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Phil Galfond Wins High-Stakes Poker Challenge Against VeniVidi1993 In Photo Finish

Three-Time WSOP Bracelet Winner Overcomes €900,000+ Deficit To Secure A €1,472 Victory In the PLO Showdown


Phil Galfond has won the first of seven confirmed high-stakes online poker cash game ‘Galfond Challenges’ in dramatic fashion, securing a last-second, come-from-behind victory against his first opponent, known only by his screen name ‘VeniVedi1993.’

The three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner just eked out the victory, ending with €1,472.08 in profit after the 25,000-hand showdown. The narrow margin was still enough for him to secure the €100,000 side bet that his opponent posted. If Galfond had lost, he would have had to pay out €200,000, making for a dramatic final session with a €300,000 swing hanging over both competitors.

Phil Galfond“I did not think we were going to get under 300 hands with it still being anybody’s game. It was ridiculous,” said Galfond in an interview with commentator Joe Stapleton moments after securing the win. He later added on Twitter, “Over the past 15 years, I’ve played poker in a number of high-pressure situations. Nothing came close to feeling as intense as today did. I’m overwhelmed, exhausted, and most of all, grateful.”

The two played their final session of €100-€200 pot-limit Omaha at two heads-up tables while as many as 23,500 viewers watched the live streaming broadcast on the Twitch channel of Run It Once Poker, the online poker site owned by Galfond that will host all of the Galfond Challenge matches.

While he ultimately came out on top, Galfond was behind for the vast majority of the challenge. In fact, he was down more than €900,000 after playing just the first 15 sessions. The rough start prompted him to take an extended break for several weeks, costing him a few thousand dollars in penalties per missed session.

When the action resumed, Galfond managed to engineer a comeback which culminated in him taking his first lead of the match with fewer than 3,000 hands remaining.

Coming into the 39th and final session of the showdown, Galfond was down €8,171 with 24,302 hands played and just 698 remaining. The two poker combatants kicked off on the morning of Sunday, April 12.

The two players had a complex meta-game to consider, with the finite amount of hands to be played impacting their approach. Galfond was able to take the lead early in the session but fell behind again midway through the day. There were multiple points in the final day’s action that VeniVidi came within a few thousand dollars of being able to mathematically secure a victory by folding every remaining hand.

The two players took a short break with 243 hands remaining. At that time VeniVidi1993 held a €30,910 lead and was incredibly close to sealing the deal, as a €36,450 advantage at that point would make it possible to fold to victory. Galfond was on the verge of defeat, and his wife Farah Galfond took to Twitter around that time to share her fears about how things stood.

VeniVidi1993 appeared to adopt a defensive strategy as the end of the challenge drew nearer, trying to protect the lead with the end in sight. The shift in approach for the normally aggressive player opened the door for Galfond to methodically claw his way back into contention.

2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure champion Galen Hall was among the tens of thousands of people sweating the action, and noted just how tense the proceedings had gotten as the end of the challenge grew steadily close.

By the time the two players took a short break with just 97 hands remaining, Galfond was down only €6,307.92 Play resumed with just one table in action as opposed to the typical two, a shift that was agreed upon ahead of time by the competitors for the final hundred or so hands.

In the first 24 hands of single-table action, Galfond was able to string together a few hands, winning enough small pots to take a slight lead before the decisive hand of the challenge was dealt.

The 24,927th hand of the challenge began with Galfond raising to €600. VeniVidi1993 called from the big blind and the two saw a flop of JDiamond Suit9Diamond Suit4Club Suit. VeniVidi1993 checked and Galfond made a pot-sized bet of €1,199. VeniVidi1993 made the call and the 4Diamond Suit paired the board and made a flush possible. VeniVidi1993 checked again and Galfond fired a half-pot bet of €1,798.50. VeniVidi1993 called again and the 10Spade Suit completed the board.

VeniVidi1993 checked a third time and Galfond made a pot-sized bet of €7,194. VeniVidi1993 thought it over for a while before making the call, only to muck when Galfond showed QSpade Suit10Club Suit10Diamond Suit8Diamond Suit for a rivered full house, tens over fours.

Galfond had flopped a wrap draw and an open-ended straight-flush draw, and made a flush on the turn. While VeniVidi1993’s hole cards were not shown on the broadcast, Galfond was able to see what he showed down at the table. In his postgame interview, Galfond said that he had rivered the best hand against VeniVidi1993, who also had a full house.

With that pot Galfond took a lead of more than €12,300 and was able to run out his victory by folding each and every hand for the remainder of the challenge. The two took a brief break to confirm that fact before completing the formality. VeniVidi1993 won the last 73 hands, but ultimately ended up losing by just over 7 big blinds after 25,000 hands played.

Farah Galfond posted her emotional response to the hand of the match, recorded in real-time while it played out.

With this match now in the books, Galfond will begin to prepare for the next of the seven challenges that have been confirmed. On Twitter, Galfond said that “We’ll be moving on to the next #GalfondChallenge this week.” Below is a look at all seven challenges, and the details regarding stakes and side bets.

Opponent Stakes Game Sidebet Hands
Bill Perkins & Thirst Lounge Streamers €100-€200 PLO $800K:$200K 50,000
Brandon Adams €100-€200 PLO €150K:€100K 40 Hours Of live Poker
Chance Kornuth €100-€200 PLO €1M:€250K 35,000
Dan Cates €100-€200 PLO TBD 7,500
“ActionFreak” €150-€300 PLO €150K:€150K 15,000
“VeniVidi1993” €100-€200 PLO €200K:€100K 25,000
Luke Schwartz €1,000-€2,000 8-Game TBD TBD


over 1 year ago

It's fake, the public is not that dumb, we know this was a scripted match to promote Phil's website.