Viktor Blom Misses WSOP, but Earns Over $700,000 Online
Those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed that Full Tilt Professional Viktor Blom didn’t appear in reports this summer from Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker. While the biggest name in online poker missing the world’s largest poker festival might be surprising to many, it’s nothing new to those who follow Viktor Blom. He did the same last year, earning around $450K in the process.
Viktor may be know primarily as a high stakes heads-up specialist, but he has more than a few decent cashes in major tournaments, worth $1,721,834. So, why has Blom neglected to play in Las Vegas when players with worse records would move heaven and earth to get there?
The primary reason is probably a simple case of mathematics. Most people who play the WSOP lose money overall, even in the case of good professionals. It’s not unheard of for top multi-table tournament players to announce they were essentially busto after a WSOP, and were heading home to rebuild their rolls by playing online. Blom may have a reasonable expectation to make money in Vegas, from a combination of playing WSOP events and the big cash games that tend to happen during the series. But where would he make the most money?
If we take the non “One Drop” events — with buy-ins of $5,000 or over — that Blom could be considered to have a reasonable chance of cashing in, we are brought to a total of 13 events, including the Main Event, that might be attractive enough for Blom to play. To play all of these would require buy ins totalling $175,000, and as all tournament players know, 13 events is a really small sample size, so a player is rarely going to see his true expected value by the end of it.
Unless a player runs really hot, making a profit from these 13 events is going to be really difficult. Add in living and accommodation costs in Las Vegas for the whole series, and a high roller such as Blom could see another $10K+ go up in flames before a card is even dealt. Las Vegas caters to the high roller, but I doubt the introverted Blom would be happy unless he had a place to himself. I’m thinking a high roller suite, or a private rented house away from the hustle and bustle of the strip, neither of which is going to be that cheap during the Series.
Compare that to staying at home and playing online. Viktor is going to have to pay for his home anyway, so for this comparison, it’s free. If we also say that his food costs at home are negligible compared to the costs of eating out in Las Vegas (eating out while playing live poker is almost a given) staying at home blasts the living costs of playing the WSOP. Now for the interesting bit, what about the poker? Well, since the 20th of May, Blom has played over 65,000 hands online, which is still a relatively small sample, but much more statistically viable than 13 WSOP events. If you add in the fact that a lot of the big names are not going to be playing, as they will have traveled to Vegas, Blom would be up against weaker competition playing his usual games. This has to raise his expectation of winning significantly.
Mathematically, the choice comes down to a small number of WSOP events and high-stakes, live-cash games, against high quality opponents, or staying at home and playing against the weaker high-stakes players online. I can see why Blom has stayed at home for the past two WSOPs.
While the math isn’t the only factor to take into consideration, (Blom’s reluctance to play live, the rumours circulating he is having to play staked because he is busto, and keeping Full Tilt happy) it’s probably the most important one. Poker is about winning money, after all.
According to HighStakesdb.com the numbers since the 20th of May this year are as follows:
Viktor Blom has won $709,296 from 65,753 hands after sitting down 663 times as a table. Just behind him is Patrik “FinddaGrind” Antonius who won $579,742 from 4,705 hands after sitting 42 times. The biggest losers during the same period were “SanIker” who dropped $1,244,962 from 7,403 hands. Gus Hansen was the second biggest loser with a loss of $1,221,806 from 13,072 hands. Gus was in Vegas, even though he hardly played any of the WSOP events. These losses were from before he left.
Blom has certainly worked hard during the 2014 WSOP, even though he never set foot in Las Vegas, let alone the host venue Rio. Managing to get over 65,000 hands at the levels he plays should be considered an achievement, especially considering a lot of the regular players were away from their computers.
It seems that this may be another example of fall out from Black Friday. With no access to international online poker, the WSOP just isn’t an attractive prospect for players such as Viktor Blom. Unfortunately, I don’t see either side of this issue changing anytime soon. While Nevada is exploring intrastate poker networks, an internationally facing US regulated site is going to require federal approval, and that’s just not on the cards at present. Players like Blom want to be playing as much as possible, and the small US networks just can’t offer the games he wants to play or anyone to play against him. Until one of these things changes, I don’t think we’ll be seeing Viktor Blom at a World Series of Poker in Las Vegas any time soon.