It was back in January when Tom "durrrr" Dwan issued his million-dollar challenged to the world. Yes, almost nine whole months ago.
It was in an interview I conducted for Bluff Magazine when Dwan first said: “I’m making this heads-up challenge to the world. Anyone can accept. Four tables, minimum of $200/$400, and I’ll put up $1.5 million to their $500,000. We play 50,000 hands minimum and if they end up a dollar after rake they keep the side money or whatever. So basically, if you and I played and you won a dollar, you would get my $1.5 million and if I won a dollar I would win your $500,000.
So I’m giving a million dollars free if anyone thinks they can do it.”
It didn't take long for the fans and forums to start buzzing with potential scenarios, outcomes and results, and we quickly learned that not only did Dwan have a challenger, but it was rumored that three individuals, Phil Ivey, David Benyamine and Patrik Antonius all gladly accepted the proposal.
It was official, the hype was in place and the first match with Patrik started in February with the poker world on edge waiting to see how this massive challenge would play out. Well, unfortunately we're still waiting and still wondering with no clear end in sight. It's now been eight months since Dwan first issued the challenge, and it's safe to pose the question: "Is this challenge a huge letdown? Will it ever pick up steam and live up to the hype?"
It's safe to say, for me at least, that to date it has been a huge bust. The sessions are few and far between and nothing significant ever happens to maintain the momentum. The sessions have been interesting when they have played, but the lack of continuity breaks up any flow — or reason to care for that matter. The two combatants have plenty of time to reassess the situation and are able to recover from their losses by their everyday grind in the nose-bleed Full Tilt action against other opponents. It's hard for either player to be concerned about a $200,000 swing against one another when they're winning close to a million against others.
If this was the match we were all anticipating, with several sessions a week, it's fairly safe to say the duel would have been epic. We'd be given the opportunity to see how these foes dealt with their emotions and the fatigue of battling day in and day out, and what adjustments they made from session to session. Would Patrik have been able to recover from the huge beating Dwan put on him back on June 19th if there had not been a two-month hiatus?
To add to the questions, what happens to the other challengers waiting in the wings? If the match with Antonius ever ends, will Dwan still be willing to take on Phil Ivey? Is Ivey even still interested now that he is prepping for the biggest final table of his career with the WSOP Main Event?
This match could have been such an amazing spectacle had it played out as anticipated, and now it's looking more and more like it will be an afterthought unless the participants make a few modifications to the rules.
Here are three suggestions I propose to spice things up a bit and give poker fans something to get excited about again:
- Hold a minimum of three sessions per week. Three sessions per week are enough to create some continuity and flow to the match. Players will have less time to recover from losses and will have to focus on getting back into a strong mindset to be successful. Strategies will have to be adjusted on the fly, and fans of the game will start seeing why these players are among the best in the world.
- Set a minimum of four-hour sessions. Again, this is a way to create momentum and excitement. How will Antonius or durrrr handle dropping $200k in the opening 20 minutes of a session? Playing from behind is tough for anyone, even these superstars, and four-hour sessions would provide an interesting back-and-forth that would be great for fans.
- Hold a mandatory blog and press session once a week. Yes, I know, this is a virtually ridiculous request, but I'll make it anyway. What fun would the NFL be without mandatory press conferences after the game? We'd be stuck with nothing to talk about if the players and coaches were silent between games. If fans were able to gain insight as to what the guys were thinking, the match explodes in visibility and exposure. Just imagine the rivalry it would create if Patrik called Dwan a donkey for making a hero call for a $200K pot.
The durrrr challenge has or had the potential to become the most legendary challenge in the history of online poker and may even rank up there with some of the great live duels between Johnny Moss and Nick the Greek that most of us were too young to witness. However, if it continues at its current pace, the challenge will surely be nothing but a huge waste of time. Sure, it's up to them as to how and when they want to play this thing out, but if you've gone as far as to offer a challenge to the world, making sure to hype it to the public and media, why not give us something to actually get excited about?