SuperStar Showdown: Blom felts Negreanu for $150,000 in 1,439 hands

isildur1.jpgDaniel Negreanu knows that running bad is just a part of the game. Despite losing to quads in six-figure pots on three separate occasions on GSN's High Stakes Poker, a feat of sour luck that would lead a lesser player to swear off cards forever, he continues to play on the televised cash game every chance he gets. Luck is a short-term factor in a long-term game, and perhaps bearing that in mind, Negreanu signed up for a super-sized edition of the SuperStar Showdown. Viktor "Isildur1" Blom and "KidPoker" would meet for a four-table, 2,500-hand match at the $50/$100 no-limit hold'em tables and reunite one week later for another 2,500 hands, carrying over their balances from the previous match for a total of 5,000 hands. The same rules applied, each player's losses limited to their $150,000 challenge bankroll.

Unfortunately for Negreanu, those fifteen stacks of high society were in Blom's account after only a little over four hours and 1,439 hands, the first SuperStar Showdown match to end before the 2,500th hand was reached. It temporarily left the fate of next week's match in doubt, although Negreanu later confirmed on Twitter that he'd be back for more next Sunday with another $150,000 at stake.


Negreanu made it no secret that he put in some serious hours on PokerStars training for the SuperStar Showdown. Blom is not only one of the top heads-up NLHE players in the world, he's extremely adept at multi-tabling, while Negreanu, admittedly, is not. To prepare, Negreanu played practice sessions with Team Online's Randy "nanonoko" Lew, as well as three of Blom's prior Showdown opponents: Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton, Daniel "w00ki3z" Cates, and Eugene "MyRabbiFoo" Katchalov. All the training in the world, however, can't make the cards fall in your favor when it matters the most.


Despite Negreanu's reputation as a "small-ball" player, it took only nine minutes before he called a shove from Blom and put his first buy-in at risk. Following a raise to $300 from Blom and a $1,000 three-bet from Negreanu, the two saw a K♣4♥4♠ flop. Negreanu led out for $1,200 and Blom called. Both players checked the T♠ on the turn. When the 6♥ hit the river, Negreanu fired $3,100, Blom moved all-in for $9,600 and Negreanu made the call, turning up K♥Q♠. Although his kings and fours were good until the turn, Blom spiked a two-outer on the river to take down the $20,400 pot with sixes full. Two hands later on the same table they were all-in again, committing their stacks on a 9♣3♣2♥ flop. Negreanu showed Q♥9♦ for top pair, but Blom had him outkicked with A♠9♠. Aces fell on the turn and river to add insult to injury and Blom's boat brought him another $20,200 pot.

Minutes later, Negreanu hit top two pair on a Q♠9♠4♥ flop and check-raised Blom's $500 continuation bet to $1,400. Blom called, and Negreanu bet another $2,700 when the 8♥ ht the turn. Blom responded with a shove for $8,300 and Negreanu made the call, only to watch the young Swede showr J♣T♣ for a turned straight. Only 141 hands into the match, Blom was already up more than $30,000.

About 30 minutes in, Negreanu seemed to find more of a rhythm. For the next hundred hands, he chopped out some small pots and managed to cut his deficit in half. He even used Blom's signature move, the river overbet, against him. After check-raising the flop and leading the turn, Negreanu moved all-in for $16,350 into a $7,600 pot with the board reading J♦J♠3♦2♠8♥. Blom folded and Negreanu fattened up his stack on Table 4.

Negreanu's river bet didn't work quite as well in this hand, however, where he bet his busted flush draw only to discover that Blom turned a queen-high straight:

Undeterred, Negreanu made another bluff attempt only a few minutes later on the same table. Holding A♥J♣, Blom opened for $300 and Negreanu three-bet to $1,000 with K♥J♦. Blom elected to smooth-call rather than four-betting, and he hit top pair on the A♠4♥2♣ flop. Negreanu led out for $1,200, Blom made a small raise to $2,850 and Negreanu called. The turn was the 3♠. Negreanu checked and Blom checked behind. When the 8♣ hit the river, Negreanu summoned the courage to fire $4,100 with only king-high, but Blom called him down and raked in the $15,900 pot, increasing his overall lead to $40,450.

Although Negreanu ground back some of those losses after getting some nice value off a turned straight and calling down a double-barrel king-high bluff from Blom with only a weak top pair, the worst was yet to come. In the largest pot in the match so far (and the second-largest overall), Blom opened for $300 with J♠3♠ and Negreanu three-bet to $1,000 with K♦6♦. Blom called and they each caught a big piece of the K♠J♣6♠ flop; Negreanu hit top and bottom pair while Blom flopped middle pair and a flush draw. All the money went in on the flop, Blom making his flush when the 9♠ fell on the turn. The 5♣ on the river missed Negreanu's four outs and the $28,700 pot belonged to Blom.

Only seconds later, Negreanu's pocket tens burst into flames after Blom flopped a wheel with A♥3♣ and another $27,300 was shipped across the table. The run-bad continued mercilessly when Negreanu hit trip jacks on fifth street and paid off Blom's river bet, only to be shown trip jacks... with a better kicker. Negreanu was getting frustrated and it was starting to show. In one $10k pot he check-called Blom to the river on a A♥A♠J♦8♠7♠ board only to be shown a flush with Q♠4♠. Then, in a $19,600 pot Negreanu did the same on a 6♠8♦5♥2♠J♣ board, Blom turning up J♦8♠ for two pair and the win. With 707 hands complete, Blom had already laid claim to half of Negreanu's challenge bankroll.

Could things get any uglier? You betcha. Negreanu turned a jack-high flush against Blom in a $21,400 pot only to watch him turn over the nut flush. On Table 3, he reverted back to check-calling, paying off every street on a 6♥7♦7♥9♠4♦ board; Blom revealed pocket jacks and pulled in another $19,600. Two hands later on the same table, Negreanu attempted a check-raise bluff on the turn with nothing but a gutshot straight draw. Blom called with a bare flush draw and the third pair he hit on the river was good enough to win the $9,200 pot. Then, in an all-too-familiar situation, Negreanu rivered trips (again) only to find himself outkicked (again):

With 901 hands in the books, Blom was up $104,350 as this key hand unfolded. With $41,500 behind on Table 2, Blom opened for his standard $300 holding 6♥8♥ and Negreanu three-bet to $1,000 with A♦K♦. Negreanu hit top pair on the K♥Q♠3♥ flop while Blom picked up a flush draw. Negreanu led out for $1,200 and Blom called. The T♥ on the turn was certainly a scare card for Negreanu, but nevertheless, he made it another $3,100 to go. Blom shoved for $39,300 with his flush, effectively setting Negreanu in for the $7,250 he had behind. Getting slightly better than 2 to 1 on his money, Negreanu decided to call, only to discover he was actually drawing dead. Tthe river fell the meaningless 5♣ to give Blom the $25,100 pot and a $119,000 overall lead.

With all that remained of Negreanu's challenge bankroll already in play, action continued on three tables instead of four. Once Negreanu built one of those three stacks up to $20,000, that table was closed out and the stack split into two fresh $10,000 stacks. Although Negreanu caught a small rush, winning back about $16,000, disaster struck again for the Canadian. All the money went in on a K♦4♠3♣ flop, Negreanu revealing K♣Q♥ for top pair while Blom turned over 3♠4♦ for two pair. The 3♦ on the turn sealed the $20,000 pot for Blom, Negreanu left only to wonder what he'd done to so offend the poker gods.

Negreanu busted off Table 3 in another top pair vs. flush draw scenario. The chips went in on a T♠3♦2♠ flop, Negreanu with A♥T♥ and Blom holding K♠7♠. Although Negreanu turned trips with the T♣, Blom made his flush on the river with the 9♠ and took down the $25,604 pot.

"Sick," Blom wrote in the chat box.

"This is getting stupid," Negreanu replied.

Four minutes later, Blom claimed the last of Negreanu's chips on Table 5. After calling a preflop raise and check-calling on the flop, Negreanu check-shoved the turn for $6,850 with the board reading T♣8♠5♣2♥. Blom called $5,450 more and flipped over 5♦5♥ for a set, Negreanu drawing dead with 7♦8♦. The T♥ on the river boated Blom for good measure as another $15,300 sailed into his stack.

With only two tables to play instead of four, the slower pace saw Negreanu return to the style he's known for-- small ball. Although he only had $23,648 left to work with, Negreanu ground up another $9,000 before being saved by the river in another pot.

KidPoker: phew lol
Isildur1: second time u hit a river?
KidPoker: lol around there :-)

With Blom's lead cut to $104,452, Negreanu's stacks were split again and action restarted on four tables. However, it didn't take long for KidPoker to lose one of them. After Negreanu opened for a min-raise and Blom called, the flop came down Q♣9♣5♥. Blom checked, Negreanu bet $200, Blom raised to $900 and Negreanu called. The turn brought the A♦ and Blom continued with a $1,700 bet. Negreanu called, and the 3♦ fell on the river. With $5,600 in the pot, Blom made his signature overbet, setting Negreanu all-in for his remaining $9,150. Not believing Blom had an ace, Negreanu called with Q♥4♠, but he was wrong. Blom showed A♣3♥ for aces up.

Over on Table 5, however, it was finally Negreanu's turn to catch a miracle river. After opening for $200 with Q♥8♥, Blom three-bet to $900 with A♦K♦ and Negreanu made the call. Blom hit top pair on the K♥5♣3♠ flop and led out for $1,200. Negreanu, having completely missed, put in a bluff-raise to $3,100 and Blom came along. Blom checked when the 7♥ fell on the tun and Negreanu wasted no time moving all-in with his flush draw. Blom looked him up, but Negreanu binked the J♥ on the river to survive and take down the $22,700 pot. Of the 13 pots over $20,000 that had played out thus far, it was only the second one Negreanu took down.

The action was paused again to split stacks, but before all the hands could finish, Blom laid claim to the $8,653 Negreanu had left on Table 7. The money went in on a T♣9♠6♣ flop, Negreanu with J♠T♥ for top pair and Blom having flopped the joint with 7♥8♠. As Negreanu reloaded to three fresh $10,000 stacks, Blom's lead stood at $118,855 and with 1,207 hands completed, they weren't even halfway to 2,500.

Blom claimed the last of Negreanu's chips on Table 6 when he picked up A♣A♠. Blom three-bet preflop and Negreanu called with 5♠6♠. The 4♥7♣4♦ flop brought Negreanu an open-ended straight draw and he decided to go with it; Blom bet $1,000, Negreanu raised to $2,000, Blom moved all-in and Negreanu called off his last $4,300. The Q♦ on the turn wasn't what Negreanu was looking for, neither was the 7♥ on the river, and suddenly the action was back down to two tables.

Negreanu could barely recover from that pot when he was all-in again, this time on Table 2. The money went in on a T♦9♦6♠ flop, Negreanu in good shape with A♣9♣ against Blom's 9♥8♠. KidPoker's hopes for a double-up were instantly dashed, however when the 7♠ spiked on the turn, making Blom a ten-high straight and inspiring this bit of chat.

KidPoker: pretty sick run
Isildur1: yeah its just sick
Isildur1: i hit nuts all session long
KidPoker: that makes it easy :-)
Isildur1: yep hehe

With 1,306 hands played, Negreanu was left with only $15,595 of his challenge bankroll, all of it on a single table since he was below the minimum $20,000 required to split stacks. For another 132 hands, he ground it out, kept the pots small, and did his best to mount some sort of a comeback while a few cheeky railbirds typed the lyrics to R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" into the chat box. Whittled down to $10,100, Negreanu found K♠J♣ in the big blind and three-bet Blom's button raise to $1,000. Blom responded with a shove.

"Meh. Let's gamble, I guess" Negreanu said as he made the call.

Blom turned over A♣K♥. Negreanu was dominated. Only a jack could save him-- and there it was! The flop came down J♦T♠7♦ to give Negreanu top pair, but before his railbirds could let out a "woooooot," the Q♣ appeared on the turn and Blom made a Broadway straight. An ace on the river would chop the pot, but instead it was the 4♦, and after 1,439 hands, Blom was a $150,000 winner.

Although Negreanu was no doubt frustrated about his result, he was back at the tables only a few hours later preparing for Round 2.

"Ok, officially shook off the loss. Back to the grind this week and a rematch with a fresh 150k next week," he Tweeted.

Part 2 of the Isildur1/KidPoker SuperStar Showdown, begins next Sunday, March 27, at 3pm EDT. Do join us again.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in News