Phil Galfond has long been known as one of the brightest young minds in poker, both online under the OMGClayAiken screen name and in live games, where he’s been successful in both cash games and tournaments.
Now, his collection of World Series of Poker bracelets is beginning to reflect his stature in the poker world.
Galfond won his second WSOP gold bracelet on Monday, winning the $10,000 No Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball Championship.
The win, which earned Galfond $224,383, required him to navigate one of the toughest fields of the WSOP season in a game that most poker players will rarely if ever play.
There were only 77 players in the tournament, but almost all of them were top professionals who player every game, specialize in mixed games, or have a particular liking for Deuce-to-Seven Lowball, a staple of high-stakes cash games.
As in many of the offbeat championship events, that meant that there were few soft spots, requiring players to use every bit of skill in their arsenal, stay focused, and get a bit lucky to climb into the money.
Only 14 players would cash, and even the low-end cashes read like a who’s who of the poker world: Rep Porter, Mike Watson, George Danzer and Jorryt van Hoof all cashed short of the final table. Bernand Lee and Adam Owen also dropped from the field before Monday’s final session, leaving just six players to compete for the title.
Eli Elezra and Erik Seidel were both still in contention on Monday, but dropped out in sixth and fourth places respectively.
After Dan Smith went out in third place, that left Galfond and Nick Schulman to play heads-up for the bracelet.
Schulman had the chance to accomplish an amazing feat: he had won this same event twice before in 2009 and 2012, establishing himself as one of the top No Limit Deuce-to-Seven players in the world.
But Galfond reversed Schulman’s early chip lead, and after a battle that lasted nearly two hours, Galfond clinched his second career WSOP triumph.
After the tournament, Galfond praised the quality of his opponents, saying that the victory meant a lot due to the fact that he had to play against such tough competition.
“When we were shorthanded, everybody’s so good,” Galfond told WSOP.com. “Normally in tournaments you tend to sort of shy away from spots because there are going to be better situations to get your money in.”
Despite the stacked field, however, Galfond said he was confident in his ability to make a deep run from the beginning.
“In a field this tough, you can’t have a huge edge,” Galfond said. “But I felt pretty good going in and throughout the tournament.”
For those unfamiliar with the game, Deuce-to-Seven Lowball is a game in which players are attempting to make the lowest hand possible, with straights and flushes counting against a player and aces only counting as high. Thus, 2-3-4-5-7 is the best possible hand.
While this tournament was played in the No Limit, Single Draw format, Deuce-to-Seven is also played as a limit game with three draws. This year, the Triple Draw championship was won by Tuan Le, who also won the event last year.
“[Deuce-to-Seven] is probably the purest form of poker that I’m aware of,” said Galfond. “It’s very much a one-zero game where they either have it or they don’t.”