Phil Galfond Beats VeniVidi1993 in Epic Challenge Comeback

  • Made €9,843.25 on Sunday to win overall challenge by €1,671.58
  • Victory also earned him €100,000 side bet
  • Clinched challenge with 75 hands remaining, folded the rest of the way
  • Was down €900,240.17 overall on February 9
poker chips and two Aces on red felt background
Phil Galfond came back from a €900k deficit to clinch the victory over VeniVidi1993 in the Galfond Challenge on Easter Sunday. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Small profit earned Galfond huge side bet

Phil Galfond won his first match in the Galfond Challenge Sunday, completing a comeback from a €900,240.17 ($984,484.65) deficit to beat VeniVidi1993. After 25,001 hands, he profited a mere €1,671.58 ($1,828.01) in the €100/€200 ($109.36/$218.72) Pot-Limit Omaha marathon.

Had he lost, Galfond would have been on the hook for €200,000

The importance of the win was amplified because of the side bet in play. By coming out on top, Galfond, the founder of the challenge’s host poker room Run It Once Poker, won an additional €100,000 ($109,358.00) from VeniVidi1993. Had he lost, Galfond would have been on the hook for €200,000 ($218,716.00).

On Twitter, Galfond thanked his opponent, calling him “a fierce competitor, honorable, super easy to schedule and work with, a great sport, and an awesome dude.”

Galfond said he hopes to start the next challenge against Bill Perkins and “The Thirst Lounge” as early as Tuesday. The schedule is not set yet.

Down to the wire

Galfond briefly took the lead in the challenge on April 2, but still ended up down after the day ended. He finally took the lead at the end of a session on April 6 after profiting €121,486.95 ($132,855.70).

VeniVidi1993 won the next two sessions to take the lead back. After winning on Friday, Galfond was €8,171.67 ($8,936.37) in the hole heading into what was assuredly the final day. The two players were playing to 25,000 hands and needed just 698 hands to reach that mark. They averaged about 641 hands per session.

Galfond fell behind about €34,000 ($37,181.72) in total about halfway through Sunday’s action but powered back to take the lead. The climax of the match occurred with just 75 hands remaining and Galfond up €1,780.08 ($1,946.66) overall.

Galfond put in a 3x big blind raise pre-flop and VeniVidi1993 called. On the flop of 4c-Jd-9d, Galfond bet the pot and VeniVidi1993 called. The turn produced the 4d, putting a possible flush and full house on the board.

Galfond bet half the pot and VeniVidi1993 called once again. The Ts came on the river, causing Galfond to bet the pot. After going into his time back, VeniVidi1993 called. Galfond showed Tc-Td-Qs-8d for a rivered full house, Tens over Fours. The computer pushed him the pot as VeniVidi1993 mucked.

That pot put Galfond ahead €12,571.08 ($13,747.48) overall. Because there were now just 74 hands remaining, he could fold the rest of the way and still win.

It was later revealed that VeniVidi1993 had a lesser full house of Fours over Nines.

Galfond was down and almost out

Two months ago, Phil Galfond’s victory looked all but impossible. He was doing so poorly that he took a break from the challenge when he was down €900,240.17. In a long message on Twitter, he said he had gotten to the point where he

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

Galfond needed time to rethink his challenge against VeniVidi1993 and consider whether or not it was wise to continue. He wasn’t sure if he was on the downswing of a lifetime or if he was just outmatched. Had Galfond quit, he not only would have lost all that money, but he also would have owed his opponent the €200,000 side bet.

Galfond eventually decided to continue and the challenge resumed in early March.