How High is Too High?

by , Dec 8, 2009 | 6:18 pm

For the past two months, Phil Ivey, Durr, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius and the online phenom/enigma known as Isildur1 have been playing some of the most outrageous poker we’ve ever seen at what can only be described as nosebleed-level stakes.

The question is, with millions of dollars being shifted around each session – or hand, as the case may be – how much longer can they keep these remarkable games going without any fresh fish at the table? Our friend Bill Rini thinks the answer is not much longer.

18 Comments to “How High is Too High?”

  1. ChrisC

    I have watched a few of the games and would love to know who Isildur1 is. Any ideas?

  2. Kevin Mathers

    Tony G on his blog said something similar, saying the big game should be reduced to 100/200:

  3. JaKat

    There are lots of rumors, but I don’t think he’s been officially outed as of yet. The best guess is that he’s a young Swede/Scandi player who’s trying to keep a low profile.

  4. Kevin Mathers

    And failing hard, since most people think it’s Viktor Blom (including the G outing him in the blog above).

  5. DanM

    I’ve heard so many different names thrown around with different authority that I’m not giving any of them any real credence until we hear something from someone who is actually playing in the game, or sitting next to someone who is.

  6. BJ Nemeth

    The only players who have a say in “How High is Too High” are the players in the game. None of us know the specific financial situation of these players, or how large their bankrolls are, or what kind of backing deals they have in place. (The Corporation pooled their money against Andy Beal to reduce risk, and that’s likely happening behind the scenes here.)

    For us to say that the game should be lowered to this level or that level is extremely arrogant. America is the land of the free, and the internet takes that freedom to an entirely different level. Let them play as high as they want, and pay the consequences if things go badly.

    Unlike the mortgage crisis, these guys aren’t playing with public money or government protection. You can’t sit down at an online poker game without money already in your account. You can get that money from loansharks, fellow players, or whatever, but the consequences of those deals are restricted to that player (and possibly his family).

    If a loan shark goes around breaking legs for a failure to repay, that’s tragic, but it’s not comparable in any way to the mortgage crisis. Nothing that goes on at these limits will drag down the entire poker industry with it, much less the larger economy.

  7. Fawcett

    Cynic here…is there any possible way these players actually are not playing for that much and it is merely b.s. so the poker site can get more traffic (read: players)? Basically just play money accounts? I know, stupid thought but it really doesn’t seem like there are many people who could actually fade those losses coalition or not.

  8. ChrisC

    Fawcett…I had that same thought at first. The only thing that makes me think that is not the case is that the players like Ivey would not waste hours of their time for nothing. I guess they could be compensated in such a senerio, but I doubt it. It does seem to be a lot of money and to play for pots in excess of 1 millon is crazy to me.

  9. Fawcett

    Who says Ivey is actually sitting there playing? An avatar?

  10. ChirsC

    Very good point!

  11. BJ Nemeth

    For these high-stakes games to be faked would require an extremely large conspiracy (>12 people).

    The biggest problem with that theory is that the people with the most to lose are already rich beyond their own means. So why would they risk their reputations, their livelihoods, and their business on something like this?

  12. DanM

    lol, bj, that’s what people said about online poker being rigged, pre-UB/AP …

    while i agree that fawcett may not have it down as to what really is going on behind the scenes, i do think it’s possible — at least something that must be considered — that there is more going on behind the avatars than just straight-up high-stakes degeneracy.

  13. BJ Nemeth

    The difference from the “online-poker-is-rigged” argument is that those conspiracy theorists were arguing that online sites were created with the intent to defraud their players, sometimes involving elaborate schemes where they win at first to entice them, and then lose big to suck them dry.

    As absurd as that idea is, there has always been the possibility of individuals within a company getting together to cheat, through a variety of different methods. And, from everything we know, that’s what happened.

    For Ivey and these other high-profile players to be faking this entire high-stakes drama with Isildur would require many, many people to be involved, including most of the executive owners at Full Tilt.

    If that group was going to commit fraud to market their site (ludicrous as that is), there are dozens and dozens of better ways they could have done it than this. I would bet everything that I own, and take out credit, to bet against this being some kind of pure marketing scam, or that the Ivey avatar wasn’t being played by Phil Ivey.

  14. DanM

    I’m not trying to imply fraud at Full Tilt in any way. What I am saying is that the question of “Who is Isildur?” probably has a more complex answer than just “viktor blom”.

  15. BJ Nemeth

    Behind the scenes, we know that a lot of players taking on Isildur have backers on their action. So the high-stakes aren’t always quite as high as they seem. (Isildur could even have backers himself.)

    I almost wrote himself/herself, but does anybody out there think that Isildur could be a woman? I’m not saying that a woman *couldn’t* play those stakes; I’m suggesting that a woman wouldn’t be degenerative enough to do it. There’s very little logical reason to play that high, as has been discussed in other places.

  16. BJ Nemeth

    So you’re suggesting that Isildur1 is either a bot or a team? And I assume then that you’re thinking that the IP trace is a false reading, and that the real player(s) isn’t in Sweden at all?

  17. JaKat

    I can say with complete confidence that he pros playing online at FTP are in fact those people represented by their avatars.

    These pros are the faces of FTP and the powers that be at FTP have staked no small part of the company’s reputation on the integrity of the pros. In fact, you may remember that Jonathan Little had his red pro status taken away after it was discovered that he was allowing other players to use his account.

    Whether Ivey, Hansen, Antonius et al. are all playing on just their own money or have backing/staking deals in place is another question, but make no mistake, both the money and the players you see online at the tables are real.

  18. DanM

    Almost for sure not a bot. A team is surely plausible, however.

    I don’t know where to begin with the speculations. False IP’s could be a possibility, sure. It could be as simple as just some rich guy. He may or may not be using some program to help him … and could he be in violation of one of those questionable TOS rules (like you are not allowed to have more than one account)?

    I really have zero insight into what it COULD be, I am just accepting Fawcett’s premise that there is probably more to The Story. Even if it is pretty straightforward – just a high roller donking around – there has got to be a lot going on behind the scenes in Ireland because of the stakes and opponents involved.

    (And let’s say they did discover shenanigans – like it was some known pro using a different account – well at that point I’d suspect Full Tilt might be trying to handle it differently than they would with a more typical user. )