PokerStars hit the world with a surprising announcement Tuesday morning when they revealed that the newest Team PokerStars Pro is none other than online phenomenon Isildur1.
Isildur1 has been the world's most exciting and most talked-about online player for the last year. He came onto the scene in fall 2009 and quickly began to cruise up to the highest stakes on Full Tilt Poker, dominating opponents in heads-up no-limit holdem matches along the way. His incredibly aggressive style and frequent use of overbets gave fits to his opponents and led to high variance matches in which stacks would fly back and forth constantly.
In addition to his dramatic style of play, Isildur's gunslinger attitude quickly made him a fan favorite. He would take action from anyone, and if several challengers were online at once--well, bring 'em on. Isildur regularly competed one-on-one against several of the world's best players simultaneously. His grind sessions were often in the range of 6-10 hours. He would quit games only when his opponents refused to move up in stakes or to play four or more tables at once.
As he tore his way through FTP's best, railbirds flocked to his tables and breathlessly related his results and hands on poker message boards.
The peak of his success came in mid-November, when he reached a high point of over $5 million in profit. Then Isildur hit a rough patched, capped off by the biggest single day loss in online poker's history, over $3 million. He retreated to lower stakes, licking his wounds.
Since then, Isildur has made several short runs at the nosebleed games on FTP, but never managed to hold onto a bankroll. His fans have been waiting for him to make a triumphant return to the scene--and this high-profile move to PokerStars might just be it.
Part of Isildur's appeal has always been due to the mystery of his identity. Although nearly all of the screennames involved in online nosebleed stakes have eventually been linked to a known, real-life poker professional, Isildur1 has never been more than a name on a screen. At the height of his infamy, many commented that he was crazy to pass up easy sponsorship and promotional opportunities just to maintain his anonymity, but it looks like Isildur has managed to have it both ways; PokerStars is more than willing to protect the identity of its newest team member. They even play up the mystery in his sparse bio, asking, "Is Isildur1 a seasoned pro out to prove they can cut it in the high stakes games online? How about a young hotshot with enough skills and guts to take on the best and come out on top?"
Also announced along with the signing was the introduction of the SuperStar Showdown, PokerStar's apparent answer to the prestige that the Durrrr Challenge has brought to Full Tilt Poker. The SuperStar Showdown pits willing participants in a 2500 hand heads-up match against Isildur at stakes of $50/$100 or higher. The match must be at least 50% no-limit hold'em, and the remaining hands can be divided between NLHE and PLO as the contestant chooses. Both players escrow 15 buy-ins prior to the start of the match, and the winner is the one who's ahead after 2500 hands or who takes the other player's 15 buy-ins.
No one has publicly volunteered for the Showdown yet, but obvious choices to take on the challenge are Phil Galfond (MrSweets28), Ashton Griffin (theASHMAN103), or even the cornerstone of the PokerStars Pro Team, Daniel Negreanu (KidPoker).
PokerStars is also giving the low-rolling masses a chance to face off against Isildur. They're running a series of qualifying tournaments that will end with two different players winning a $15,000 bankroll with which to take on the newest Team Pro in a 10%-sized version of the SuperStar Showdown.
Isildur1 has always been the type to create big action wherever he goes. Now that he's taken his act to PokerStars, it will be interesting to see if the nosebleed stakes on the site get a little more lively. We'll be watching closely in the upcoming weeks.
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