SuperStar Showdown: Stormy weather strands Haxton, suspends match

isildur1.jpgAfter a 36-week hiatus, the SuperStar Showdown was set to return with a bang this afternoon. Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton, Viktor Blom's very first challenger (and the only net winner against him in Showdown matches) was back for another 2,500 hands at double the stakes. Only this time, rather than playing from a Las Vegas high-rise, Haxton was at his new home in Malta, where storms have pounded the area for the last few days. About 75 minutes after cards went in the air, Haxton began experiencing connectivity issues and despite everyone's best attempts to troubleshoot, the problem persisted. With 692 of 2,500 hands completed, there was no choice but to suspend the match and resume later this week, once Haxton's internet connection has been fixed. As Haxton wrote himself on the 2+2 forums:

"I'm really sorry about all this. I know it's ruining the flow of the match for spectators.

To clarify the weather stuff: There was a really bad storm 2 days ago. My internet was completely down for 2 hours and has been a little unstable ever since. I think something between the ISP and my apartment must have been damaged."

That's some pretty remarkable poise coming from a man on the worst kind of tech tilt. And as if gnawing through red tape to get a Maltese internet connection repaired isn't bad enough, when the match does resume, Haxton will start off $99,886 in the hole.


Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton

Since it's been a while, let's refresh our memories on the rules of the SuperStar Showdown. A match lasts 2,500 hands spread across four tables. Blom and his challenger each escrow 15 buy-ins to use as their bankroll. Blinds are typically $50/$100, although for today's match, Blom and Haxton upped the stakes to $100/$200 NLHE. Buy-ins are 100 BB apiece and stacks are automatically topped up any time they dip below that mark. Should either player lay claim to the other's 15 buy-ins before the end of the 2,500 hands, the match is over.

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Man vs. nature. Nature wins

Cards were in the air at 12:03pm EDT, the first significant pot unfolding only three minutes later. On a 7♦6♠3♦ board in a raised pot, Blom flopped an open-ended straight draw with 5♣8♣. Haxton check-called $1,000 on the flop, then checked again when the 9♠ fell on the turn. Blom bet $2,800 with his nine-high straight and Haxton called. The J♦ on the river put a potential flush on board but it did not deter either player, Haxton check-calling an additional $7,600 only to see the bad news. Blom raked in the $24,000 pot and moved out to a $7,300 overall lead after only 50 hands.

Minutes later, Blom flopped bottom two pair and turned a full house, getting in a nice value-raise on the river when the board read Q♠J♦8♠8♣9♥. Haxton paid him off and Blom dragged the $19,200 pot, taking his lead up to more than $15,000. Haxton at last picked up a five-figure pot when he check-called three streets on a 3♥2♦7♥Q♦2♥ board, his Q♠J♦ outkicking Blom's Q♣9♥. With that pot, Haxton erased his deficit and took a slight lead-- the only one he'd see all day.

The first all-in of the match occurred on a 9♣8♦7♦ flop. Holding K♣K♥, Haxton three-bet shoved and Blom called off his remaining $9,300, having flopped the nuts with J♣T♠. No miraculous running cards for Haxton on the turn or river, and the $40,000 pot was shipped to Sweden. Although Haxton picked up a $13,700 pot when he rivered two pair, he gave most of those chips back after calling two streets then folding to Blom's river shove on a 8♠2♣J♦A♥3♣ board. Blom kept barreling and Haxton kept calling him down only to be shown monsters, as evidenced in this $24,000 pot where Blom rivered his flush:

With 351 hands in the books, Blom led by $45,732 and had double his starting stack on three of the four tables. Only now it was time for Haxton to hit a river card. In a setup that would have likely seen him felted, Haxton's dominated ace caught two pair on the river, just in time for Blom to pull his signature overbet-shove. Haxton called off his remaining $12,620 and nabbed the $40,840 pot:

Although Haxton managed to cut Blom's lead to $35,676 over the next hundred hands, Blom nabbed the monsterpotten of the day when he picked up pocket jacks. Blom opened for $600 and Haxton called from the big blind, the flop falling Q♠J♦T♦. Haxton checked, Blom bet $1,000 with his set and Haxton called. The T♥ on the turn filled Blom up, but Haxton did his bidding for him, leading out for $2,400. Blom smooth-called. Haxton led again when the 9♣ hit the river, betting $5,280. Blom raised to $23,600 and Haxton called, mucking his hand as Blom raked in the $55,200 pot. With 501 hands completed, Blom's lead stood at $71,376.

The wheels really started coming off the wagon a few minutes later, when Blom picked up pocket eights and opened for $600. Haxton three-bet to $2,100 with J♦T♦ and Blom called. Haxton led out for $2,400 on the J♠4♠2♥ flop and Blom called. The 2♠ on the turn put a potential flush on board and earned checks from both players. Blom hit gin on the river, though, the 8♦ falling to make him an extremely well-disguised full house. Haxton checked, Blom shoved and Haxton called all-in for $15,700, his top pair up in flames. With 553 hands complete, Blom was up $94,954.

Moments later, Haxton's internet connection began acting up. The match went on a five-minute break while he restarted his router, but it took more than thirty minutes for Haxton to reconnect. Three minutes after cards went back in the air, Haxton disconnected again, and it was another half-hour before the match could resume. Haxton's connection held for only 15 minutes before going out again, and this time the decision was made to suspend the match and resume action at a later time once Haxton's connection was repaired.

Hopefully that will happen sometime later this week. With 1,808 hands to play, Haxton trails Blom by $99,886. While that might seem steep, fortunes can change quickly at these stakes, even more so when you're up against the "King of Swing."

Meanwhile, tune in one week from today for another SuperStar Showdown as Viktor Blom takes on a new challenger-- English high-stakes NLHE star Alexander "Kanu7" Millar. Action begins Sunday, March 18 at 12pm EDT. Let's hope for dry weather.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in News