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Phil Galfond Defeats 'ActionFreak' To Win The Second Match In His High-Stakes Poker Challenge

Galfond Secures Wire-To-Wire Win Against Greece's Ioannis Kontonatsios


Phil Galfond has won the second in a series high-stakes heads-up poker matches referred to as the ‘Galfond Challenge’. The three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner was behind for almost the entirety of his first match against ‘VeniVidi1993’, but Galfond managed to overcome more than a €900,000 deficit to eke out a narrow victory during the final session. His second match against Ioannis ‘ActionFreak’ Kontonatsios was ultimately far less dramatic, as Galfond got out to a solid lead with a €310,595 win during the third session of the match and never looked back from there. When the dust settled, Galfond had profited €114,765.66 after 15,011 hands played.

Ioannis ‘ActionFreak’ Kontonatsios, photo credit: WSOP/Antonio AbregoThis match saw the two competitors battling it out at two tables of heads-up pot-limit Omaha, playing with €150-€300 blinds for 15,000 hands. There was an even-money side bet of €150,000 from each of the two players, with the money to be awarded to the player in the lead when the 15,000 hand limit was reached.

Kontonatsios is a nosebleed player from Greece who regularly battles it out in the largest PLO games running online. He got off to a fine start, holding a very slight lead over Galfond after the first 1,062 hands were played over the first two sessions, held on April 27 and 28. The third session that took place a couple of days after that saw Galfond win over 1,000 big blinds over the course of 844 hands. He took down multiple big pots throughout the day, including winning €99,105 when his wrap draw outran the flopped three pair of Kontonatsios. Check out a tweet from Run It Once Poker to see a video of that hand, which was nearly the first six-figure pot of the challenge.

The following day Galfond added another €113,377 over the course of 665 hands played for the fourth session of the match. A few days later Kontonatsios booked a €95,304 win thanks in large part to securing the first six-figure pot won in any Galfond Challenge session. With a board of 10Heart Suit8Spade Suit6Club Suit5Diamond Suit, Galfond had lead out for €7,127 into a pot of $21,596. Kontonatsios raised to €42,976 and after plenty of thought, Galfond moved all-in for €47,173 total. Kontonatsios called with 9Spade Suit7Spade Suit5Spade Suit4Diamond Suit for the flopped ten-high straight. Galfond had JDiamond Suit10Spade Suit10Diamond Suit7Heart Suit for top set and a gutshot straight draw. The QClub Suit was no help to Galfond and the €115,943 pot was shipped to Kontonatsios. Despite that win, Galfond still held more than a €320,000 lead after the first five sessions.

The two players battled back and forth over the next 14 sessions. Kontonatsios kept things close but was unable to close the gap as the finish line neared. Despite a €168,000 win for Kontonatsios in the penultimate session, Galfond was ahead by €237,804 heading into the final 881 hands.

Phil GalfondKontonatsios did manage to cut the lead during the last session, winning €123,000 throughout the final day’s action. His valiant effort was not quite enough, though, and Galfond secured the match victory and the €150,000 side bet in addition to the €114,765.66 in profit he earned throughout the showdown.

“I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t finish stronger, but I’m happy to walk away from a very tough match with the win,” said Galfond in a Tweet after securing the victory.

Galfond has arranged the terms of six matches in total, with a likely seventh to be played against Luke ‘FullFlush1’, although final details have not yet been confirmed for that match. He has already started a third match with Bill Perkins, but the two have only played two sessions so far and have not clashed in over a month.

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