ActionFreak Cuts Into Phil Galfond’s Lead in Latest Heads-Up Challenge

  • Challenge moved from Run It Once to partypoker to help ActionFreak with depositing funds
  • ActionFreak has reduced his deficit from €416k to €247k in last two days
  • First six-figure pots of Galfond Challenge have occurred this week
Online poker player with chips coming out of computer monitor
Though Phil Galfond is up €247k in his heads-up challenge against ActionFreak, his opponent has made up €170k the last two days. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Tale of two poker rooms

Ioannis “ActionFreak” Kontonatsios has made a run against Phil Galfond this week in their heads-up challenge, cutting Galfond’s lead to €246,513 ($266,230) after two successful sessions. Entering the week, Galfond was up €416,443 ($449,767) after just four days of play.

The two men are squaring off in €150/€300 ($162/$324) Pot-Limit Omaha, 50% higher stakes than Galfond played against VeniVidi1993. This is a shorter challenge than Galfond’s series against VeniVidi1993; it will end after just 15,000 hands, compared to 25,000 for the previous one. The player that ends up in the black at the end of the challenge will win a €150,000 ($162,003) sidebet from the other.

the challenge moved to partypoker for Monday and Tuesday’s sessions

The first four sessions, which started in late April, took place on Run It Once, the online poker room founded by Galfond. Because ActionFreak had trouble moving money around the site, however, the challenge moved to partypoker for Monday and Tuesday’s sessions.

Though the currency is in USD on partypoker, the players are treating it as Euro to make record-keeping easier. The change of venue proved quite beneficial for ActionFreak.

Higher stakes, larger pots

Session 5 of the challenge on Monday, May 4 was all ActionFreak. He started off hot, grabbing several large pots, and though Galfond was able to make some hay of his own to not let things get out of hand, he was never really in control. ActionFreak was up by an estimated €50,000 ($54,001) after an hour (live hand tracking is not available on partypoker, so exact counts are not posted until after the session).

After a break, ActionFreak flopped a straight to win a pot of about €97,000 ($104,762) but shortly thereafter, the first six-figure pot of the Galfond Challenge was produced. With the board reading T-6♣-8♠, Galfond check-raised and ActionFreak called, making the pot €21,596 ($23,324).

The 5 was dealt on the turn, but Galfond eased back, making a small bet, only about a third of the pot. ActionFreak, though, raised pot to €42,976 ($46,415). Galfond tanked before finally moving all-in for his remaining €40,047 ($43,252) and ActionFreak called the little extra.

Galfond had J♦-7-T♠-T for top set, but ActionFreak had 5♠-9♠-7♠-4 for a straight. Galfond couldn’t improve on the river and a €115,943 ($125,221) pot was shipped to ActionFreak.

Galfond recovered, getting a bit lucky with a flush-over-flush on one hand and then a timely river on another. ActionFreak finished the session with a €95,304 ($102,930) profit.

There were more six-figure pots the next day, featuring one in which Galfond got caught bluffing on a board that showed all three face cards. He had nothing but a pair of Tens in his hand, while ActionFreak had flopped a set of Jacks and turned a King-high straight.

ActionFreak ended Tuesday’s action up another €74,626 ($80,598), paring his deficit from over €400k to less than a quarter-million in just two days.

Phil Galfond is busy

The challenge against ActionFreak will take a break on Wednesday, but Phil Galfond will not. He is going one-on-one against Dan “Jungleman” Cates in a one-day “mini Galfond Challenge.” The two will play 750 hands of €100/€200 ($108/$216) Pot-Limit Omaha on Run It Once. The loser will have to post a video detailing how the winner is both a better poker player and a better person.

Cates and Galfond will have their full challenge against each other later this year.

At the same time he is competing against ActionFreak, Phil Galfond is also engaged in a heads-up challenge against high stakes amateur poker player, Bill Perkins. Perkins has a busy schedule, so even though they began on April 14, they have only played two sessions. Galfond is ahead by $90,144.

one of the top poker stories of 2020

Galfond’s first challenge will go down as one of the top poker stories of 2020. Down €900,240 ($972,277) after 15 sessions, Galfond took a break to rethink things. He decided to continue and went on a tear, coming all the way back to win on the final day.