The History of Poker—The Players—Early Online Era Legends



The online poker boom allowed people to play poker from anywhere and at any time. Instead of worrying about being held at gunpoint like former poker legends, these players had to deal with different problems. Here are the stories of three young legends from the online era.


Like most players from the online era, not much is known about Tom Dwan's early life. We know he was born in New Jersey and attended Boston University but dropped out after his first year at the school.

While he started his online poker career with only a $50 bankroll and went on to win millions of dollars playing on sites like Full Tilt Poker under the "durr" screen name. His online poker career started around 2007 and was a crazy journey of ups and downs. For example, he won $5.41 million in 2008 and suffered a downswing—losing up to $7 million—the next year.

Dwan became well-known for high-stakes online power games against the era's best players like Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and most notably, Viktor Blom.

Even though he made most of his poker income online, he didn’t shy away from live poker. He hasn’t won the WSOP Main Event yet, he has various cashes in the tournament and a sizable record of live cash games and TV show appearances.


The Finnish player, Illari Sahamies, seemed to be born to compete. He played his first poker game at the age of 15 but didn't make his "professional debut" until the age of 18 when he made his first visit to a local casino in Helsinki, Finland. Although he did well on the live poker scene, most of his winnings came from online poker.

Known for his trash-talking and reckless gameplay, he became one of the most widely followed online poker players during the late 2000s. Additionally, his appearances on shows like Poker After Dark made him a celebrated poker player too. His screen name Ziigmund became one to watch out for, as he was often known to play drunk and make reckless moves against some of the most established poker players in the world.


One of the reasons why Tom Dwan suffered that massive downswing in 2009 was Viktor Blom, better known by his screen name as "Islidur1". In a high-stakes multi-table heads-up battle against Dwan, Blom won approximately $4 million. However, Dwan wasn't the only professional player Blom challenged. He also played and won against some of the greatest like Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius.

Born in September 1990, he was only 18 years old when he beat Dwan, but the Swedish online poker player had fallen in love with poker much earlier. He learned the game by playing heads-up against his brother at first and later, his friends at school. Over time he realized he had a natural talent for the game and decided to give online poker a chance.

Initially, he and his brother shared an account, but he soon started playing under the screen name "Blom90". Over the next few years, he built an impressive bankroll of over $275,000 but lost most of it. He came back stronger from the loss and ended up making all of it (and more) back, with his total winnings reaching millions.

Around this point, he started playing on Full Tilt Poker under the "Islidur1" screen name and was soon facing off in online nosebleed matches against the best of the best. Unfortunately, while swings were common in his career, he suffered the most enormous single-day loss in online poker to date, losing $4.2 million in five hours to Brian Hastings.

It was later discovered Hastings had conspired with other poker players to get access to Blom's hand history at Full Tilt Poker. Hastings lost his sponsorship with Full Tilt Poker, but the results would remain. For the next few months, Blom seemed to have disappeared from the online poker scene.

He eventually came back and is currently active in both the live and online poker scenes, and his legendary story of rising and falling in the late 2000s have become part of online poker lore.


As poker kept getting more popular, it started being represented in various media such as movies and TV shows. Some of these shows became extremely popular and pushed the players to mainstream celebrity status. Yep, there’s an article on that too.