Phil Galfond Issues Heads-Up Online Poker Challenge to Other Pros

  • Famed pro and PLO expert Galfond hopes to generate publicity for his new Run It Once poker site
  • Multimillionaire high-stakes player and philanthropist Bill Perkins among first to respond
  • Challenge evokes style of several others in last decade, including ill-fated Durrrr Challenge
Phil Galfond’s heads-up challenge will try to breathe a second life into the briefly popular online poker “challenge” format. [Image: runitonce.eu]

Run It Once founder seeks promotional buzz

Phil Galfond, once one of online poker’s most feared professionals and more recently the founder and driving force behind online site Run It Once (RIO) Poker, has issued a high-stakes heads-up “Galfond Challenge” to most of the online poker world.

hopes to generate buzz for his new site while offering a serious battle for the game’s top players

In the Galfond Challenge, posted on Galfond’s RIO blog, he hopes to generate buzz for his new site while offering a serious battle for the game’s top players. Galfond, who referred to himself as a “washed-up ex-pro”, hopes to play challenges of at least $100/$200 per hand, and preferably at pot-limit Omaha (PLO), his favorite game.

The feared Galfond posted that he would prefer $100/$200 to $300/$600 PLO, but that he might consider stakes as low as $25/$50 if necessary, which doesn’t seem likely. He will also consider formats mixing PLO with traditional hold’em and, in his words, “perhaps even straight NL (no-limit) if I get desperate enough!”

Such desperation seems unlikely. In just a few hours after he posted the details of his open challenge, Galfond reported an enthusiastic response:

Perkins among 11 players responding

Galfond did not name all 11 players who responded, but he hoped to share as many details as possible as the challenges were confirmed. One of those close to locking in a challenge was known to be Bill Perkins, the multimillionaire hedge fund manager who dabbles in super-high-roller poker events.

Perkins and Galfond negotiated publicly on Twitter before quickly settling on most terms. The two are still dickering on matters such as a freezeout-style cap on the number of allowable buy-ins, the odds Perkins will receive (Galfond is acknowledged as the more accomplished player), and promotional opportunities for Perkins’s upcoming philanthropic-themed book, Die With Zero.

The two appear close to a deal to launch their challenge, with Galfond saying:

Hopefully we can figure something out and give the viewers what they want!”

Galfond Challenge echoes earlier online publicity

Galfond also acknowledged that, while this challenge was designed to promote his Run It Once site, it bore some resemblance to “the infamous Durrrr challenge”.

The high-profile battle between feared superstars Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Daniel “Jungleman” Cates drew thousands of online viewers. It fizzled out after Cates jumped to a large early lead and has since remained officially incomplete for a decade.

The Galfond Challenge is the priciest such online-poker challenge since the Durrrr-Jungleman fiasco. However, as Galfond laid it out, it contains two challenges in one.

In the first, he’s offered challenge terms to self-described professional PLO coaches. This challenge is therefor designed to pit the pro PLO coaching on Galfond’s RIO site against the skills of PLO teachers working for other training sites.

The second and more open challenge is technically open to all players. It’s the one to which Perkins responded, and where the games and terms are far more negotiable. Galfond himself acknowledged that most of his challenge responses are likely to fall into this second category.