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Taxman eyes Swedish online poker star

Taxman eyes Swedish online poker star

Published: 13 Jan 2011 17:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Jan 2011 17:09 GMT+01:00

A Swedish high-stakes poker player has made his identity public after successfully playing under online moniker for over a year, and may now risk a hefty Swedish tax bill.

Isildur1, who took the poker world by storm after winning millions of dollars, then losing and winning millions of dollars again in the 12 biggest pots in online poker history against some of the game's biggest names, is Viktor Blom.

Blom knew the end of his anonymity was near when he signed with Team PokerStars Pro, which belongs to the largest online poker cardroom in the world, in December 2010, still as Isildur1 at the time.

In the end, Blom decided to make his identity public on Saturday at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure tournament in the Bahamas.

The 20-year-old from Ed in western Sweden near the Norwegian border is the youngest of four children and now lives in London. His older brother Sebastian also plays poker and recently won a Swedish Championships title online, Aftonbladet reported.

Blom began playing poker when he was 14.

"In the beginning, it was just for fun," he told PokerStarsBlog.com of his early games with his friends.

By the age of 18, he was playing 15 hours a day online.

"I deposited $2,000 (14,000 kronor) and within three weeks, I had $2 million," he told PokerStarsBlog.com.

Not long after, he attracted attention with his extremely aggressive and fearless style of play. It was a perfect complement for Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em, in which he is probably among the best players in the world, and he started to rack up millions of dollars under the Isildur1 moniker.

However, learned the hard way that it is far easier to lose than win millions and lost $3.2 million after a week of play against Phil Ivey, widely regarded as one of the best all-round players in the world, in November 2009.

He followed up this loss by taking on Finnish player Patrik Antonius in Omaha, a game in which he lacked experience. He lost $3 million to Antonius after only one day of play, which at the time was the largest single day gain and loss in the history of online poker. The following day, he won $2 million back from Antonius.

Less than a month later, Blom lost $4.2 million in five hours against Brian Hastings, although it was later discovered that Hastings and two other players had colluded with one another and compiled over 30,000 hands of Isildur1's plays. Blom later lost a further $1.5 million against Hastings in another session.

At the height of the intense scrutiny after his public became public, Blom has declined all interview requests.

"I had some rough days. But I'm not worried. I know I can always win money," he told PokerStarsBlog.com.

Besides his new found fame, Blom may also have to contend with the long arm of Swedish tax authorities.

Last week financial daily Dagens Industri reported that the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) announced it was going to look into internet poker companies which claim to be based overseas but nevertheless have much of their operations based in Sweden.

According to calculations done by the newspaper, Blom could owe up to 1 billion kronor ($149 million) in Swedish taxes.

However, the tax authorities refused to confirm or deny whether Blom was in their sights.

"Internet poker is something we're looking into and I know this poker player, but I can't comment on whether we've opened a case," tax agency spokesperson Erik Boman told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:01 January 13, 2011 by pantheratigris
$149 million??????? They must be kidding or do they tax losses, too? I doubt this guy ever made that much money to be taxed $149 million. From the article you get the impression he has been losing mostly at least when it comes to the biggest pots.
00:12 January 14, 2011 by landofthesheeple
I would like to donate 1 item to Skatteverkett...

The middle finger : ) lol
00:56 January 14, 2011 by Swedesmith
They'll take the arm along with it.
10:02 January 14, 2011 by Localer
holycrap, an hour game 1 million ? now i should star to play poker
12:40 January 14, 2011 by Carl T
@pantheratigris (sorry to hear about the cub, BTW): As I recall, they want to tax the gross winnings, without any regard to the cost of entering the game. So if you spend 2000 SEK to enter but walk away with just 1000, they still want 300 or so of that. As much as I view gambling as a tax on stupidity (or poor risk assessment, anyway), that's just insane. The sane thing would be to tax only the net winnings, and considering that you may lose some games/days/years and win others it would be sensible not only to base the tax on the yearly net winnings but also to make it a lot lower than your normal income tax (but conversely to make losses non-tax-deductible).
15:06 January 14, 2011 by dobermann
This kind of people is the best examplew why alot of people have online gambling addiction, because they think, that they can be second Viktor Blom or something. This article clearly shows how this guy manages to win and loose a lot of money in a very short times.

I agree with landofthesheeple , skatteverkett should get middle finger and maybe some of his money, but definetly not 149 M $
16:07 January 14, 2011 by alingsaskev
I have run a business in Sweden for 3 years, and let me assure you.. Skatteverket does indeed tax losses. IT's the craziest tax system I have ever come across!
16:36 January 14, 2011 by Antonito
If someone has skills for cleaning and earns 105 kr per hour, he/she pays around 30% to the tax office.

If someone has skills for playing poker and earns 14 million krones in three weeks, he/she should also pay taxes (at least 30%).

The skatteverkett stablished high taxes are out of discussion here. That is not the point.
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