The price of fame and recognition could turn out to be astronomical for top poker player Viktor Blom if Swedish tax authorities take an interest in him.
Poker professional Blom, who finally revealed his true identity to the world after hiding behind the Isildur1 handle for two years when he signed up as a representative of PokerStars, could face a bill as high as $149 million for unpaid taxes in his native Sweden. At the ripe old age of 20, Blom stunned the poker world just over a year ago when he burst onto the scene amidst a string of million dollar plus games where he won and lost more money than most poker players will ever see in their lifetimes.
The huge figure has been calculated by the Swedish finance newspaper, Dagens Nyheter and is probably based on the big session wins racked up by Blom over his two years in the limelight as Isildur1. In that time he had days where he won and lost several millions of dollars. The Tax Agency in Sweden are keen to investigate several online poker firms that are active in the country, although at this point they have not admitted to specifically targeting poker playing individuals.
In a rollercoaster professional playing ride that saw Blom’s alter ego Isildur1 become one of the most popular and well known online players throughout the world and 777 online casino in Canada, the mystery man managed to win and lose some of the highest pots in the history of the online game. His appearance out of nowhere happened very fast indeed as he explained that he deposited $2,000 one day and within just three weeks had turned it into $2 million. His aggressive style of play meant huge risk taking, where he appeared to be unfazed by head to head confrontations where huge pots were at stake.
Blom’s decision to join the PokerStars team meant that as part of the sponsorship deal he was obliged to reveal his true identity. When it came, most poker players were not unduly surprised as there had been a lot of intense speculation that Blom was indeed Isildur1. Rumours had been rife in poker circles that the mystery player was most likely to be Blom as a lot of evidence seemed to link the two names.
On his decision to unmask Isildur1 and why he had kept himself reasonably well hidden for the entirety of his career, Blom said that he had no desire to converse with the media. When asked about advice he would give to new players, he began by telling them to start slowly, but realizing this sounded contrived, he added that he “didn’t do that.”
Online Poker Rooms are becoming as scarce as hen’s teeth in Washington State. Now two more have left and more are set to follow.
Part of running a successful business is in knowing where your strengths lie as well as where the weaknesses are. When you’re succeeding, it’s natural to promote the areas that are doing well. But when something goes wrong, it pays to admit that you’re beat and move on to fresh pastures to lick your wounds and bounce back in a more suitable arena. This is the problem facing many online poker rooms that were once welcome in Washington State. Since the laws were tightened up in that state to mean that anyone caught playing poker online could be charged with a Felony C Criminal Offence, the big poker operators started leaving town like rats deserting the sinking ship. Along with them, it seems many professional poker players are also looking to jump ship and move on to pastures green.
First to go were Poker Stars, leaving behind them many thousands of players to change allegiance and find a new online poker room in which to play. Unfortunately, the next biggest poker room in the State to whom many flocked, Full Tilt, left soon after. There was one concession in that any Full Tilt player who had an address outside of Washington State could continue playing. The writing was already on the wall for online poker players. Now those two online poker giants have been followed by VIP Sports and fellow poker room website Matchbook.com who have similarly closed down operations in that state.
In an email to all matchbook customers that thanked them for their patronage, they were advised that they should no longer make deposits to their accounts as transactions would no longer be processed for residents of Washington State.
There have been attempts in Washington State at overturning this unpopular gambling law, but all have come to no avail. In 2010, the decision made by the Supreme Court was that the gambling law was not in violation of the constitution by allowing for the severity of a Felony C criminal offence. That more or less destroyed any hope of further attempts to have the law changed.
Now it seems that all remaining online poker rooms will leave the state pending a change in the law, which seems unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future. This will certainly leave professional poker players with the dilemma of upping sticks and moving to a different state so that they can keep playing. I hear that New Jersey might be a nice place to set up home…