High-Stakes Challenge Poised for Explosive Finish As Phil Galfond Fights Back

April 6th, 2020 | by Jason Reynolds

The comeback is not only on but close to a reality for Phil Galfond in his high-stakes heads-up challenge.

Phil Galfond

Phil Galfond’s impressive comeback against VeniVidi1993 saw him briefly take the lead as their match draws to a close. (Image: Bluff Europe)

The American pro has been fighting to overturn a deficit of almost $1 million since March 4. After starting badly and taking a two-week hiatus, Galfond has been on a rush.

The latest bout of action saw the Run It Once owner edge into the lead before falling back to a minor deficit.

April 2 Brings Breakthrough for Phil Galfond

The major turning point in the match occurred on April 2. With VeniVidi1993 on the ropes, Galfond jumped to a small lead. Although fleeting, the resurgence has left the challenge balanced on a knife edge.

As of April 6, the pair had played 21,339 of their scheduled 25,000 hands. VeniVidi1993 has a $43,264 lead with just under 4,000 hands left to play. Should the match stay like that, he would take his profit, plus an additional $214,000 from side bets.

However, with blinds at €100/€200 ($105/$210) and stacks starting at $21,000, a few buy-ins will swing the match.

For Galfond, losing the challenge would be more of a blow than dropping a six-figure sum. Indeed, over the course of his poker career, he’s lost in excess of $100,000 on various occasions.

However, the sting of losing a challenge he devised could have further implications down the line. With a murders’ row of contenders, including Phil Ivey, waiting in the wings, Galfond needs to start strong.

Galfond Ready to Run It More than Once

Given how the match has played out to this point, he’ll likely be confident moving forward. Even if he loses, his comeback against the odds proves he’s a strong player.

While few can argue against what Galfond achieved online in the mid-noughties, some have said he’s no longer able to cut it. British pro Luke Schwartz was the most notable critic of Galfond.

During the early stages of the challenge, he took aim at his American counterpart, claiming that today’s online pros are too advanced. There may be some truth to that, but Galfond is certainly putting up a fight.

With the average session lasting around 600 hands, the homestretch is in sight. If Galfond can continue playing the way he has over the last two weeks, he may just prove the doubters wrong and beat VeniVidi1993.


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