How Costly Could The Galfond PLO Challenge Be?

With the first Galfond Challenge match between RIO boss Phil and his online crusher opponent VeniVidi1993 suspended – Galfond down by a massive €900k – we are going to take a worst-case scenario look at what the six-match PLO Challenge could look like for Phil…

By: Andrew Burnett

Galfond’s decision to take on a collection of the world’s leading online crushers and big-name live pros to promote his poker room was a brave one – very brave actually.

However, having already run into a brick wall in the shape of VeniVidi1993 – Phil agreeing to pay €3k per day as he decides whether or not to continue the very first match-up – has shown he may not be the player he once was.

That’s not an uncalled for jibe – Galfond is a legend of the game and rightly so – but the pressure of playing great players, for your pride and literal $millions, will show up holes that three years away from elite play and study have caused.

Here’s a table showing the potential downside for Galfond should he fail to find some form, stability and positive variance.

Opponent Stakes Hands SideBet (SB) SB Odds Potential SB Loss
VeniVidi1993 €100/€200 25k €200k/€100k 2/1 €200k
ActionFreak €150/€300 15k €150k/€100k 3/2 €150k
Bill Perkins €100/€200 50k $800k/€200k 4/1 €800k
Chance Kornuth €100/€200 25k €1million/€250k 4/1 €1million
Jungleman €100/€200 7.5k TBA TBA TBA
Brandon Adams $100/€200 40 hours $150k/€100k 3/2 $150k
Total     €2.3million/€750k   €2.3million

And of course, those scary numbers don’t include that actual amount he could lose while playing the matches. Any version approaching the €900k loss to VV1993, multiplied another five times, would be murderous.

Naturally, Phil Galfond didn’t win more than $8million as OMGClayAiken and MrSweets28 by sheer luck, and both he and his supporters will be hoping he can recover that level of play.

The best-case scenario for Phil is that he fights back and either reduces, or offsets, his opening €900k disaster by trouncing some or all of his other opponents.

How likely is that?

Well, even before the Galfond Challenge started there were questions about his skill level matched against VV1993 and Action Freak.

The two beasts of the online highstakes arena play at this level all day, every day. It’s hard to imagine Galfond even remotely escaping unscathed without some serious rungood, and some mega-quick re-learning.

By his own admission, the match against Jungleman – the terms not fully agreed – is likely to be one of his toughest obstacles.

‘Jungleman’s’ is the shortest, so I guess that’s the one I feel I’m most likely to lose,' he told PocketFives’ Donnie Peters last month, Galfond generally favouring a longer match.

He also named ActionFreak along with Cates as “my toughest opponents” but that was before VeniVidi took the best part of €1million from him – in less than 10k of the planned 25k hands.

From the sidebets alone, a loss to Kornuth would cost an extra $1million, Galfond admitting “Losing to Chance or Bill Perkins and the Thirst Lounge will be the most costly.”

A loss to Perkins – the least experienced or strong of his opponents by far – is generally unlikely, but the swings of PLO are legendary, and that $800k sidebet is a serious chunk of change to anyone.

If variance mocks him in any of the matches in which he is favourite to win…well, enough said.


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