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Galfond Challenge: Galfond Announces Suspension of Match

Phil Galfond is nearing a €1 million loss against "Venividi1993".

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As the Galfond Challenge headed into its third full week, things kicked off with a Sunday session, the 15th of the heads-up pot-limit Omaha match between Run It Once Poker founder Phil Galfond and mystery challenger "Venividi1993".

Coming into the week stuck just shy of €800,000 across a little more than 9,000 hands, Galfond was looking to turn things around at least a little bit. Any decent win would serve to both eat into his losses and give hope to his legions of fans.

However, Venividi fed him another dose of six-figure losses on Sunday, running his win to more than €900,000 over the course of 9,927 of the planned 25,000 hands. That leaves Galfond on pace to lose about just short of €2.5 million when factoring in the side bet in which he laid Venividi 2-to-1.

SEE ALSO: PLO Poker: A Beginner's Guide to Pot-Limit Omaha

Day 15

About 50 hands into the 15th session, Galfond found a dream spot to get his money in as he raised a turn bet from Venividi on {4-Spades}{10-Hearts}{8-Clubs}{2-Hearts}. Venividi responded by potting almost all in and Galfond decided to play for stacks with {a-Hearts}{8-Hearts}{j-Clubs}{2-Diamonds} for two pair and the nut flush draw. Venividi was in rough shape with {q-Clubs}{j-Diamonds}{10-Clubs}{9-Clubs} for a wrap and a pair, and Galfond filled up on the river for a €60K pot.

After peaking around +€60,000, Galfond shipped back a stack when he turned nines full of jacks, only for Venividi to check-call with trips, fill up on the river, and check-call Galfond's shove. Venividi grabbed another stack on a nasty beat when they got in on a board of {j-Spades}{10-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}{8-Clubs} with Galfond holding the nuts and Venividi {a-Diamonds}{a-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}{q-Spades}. He found a king on the river and they went to break about square.

Galfond regained his lead with a hero call on a completed board of {6-Spades}{j-Spades}{5-Hearts}{2-Spades}{q-Spades}. He potted river in position for €7,300 and Venividi shoved for Galfond's last €22K. Galfond used most of his time then called with an eight-high flush, with Venividi showing {a-Diamonds}{k-Spades}{j-Diamonds}{3-Clubs} for a bluff.

Galfond got back up about €60K but Venividi worked his way back into the black when each player flopped a set and the board ran out paired. Venividi check-raised all in with his kings full and Galfond couldn't find a fold with tens full. Venividi stacked Galfond again with top set against an overpair and a straight draw to go into the last break a €66K winner.

Venividi finished strong as well. He picked off an all-in bluff for a pot of €50K with trip kings on a board of {k-Hearts}{3-Hearts}{k-Diamonds}{4-Spades}{a-Spades} as Galfond shoved with {8-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}{4-Hearts}{3-Spades}. Galfond recovered one stack check-raising all in with {6-Spades}{5-Spades}{5-Spades}{3-Clubs} on {4-Spades}{4-Hearts}{3-Hearts}{6-Hearts}{3-Spades}. Venividi called with {k-Hearts}{2-Hearts}{2-Spades}{6-Diamonds} but still booked another very solid six-figure win moments later.

Hands Played: 659
Results: Venividi1993 +€102,593.34
Full session video

Match Suspended

A planned session for Tuesday was canceled, leaving many to wonder about the fate of the match. Galfond himself said on Twitter that he's still loving what he's doing and he has plenty of reason to continue to play Venividi despite the grim results so far.

Tuesday evening, Galfond confirmed some fans' fears as he announced a suspension of the match with Venividi. Here's what he had to say:

As I mentioned in my last downswing post, a big consideration during any downswing is when it's time to give up and play elsewhere, as is figuring out when it's time to take a break and regroup.

Up until a few days ago, I was very proud of the way I'd handled a very unfortunate run. I think that I played well and remained as level-headed as can be expected.

After a seemingly endless string of losing days, I managed to find a winning one. I won €88K over a session where I felt great about my play (which had been true for some losing days as well. I got a taste of the downswing ending, and I was excited about the future.

That was followed by my biggest loss yet — €268K. I felt some tilt during that session, but managed to play my B game. Again, I was proud of myself considering the circumstances. The last two days, unfortunately, I can't say the same thing. In my last couple of sessions, I could tell that I'd 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.

I was playing scared. I was expecting to lose. I simply couldn't get my brain to work properly. The most difficult thing about an extended downswing isn't the loss of money — it's the loss of hope. It's the gap between the result and your expectations, and how it changes your vision of your poker future. For example, I've lost €900K, but when comparing my expectation for how this year would go to my new expectations, I've lost much more. For some people, they question whether or not they'll be able to ever win again.

I'd kept my composure through loss after loss, focusing just on playing the best I could. When I experienced a winning day, I started to believe in my high hopes about the future of the challenge. (Remember from my last post, right or wrong, I'd felt like I had an edge and that things were reasonably likely to turn around). Afterwards, I was quickly and forcefully shown that it wasn't going to happen.

I lost that hope, and it was replaced by depression. I'm proud of the way I kept it together for so long, but I found my mind's limit.

I've experienced downswings of this size before, but this is the first time that one has begun precisely as I kicked off a high stakes, public challenge that I was incredibly excited about. I don't really know whether it was the gained and lost hope, fatigue from day after day of intense poker and study, or something else, but I know that I've become unable to play my A or B game.

Regardless of where we stood at the start of the match, I'm confident that my C game a big underdog to Venividi's A game (I think we can all agree on that :)), and I don't believe I can realistically expect to get back to playing my best soon.

I took my one allotted day off yesterday to think things over. I've been seriously considering throwing in the towel on this first challenge, accepting defeat, and taking a break to reset my mind before heading into the next ones. The idea feels awful to me, but so does continuing to play poorly against a really good opponent.

What I've decided to do for now is to see if I can get my head on straight before making a big decision like that. Venividi and I only had six more challenge sessions this month, ending on the 19th, due to travel plans (I planned to play part of another challenge at the end of the month, which I still hope to do.) I'm going to pay the predetermined penalties to not play these sessions (roughly €3K/day).

Once I can get my brain working again after a little bit of recovery, I'll decide whether I feel ready to continue on March 1, or if it's time to regroup and move on to another challenge.

I've had a session win/loss record of 1-12-2 over these first 15 days of play. I know it was been hard for some of you to watch! 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.

Thanks to everyone who's been a part of the challenge and to everyone who's been watching, creating content, and talking about the match. I'm sorry for the little break in the action here, but I promise that either way, there will be plenty of challenge play ahead.

Follow along with all the latest on the Galfond Challenge.

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  • The third full week of the Galfond Challenge has the longtime high-stakes hero off to a rough start.

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