Coming off of one of the most productive World Series of Poker summers of his career, many expected Phil Galfond to be a force at the Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino once again this summer.
After all, why wouldn't one? Few have accomplished as much as Galfond has in the poker world. He has conquered high-stakes cash, being a long-running participant in some of the biggest games in poker history online. He has proven his tournament chops with a pair of bracelet wins and more than $2.3 million in cashes despite the focus for most of his career being on cash games.
And last year, he admitted to PokerNews that the nosebleed games aren't as profitable as they once were for him.
But Galfond has been a ghost at the WSOP this summer, and it's for good reason. He's back where he feels most at home, grinding it out in high-stakes cash games.
"I like playing tournaments," he said on break from the $10,000 2-7 Triple Draw Championship. "But there have just been a ton of cash games around the clock."
The games Galfond refers to have been going down mostly at ARIA. There, he and a number of other unnamed players with either plenty of money or plenty of backers have been playing what Galfond called an 8-game big-bet mix. Unlike traditional 8-game, which involves a slew of limit games and two big-bet games, this particular mix is all no-limit and pot-limit games.
That's right in the wheelhouse of Galfond, who made his name crushing no-limit hold'em and pot-limit Omaha online. He said these particular games are going off with no cap and blinds of $300/$600 with a $600 ante or $500/$1,000 with a $1,000 ante depending on the game. A typical buy-in is $100,000, and the game has been running "a lot" this summer.
How has Galfond been doing in the games?
"This week as not great, but it's a very good year overall and a good summer overall," he said.
So that, combined with a few sessions at Bellagio in big mixed games that have populated the Twitter of Doyle Brunson, has kept Galfond from firing in a single WSOP event until he showed up for the 2-7 Triple Draw Championship.
Perhaps he had the tournament itch, or perhaps he just needed to book some side action to make sure he has good reason to miss the big cash games. Galfond put out the call on Twitter to book what he called "10/10/10" side bets.
For those unfamiliar, such a wager simply means booking against another player in the tournament for $10,000 each to cash, final table, and win. He wouldn't reveal how much action he booked exactly, but did say he got a few bets locked in.
"Not as much as I would like, but I got some," he said with a smile.
Triple draw is a game Galfond enjoys and one he particularly enjoys in the tournament format compared to some other games because it's six-handed. Given that, it's telling that he still needed to book the side action.
"Not so much motivation for playing, but motivation for playing well," he said of his reasoning. "I worry that after playing a lot of big cash games, I would show up and not focus, and I wanted to make sure I focus."
This comes on the heels of a summer in which Galfond was a regular presence at the Rio, firing a pile of $10Ks and having plenty of success. In addition to collecting his second bracelet with a win in the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw Championship, he had in-the-money finishes of 16th, 30th, and fourth in other $10K events.
For a similar run to be in the offing, Galfond would have to show up and run deep in nearly all of his remaining events, as he has a light schedule planned with four more tournaments at the most. And that's only if he does step away from the big cash games, which he said isn't a given.
"I expect to probably play the $25K PLO and $50K Poker Players' Championship, maybe an 80 percent chance of each," he said. "Then, maybe an 80 percent chance in the One Drop and then the Main Event."
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