Phil Galfond in Nearly $1 Million Hole, Taking Break From Galfond Challenge

  • Not even halfway through first challenge, Galfond down €900,240.17 ($978,871.65)
  • Admitted on Twitter that losses are getting to him, head isn’t clear
  • Will pause Challenge for rest of February, paying penalty to VeniVidi1993
  • Hopes to continue in March, but might resign and move on to next match
poker player holding head in hands after losing game
Phil Galfond announced that after losses amounting to almost $1 million, he is stepping back from the Galfond Challenge until March. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Just two winning sessions in three weeks

Stuck in a downward spiral from day one, poker pro Phil Galfond has decided to take a break from his initial Galfond Challenge match for the rest of February. It is not yet determined if he will continue with the contest against VeniVidi1993 in March.

Galfond is currently €900,240.17 ($978,871.65) in the hole after just 15 sessions. He and VeniVidi1993 are playing two tables of €100/€200 Pot-Limit Omaha at Run It Once, the online poker room that Galfond launched a year ago. The competition is to last for 25,000 hands or until someone quits, whichever comes first.

Whoever comes out on top keeps their winnings and wins the side bet. For the side bet, Galfond has put up €200,000 ($217,469) versus VeniVidi’s €100,000 ($108,734.50).

The two men have played nearly 10,000 hands so far.

Losses kept snowballing

In a Twitter post on Tuesday, Galfond said that after his horrendous run, he needs to “step back to do some thinking.”

He said after “a seemingly endless string of losing days,” he was encouraged when he had a solid winning session on February 6. Any good feelings, though, came crashing down when he had his worst session the next day, losing €267,949.70 ($291,353.77) to VeniVidi. Galfond kept losing the next two days to get to where he is now.

I couldn’t seem to gather my thoughts coherently, or to make reads like I normally do”

“I could tell that I abandoned my gameplan for plays that felt better (emotionally), and I couldn’t seem to gather my thoughts coherently, or to make reads like I normally do,” Galfond admitted.

Galfond has reached his “mind’s limit”

Galfond explained that he got to the point where he was “playing scared” and “expecting to lose.” And while losing so much money is awful, he said it’s not the biggest issue for him right now.

“The most difficult thing about an extended downswing isn’t the loss of money – it’s the loss of hope,” he revealed. “It’s the gap between the result and your expectations, and how it changes your vision of your poker future.”

For some people, Galfond said, it can result in questioning whether or not they can even win anymore.

He added that he has had significant losing streaks before, but not this publicly, and not in a venture he was so enthusiastic about. The air has come out of his balloon. For whatever reason, be it fatigue or emotions, Galfond realized he wasn’t even able to come up with a “B” game, let alone an “A” game. And a “C” game wasn’t going to be good enough against VeniVidi.

Time for a breather

Galfond took the day off on Monday to think things over. He is considering giving up and sacrificing the side bet, but he said that would “feel awful.” So would continuing to nosedive, though.

The two players had just six more sessions scheduled this month, so Galfond has decided not to play in any of them and take a break for the rest of February. As a penalty, he must pay VeniVidi €3,000 ($3,262.03) for each day missed.

there’s a chance I’ll have to just take the loss”

The plan from here is for Galfond to get his mind right and re-evaluate his situation. He wants to pick the challenge back up on March 1, but he admitted he might decide it is time to bow out and move on to the next challenge.

“I hope I feel prepared to come back and put on a good show for you all, but I know that realistically, as much as I don’t want to, there’s a chance I’ll have to just take the loss.”