Live streamed on Run It Once Poker’s Twitch channel, more than 23,000 poker enthusiasts around the globe tuned into the final session of high stakes professional Phil Galfond against online opponent ‘VeniVidi1993’ last Sunday. The exciting battle which ensued the past few months was dramatically close with the three-time WSOP bracelet winner initially set back a €900,000 (~US$ 985,473) loss and eventually secured a €1,472 victory in the PLO showdown.
“I did not think we were going to get under 300 hands with it still being anybody’s game. It was ridiculous,” said Galfond in an interview with Twitch commentators Joe Ingram, Joe Stapleton, and David Tuchman moments after securing the win.
He later posted on Twitter, “Over the past 15 years, I’ve played poker in a number of high-pressure situations. Nothing came close to feeling as intense as today did. I’m overwhelmed, exhausted, and most of all, grateful. There are so many people to thank that I don’t know where to begin.”
Farah is VERY excited that I’m finally having a drink with her. Cheers, everyone. pic.twitter.com/pW1rYg7Daj
— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) April 13, 2020
The 25,000 hand match posted a side bet of €200K : €100K between the players with Galfond having to pay an extra €200K if he was to fall behind VeniVidi1993. The incredible comeback began after Galfond’s requested break back in February to recuperate while paying a €3,000 penalty for every missed session. The poker icon immediately cut two thirds of his €900k loss after a few sessions with 7,500 hands left to go.
In spite of Galfond’s recorded first lead of the match with fewer than 3,000 hands remaining, the tough opponent to beat, VeniVidi1993 kept his lead by the final session with the prior down for a mere €8,171 at this point. As the match’s end crept closer, the two poker combatants battled tirelessly in an attempt to take control and land the final win. At one point, Galfond led by more than €15,000 but fell behind again midway through the day.
The normally aggressive player, VeniVidi1993 appeared to shift to a defensive strategy as 243 hands remained in play and with a €30,910 lead, a decent pot away from being able to just fold his way to victory. This change allowed Galfond to slowly chip up winning small pots here and there minimizing his deficit to only €6,307.92 after crossing the 100-hands-to-go threshold. Resuming play after a short break, Galfond continued to take down enough small pots to take a small lead, hopeful to end his first challenge as the winner.
“Until maybe 300 hands left, my goal was to just play the best poker that I could and not necessarily do anything too crazy as an adjustment to the weird situation, other than to adjust to what I think he was doing,” he said.
Sealing the Deal
The 24,927th hand of the match began with Galfond raising on the button to €600 with Q10108. Receiving a call from opponent VeniVidi1993, the two saw a flop of J94 giving the Run It Once founder an open ended straight flush draw. VeniVidi1993 checked and Galfond made a pot-sized bet of €1,199 resulting in a call for the turn. A big pot was brewing and everyone anticipated the results of this crucial hand.
The turn came 4 which ultimately paired the board and a third diamond making a possible flush. VeniVidi1993 checked again and Galfond fired a half-pot bet of €1,798.50. Another call was received and the river 10 completed the board, giving Galfond a boat. VeniVidi1993 checks for the third time, enabling Galfond to confidently fire a pot-sized bet of €7,194. VeniVidi1993 eventually makes the call to lose the hand against his opponent’s full house, tens over fours. While VeniVidi1993’s hole cards were not shown on the stream, Galfond later revealed that VeniVidi1993 showed down a weaker full house.
— Farah Galfond (@Farah_Galfond) April 12, 2020
By winning that hand, Galfond took a €12,371 lead letting him run out his victory by folding each of the 73 hands left in the match. An overall profit of €1,671 after 25,000 hands was recorded, sealing the deal for Galfond as the winner of the first match in the Galfond Challenge series.
Soon after, Galfond posted a few remarks for his opponent on Twitter, “Thank you to VeniVidi1993 for being a fierce competitor, honorable, super easy to schedule and work with, a great sport, and an awesome dude. We’ve already talked about this privately but you have all of my respect and I’m rooting for you vs. the rest of the world.”
With an incredible comeback in poker history, Galfond sets himself to continuously prepare for his second match in the Galfond Challenge series. On his Twitter profile, he added “We’ll be moving on to the next #GalfondChallenge this week.” while eyeing Bill Perkins as his next opponent.