Fernando “JNandez” Habegger Pulls Out of $1 Million Galfond Challenge

December 18th, 2019 | by Jason Reynolds

The formidable reputation of Phil Galfond appears to be alive and well following the news that JNandez has backed out of their much-anticipated showdown.

Fernando Habegger

Fernando Habegger aka JNandez has pulled out of his highly anticipated heads-up showdown with online poker legend Phil Galfond. (Image: Jackpothd)

After the high stakes pro issued a heads-up challenge in November, the man known offline as Fernando Habegger was quick to accept.

Sensing an opportunity to claim the scalp of a legend, he agreed to play 50,000 hands against Galfond.

Another Million Dollar Challenge

As per the rules of engagement, the matches would take place on Run It Once (Galfond’s site) and the stakes would be $100/$200 or higher. Anyone except trainers for Run It Once could take part and challengers could choose either No Limit Hold’em or Pot Limit Omaha.

The player in profit at the end of the challenge would be declared the winner. And, if anyone was down $400,000 at any point, they would lose by default.

Confident, JNandez was the second person to accept after Bill Perkins. Playing to his strengths, the online coach opted for 50,000 hands of PLO.

Given that he set the challenge, Galfond was willing to offer JNandez 5-1 odds. That meant he stood to lose $1 million if Habegger won but collect $200,000 if he triumphed.

The match-up captured the attention of the masses, not least because it was seen as a battle of old school online poker vs. new school. However, after contemplating the challenge, JNandez has decided discretion is the better part of valor.

In a tweet, he apologized to his fans but said he was no longer interested. The decision to back down comes after advice from his backers and a better appreciate of the task at hand.

The news quickly spread through the online poker community and drew criticism from a number of players.

JNandez Receives Backlash

Aside from the perceived dishonor in reneging on the agreement, phrases such as “coward” have been thrown around.

“I like JNandez in general, but this is next level coward and excuse,” Zivilist09 wrote on 2+2.

“I’d love to hear the long list of reasons the top 5 HUPLO players gave him for why they wouldn’t take 5:1,” wrote riverboatking.

This isn’t the first time Habegger has made the news for less than positive reasons. In 2018, he became embroiled in a feud with the founder of Upswing Poker, Doug Polk.

After signing on to create PLO content for the training platform, Habegger quit and launched his own site. Around the same time, he was also accused of not paying a debt for services rendered to forum member horseofhell.

The fallout called into question Habegger’s practices but not his skills at the poker table. Despite his issues with certain members of the community, he’s still regarded as an excellent PLO player.

However, it seems the thought of taking on Galfond is a little too much for him to handle. Or, it could simply be that Galfond’s challenge is as doomed as the one Tom Dwan never managed to finish.


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