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Tanking Dispute Causes High-Stakes Poker Match To Change Formats

The $100-$200 PLO Match Between Brandon Adams And Phil Galfond Switched From Live To Online Poker After Adams Was Unhappy With Galfond's End-Game Tactics

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The latest match in the Galfond Challenge series was forced to switch formats after a dispute over excessive tanking arose between the two contestants.

High-stakes legend Phil Galfond, the architect several heads-up challenges, was in the midst of battling fellow poker pro Brandon Adams for 40 hours of $100-$200 heads-up pot-limit Omaha in a live setting when Adams raised concerns over Galfond’s use of his time bank.

Of the seven heads-up matches Galfond set up, his battle against Adams was the only one that was scheduled to take place on the live felt. The rest were all online matches. There was a side bet of Galfond’s $400,000 to Adams’ $100,000.

Adams tweeted Thursday afternoon that the two were in an argument over Galfond’s use of his time bank.

In subsequent tweets, it was revealed that there was a 15-second time bank for preflop decisions and 30-second time banks for postflop decisions. There were eight 60-second time extensions per day.

Galfond argued that these time banks were put in place “so there was no ambiguity about end-game scenarios” like the one they were encountering. He also said that Adams was using max time banks when it fit into his own strategy.

Adams claimed that using the maximum amount of time preflop to memorize all four of his hole cards. Once the initial claims were finished being aired out, the debate settled into what should be allowed for the remainder of the match.

“The entire original purpose of the match was fun for players and viewers via likely streaming,” wrote Adams in a text message to Galfond of which the screenshot was posted on Twitter. “Clock milking, which would go on the entire match if accepted, because it is always in one player’s benefit, would obviously make the match unwatchable and completely uninteresting, so the concept was always absurd.”

Brandon AdamsIn later tweets that further explained his disdain for the stalling, Adams said that the original plan was to play the entire match on PokerGO.

Several other top poker pros weighed in on the situation, including Dan Smith, Max Silver, Isaac Haxton and Mike McDonald. The initial reaction from most was to just convert the time remaining to a number of hands, but Galfond felt that this was somewhat unfair.

The Maryland native and online poker site owner said that he would’ve expected Adams to play slower down the stretch with a lead and he would not have protested. Thus, he believed he was getting freerolled.

Eventually, Galfond agreed to play a set number of hands set by Silver and Haxton. The two arbitrators said that there should be 338 hands remaining in the challenge and the match resumed. Over the next 102 hands, Adams cut into the lead and was only down $16,500.

At the end of the session, however, both Galfond and Adams agreed that the match quickly resembled tournament poker and was no longer fun for either participant.

They agreed to forgo the rest of the live match and start a 10,000-hand challenge online, which started Friday afternoon on WSOP.com. The side bet is still on the table for the winner of the online portion.

Before starting the latest challenge, Galfond was 3-0 in his previous online matches. He mounted an epic €900,000 comeback against ‘VeniVidi1993,’ defeated Ioannis ‘ActionFreak’ Kontonatsios, and forced Chance Kornuth into a concession in his third match. All of his matches thus far have been high-stakes heads-up pot-limit Omaha.

Along with the $16,500 he won off Adams through the first part of this match, Galfond netted about $850,000 plus the three side bets he captured.

Below is a look at all seven challenges and the details regarding stakes and side bets:

Opponent Stakes Game Sidebet Hands Result
Bill Perkins & Thirst Lounge Streamers $100-$200 PLO $800K:$200K 50,000 TBD
Brandon Adams $100-$200 PLO $400K:$100K 40 Hours Of live Poker (Now 10,000 Hands Of Online Poker) TBD
Chance Kornuth $100-$200 PLO $1M:$250K 35,000 Galfond Victory ($726,500 profit)
Dan Cates €100-€200 PLO TBD 7,500 TBD
ActionFreak €150-€300 PLO €150K:€150K 15,000 Galfond Victory (€114,765.66 profit)
VeniVidi1993 €100-€200 PLO €200K:€100K 25,000 Galfond Victory (€1,472.08 profit)
Luke Schwartz €1,000-€2,000 8-Game TBD TBD TBD