In what can only be described as the most dramatic match in poker history, Phil Galfond completed an epic comeback against VeniVidi1993 on Easter in their heads-up pot-limit omaha “Galfond Challenge”, winning a 100,000 euro sidebet.
Galfond, who was down €900,000 after the first 15 sessions of the challenge, clinched the match on the 24,927th hand by rivering a full house to beat VeniVidi’s worse full house. His wife, Farah, watched from the next room and posted her reaction to Twitter.
VeniVidi, a European player whose name has not been made public, is a high-stakes crusher who was the first to accept Galfond’s challenge to play him heads up, two tables at a time, for €100-€200 stakes over 25,000 hands with a €20,000 buy-in. After their 15th session in mid-February, Galfond took a two-week break from their match, at the cost of a €3,000 penalty for each day of delay. Galfond contemplated quitting the challenge and forfeiting the €200,000 side bet, which would have left him €1.1M (more than $1.2M) in the hole. Instead he reset, studied and resumed the match. He made up ground immediately with a €183,000 win on March 4.
Coming into yesterday, Galfond was just €8,000 down. However, VeniVidi appeared to be on the verge of clinching the match several times. He took a €31,000 lead with about 250 hands to go, putting Galfond at risk of losing at any moment, and even Galfond’s wife thought it was over.
But Galfond battled back, even though VeniVidi took a passive strategy and tried to keep the pots small. He took the lead with 110 hands left after flopping a straight.
When asked if he played his “A” game Galfond said, “No, B+.”
“Today was very much about looking at every showdown and see everything he was doing and what kind of strategy he was employing and what to do to counter that,” Galfond said on Twitch stream to 24,000 viewers.
Galfond is one of the most respected and beloved players in the game, and he made his name during the online poker boom of the 2003-20l1. He was a regular in the nosebleed games called “Rail Heaven” on Full Tilt Poker, where he played under the screen name “OMGClayAiken”. He also appeared on televised games such as “High Stakes Poker” and has $2.9M in live tournament cashes. His challenge, issued as a tool to promote his site Run It Once, was the first of its kind in the poker world since Tom “Durrrr” Dwan offered a similar match in 2009. Dwan notably barred Galfond from competing. His match against Dan “Jungleman” Cates started in August 2010 and has not yet finished, with Cates up $1.3M.