Phil Galfond On a Possible Poker Armageddon

February 26th, 2018 | by Brian Corlisse

High stakes pro Phil Galfond has been drawn into the ongoing PokerStars rake debate between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk.

Phil Galfond

Phil Galfond has given his thoughts on the ongoing debate regarding PokerStars and its ever-changing dynamics. (Image: YouTube/Phil Galfond)

Known as one of the more measured pros in the game, Galfond often commands an audience whenever he makes a move and that’s certainly true of his latest blog post. Picking up on the long-running disagreement between Negreanu and Polk, Galfond has given his opinion on PokerStars’ 2016 rake increase.

The debate surrounding the changes at PokerStars became public when Negreanu suggested that it would help the ecosystem for low stakes player. At the time, Polk took umbrage both to the increase and Negreanu’s decision to endorse it.

Polk Pokes the Bear

The two pros have since gone back-and-forth on the issue ever since, with the latest debate playing out over Twitter in early 2017. For a while things appeared to be resolved, but Polk went on the offensive recently on Joe Ingram’s podcast

“He laid a couch and talked about why the games with higher rake will be better. He can try and semantics it up what he exactly said, but the bottom line is, he said that if there’s more rake there’s not the regs and so the games are better. That was one of the most insane shill-fests I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Polk said on the February 10 podcast.

Negreanu has since responded, but the argument has also piqued the interest of Galfond. In a blog post titled The Discussion on Higher Rake that Nobody is Having, Galfond gives his take on the changes at PokerStars over the last two years and what it means for the industry as a whole.

The Doomsday Scenario for Poker

The extended article starts off with Galfond defending Negreanu’s integrity and quashing any ideas that his recent comments are controversial. The respected pro then goes on to outline his views on how PokerStars is morphing into a “poker-themed” casino by increasing rake and adding high variance, low edge games such as Power Up.

In one scenario, these changes could lead to “poker’s Armageddon” if players seeking an authentic poker experience are left without alternative options. However, Galfond also believes there is another possible endgame where the industry divides into two parts.

On one side of the divide, PokerStars continues to thrive through a combination of recreational players and casino fans. On the other side, the likes of partypoker and Galfond’s soon-to-launch Run It Once (RIO) poker site will become a haven for those wanting reasonable playing conditions.

“There will always be millions of us looking to play true, authentic, beatable poker. If PokerStars ceases to meet that demand, somebody will,” Galfond wrote on RIO.

For Galfond, the second scenario is the most desirable, but for this to happen other sites will have to establish themselves as viable alternatives to PokerStars. For its part, partypoker is currently working with established pros such as Isaac Haxton to make this a reality, while Galfond is hoping RIO can also become a pro-friendly platform.


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