The fourth and final first round match in PokerStars All Star Showdown has just been completed with Phil "MrSweets28" Galfond defeating good friend and fellow Vancouver resident (the two in fact live in the same apartment block) Ben "Ben86" Tollerene in a match which took 14 hours 40 minutes of play to a conclusion. Although slightly shorter in time than the match between Ike Haxton and Alex "Kanu7" Millar this match actually lasted over 500 hands more with Galfond eventually emerging victorious after a gruelling 4,341 hands.
When the match got underway it was a very cat and mouse affair for the first couple of hours with players feeling each other out. Galfond has always preferred a "check call" approach and with a distinct lack of NLHE play over the past few years he was reluctant to mix it up with Tollerene early doors. As the third hour of play started the $25k lead Tollerene had started to open up slipped back to even and we looked like we were in for a long night. However, over the next hour and 300 hands Tollerene really pulled away from his rusty rival as he took pot after pot and opened up what looked to be an almost decisive lead with just under $80k of Galfond's money in his back pocket. Tollerene was helped along the way as he took down the biggest pot of the match so far;
Tollerene's two pair is a no brainer to call Galfond's river bluff in this $30k pot
At this stage it was odds on that this would be by far the quickest of the four match ups as Galfond was down to his last two tables and really on the rocks. However, you don't get to where Galfond has without knowing how to get yourself out of trouble and he played some great holding poker, picked his spots (ran ok) and really got his head down to grind his way back into the match. Making his way back up to around $45k Galfond and Tollerene played for another two hours with very little progress for either of them. After 5 hours of play Tollerene still had a $54k lead as the pair took a two hour lunch break. Amusingly enough they actually took lunch together with photographs of the two combatants eating together being posted on twitter during the break by their friend Jason Koon.
The break obviously did Galfond some good as during the hour after the match resumed he took $30k from Tollerene to close the gap to around $23k with just over 2,000 hands logged. After almost another hours play Galfond finally looked like he might get back on terms as he took two pots worth a combined $57k and got within $2.5k of being even. Here is the bigger of the two pots;
As the river pairs the board Galfond is reassured his pocket Aces are good and he gets good value in this $29k pot
Tollerene was not ready to surrender his advantage just yet though and during the next hour he opened up a $30k lead once again. A lead he soon had above $40k after taking the biggest pot of the match so far;
Tollerene turns a set of deuce's and gets paid off by Galfond in this $38.3k hand
This may have been the biggest hand of the match so far but as we crossed the 3,000 hand mark the blinds duly doubled and the pots, as a result became far more telling. During the ninth hour Tollerene retained the lead throughout but bigger pots meant the lead was easily cut back when Galfond snagged a good hand. By the end of the hour Galfond was practically back on terms with Tollerene after a $41k pot where Galfond's turned straight butchered Tollerene's top pair of Queens.
The next couple of hours really saw Galfond pull away as a series of pots in the mid $40k's saw him storm into a $65k lead - and with the table limits doubled Tollerene found himself having to close tables as he couldn't afford the $20k buy ins at all four. However, by the end of the 11th hour he had trimmed Galfond's lead to just $15k and once more the match looked like it may never end.
The next hour saw Galfond run particularly well, as he coolered Tollerene time after time to open up a huge $73k lead which got up to $83k soon after the hourly break. Once more though Tollerene managed to chip back to $40k in order to open two tables once again. Galfond's run good was not over however as his A high flush took down Tollerene's K high flush to snag another $40k pot an d put Tollerene back on the ropes.
This time Galfond didn't let up and refused to give his opponent any easy double ups, putting pressure on in all the right places and eventually Tollerene's resistance crumbled and his final few thousand went in the pot as he flopped second pair on a Q J 9 flop only to see Galfond flip over Q5 to take the match.
Match over, the two chums once more decided it was time to eat and headed out for some post midnight food together to presumably talk over the match and refill their tanks.
Galfond now moves on to the semi-finals where he will face Dan "w00ki3z." Cates for a place in the final.
More articles on the All-star Showdown:
Pokerstars All-star Showdown announcement
Ike Haxton Takes Down Kanu7
Daniel "w00ki3z." Cates Takes Out Alexander "Sussie Smith" Roumeliotis