SuperStar Showdown: Blom halts Haxton's comeback, holds $281,365 lead after two sessions
When Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton returned to the felt this afternoon to resume his $1 million match with Viktor "Isildur1" Blom, he seemed determined to reign in the frenetic pace that defined yesterday's session. Haxton didn't mind taking a small-ball approach; even as Blom expanded his lead by another $127,000 within the first hour. Haxton stuck to his guns and clawed his way back, pulling nearly even with Blom before the Swedish sensation turned the match around again by doing what he does best. Attacking quickly and relentlessly, Blom whittled Haxton's $500,000 challenge bankroll down to only $118,000 before ending their second four-hour session with a $281,365 lead.
HOUR ONE: BLOM'S LEAD BLOOMS TO $325K
Haxton did his best to keep the pace steady and the pots small in the early going, but Blom clearly had other ideas. The third hand on Showdown 2 resulted in a $57,600 pot, Blom bluffing the flop with nothing, catching third pair on the turn and backing into a ten-high straight on the river. It took another half-hour before an all-in pot materialized, Blom flopping top two with A♦K♥ on an A♣K♠2♥ board against Haxton's A♥T♣. Haxton check-called $2,000 on the flop and another $5,600 when the 4♥ hit the turn. The T♦ on the river was a disaster for Ike and he check-called Blom's shove only to watch another buy-in disappear. With that $80,800 pot, Blom's lead was up to $299,786.
After that unlucky run, Haxton successfully picked off a bluff to take down a $41,000 pot. Holding 3♣6♣ on a J♥7♥4♥6♦ board. Blom check-raised Haxton's turn bet to $4,768 and Haxton smooth-called with 6♥7♣ for two pair and a flush draw. Blom fired another $15,000 at the K♥ river and Haxton called, taking it down with his flush. Although that pot trimmed Blom's lead to $259,728, he quickly bounced back when Haxton's combination draw missed against his top pair-no kicker:
By the end of the first hour, Blom led with $331,294 profit after 2,313 hands. His entire challenge bankroll spread across the four tables, Haxton had only a little more than one buy-in per table remaining and a seemingly insurmountable task ahead of him.
HOUR TWO: HAXTON NARROWS THE GAP
An $80,400 coinflip saved Haxton from ruin on Showdown 4, his J♠J♦ holding up against Blom's A♠K♦. Blom, however, quickly answered that pot with a river overbet Haxton couldn't call, raking in $49,200 without a showdown. It was a minor setback for Ike, who maintained focus and chipped away, using Blom's signature move against him in several instances. Haxton had shaved $100,000 off Blom's lead when they got it all-in on the turn, Haxton holding Q♥7♥ for a flush and Blom K♣T♠ for two pair on a 8♦3♥T♥K♥ board. The 9♣ river locked up the $81,600 pot for Haxton and suddenly these two were almost back where they started the day, Blom with a $199,608 lead.
Haxton changed gears again and reverted back to his original plan-- small-pot poker. He ground out plently of them over the course of the next twenty minutes, nabbing a couple of big ones as well. In a textbook case of kicker trouble, Blom and Haxton both rivered top pair on a 4♦5♠7♣4♥K♣ board. Blom called Haxton's $34,200 river shove, but his K♠J♠ couldn't top Haxton's A♣K♥ for the $86,400 pot. Then, a classic suck-resuck saw Haxton make away with a $70,800 pot. Blom's Q♣8♣ hit bottom two pair on a K♥Q♠8♦ flop and he check-raised Haxton's $928 bet to $3,200. Haxton called with K♠7♣, only to hit the 7♥ on the turn. Blom bet $6,400 and Haxton called. Blom fired a hefty $25,000 at the 6♣ river and Haxton called, taking it down with kings up.
Within 372 hands, Haxton had successfully reduced Blom's lead from more than $331,000 to $116,850. Blom quickly went to work and ground back about $30,000 before Haxton detonated this $148,200 daisy-cutter of a pot to reduce Blom's lead to $85,000:
HOUR THREE: HAXTON HOLDS OFF BLOM'S ADVANCE
Within five minutes, Blom roared back to life. In a pot that Haxton three-bet pre, Blom hit top pair when the flop fell K♦Q♥8♦. Haxton continued for $4,800, Blom raised to $11,600, and Haxton called. Both players checked the J♣ on the turn, but when the 2♥ came on the river, Haxton shoved for $34,000. Blom sensed something was afoot and called him down despite the dangerous board, Haxton turning up nothing but a busted flush draw with 5♦9♦. Haxton's K♠9♠ earned him the $99,616 pot and left Haxton with only a $15,000 stack on Showdown 1. Haxton pushed it in a few hands later with A♦9♠, but could not outrun Blom's Q♣Q♦. Forced to split the $163,000 he'd worked up on Showdown 2, both stacks were reset to $40,000.
Haxton went back to chopping out medium-sized pots with an unhurried pace until the two went to war on a 9♦8♣2♣ flop. After flopping straight and flush draws with Q♣J♣, Haxton check-raised Blom's $2,000 flop bet to $6,800. Blom wasn't going anywhere with T♦T♥ and fired back, making it $13,600 to go. Haxton shoved and Blom called all-in for $40,274. Although Haxton blanked the turn with the A♦, the T♣ on the river completed his flush to take down the $110,148 pot.
Blom's lead was down to $72,882 after 2,926 hands and by the 3,000-hand mark, Haxton had reduced it even further to $39,856. Haxton came oh-so-close to closing the gap entirely when Blom four-bet pre only to fold to Haxton's check-raise shove on the J♥9♣3♣ flop. But just as Haxton raked in that $31,000 pot, Blom threw some spikes on the road and ended his run. In this $82,400 pot, Haxton picked the wrong time to run a three-street bluff as Blom flopped trips and turned deuces full:
Minutes later, the two got their money all-in preflop, Blom's K♠K♥ holding up against T♥T♣ for $81,600. Just like that, Blom was back in the black to the tune of $95,120 with another game-changing pot just around the corner.
HOUR FOUR: BLAST-OFF
Holding off Viktor Blom is like trying to hold off a tornado. You can throw your weight against the door for as long as you can, but there's still going to be some serious damage when it's over. Haxton couldn't have known the severity of the storm awaiting him down the road when he picked up K♦6♦ and decided to three-bet to $4,800 behind Blom's 3x raise. Blom smooth-called with A♦8♥ and they saw a A♣J♣T♦ flop. Haxton continued for $7,200 with his gutshot straight draw and Blom called with top pair. The 8♦ turn hit both players, Blom making aces up and Haxton adding a flush draw. Like he'd been wont to do all day, Haxton pushed his draw hard, making it $19,200 to go. Again, Blom called. The K♥ on the river made Haxton second pair and it was just enough rope for him to craft a noose. He moved all-in for $94,712 and Blom called. At $169,696, the largest pot of the match thus far went to Blom with aces and eights.
A short time later, Haxton check-raised all-in on a J♥9♣2♥ flop, holding only K♠Q♥. Blom quickly called with Q♠J♠, his top pair holding through the 4♥ turn and 2♠ river to earn the $82,756 pot. Haxton tried for a quick double-up on Showdown 2, shoving a 2♣3♠7♣ flop with 8♣T♣, but Blom looked him up with A♠T♠, his ace-high good for the $45k pot when Haxton's flush draw missed. Nothing was working for Haxton. It seemed like he couldn't catch a hand. And that's when the wheels really came off the proverbial wagon.
Haxton tried to check-raise Blom off the flop with king-high in this $110k pot, but our Swedish friend turned over A♠A♣ and turned top set for good measure:
Then, Haxton shoved the turn with top pair, only to run headlong into Blom's flopped flush:
Haxton recovered a little when he doubled up on Showdown 3, his A♣A♥ good against Blom's K♥J♠. Blom, however, was relentless and busted Haxton's short stack on Showdown 4. Just as Haxton reloaded another $40,000 on that table, Blom claimed it in a single hand, turning a set of sixes against Haxton's flopped bottom two. With that $80,000 pot, Blom was out to a $382,320 lead and had Haxton firmly on the ropes.
Had this $75,600 coinflip gone the other way, we'd be writing a much different story tonight, but Haxton's T♦T♠ hung on against A♣Q♦, staving off near-total ruin. Haxton followed that hand up by taking down a trio of mid-sized pots to reduce Blom's lead to $262,317, but the Swede came back strong in the session's final minutes, winning $44,800 on the penultimate hand when Haxton folded to his river shove.
Blom and Haxton made it through 1,733 hands in their second session, bringing the grand total to 3,634 hands so far. Blom increased his profit by $82,927 to bring his overall match lead to $281,365.
He may be a bit battered from today's bruising, but Haxton still has $218,635 to work with and another session ahead of him tomorrow. We'll be right with you on the rail, starting at 1pm ET Monday as this million-dollar battle continues.