Galfond Challenge: Galfond Completes Comeback, Defeats 'Venividi1993'
After more than 24,000, the €100/€200 pot-limit Omaha match between Phil Galfond and "Venividi1993" on Run It Once Poker came down to one final session on Sunday. While Galfond found himself on the ropes, several times one lost pot away from being locked into a loss, he found a surge in the final hundred hands, locking in the win with 75 hands to go.
With Galfond up about €12,500, the final hands were folded down. That gave him about €1,200 worth of breathing room. Once down more than €900,000, the victory served as the exclamation point on an incredible comeback. He claimed €100,000 after laying Venividi 2-to-1 on the outcome.
One man's unlikely triumph is another man snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Where it once looked like a question of not if he would win, but how much, Venividi had to accept a truly brutal loss.
Galfond said he's looking to start his next match soon, so keep an eye out for the next development in the Galfond Challenge. He hinted he could begin playing Bill Perkins as early as Tuesday.
Venividi bluffed off a stack in the opening minutes as he called a three-bet and then raised Galfond's small continuation bet on . Galfond called and then called a turn bet and river shove as it ran , . Despite having just , he was good against a zero-equity bluff: .
Galfond then found a beautiful spot on a board of . Both players held the nuts but Venividi could only scoop if a queen hit while Galfond had for a massive redraw. The was just the ticket for him and he retook the overall lead. Another stack went to Galfond as both players hit trip nines but Venividi's queen kicker didn't play against Galfond's king.
Then, they were 150 big blinds deep when Venividi check-raised the turn to get stacks in on . Galfond shoved to get the last €10K in and create a €62K pot, holding for two pair and a heart draw. Venividi wasn't in great shape with for an inferior pair and his own combo draw and he found no help on the river. He found himself stuck €93K at break.
Galfond furthered his edge after the break in two set-ups as he held with top set against a wrap plus flush draw, then he got bottom set in against top two and a straight draw and held there as well. Yet another top set for Galfond on , and this time Venividi stuck it in with only to be turned dead. Suddenly, Galfond was up €145K and six figures overall.
What looked like a potential €200K+ massacre turned around at about the 375-hand mark. The biggest blow came when Venividi saw his flop bet check-raised on . He called, bringing a turn. Galfond potted for €5,611 and Venividi called. On the river, Galfond potted and Venividi shoved about €6K more. Galfond made the crying call with a king-high flush but lost to as Venividi dragged a €63K pot. He continued to crush, and at the next break just under 500 hands, he had reduced the day's deficit to €46K and was almost even overall.
Galfond won simultaneous pots on both tables to right the ship. On one, Venividi barreled off with the nut flush blocker and got snapped off by a king-high flush for €42K. On the other, Venividi check-raised a flop and checked the turn. He called a pot-sized bet of €6,733 and then called an €18K shove on the river. He'd improved to jacks full with , but Galfond had turned the nuts and rivered a sneaky higher boat with .
Stacks were reset with Galfond up just under €100K. They battled through 200 more relatively tamed hands until Venividi fired in the "good game."
In the aftermath, Galfond seemed surprised that he'd built a four buy-in lead overall. However, the famously process-oriented pro said it's far too early to do anything but stay focused on playing his best poker going forward.
"It's exciting to be up for the first time," he said. "But, no celebrating."
Hands Played: 758
Results: Phil Galfond +€121,486.95
Full session video, part 1.
About 70 hands in, Galfond bet €400 in a raised pot on and Venividi attacked the one-third pot bet with €1,390. Galfond came back with €3,381 and Venividi called. Venividi check-called half pot on the turn, bringing a . He snap-called when Galfond shoved just under pot, only to see his flopped eights full had been one-outed as Galfond held for the straight flush.
Despite the insane early highlight, neither player could really gain much of an upper hand. They took turns being up mostly four figures until Venividi won a few pots just before the 300-hand mark that saw him go up about a buy-in.
At about 450 hands in, Galfond moved into a profit when Venividi bluffed off a stack. He barreled off after three-betting as the board ran , with Galfond calling down holding for a rivered straight. Venividi turned top pair on the flop into a bluff with .
Galfond was up about €7,000 going into the final stretch, but Venividi ran like hot fire to close it out. He stacked Galfond on an flop when Galfond flopped nines and deuces and Venividi had a heap of equity with . A ten on the turn sent the pot to Venividi. Venividi was well behind the next time stacks went in as he check-raised a committing amount on with for a gutter, top pair and a flush draw. Galfond had the nuts but a gave Venividi his flush for €42K.
Finally, they got stacks in on with Venividi holding for top two and Galfond for an overpair plus combo draw. Unlike Venividi, just a few hands before, he bricked the river and found himself stuck almost €60K. He got some back in the last few hands and wound up down €34K.
Hands Played: 592
Results: Venividi1993 +€34,580.19
Full session video, part 1.
Galfond got off to a good start over the first 100 hands or so, but then dropped a stack in a hand that wasn't shown on the stream due to technical issues. Galfond got back into the profit when he got the four-bet in with aces and managed to win a flip against Venividi's rundown when the latter flopped a wrap. Galfond then picked up a €48K pot when he called a three-bet and flopped. Venividi bet €2,200 and Galfond called. On the turn, Venividi check-called €4K, bringing a river. Venividi check-called pot this time for €16K but lost to for the turned nuts that improved to a rivered full house. They went to break with Galfond up €34K.
Another huge pot went Galfond's way after break. He called a three-bet pre and then called €2,200 on . The checked through for a river. Venividi potted for €8K and Galfond set him in for €19.6K more. Venividi called with but Galfond had for a full house, good for a €63K pot.
Venividi turned things around as he stacked Galfond in a spot where he had him crushed on a flop. Venividi got a check-raise in to €5,400 in on the flop then checked the turn. Galfond shoved in for just under the pot with for a turned straight, but Venividi had been trapping with .
Another pot over €60K went to Galfond, though, as he called a four-bet preflop and checked a flop. Venividi potted for €10.8K but still had almost €17K back as they started the hand deep. Galfond piled, and he'd cracked aces with for a pot worth almost €66K. He stacked Venividi again with a set of nines against aces up and a flush draw on the turn, and he was up about €14K going to break just past the 500-hand mark.
While that would normally signal a near-at-hand end to the session, the battle would go on quite a bit longer. Galfond went up about €32K, but Venividi turned things around big-time after that, over the final 180 hands. After three-betting preflop, Galfond potted on and opted to go with his despite having just top pair when Venividi potted. It was ahead for the moment against , but Venividi had more equity and hit a ten on the river. Then, each player flopped big on . Galfond had for a pair, flush draw and wrap. Venividi had for a large draw to all nut outs. He hit one on the and suddenly found himself up €10K.
The bloodshed continued for Galfond as he took a beat for stacks on . He got it in on the turn with well the best of it over Venividi's €8K pot bet, holding for aces up against . A king on the river gave Venividi a winning straight.
A final huge pot went to Venividi as he closed out coolering Galfond. On a flop, Galfond checked and faced €803. He raised to €2,206 and Venividi called, bringing a . Galfond potted for €5,611 and Venividi called. The river was an . Galfond potted for nearly all of his money, and Venividi stuck in the last €3,641. Galfond had little choice but to call with his , having turned a set and hit the second nuts on the river. Venividi showed him the , though, and he won a €57K pot.
They quit shortly after with Galfond stuck €78K and once again stuck overall.
Hands Played: 883
Results: Venividi1993 +€78,237.54
Full session video, part 1.
Neither player could gain much of an edge early on, until Galfond went up about a buy-in after getting a pot-sized river bet paid with sixes full of aces about 200 hands in. However, a massive pot swung everything to Venividi when they saw a flop for Galfond's three-bet. Galfond slowed down and check-called half pot. On the turn, Galfond checked and Venividi potted for €7,200. Galfond stuffed for almost all his money, and Venividi stuck the rest in for a €65K pot. Galfond had turned trips with but Venividi had him beat with for a full house. Galfond had outs but missed the river and was suddenly stuck.
Venividi then got lucky to stack Galfond again. On a board of , Venividi potted in position for €1,200 in a small pot. Galfond potted in response and Venividi potted right back. Galfond ended the raising war with a shove, as he held for the nuts. However, Venividi's was good for a full house on the river.
From there, Venividi worked his way to about a €45K win, but Galfond turned things around a little before the 400-hand mark, as they neared 24,000 played. He was only down €10K at the break with 422 hands in the books for the day.
After break, Galfond cracked Venividi's aces, flopping two pair with on . Venividi went with his on the dead board. He turned eights and fours but improved no further. Momentum swung back to Venividi, though, and he went into break up about €16K.
They continued to trade the lead over the following couple of hundred hands without playing any all-in pots. When they were about even, they played one huge hand on a flop. Galfond bet small with one-third pot, Venividi raised, Galfond three-bet and they got it in. Galfond had the best of it with against but had to settle for a chop when they each made king-high straights.
Despite the setback, Galfond was able to close strong enough to book a win just over a buy-in, setting up a finale where Venividi holds a tiny lead of just over €8,100.
Hands Played: 734
Results: Phil Galfond +€23,581.50
Full session video
In the final day of the challenge, things started promisingly for Venividi, as he went up about €15K in the opening few dozen hands. However, Galfond went on a run about 80 hands in and took his own lead of about €20K, punctuated by barreling the river for pot — €8,962 — on . The bet went uncalled and Galfond was up €25K on the session and €17K overall at break.
With 400 hands left, Galfond appeared in prime position to close it out up almost a full buy-in overall still. However, he paid off several rivers around the 375-hand mark and gave the overall lead back. With 268 hands left, Venividi was up almost a full buy-in.
After break, Venividi only came out stronger. He went up as much as €31K and began taking short breaks, presumably to calculate how close he was to being able to fold to victory. Just a few thousand shy, the match continued, and Galfond clawed bit by bit from the brink.
Eventually, the turning tide appeared to convince Venividi it was time to pull out a card nobody had played in the match: a 30-minute break. Galfond confirmed it was within the parameters of their agreement, and they went on break with Venividi up €7,421 and 160 hands left.
Nothing much changed over the next 60 hands, and with 97 hands remaining, a final break was taken so they could reduce to one table, Galfond still trailing by €6,307. Perhaps knowing Venividi was on the defensive and clinging to his lead, Galfond potted several rivers to take down medium-sized pots, ones that nonetheless felt more crucial than the €40K, €50K and €60K pots they'd been fighting over for more than two months.
Galfond edged ahead by a few big blinds with about 85 hands left, and the deciding pot came up shortly after. Galfond raised and Venividi called for a €1,200 pot and a flop. Galfond potted and Venividi check-called. On the turn, Venividi check-called half pot. The river was a . It was clear everything was likely down to this pot, and Galfond confirmed that assessment when he potted river. After awhile in the tank, Venividi called.
Galfond revealed for a flush on the turn and a full house on the river, and he had accrued enough winnings to fold to victory.
In his post-game interview, Galfond revealed that Venividi did have a full house, so he'd gotten very lucky on the river.
Galfond admitted he expected the match to be decided far earlier than it actually happened, so he hadn't prepared for the nailbiting scenario that played out.
“Honestly until maybe 300 hands left, 400 hands left, my goal was to just play the best poker that I could and not necessarily do anything too crazy as an adjustment to the weird situation other than to adjust to what I think he was doing.
"It was pretty ridiculous."
Hands Played: 698
Results: Phil Galfond +€9,843.25
Full session video