Phil Galfond Run It Once

Phil Galfond Down €750,000 to VeniVidi1993 in Galfond Challenge

Look, I don’t typically make a habit of feeling bad when people of means lose money, but oh man, I am starting to get a little queasy watching the way the Galfond Challenge has gone down so far. Phil Galfond, former “washed up poker pro,” as he put it, and founder of the Run It Once online poker room, is getting his ass handed to him so hard by VeniVidi1993 that you have to wonder how much ass he even has left. We’re in The Simpsons, “Stop, stop, he’s already dead!” territory at this point. After just 13 sessions and 8,675 hands, Galfond is down nearly €750,000.

I guess if we want to take the optimistic angle, we could say that VeniVidi1993 is up three-quarters of a million Euro. I mean, he is a human being, presumably with family and friends and a life worth living, so I suppose we should feel happy for him right now.

Run It OnceStill a long road ahead

The two are playing €100/€200 Pot-Limit Omaha, two tables at once. The match began January 22nd and is scheduled to go on for 25,000 hands in total. They have been averaging 667 hands per day.

At the end of the 25,000 hands, the person who finished in the black also wins the sidebet. In this match, Galfond is putting up €200,000 versus VeniVidi1993’s €100,000. Thus, not only is Galfond €750,000 in the hole right now, but he’s also likely to be on the hook for another €200,000.

You have to wonder if Galfond is thinking about pulling the plug on this initial challenge at some point. How much deeper does he want to dig? At the same time, he could feel like his luck is bound to turn around at some point, so even if a full recovery to profitability is unlikely (then again, who knows?), he could still try to win a few hundred thousand back, since he’s probably going to be out the sidebet, anyway.

If a player does quit, he loses the sidebet.

One of Friday’s most painful hands had to have been one before the session’s first break. Galfond was already down €119,000 on the day and was all-in for about €23,000 with a flop of 8-4-Q. He had great hole card: J-T-Q-Q with Q-T suited. Top pair, a gut-shot straight draw, and a backdoor flush draw. VeniVidi1993 had 4-5-7-Q double-suited (which didn’t matter in the end), giving him two pair, a gut-shot straight draw, and a worse flush draw than Galfond.

The turn was a 6 of hearts, giving VeniVidi1993 a straight and putting that flush draw out there. The river was a non-heart Ten, giving the hand to VeniVidi1993. Galfond had top set and VeniVidi1993 hit his gutter. Painful.

Galfond dealing with it

It can’t be easy for Galfond to take beating after beating. It’s not like he’s playing competitive Overwatch and all that happens is that his rank goes down. He’s losing serious money. I’m not one of those people who watches the proceedings and thinks Galfond is terrible or is out of his league. This is not a criticism of him at all – he’s clearly running horribly, even if, perhaps, VeniVidi1993 is better than him at Pot-Limit Omaha. It’s just interesting to watch it happen and put oneself in Galfond’s shoes, even if it might be hard for most of us to imagine what it’s like to lose high-six figure sums.

For his part, Phil Galfond is quite self-ware. On January 30th, when he was down about €400,000, he told his followers on Twitter to not be worried about him, that he knows he’s in the shit and that he just needs to reset his goals and try to do his best moving forward.

Early Thursday morning, he talked about when a poker player needs to evaluate their own skill and “ask yourself if you should be playing in the games you’re playing in.”

Galfond added that he “can’t remember a time” when he didn’t question his abilities compared to his opponents and he has certainly asked himself if he can beat VeniVidi1993.

He said that no matter if he is an underdog to VeniVidi1993 or a favorite, he is obviously running at the bottom of expectations. And if he only knew the results, it would be pretty apparent that he’s a sizable underdog. But if he didn’t know the results, he would think he’s a favorite. Galfond admits, though:

Since I do know the results, I have to ask myself how confident I am in that opinion, and how it compares to how strongly the data is suggesting otherwise.

Galfond went on to say that he does feel like he’s playing better (Friday’s quarter-million dollar loss had yet to come). He also admitted that it would be hard for him to just hang it up, as he would auto-lose the sidebet and Run It Once would lose a great marketing effort.

Galfond closed his message saying that no matter how tough it is, “I absolutely love this shit.”


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