Galfond Challenge: Galfond Hangs On, Defeats 'ActionFreak'
Another victory in the books for Phil Galfond in the ongoing Galfond Challenge, this one coming with far less drama than the first.
After besting one online pot-limit Omaha star in "Venividi1993" in a match that came down to the wire, Galfond leaped what many considered his toughest hurdle, Greek pro Ioannis "ActionFreak" Kontonatsios. The Run It Once founder carried a sizable lead of €237K into the final day of play with less than 1,000 hands remaining, so a €123K loss did nothing but eat into his final profits a bit.
In addition to the €114K he won over the course of the 15,000 hands of €150/€300 pot-limit Omaha, Galfond pocketed €150K from their even-money side bet.
Galfond said he felt there "no real chance" of losing the challenge going into the final day as he had enough cushion to start limping if he dropped a few buy-ins, which was what happened.
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"I had dreams of a much bigger win a few days ago, but all in all, if you told me at the beginning of the challenge that this would be the result, I'd be happy with it," he said.
Galfond declined to compare his two high-level opponents, willing only to call them both "excellent players."
As for the future of the challenges, Galfond said he isn't sure when they'll resume as he plans to return to the U.S. for the time being. He could potentially play Chance Kornuth on WSOP.com but nothing has been locked in.
"There's a lot up in the air," Galfond said.
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Galfond's aces held up in a four-bet pot against top pair and a gutter for the first stack of the day, but it was only enough to get him into a small profit. Likewise the second, which came when ActionFreak three-bet and checked . Galfond piled so they got all in for just under €33K, but ActionFreak was in rough shape with against for bottom two and a combo draw. A turn tightened equities a bit but Galfond rivered a flush that he didn't need.
An €87K pot also went Galfond's way shortly after. ActionFreak three-bet and led half pot on . Galfond put in a small raise to €8,098 and ActionFreak peeled to the turn. The Greek player then led for pot, €21,596, and Galfond shoved for just about €10K more.
ActionFreak turned the nuts with a redraw but it did nothing for him after Galfond filled up on the river.
Awhile later, with Galfond up just over a buy-in, ActionFreak stuck in the five-bet but ran into Galfond's aces. He did manage to flop a flush draw with but bricked out to drop another stack.
ActionFreak finally had something positive happen when he called a three-bet and took a bet-bet-shove line in position on . The shove was for just under €26K into €32K and Galfond snapped it off, having been trapping with , but ActionFreak had flopped an equal straight and hit his freeroll with .
Galfond earned a stack back before break when he rivered jacks full against trip sixes, so he was up about €60K. After break, he managed to induce a bluff shove from ActionFreak by betting river small on . When ActionFreak shoved over the €4,909 into €14,877, Galfond snap-called with aces full and was shown .
Back-to-back four-bet pots saw Galfond win five figures on his own four-bet then crack ActionFreak's aces by shoving into him with a wrap. The heater continued on a flop as ActionFreak's bottom set was busted on the river by Galfond's when he made a straight for €78K.
The strong finish propelled him to one of his best wins, €165K.
Hands Played: 832
Results: Phil Galfond +€165,417.31
Day 16 got started off on a decidedly strange note when stacks went in early on with Galfond pot-calling a board of . He had for top two against for kings with a wrap. Instead of one of the players winning the pot, though, two rivers were dealt, the first a to give ActionFreak a straight and the second a to keep Galfond best.
It seemed an update to partypoker's software had caused the players to be forced to run it twice for the remainder of the challenge.
ActionFreak got the better of the first 90 minutes or so but his momentum was halted on a board of . Galfond called a pot-sized turn bet of €8,098 in position and then shoved the river for €18K into €24K. ActionFreak took a long time tanking before calling with for the flopped nuts only to have Galfond get there with .
A heater followed, including a sizable bluff catch with queens on a paired king-high board where ActionFreak check-potted with a counterfeited two pair. Soon, Galfond was up almost two buy-ins. He continued to win and was up about €80K at break.
Galfond quartered ActionFreak in a four-bet pot where the latter managed to sneak out a chop on one run when he was dominated, then ActionFreak got sneaky, potting turn for €5,399 and checking river on a board of . Galfond potted and ActionFreak check-shoved for €24,899. Galfond decided he couldn't fold and paid it off with , as ActionFreak showed for the nuts.
Galfond then bet half pot for €2,699 on . ActionFreak check-potted for €13,497 after having three-bet it preflop, and Galfond just called to leave ActionFreak with €20K back and €32K in the middle on the turn. ActionFreak shoved, but this time running it twice wouldn't make a difference as he had a dead king-high flush versus the ace-high flush, so Galfond dragged €73,376.
Galfond worked his way to about another €40K in winnings and they wrapped the session with Galfond booking his second straight large win.
Hands Played: 674
Results: Phil Galfond +€179,545.58
ActionFreak was already up about €45K into the match when he won a huge pot on a board of . Galfond potted turn for €8,347 and was called, and he checked the river. ActionFreak tanked and potted, and Galfond in turn used nearly all of his own time. Finally, he called but couldn't beat for a flush.
Following that, medium pot after medium pot kept being pushed to ActionFreak. He had six figures in front of him on both tables, and Galfond was staring at a €100K loss by the time they took a break.
They reset stacks, and ActionFreak earned a big one when he three-bet preflop and bet €2,699 on an flop. Galfond called and ActionFreak fired again for full pot on the . Galfond called again, and ActionFreak shoved the remaining €17,411 on the river. It was just over half the pot, and Galfond looked him up with . ActionFreak wasn't near nutted but his was still the winner thanks to the river counterfeiting Galfond.
More ActionFreak domination followed, and he pushed his way to an estimated €230K win as he again rolled up six figures on both tables.
Galfond staged a late rally to salvage some of his losses. He got a pot-sized river bet of €16K paid with the nut flush on a paired board, and he got another pot-sized bet of €32K through on a completed board of . One final big one saw Galfond pot turn for €10,798 in position on and then pot river when the paired the board. ActionFreak took some thinking time then folded, quitting with a win that roughly matched the previous day's loss moments later.
Hands Played: 730
Results: ActionFreak +€180,074.85
Day 18 started off well for ActionFreak as he found himself with bottom set facing a pot-sized bet from Galfond in a three-bet pot on . Galfond shoved after ActionFreak raised the pot, but his aces were in especially awful shape since ActionFreak had . Two turns and rivers brought nothing for Galfond.
An unfortunate turn card proved costly to Galfond as well when ActionFreak three-bet preflop and barreled off on a board of , shoving river for €19K into €26,887. Galfond looked him up with , having turned a set, but it was no good against for a stronger set.
Despite the setbacks, Galfond won enough pots in between to be sitting around even, and he began running up a profit with an unusual play. He checked with on the board and ActionFreak potted for €4,173. Galfond called then came out betting small with €4,131 on the river. ActionFreak potted to €24,916. Galfond shoved for less than €2,000 more and ActionFreak found a fold.
Another big pile went to Galfond when he three-bet preflop and bet small with €1,781 on . ActionFreak raised to €6,262 and Galfond potted it right back at him. ActionFreak stuck in his €37,069. Galfond was happy to call it off with and his top set was in good shape against . Not a single spade emerged in the four cards that were dealt and Galfond dragged just shy of €80K, which was about his win by the time they took a break.
They played to another break without anything too notable happening, and then Galfond got another pretty dreamy board when he four-bet preflop then fired small with €4,895 on . ActionFreak called then called off the last €17,305 on the turn. He was in awful shape start to finish but had turned some equity with versus Galfond's top set.
Neither river card brought a nine though, and Galfond had a solid win booked about half an hour later.
Hands Played: 842
Results: Phil Galfond +€135,240.32
ActionFreak got very lucky early on when he put in the four-bet only to face a five-bet. He called it, and with €48,599 in the middle, Galfond stuck in the last €10,406 effective. ActionFreak had flopped little but called with . As expected, Galfond showed . Unluckily for him, the first board ran to give ActionFreak a backdoor straight and the second brought a turn to fill his flopped gutter.
Galfond did get a bunch back with a cooler, top set over middle set, but ActionFreak built himself a nice lead with several €20K and €30K pots until he was up about €130K.
ActionFreak's heat continued when he stacked Galfond in a three-bet pot, again flopping a set on with . Galfond had something with his aces as he had but neither runout improved him. Almost right after that, ActionFreak won another €76K pot when he coolered Galfond with top set over middle set. Galfond did have a spade draw for some backup equity but as they got it in on the turn, neither river card filled his draw.
In a €200K hole, Galfond got some back when he won a €53K pot picking off ActionFreak when he tried potting river on with . Galfond held and made the easy call.
With the close of the session looming, ActionFreak three-bet and bet €2,699 on . Galfond called and then potted the turn when checked to for €10,798. ActionFreak called and checked the river. Galfond potted but ActionFreak shoved his €39,446. Despite the amazing price, Galfond conceded the €104K pot.
One final set-over-set cooler — aces over tens — in Galfond's favor allowed him to salvage a stack before they called it a session with ActionFreak ahead €168K.
Hands Played: 818
Results: ActionFreak +€168,060.62
The final day began as auspiciously as possible for Galfond. He called a raise and the players went to the turn for free on . Galfond bet €899 and ActionFreak called. On the river, Galfond potted for €3,598 only to be met with a pot-sized raise to €14,392. Undeterred, Galfond piled for €29,998 effective. ActionFreak reluctantly called it off after some tanking with and ran into the that he feared.
ActionFreak won enough of the other pots that they went to the first break with Galfond only up small. The players were back even when they saw a flop for a single raise, and Galfond bet €1,223. ActionFreak check-raised to €4,025 and Galfond called, bringing a . ActionFreak checked, Galfond bet €4,924, and ActionFreak potted to €24,624 on the double check-raise. Galfond stuck the last few crumbs in and they showed.
It was a cooler but Galfond could wriggle free if he could find clubs or a ten. The rivers were and though, a scoop for ActionFreak.
Another ugly situation unfolded for Galfond when ActionFreak three-bet and barreled off , shoving for just under the €26,887 pot on the end. Galfond called with and had ActionFreak's coolered on the flop only for ActionFreak to find a bigger set on the river to win the €78K pot.
With around 400 hands remaining, ActionFreak three-bet and bet €1,781 on the flop. Galfond called, then called a bigger bet of €7,050 into €8,962 on the turn. ActionFreak potted the river for nearly all of his money, but Galfond picked him off with a strong bluff catcher, for top two and straight blockers. ActionFreak showed .
Needing to rally, ActionFreak did get a lucky scoop after they got in a raising war on . It was a flip with ActionFreak's against but ActionFreak filled up on both runouts to win the €60K pot. A cooler followed with ActionFreak's top boat stacking Galfond's second-best full on the river and suddenly the sweat was on with ActionFreak only down a little over €100K and about 300 hands left.
With the finish line in sight, Galfond could have folded to the win as he did in his match with "Venividi1993." However, he opted to keep playing somewhat normally while introducing some preflop limps into his game to keep the pot sizes a bit smaller.
ActionFreak pushed hard, as he needed to, but Galfond was able to use the urgency against him as he picked off a three-barrel bluff on . ActionFreak potted river for €16K but was met with a quick call by aces full of jacks and showed down a measly . He blasted off again into Galfond's nut flush with a total airball, leaving the chance of a comeback slim with six figures still separating the players and only a bit more than 100 hands left.
When double digits remained, they reduced to one table. Nothing of note developed from there, ending a fairly drama-light win for Galfond.
Hands Played: 881
Results: ActionFreak +~€123,000