Phil Galfond Challenge Update: Comeback King Bidding to Become Poker Legend

March 30th, 2020 | by Jason Reynolds

The world may be preoccupied with the new coronavirus pandemic, but Phil Galfond has his eye on the prize in his heads-up challenge.

Phil Galfond

Phil Galfond is moving closer to an impressive comeback in his high-stakes match against VeniVidi1993. (Image: Run It Once)

The American has been on a tear since returning from a period of self-isolation and is now within touching distance of his opponent.

With around 19,000 hands of the 25,000-hand showdown played, VeniVidi1993 is just €154,287/$168,800 ahead. Although it’s still a six-figure lead, it will be seen as only “just ahead” given that Galfond was down almost $1 million a few weeks ago.

Time to Reflect Pays Dividends

The comeback started on March 4 after Galfond took a two-week hiatus. With his prospects looking bleak, he self-isolated himself from the competition and took stock of his options. Eventually, he returned and it’s been positive ever since.

From a an initial run that saw him claw back more than $300,000, Galfond’s recent run has moved him closer to even. His biggest winning session in recent days came on March 14. After 664 hands, the Run It Once owner banked just over $140,000 in profit.

However, the sessions have been more sporadic over the last few days and that seems to have helped VeniVidi1993. A $96,653 win on March 22 was enough to keep him in the lead by more than $150,000.

But, given how the current swing has gone, expectations are that Galfond may prove even himself wrong. If he can do that, it would mark one of the most impressive comebacks in high stakes history.

Phil Galfond Playing for Immortality

Prior to the heads-up challenge, Galfond’s reputation was set. He’d won millions playing and now has a number of business interests, including his own poker site. Regardless of that, his desire for competition led to the start of the Galfond Challenge.

VeniVidi1993 was chosen as the first opponent. Despite being a big winner online, his true identity isn’t well-known. What’s more, he’s a representative of online poker’s new generation.

That was a fact Luke Schwartz was quick to point out when Galfond went on a downward spiral. With poker constantly evolving, Schwartz tweeted that Galfond wasn’t able to compete with the game’s new breed.

In much the same way Galfond shook things up when he first appeared online in the early noughties, players like VeniVidi1993 are doing the same now. However, with the comeback on, Galfond could be about to win one for online poker’s old school.

Of course, talent is talent in any era. Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey remain world-class players in spite of the game evolving. But, if Galfond can even get somewhere close to even, he’ll fall into the same bracket. Not only that, he’ll head into his remaining heads-up matches with a ton of confidence.


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