After Two-Week Break, Phil Galfond Resumes Galfond Challenge

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Phil Galfond
Phil Galfond will resume his Galfond Challenge match against 'VeniVidi1993,' following a two-week break from play (photo: WPT)

“I’m gonna keep playing.”

Those were the words that Phil Galfond posted on Run It Once’s website regarding the ‘Galfond Challenge‘ against ‘VeniVidi1993,’ with the post coming just more than two weeks after Galfond suspended the match. That was it. Short and sweet.

Although he is an extremely busy man these days, Galfond took some time to sit down with PocketFives ahead of the restart against ‘VeniVidi1993,’ which comes on Wednesday, March 4.

“First, I spent some time with family and took a short poker break,” Galfond said of what he’s been doing to regroup. “For the last week or two, I’ve been practicing, mostly in $25-50 heads-up Zoom pools, against tough competition.”

Galfond and ‘VeniVidi1993’ are slated to play 25,000 hands of heads-up €100-€200 Pot Limit Omaha on Run It Once Poker. Through 9,927 hands of play, Galfond is down more than €900,000 to his opponent. While that’s an astronomical sum to many, it’s a downswing that Galfond has experienced before.

“In terms of absolute dollar value, it’s not anywhere near my biggest [downswing], as I used to play 3-5 times these stakes regularly,” Galfond told PocketFives. “In terms of buy-ins, I think it’s getting up there, but to be honest I don’t know. I’ve jumped around games and stakes so much during my career that I never kept track of a downswing in terms of buy-ins. I suppose that might mean I haven’t had too many bad ones!”

In the time off, Galfond has been able to do a lot of thinking on the current challenge, and he’s thought about where he would like it to go. As things stand, Galfond is down more than 45 buy-ins to ‘VeniVidi1993’ and all signs point to him losing the additional €200,000 side bet he put up against the €100,000 of ‘VeniVidi1993.’ As the match goes forward, Galfond’s task is focused on cutting into the deficit some now that he’s regrouped.

“I’d like to end around minus €400,000,” Galfond said. “Obviously, that’s ambitious and there’s a lot out of my control, so I’ll try to focus on playing my best and keeping my mindset strong.”

Throughout the play against ‘VeniVidi1993,’ Galfond has received a ton of support from the poker community. Galfond is certainly viewed as the hero by almost everyone watching.

“It has felt great, but to be honest I would much rather they support and rally behind Run It Once Poker than me!” Galfond said. “I’ve played poker for a decade and a half. I’ve been through plenty of downswings and I’m going to be just fine no matter the outcome of these challenges. What we’re trying to do with Run It Once is much more important than my short-term results at the tables.”

Despite the hit, Galfond’s bankroll has taken from battling with ‘VeniVidi1993,’ he said the challenge has been performing well on the promotional and marketing side as it pertains to Run It Once Poker.

“It’s been great for Run It Once so far,” Galfond said. “We’ve got a lot of momentum building in these last few months and traffic has been getting better and better. I’m hopeful that with the challenge continuing, so will the trend. More traffic leads to better experiences for our players, which leads to more traffic, and so on. I’m rooting for that as much as or more than myself in these challenges.”

Starting with Wednesday’s session, the Galfond Challenge against ‘VeniVidi1993’ is back on. After it’s complete, Galfond has a handful of other challengers lined up, including Bill Perkins, Brandon Adams, Chance Kornuth, Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, and high-stakes online poker player ‘ActionFreak.’ There is even a challenge match on the table against Luke Schwartz, who has been quite vocal on social media, calling Galfond a “washed up nice guy” and saying that “it’s clearly time to wave the white flag” about Galfond playing against ‘VeniVidi1993.’ Galfond said that he plans to play Schwartz as part of the Galfond Challenge, but that the details haven’t been ironed out yet. Galfond said the match is likely to take place after the 2020 World Series of Poker.

Although the challenge against ‘VeniVidi1993’ hasn’t gone in his favor, Galfond said that the toughness he has faced has only helped him and should put him in a better position for future challenge matches.

“A difficult challenge like this to start has accelerated my learning curve, so I think that balances out the negatives (feeling less confident after losing so consistently),” Galfond said.