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    • Dalwhinnie15
      Dabei seit: 18.11.2006 Beiträge: 132

      hab den text vorhin gefunden is vom cardrunners blog - und es geht um Isildur ich fands ganz interessant zu lesen...
      hier is noch der link: http://blogs.cardrunners.com/BLAG/an-unstoppable-force-meets-1258491260

      Warnung: das ganze ist etwas lang.... :s_biggrin:

      It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. Poker hasn’t really picked up any for me, but I felt like I should keep writing in this blog and try my best to keep it alive in some way. Today I’m going to sell out a bit and write not about myself, but about online poker and recent events. My topic is vague enough that this post may wander through different topics, but it will be centered around Isildur and his recent appearance in high stakes online poker. It is largely a product of my curiosity, experience, and confusion, and I hope that some of these ideas might speak to some of you as well.

      One of the reasons why I wanted to write something like this was because, as most of you know, we have just witnessed a monumental event in the history of online poker – the entrance of Isildur into our world of online poker. A number of other commentators have offered their insight on this event, and there’s no doubt that the commotion over him has rocked the world of high stakes online poker. I felt that given the huge amount of speculation, misinformation, and downright stupidity that has flooded twoplustwo and other forums, it wouldn’t hurt to give the less informed half of the poker world a more accurate glimpse of the high stakes poker world.

      A Word of Warning

      It’s important to understand that what Isildur has done (and how hot he has run) is truly amazing. It is also important to understand that almost every high stakes poker player who has insight into him or the dynamics that are occurring around him are all public figures. What I mean by that is that they either have some sort of a sponsorship or an otherwise monetary or emotional connection to their own reputation. This gives everyone two layers of incentives – the first incentive is to openly talk about him, since everybody else wants to know about Isildur and only a small group of people can actually say anything meaningful about him. The second incentive is to stay quiet – since Isildur is very much a player in the online poker world, nobody wants to say anything about him that could jeopardize or negatively affect their relationship with him as an opponent in a poker game. What I mean to say is that anybody who right now would speak about Isildur is going to speak discreetly. Nobody will be direct, and yet everyone acknowledges his enormity. He’s going to be the elephant in the room. You won’t hear any outright admissions of how good he is, who thinks who is better than who, or even who people think Isildur is. And that’s just the nature of the game. The social dynamics of online poker have changed in the last few years, and the reaction to Isildur has shown us some of that.

      What I want you the reader to understand is that I will not say everything that I think about Isildur. Nobody will. Online poker is at its heart a secretive industry, but as obvious as that is, I want to say this outright because I hope it will give some of you the awareness to look more closely at the discourse of online poker. Not everything is as it seems, and the asymmetry of information is as real here as it is anywhere else.

      The Story of Isildur

      That being said, it’s very obvious that Isildur is an extremely good NLHU and HUPLO player. His grasp of handreading, leveling and betsizing is second to none. Nobody who has watched Isildur play from the rail has any idea what kind of a player he is except that he seems to be aggressive and overbets a lot, and of course that he wins – his betting patterns, his style of reasoning, and his depth of thought are aspects that can only be appreciated within an actual match and by a player of adequate skill – that’s the nature of online poker. Isildur is a very good player and with the results he’s had, it’s impossible to deny it. He has rocked the boat in a big way, which is best exemplified by Tom “Durrrr” Dwan and the match they played, which is at this point a legendary one in the history of online poker.

      For those of you who don’t know, Isildur won more than 3 million USD from Durrrr, which adds up to well over 30 buyins won. I’m not sure exactly how many hands were played, but as far as I know it was over 30,000 hands. It was an epic match, and I mean that in the strongest sense of the word. Allow me to contextualize it a bit.

      (Disclaimer: some of this may be inaccurate, I’m piecing this together from what I know with little to no extraneous research. But for the most part it’s true enough.)

      Isildur first showed up on Full Tilt around 25/50 NLHE. I don’t know who the first person he played was, but I remember hearing about him from some 25/50 grinders who had played him or had seen him around. The word was that Isildur was the new semireg on the block. Supposedly, he was hyperaggro, barreled like a monkey, and was really easy to get to stick his stacks in. Of course there are some 25/50 regs for whom this description was not enough to play a non-clueless opponent, but a number of regs were thrilled to have a new reg willing to play a bunch of tables and donk off stacks. Among the first few to play him in extended matches were Jungleman and I Win Flips (Tcorbin16). From what I heard from both of them, they both thought that they had significant edges on Isildur, although Corbin actually lost a decent clip to him (in typical Corbin fashion).

      Our Battle

      About a week later I was sitting at tables without any action when Isildur showed up at one of my 25/50 NL tables. I was bored and willing to play anything, so when he offered to play 6 tables (although usually I max out at 4), I decided to take him up on his offer and play a serious NLHE HU match for the first time in a long while. As the match progressed, all of what I’d heard about him being hyperaggro and barrelly checked out, but as I watched the lines he took to bluff, valuebet, and the way he reacted to my betting patterns, he seemed uncannily perceptive. Nevertheless, within the first hour or so I had won about 30k and was feeling pretty confident. He sat out on all of the tables and I assumed that the match was over and was about to check out. But about a minute later he said “brb,” and so I decided to wait for him and continue the match.

      From that point, I started losing. Bad. There weren’t really any particular pots where I got badly outplayed, but before I knew it, due to beats coolers and him outmaneuvering me in a few spots, he was up 50k. 6-tabling 25/50 that’s not an unheard of swing to one opponent, so I asked him if he wanted to take it up to 50/100NL. He agreed, and we played a very short session there where I just repeatedly ran into the nuts – I thought I played well, but somehow he always had the best hand, despite his aggressiveness and how many big pots he was getting into. After losing 5 buyins at 50/100 I decided I’d had enough, and wasn’t feeling that great about my NL game and didn’t feel any point in going forward when he had all of the momentum and seemed to know my game pretty well. I told him GG and quit all of the tables.

      Ten minutes later, he sat with me at 100/200 PLO, telling me he was bored and just wanted some action. I consulted my friend who told me that he had played Isildur and had crushed him – Isildur is clueless, he said. So I shrugged my shoulders and went with it – I have a lot of confidence in my PLO game, and I know that there are only a few people in the world who can come out on top against me there. If he’s as degenerate as he seems, it’s possible that I have a huge edge and that he just dumps it back. So I played.

      PLO is quite different from NL because it’s much more transparent, not just to observers but also to the players themselves. When hands get in or big pots are played, it’s often a lot easier to dissect ranges, understand decisions, and evaluate EV than it is in NL. What that means that, for both observers and for the players themselves, it’s a lot easier to see who’s running bad and who’s getting outplayed in PLO compared to NL. Well, I ended up losing about 400k to him at PLO, and according to HEM I ran 300k below EV. We played probably 1000 hands or less of PLO. It was a bloodbath, but not quite a slaughter, since the poker gods were doing a lot more of the work than he was, which will happen in PLO. At the time I was pretty devastated, but after having reviewed the match carefully, I am sure that I ran bad. I’m not sure that I had an edge, but I am sure that my expectation was nowhere near what I lost, or even a quarter of that. But to all of you, I was only the beginning of the story of Isildur.

      The Rise of Isildur

      After I lost to him I took a break from playing, but there was a lot of chatter on NVG and among other high stakes players about this Isildur fellow. Since I’m a fish, most weren’t phased by seeing me lose so much to him, and wanted to try their hand. The next up to bat was Ugotabanana, an 18 year old PLO extraordinaire. He’s well known for being an enormous lucksack (I love you Harry), but even he could not overcome the Promethean run-good of Isildur. He lost 250k over 5000 hands of 100/200 PLO. Again, not a lot for the stakes played and variance, but at this point Isildur’s run was starting to border on the horizon of statistical significance.

      Over the next few days I wasn’t watching as closely, but apparently he undertook matches with Cole South, Brian Hastings, and Brian Townsend in both PLO and NL. The matches were very back and forth and were grabbing the attention of a lot of railbirds and high stakes players alike. Generally when top class players like Cole and Townsend are swooping in to play a bunch of tables with a new player, the new player ends up going bust pretty quick, but despite tripping up every now and then, Isildur seemed to be holding his ground. They were playing as high as 200/400 and 300/600; stacks were being thrown around and leads were sometimes taken, but never held onto. Nobody doubted that Isildur was losing, it was only a matter of when. He seemed to be solid and certainly not easy to beat, but against the titans of online poker, nobody gave him a chance.

      It was after a couple of days of battling against these players, Isildur being up a decent but by no means decisive amount on his opponents, that Durrrr entered into the fray. Right off the bat they agreed to 6-table HU at 300/600NL, and it was at that point that all eyes turned to what was inevitably going to be one of the most memorable matches in the history of online poker. Despite being overshadowed by the televised WSOP main event, tens of thousands of online poker players and poker aficionados logged onto Full Tilt to observe these games. The 300/600 didn’t last long, after a short while of playing and being down a few buyins Durrrr asked Isildur to take it to 500/1000 and Isildur happily agreed. What followed then was one of the most aggressive, volatile, intense heads up matches ever played. I will do my best to resist characterizing the dynamics or what specifically occurred in the match, but I think it was best described by a phrase I used at the time – “an unstoppable force meets an immovable object,” the former being Isildur and the latter being Durrrr. It was one of those rare heads up matches that exemplifies at once both art and spectacle. Railbirds couldn’t get enough.

      After the first day with a ton of back and forth and a lot of action, Isildur ended up around +1.5M. Despite having played for a very long session with few breaks, few observers thought that this win was conclusive, despite being over 15 buyins in winnings for Isildur. Before Durrrr finally quit the session he and Isildur made an agreement to play again the next day, and so when night fell again (in the USA), the match continued.

      That session was the most significant. Despite Durrrr’s shenanigans and suckouts, it seemed as though he was finally starting to reveal his strength. His style had changed and the tables were turning, the unstoppable momentum of Isildur seemed to have been shattered. At one point Durrrr was within 350k of even, and in that moment many of us who had been disheartened from Durrrr’s loss felt a feeling of relief. This was a moment of comfort in the world of high stakes poker. When I read that Durrrr was almost even, I thought to myself “well, I suppose that’s that. This guy’s run is finally over.” But when I was resigning to my bed, the rest of the online poker world was glued to its monitors. For Isildur, the night was far from over.

      What happened next no one at all expected, not even those who were rooting for Isildur. With Durrr having steamrolled back, Isildur, who people were before calling the masked marauder of high stakes poker, seemed to be back to his previous title of a luckbox shot-taking degen. And yet, slowly but surely, Isildur started winning his money back. He won a couple of big pots as soon as Durrrr hit his peak, and from that point Durrrr seemed to not have a chance to protest or get even a word in. The tides had turned, the poker gods had spoken, and Isildur once again seemed to not be able to lose an all-in, winning and winning, and when the score came back to +1.5M for Isildur – he kept going, winning more and more, as if not to leave any doubt in Durrrr’s or anybody else’s mind that his win was no fluke. After that night he was up over 2M, and by the time of my writing this and a couple more sessions later, Isildur is up well over 3M on Durrrr. Since then, he has battled again with Cole and Townsend and stood his ground, and has massacred both Patrik Antonius and David Benyamine. He is now up well over 5M on Full Tilt poker, and is currently fourth on the all time leaderboard on HSDB behind Phil Ivey, Phil Galfond, and Patrik Antonius. He has cemented his name in the annals of online poker as one of the strongest players of all time.

      It has been only two weeks since Isildur started playing high stakes on Full Tilt Poker. We truly have witnessed something incredible. But what we – the online poker community – and have not done, is interpreted this event. Made sense of it. Decided what it means. Not just for Durrrr, for Isildur, for high stakes players, or even for railbirds. What does this event mean for online poker? I haven’t the insight to speak for others, but I think that for me, Isildur’s upheaval of the online poker world has caused me to realize and question some things.

      The European Hierarchy

      It’s important to realize that the online poker world is split into a number of different worlds. Our world is what I will call the Western poker world (the word is poorly chosen but it works well enough). It includes 2p2, Cardplayer, Tableratings, and extends to the major American poker sites – Stars, Full Tilt, and Ultimatebet. The other major world is the Euro poker world, which includes sites like Ipoker, Prima, Party, Betfair, Svenka Spel, and some other sites that are only open to various European players (I don’t know enough about this poker world to mention any other specific sites, forums, etc.). These poker worlds are generally pretty strongly segregated – most of the top players in the Western poker world only play on Western sites, either because they’re American or because the nosebleed action on FTP/Stars runs more regularly. And in the same way, most of the top players in the Euro poker world only play on Eurosites and make most of their money there. But in each poker world there has been established a pecking order – a hierarchy.

      From years of poker pros playing each other in different combinations and matchups, people have figured out who is better than who. Over the long run there is not much fluctuation in these hierarchies, as the better players continue to get better and don’t let players lower in the food chain catch up. It is also generally acknowledged that the Western hierarchy is stronger than the Euro hierarchy – the games are tougher and more selective, there are fewer fish, and so the Western hierarchy has bred the best poker players in the world. The Western poker world is tougher, and for that, it is stronger. But Isildur has challenged that. Isildur is from the Euro poker world, and his blitzkrieg against the entire Western poker hierarchy is a direct challenge to this precept. Many Swedish and other European players cheer on the march of Isildur for precisely this reason – to them, Isildur represents their hierarchy taking back control of the poker world. And so Isildur has become, to some, a symbol of the European hierarchy.

      The Mythology of Online Poker

      When I saw on that first day that Durrrr was playing Isildur and was down a lot, my feelings were mixed. I think that a lot of people in my situation would think “well, if Durrrr lost to him, then I guess that validates my loss,” and there was probably a dash of that emotion somewhere, but it certainly wasn’t decisive. As with everybody else on the sidelines, I had to decide who to root for. You can’t really stand outside a cage match and just hope it’s a good fight - no matter how objective you claim to be, somebody in the ring is representing you. If that’s not true, then you’re not watching with enough intensity. And if there ever were a poker game that could be considered a cage match, it would be this one.

      A lot of people who aren’t initiated into the world of high stakes poker are quick to compare high stakes players to each other, but the world of high stakes poker is more rigidly divided than it might seem. Durrrr exists in an echelon of online poker that I haven’t reached, and probably never will. He plays for amounts of money that, even if I had the bankroll, probably wouldn’t be playing. Not only that, but his courage – and degeneracy – are miles above what I could handle. He is truly in another league, and so in a way he is just as distant to me as he is to any of you. Not only that, but I don’t really know Tom, although I know some people who do and I’m sure he’s a good person. But I have no personal reason to root for him.

      And while this is all true, there was something in me that I couldn’t quite explain that was rooting for Durrrr. Well, more than that. I think there was something inside me that deeply needed Durrrr to win. At first I didn’t really bother to think about it, and maybe I accepted the easy explanation that I just wanted to see Isildur lose. But as the scale of the match grew larger and larger, and the impact of Isildur grew greater and greater, I began to realize that Durrrr represented something else to me in this match. He represented more than just a vicarious avenger. In fact, he was more than just Tom Dwan, more than just a single poker player, who one can choose to like or dislike. Durrrr represents something else, something much larger.

      To me, Durrrr represents my generation. He represents my hierarchy. He represents the entire empire of the Western poker world. He is the king, and upon his head rests the crown of Western poker. That crown is more than just a piece of jewelry – it is a justification. He wears the crown upon his head because he is the proof that the Western poker world is great. It is proof that we are wise, that we are powerful, and that we are right to think that we are the best in the world. Durrrr holds all of this upon his head. We have imbued it in him. If nobody else in the world can beat Isildur, and if Isildur fights his way to the throne of our poker world, we know that Durrrr will be waiting for him. Durrrr is our last word. He is our proof that ourpoker works, that our poker is powerful, and that we were right to think that our poker is the epitome of all poker.

      But, to me, Durrrr represents even more than that. Because you have to realize that this significance that I just mentioned is not granted to Durrrr because he is Durrrr – it is granted to him because of how much he’s won, because of who he’s beaten, and because of the respect and fear that he has garnered. But somebody else could just as easily have been in his place, someone else who might have had the same winnings and accomplishments. There’s something significant because of who Durrrr is and what he’s about that makes him an especially important symbol.

      Durrrr can be dumb. Sometimes he makes mistakes, he tilts, he makes clearly –EV calls and he sticks huge stacks in with rags against the nuts over and over again. Durrrr is often reckless, sometimes emotional, and even at times irrational. Durrrr is fallible. He is imperfect. And yet, somehow he wins. He outplays, he outmaneuvers, and outthinks. He reached the top. He beat everyone. He became the king. He symbolizes the human in all of us, and he bears testament that one does not need to be perfect, unphaseable, untiltable in order to become great. The juggernauts of online poker can sometimes seem to possess an otherworldly stoicism and mental composure. Durrrr is certainly a titan, but his edges are jagged, just as the rest of us. That’s what Durrrr symbolizes to me. I too am sometimes dumb, sometimes I make tilty calls and chase losses. Durrrr is my validation.

      To me then, Isildur represents something totally alien. He represents the nameless feeling that we all know when we play somebody who we feel that we just cannot beat. The pre-rational feeling that no matter what we do we cannot win; this force (it does not congeal into a person) will push us down and there is no way to fight back, to go up for air – our only option is to surrender. No matter what cards we are dealt or what flop we see, somehow we end up losing or getting outplayed. To a poker player, there is no feeling as terrifying as losing and not knowing why. When Isildur appeared, nobody knew who he was. Nobody knew why he played the way he did, how he was so good, or why he won so much. He surprised everyone, and in a whirlwind he destroyed almost everybody he played. He was a faceless force who suddenly disrupted all of the sensible hierarchy of the Western poker world. Whether or not we acknowledge it, everybody became afraid. Afraid that maybe he would tear everything down. That all of our hierarchies would be rendered irrelevant. Maybe he was the greatest poker player in the world. But to claim that title, he must answer to the king. To me, that is the symbolism behind the battle between Durrrr and Isildur.

      But my perspective is not the only one, and I will not pretend that my interpretation is any more valid than anyone else’s. For some railbirds who have a more disinterested relationship to the poker hierarchy, many probably are enthralled by the march of Isildur because of all of the action and excitement that he stirs up, and I certainly cannot deny that if making things interesting is the only criterion, Isildur takes the cake. Yet others choose to root against Durrrr because to them Durrrr represents the old order, and Isildur, a newcomer overthrowing an empire, empowers some them in relation to the poker hierarchy. Maybe others dislike Durrrr because they think he represents an older and more fortunate generation of poker players, or maybe others see him as everything wrong with the culture of internet poker players. And a great many others root against Durrrr because they support Europe over America. The battle between Durrrr and Isildur means many different things to many observers, which is part of the reason why the match has been followed and commented on so passionately.

      The Aftermath

      Ultimately, as I’m sure you all know, Durrrr lost. Their battle was grand, awesome, and decisive. Isildur triumphed. Now, as the chroniclers of our age of online poker, it is up to us to interpret what that means. There is a lot that I could say about the nature of variance, the significance of leaderboards and results, and the poverty of information – these are issues that we are all grappling with as both students of this world, and as members of it. What did it really mean that Durrrr was up so much money in online poker? That he had beaten so many people, and seemed to be as good as it was? Was it really ever that significant? Were we all fooled by the randomness? We have all seen the simulations where one or two arbitrary lines bound absurdly high above the lot – was Durrrr just an anomaly, his greatness a blip of chance? Or maybe his loss to Isildur was a fluke, the product of bad play, of overconfidence – maybe we have yet to see what Durrrr is really capable of.

      There are many who think that Isildur is now the best HU NLHE player in the world. Part of what made Durrrr so powerful and feared was his image – not just his image within the context of an actual match, but merely the awareness that Durrrr did not to lose to anyone. It might seem like a secondary aspect of his game, but if you believe your opponent is someone awesome, someone who no one else can stand up to, it invests your opponent with a great deal of power. It was with this invincible image that Durrrr ruled high stakes NL, but Isildur has shattered that illusion. At this point, having bested almost everybody who stood up to him, Isildur has assumed an even more powerful image, which will make it even more difficult for someone to overthrow him. There are some who’d say that Isildur has proven himself as the new king of online poker.

      Or perhaps it is Isildur who is the anomaly, and as fantastically as he entered this world, he will supernova when he leaves it. Since the time I began writing this article, Isildur has lost 2.5M to Patrik Antonius in PLO, cutting his winnings on FTP in half. The significance of this event is certainly smaller than Isildur’s prolonged battle with Durrrr, but nevertheless the tides are rolling in, and the poker gods are plotting their next spectacle. Is this heralding the fall of Isildur, or is this merely the beginning of another battle? The world of online poker is shifting rapidly and much has yet to be seen. I cannot answer any of the questions I have posed, but I hope that you will all consider them as you continue to observe the path that the world of online poker takes from here.

      Durrrr and Isildur.

      Goddamn, were they meant for each other.

      Until next time,

      Haseeb, aka Dogishead
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