $6,300 over the next 250 hands and padded it even further with this pot. While Blom was deep-stacked on every table, Gulcsik could only say the same about the $3,300 he held to start this hand on Table 1. Holding Q♥T♥, Gulcsik opened for $20 and Blom three-bet to $80 with pocket kings. Gulcsik called and they saw a K♠J♦3♣ flop. Blom led out for $100 with top set and Gulcsik called with his open-ended straight draw. The turn brought the 2♦ and Blom fired again, making it $220 to go. Gulcsik went for the big ammo and shoved for $3,121 total, Blom calling all-in for $1,095. Gulcsik did not find any of his outs on the river and had his lone deep stack halved. With close to 1,000 hands in the books, Blom was up $8,871.

Although Gulcsik caught a whiff of run-good when his nut flush draw came in against Blom's set in a $2,200 pot, he quickly lost it back on Table 4 when his A♠K♦ did not improve against Blom's pocket sixes in a preflop all-in. Following that hand, Gulcsik's stack auto-reloaded to only $573, indicating that his entire challenge bankroll was active. Fortunately, Gulcsik was able to double that short stack relatively quickly when his A♠Q♣ held up against Blom's K♦T♦. Blom did not let up in the least, however, and in this hand, picked a good spot for a river shove. He might have had the nuts, it might have been a bluff, but whatever it was, it got Gulcsik to give up his hand:

Two hours into the match, things went from bad to worse for Gulcsik. Holding Q♥8♥, Gulcsik opened for $20, Blom three-bet to $80 with A♣K♣, Gulcsik came back over the top for $230 and Blom called. The flop came down T♣3♦2♦ and Blom check-called Gulcsik's $240 continuation bet. The turn was the 2♣, giving Blom the nut flush draw. He checked it, and rather than firing a second bullet, Gulcsik shut down and checked behind. The Q♣ on the river made things interesting, however; Blom made the nut flush while Gulcsik hit top pair. Blom went for his signature river overbet, moving all-in for $3,115 and Gulcsik called off the $1,385 he had behind. After raking in that pot, Blom was up by $10,768...and they weren't even halfway through.

With only $4,232 left in his challenge bankroll, Gulcsik was forced to split one of his stacks to keep the action going on all four tables and the rail began started setting lines on how many more hands it would take for Blom to clean him out. Perhaps that lit the fire Gulcsik needed to get himself out of this hole because in the next 15 minutes he managed to recoup 40% of his losses. It started when Blom opened for a min-raise to $20 and Gulcsik made the call. Gulcsik checked the Q♣9♣7♠ flop over to Blom, who bet $40. Gulcsik raised to $140 and Blom called. The turn came the 6♥ and Gulcsik led out for $260. Blom quickly called and they went to the river which fell the 8♠. Gulcsik bet $650, Blom shoved, and Gulcsik called off the $670 he had behind, turning up J♦T♠ for a queen-high straight. Blom could only show a ten-high straight with K♠T♥ and Gulcsik raked in the $3,480 pot.

Over on Table 5, Gulcsik four-bet his pocket jacks before the flop and Blom looked him up with 4♦5♦. The flop came down 8♠5♥3♦ and Blom tried to blast Gulcsik out of the pot, check-raising his $220 bet to $670. Gulcsik responded with a three-bet shove to $1,800 and Blom tossed in his last $140 to see what he was up against. The jacks held through the 3♣ on the turn and the 2♠ on the river to cut Blom's overall lead to $6,076 after 1,367 hands.

The more Blom's profit shrunk, the more he seemed willing to gamble. After all, these aren't giant stakes for the "King of Swing." Witness this hand, the largest in the match thus far:

Only five hands later an even larger pot developed on the same table when Gulcsik picked up A♣A♠ and five-bet preflop. Blom called with K♣9♠ and hit trips when the flop came K♥K♠3♠. Gulcsik made a cautious play, check-calling Blom's $560 bet. However, Gulcsik got his own ace from space on the turn, the A♥ falling to give him a full house. Gulcsik checked, Blom moved all-in for $1,435, and Gulcsik snap-called, the river blanking out with the 4♠ to give him the $5,550 pot. Blom's overall lead was shaved to only $2,351.

Over the next stretch of hands Gulcsik was imbued with a bit more luck than he'd previously enjoyed, at least when it came to all-in confrontations. Gulcsik got his money in on the turn with two pair and was called by Blom with a straight only to boat up on the river. A few minutes later, Gulcsik five-bet shoved preflop with A♥J♦ and Blom called with A♠K♦, only to have a jack miraculously appear on the river. Before Gulcsik could really get on a roll, Blom decided to change gears. Translation? Gamboooool.

Blom ran well in the ensuing flurry of preflop all-ins. He called a six-bet shove with 8♣9♣ against Gulcsik's A♥Q♠ and rivered a nine to win a $4,720 pot. He called a four-bet shove holding A♥7♦ against Gulcsik's pocket eights (the eights held for $2,250), and with the almighty 3♠7♠, he stacked off against Gulcsik's A♠J♦, rivering a three on the K♣K♥Q♣2♣3♦ to felt his opponent. It was so ugly Blom apologized in the chat box.

Isildur1: ouch sry

Stacks were split. Tables were changed. The rail went beserk. Forum threads erupted. Three-seven suited, really? With 500 hands left to play, Blom was up by nearly $5,000 and Gulcsik's hopes of turning a profit were fading fast.

That's when all hell broke loose. Over the next 15 minutes, there were no fewer than 12 all-in pots. Nine were preflop all-ins and Gulcsik turned over the best hand each time. A♦K♥ against K♣5♣. Pocket nines against 5♠7♠. A♦Q♣ against A♠7♦. Pocket eights against K♠6♠. Blom was unabashedly gambling and got as many chips as he could in the middle as fast as he could. Gulcsik won all but one of those nine preflop all-ins and when things finally settled down, Blom's lead was cut to $2,466.

The game tempo slowed down dramatically during the final 200 hands. Since Gulcsik would be able to keep whatever remained of his challenge bankroll at the end of the match, it was in his best interest to tighten up a bit and preserve what he had left. Blom, however, was still in a gambling mood and when he three-bet shoved for $1,065 over a $20 opening raise, Gulcsik made the call with A♥Q♠. Blom's pocket fours held up though the turn on a T♦2♣5♣J♥ board, but the K♣ spiked on the river to make Gulcsik's Broadway straight. Only moments later on the same table, Blom got another 100 big blinds in the middle. Gulcsik four-bet shoved and Blom called with A♦T♦ only to run into pocket jacks. The fishhooks held and Gulcsik took it down.

In an ending that couldn't have been more perfectly scripted, Blom open-shoved on the final hand and Gulcsik folded. Little did either of them know that the $10 big blind that Blom stole would represent his entire profit for the 2,500-hand match. The fifth edition of the SuperStar Showdown ended in a draw and Gulcsik pocketed the $14,990 that remained in his challenge bankroll. Before departing the tables, Blom had some kind words for his opponent.

Isildur1: GG
DodgyFish72: gg
Isildur1: u played really good
DodgyFish72: thanks u 2
DodgyFish72: u r really a class guy

Attila "DodgyFish72" Gulcsik is a recreational poker player who works for a pharmaceutical company. He described Blom as a "very talented player" who adapts well to his opponents' styles and is capable of switching gears quickly. He was realistic about his chances in this match, stating "my main goal is to try and play well without making huge mistakes. It is obvious that I am a huge underdog as Viktor has significantly more experience being one of the best in the field of heads-up cashgames."

This time, even though David didn't defeat Goliath, it sure feels like he won.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in News