WSOP 2012: Viktor Blom versus the world

wsop-130x100.pngIt's 3pm in Las Vegas, and all is well. Viktor Blom, the mad Swede, the King of Swing, the Isildur1, the man who has won and lost millions before most people can afford car insurance, looks happy. And by happy, I mean completely sullen and detached from everything around him. It's what passes for happy with Blom. He has 175,000 in chips, which at that point in the day was pretty damned good on Day 2 of the World Series of Poker.

He's on the button at 3pm. It's like home for Blom. He looks the happiest--the least sullen--when he has the button. It's like a mother who has all her children home for the holidays. It lasts a precious little amount of time. It's fleeting, and it's meant to be appreciated.

So, Blom raises. It comes natural, like the steady drip of his adrenal glands. A couple of minutes later, he's fired into a T♦T♥9♠K♠4♠ board on every street. His opponent has check-called the flop and turn before folding the river. The guy's face looks like he knows he's just played a part in a one-act played titled "Give Viktor Blom Chips."

It's 3pm and Viktor Blom is happy.



It's 6pm and Viktor Blom is smiling. This is a trap, so don't stumble into it. He's not happy. Not the least bit. The smile straddles the line between "a little sad" and "possibly clinically depressed." The corners of his mouth are pulled back on ropes of rue. Between hands, his eyes drift over to the featured table stage where bright lights strobe. He doesn't blink, and the kliegs in the girders are the only light in his eyes. On the rail, someone snaps a flash-less photo of Isildur1. Blom doesn't notice.

At 6pm, something bad has happened. Fellow PokerStars Blog reporter Martin Harris saw it with his own eyes. "He had ace-queen," Harris said. "Guy woke up with aces in the blinds." It's all that needed to be said. Blom's stack is more than half-gone. He has around 75,000 and a lost half-smile on his face.

His raises--they function seemingly independent of Blom's spirit--still get their desired effect. Players call them once and then give up when Blom keeps betting. It's like watching a lonely teenager throw a tennis ball against a garage door. The chips go out, they bounce into an opponent, and then rocket back to Blom.

The button comes back around to Blom, and the tennis ball comes out of his hand in the form of a three-bet. There is a 2,000 raise and a call in front of him. He cuts out 6,500 from his stack and throws it against the garage door. The original raiser looks at Blom and literally points a finger at him as if to say, ", whatever." Both players muck, and the ball comes back.

It's 6pm, and Viktor Blom's joyless smile flickers like an old TV screen.


It's 9pm and Viktor Blom is anxious. Or eager. it's impossible to say which. His right leg bounces up and down. It won't stop. Up-down-up-down-up-down. It's not two movements. It's one continuous bounce that seems to happen without Blom recognizing it. Meanwhile his left hand is on his eye. Then on his mouth. Then on the table. Eye-mouth-table-eye-mouth-table. He crosses his arms. He uncrosses his arms. It's Blom's version of Swedish semaphores and nobody--literally, nobody in a 100-yard radius--has any idea what it means.

Something good has happened since 6pm, since Blom last smiled uncomfortably. He now has more than 180,000 in chips, the product of flopping trips against some poor guy who flopped top-pair top-kicker. Blom's chip stacks are neatly arranged and static. He's not touching them. Not looking at them, even. His cards get much the same treatment. He seems to be playing the role of a food addict in a pastry shop. He's trying to get himself under control, or so it seems.

As if the idea needs some sort of confirmation, the button appears in front of Blom, and he does something so remarkable, it's surprising the television cameras didn't appear.

He folded.

Viktor Blom folded his button.

Anyone who has ever learned about writing a story knows that most tales take the theme of Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, or Man vs. Himself. Six hours of watching Viktor Blom makes it clear, the King of Swing isn't just a story. He is every story. At any given moment, he competes not against one man, but every player at his table. He struggles against whatever natural force guides his hand. There are some people who would argue it's unconscious, and perhaps supernatural. And in the end, by the time 9pm rolls around, it's clear, Viktor Blom, one of the most talented new poker players in the business, is always in a battle against himself. He admits his need for action. He struggles with it in what amounts to a loving embrace.

It's 9pm, and Viktor Blom is two levels away from making Day 3 of the World Series of Poker Main Event.




Jason Mercier: Chicken penne with asparagus and caprese.


After polish, use women's pantyhose to get that perfect shine.


@themouthmatusow: "wsop is over im coming out of retirement gonna get drunk whos in?"

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker