The idea of a rabbit’s foot as a symbol of good luck has been around for centuries. They’re carried on keychains, tucked inside coat pockets, and can be found capping cards in poker rooms around the globe. Eugene Katchalov decided to harness the legend of the rabbit’s foot when he dreamed up his screen name “MyRabbiFoo” many moons ago (it’s neither a tribute to his rabbi nor a Matisyahu lyric as at least one intrepid reporter thought), but unfortunately none of its legendary luck rubbed off on him Sunday evening when he took on Viktor “Isildur1” Blom in the latest edition of the SuperStar Showdown. By the end of the four-hour, 2,500-hand match, Blom had relieved Katchalov of $111,750, bringing his total Showdown earnings to $165,525 after four matches.
Both players came into the match riding a wave of momentum. While Blom booked wins against his last two Showdown opponents, Tony G and Daniel “w00ki3z.” Cates, Katchalov has already banked more than $1.6 million in tournament earnings in 2011, defeating a deadly field in the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller Event and finishing second in the $10,000 6-Max Event only a few days later. Katchalov also got in a bit of practice earlier this week, playing a mini-Showdown with Daniel Negreanu at the $5/$10 tables that ended in a near-draw.
With the blinds at $50/$100, Blom and Katchalov settled into four heads-up no-limit hold’em tables at 3:00 pm EST, each player buying in with $10,000 stacks. From the get-go it was evident that this was going to be a very different match. In a stark contrast to Blom’s previous opponents, Katchalov played a deliberate, controlled style, resulting in much more small-pot poker than railbirds were used to. Whereas Daniel Cates made a preflop five-bet shove within the first few hands, more than 38 minutes peeled off the clock before Katchalov made his first all-in move.
Holding K♥Q♥, Katchalov opened for a min-raise to $200 and Blom three-bet to $800 with 6♥9♥. Katchalov called and they saw a K♦7♦6♦ flop. Blom led out for $1,000 and Katchalov smooth-called. The 6♠ on the turn was gin for Blom and he fired again, making it $2,400 to go. Katchalov shoved for $8,350 and Blom called, the river falling the J♣ to give him the $20,300 pot. With that hand, Blom leapt out to a $11,850 lead after 403 hands.
Over the course of the next twenty minutes, Katchalov ground his way back to even, primarily courtesy of a $10,000 pot he won when Blom folded to his four-bet on an 8♦7♦3♥ flop. In their second all-in confrontation, Katchalov five-bet shoved preflop holding pocket nines and Blom called with A♥Q♥, Katchalov hitting a set on the flop to take down the $22,000 pot. Then, a few minutes later, he got full value on his rivered flush in this $20,800 pot, bringing his overall lead to $8,300:
As the match neared its ninety-minute mark, Katchalov held on to a slim lead. Blom, perhaps looking for a bit more action than the four-figure pots he was trading with Katchalov, opened up a fifth table and bought in to the Sunday Million. Then, in a hand that sent the rail chat into overdrive, Blom five-bet shoved before the flop with 10♥7♥. Katchalov made the call with pocket jacks and raked in a $30,500 pot. However, it didn’t take long for Blom to recover those lost dollars. Minutes later, Katchalov made his own preflop five-bet shove with pocket eights only to run headlong into Blom’s pocket aces.
Both players hit the flop hard in this $29,900 pot, but the turn card left Katchalov drawing dead:
With a bit more than half of the 2,500 hands completed it was still anybody’s game, Blom leading by $10,550, or a little over one buy-in. As the second half kicked off, momentum began to shift toward Blom when Katchalov made an unsuccessful river bluff and Blom called with two pair, winning a $35,500 pot. Blom pulled out to a $30,100 lead with that hand and padded it further when Katchalov’s couldn’t fill his double-gutshot straight draw in a $12k pot and Blom took it down with second pair. With 1,369 hands complete, Blom led by $43,100 and it was time for Katchalov to mount a comeback.
Katchalov was successful, cutting Blom’s lead nearly in half over the next fifteen minutes. Holding 6♦10♦, Katchalov checked behind on an 8♥7♣7♦ flop, then called Blom’s $400 turn bet when he picked up a diamond draw. Katchalov made his flush on the river and Blom did his bidding for him, betting $1,200. Katchalov raised to $3,600 and Blom called to see the bad news. Immediately after picking up that $8,400 pot, Katchalov took down three more mid-sized pots in rapid succession on Table 2. And in one dizzying hand, Blom made a preflop five-bet to $4,500 only to fold to Katchalov’s $7,700 six-bet. With 1,000 hands to go, Blom’s lead slipped to $26,350.
Katchalov’s diligent efforts to make up lost ground came to a sudden halt when the largest pot of the match developed. With each player sitting on about $31,000 Katchalov opened for $300. Blom three-bet to $1,100, Katchalov re-popped to it $2,800, Blom five-bet to $5,450 and Katchalov made the call. The flop came down a very dry J♦3♣2♥. Blom led out for $3,850 and Katchalov called. Blom fired again, making it $5,650 to go when the K♥ came on the turn. Again, Katchalov called. The river was the 9♥ and Blom moved in for his remaining $16,300, Katchalov looking him up. The reveal was downright ugly– Blom’s pocket kings turned a set while Katchalov’s pocket nines rivered an underset. As Blom raked in the $62,500 pot, his overall lead grew to $48,400.
It didn’t take Katchalov too long to rebound with a monster pot of his own. Holding 5♠6♠, Katchalov opened for $300. Blom, holding a modest 4♦6♦ himself, made a light three-bet to $1,100 only to face a $2,800 four-bet. Blom called, the 8♠7♠5♦ flop smacking both players upside the head. Blom hit an eight-high straight while Katchalov flopped an open-ended straight flush draw. All the money went in right there, Katchalov making his flush when the 3♠ hit the turn. The river was the 3♦ and Katchalov took down the $44,300 pot, cutting Blom’s lead to $11,500.
The stacks were nearly even when the match reached its true turning point. On a 8♠4♦3♥ flop, Katchalov five-bet all-in holding pocket jacks and Blom made the call with 8♣10♦ for top pair. Although Katchalov was a 4-1 favorite to win when the money went in, the 8♥ spiked on the river, Blom seizing the $31,500 pot with trip eights. Blom seemed even a bit embarrassed by the win, offering an apology to his opponent in the chat box:
MyRabbiFoo: all good 🙂
From there on out, it was all about Isildur. Katchalov ran back-to-back bluffs on Table 1, but was snapped off both times; in the first pot Blom turned the nut flush and in the second Blom called Katchalov down with top pair. Blom couldn’t seem to lose a pot and by the time they crossed the 2,000-hand mark, he was up $48,500.
Pocket jacks failed Katchalov for the second time in this $22k pot after Blom hit a perfect turn card:
Over on Table 4, Katchalov was felted when he shoved the turn on a K♥Q♦3♥6♠ board holding K♣J♣ only to have Blom snap-call with a set of threes. The 6♥ on the river made Blom a full house and he added another $24,400 to the till. After that hand, Katchalov’s stack auto-reloaded to only $850, indicating that all that remained of his $150,000 challenge bankroll was already on the tables. With Blom deep-stacked on every table ($21k, $38k, $39k, $75k) and Katchalov only deep on one ($47k, $19k, $22k, <$1k) it would be that much more difficult for Katchalov to get unstuck in the last 300 hands.
Over on Table 2, it looked like Katchalov might have finally caught a break, getting his stack in the middle with Q♠Q♥ against Blom’s K♦8♦ on a 8♣7♠7♦ flop, but Blom binked two pair on the turn when the K♥ fell and won the $31,400 pot. Seconds later, Katchalov busted his short stack on Table 4. Katchalov reraised all-in with A♦6♥ preflop and Blom looked him up with 10♦7♦ only to catch a seven on the flop and a ten on the turn. At that point, Table 1 closed so Katchalov could split his stack and rebuy on Tables 2 and 4. Both Katchalov and Blom rebought for fresh $10k stacks on Table 5 and play resumed.
However, all that followed was more bone-crushing pain for Katchalov. Katchalov four-bet his A♣K♥ preflop and Blom called with K♠10♠ only to pair up on the Q♥10♦2♦ flop. Blom check-raised all-in and Katchalov called, needing an ace or a jack to materialize. No such luck, and another buy-in lost, prompting this comment from Daniel Negreanu.
KidPoker (TeamPro): So this Isildur1 kid might be pretty good afterall 🙂
The final nail in the coffin came in the form of a genuine cooler. With Blom holding $70,250 to Katchalov’s $10,600 on Table 2, Blom five-bet shoved preflop with A♥A♦ and Katchalov called with J♦J♥. The board brought no help for Katchalov, Blom finishing the match a $111,750 winner, by far his largest margin of victory in the SuperStar Showdown.
In a bit of post-game chatter, Blom acknowledged just how well he ran. Ever the consummate pro, Katchalov had nothing but kind words for the man who just beat him out of enough money to buy in to the WSOP Main Event for the next decade:
MyRabbiFoo: gg man…u obv played really well
Isildur1: i ran really crazy, if not 8 would come on rivwhen we were even
Isildur1: u would beat me i think
MyRabbiFoo: yea i ran bad couple times :/…but u still played really well, dunno how match would have turned out in other case of course
Isildur1: ty, u2.. yeah..
Isildur1: nice playing with u , gg
MyRabbiFoo: u 2 man…good luck in your future matches!