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Isildur Takes on First Superstar Showdown Competitor

By Nathan Carroll, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer

Isildur1 PokerStars Pro

Fresh off his signing as a member of Team PokerStars, the anonymous phenom Isildur1 recently took on his first challenger in the much-hyped Superstar Showdown. The name refers to a series of matches engineered by the PokerStars promotional team which pit Isildur heads-up against any volunteers brave enough to take on the challenge. Each match consists of 2500 hands of No Limit Hold'em and/or Pot Limit Omaha played at stakes of $50/$100. The winner is the player who is ahead at the end, or who manages to take his opponent's entire 15 buy-in match bankroll.

The first man to test his mettle against the mysterious Isildur plays online under the inauspicious moniker of philivey2694, but is better known as Isaac "Ike" Haxton. Haxton burst onto the poker scene with a second place finish at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2007, earning $862,000 for his troubles. He's since gone on to become one of the toughest cash game players online, with over $1.2 million in winnings to his name.

The Showdown Begins

The match got underway at 6 PM on Sunday, with the players squaring off on four separate tables as per the Superstar Showdown rules. Action started off slowly as the two competitors felt out each other's games. Isildur was aggressive as always, reraising frequently and never backing down from a pot, while Haxton played more conservatively and favored preflop minraises--a strategy that Isildur has complained in the past is too "boring."

Isildur took the first big pot of the match with a river check/raise after hitting a flush. Soon afterward, Haxton nabbed the lead with a suckout (his QJ beat QQ all-in preflop), but Isildur soon retook it by hitting a flush over Haxton's straight. With 1500 hands in the books, Isildur lead by over $30,000.

Isildur's Luck Wanes

But his luck soon took a turn for the worse. His lead dissolved when Haxton hit several strong hands and Isildur responded with an all-in bluff that ran into aces up. By 2000 hands into the match, the game was essentially tied. But a K32 flop saw Isildur's K7 fall victim to his opponent's K9 and Haxton headed into the home stretch with a one buy-in lead.

Hardly known for his cautious play even at the best of times, Isildur threw his chips around with reckless abandon during the last 500 hands of the match. At times it looked like his only goal was to create as many big pots as possible--not a terrible strategy for someone who wants to make a risky last-ditch effort to get even before the end of a match. Unfortunately for the anonymous hero, he couldn't help but run his good hands into Haxton's better ones over and over again.

The match ended when Isildur's valiant attempt to win a 4 buy-in pot with J9 on a 95322 board was derailed by Haxton's K9. Ike scooped the $44,464 pot and finished the challenge with a lead of $41,701.

It's unfortunate that Isildur couldn't manage a win in the inaugural edition of his own heads-up challenge, but there's no reason to think he's taking the loss all that hard. Anyone who's lost $3 million in a day can probably handle a $40K setback. Isildur is probably already thinking about the next Superstar Showdown--or the upcoming PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, where it's rumored that his identity will finally be revealed.

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