Drama as Galfond-Adams live challenge ends early

Kat Martin
Published by:
Posted on 07/30/2021

Those expecting to see Phil Galfond and Brandon Adams battling at Resorts World today found only a deserted table. The live portion of the latest Galfond Challenge was called early, largely as a result of a dispute over Galfond’s alleged tanking.

The origin of the kerfuffle illustrates a problem with timed matches of this kind that also carry a side bet on the winner. With less than two full days remaining, Galfond had opened a healthy lead of $48k over Adams. Consequently, he had every motivation to slow the action and reduce the number of remaining hands. Adams claimed on Twitter that this was precisely what was happening.

“I am down 48k with 15.5 hrs remaining. @PhilGalfond is changing strategy, as expected, but he is also using the clock to maximum advantage, taking full time for every decision on every street.”

As is becoming increasingly common in the social media age, the Twitterati were called in to adjudicate on what, if anything, should be done. The crowd-sourced solution was an obvious one: switch from a time limit to a hand limit. The match resumed under these conditions, but after a couple of hours it seemed the fight had been driven out of the combatants.

Galfond explained to his Twitter followers why the live portion of the challenge was being abandoned: “Brandon and I weren’t enjoying playing challenge end-game poker, so we reached an agreement.”

Galfond has earned a solid reputation for poker integrity and objectivity. He was called upon frequently in the Negreanu-Polk match to arbitrate. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that the resolution to the minor spat in the current challenge frankly favors Adams considerably.

The side bet on the winner of the live challenge had Galfond laying $150k to Adam’s $100k. While a $16.5k lead with 236 hands remaining could be easily overcome at these stakes, Galfond’s advantage has appreciable cash equity. Galfond’s abandonment of that equity seems to have eliminated Twitter rumblings about the original alleged stalling on Galfond’s part. It also reinforces Galfond’s reputation as one of the good guys in modern poker.

What’s next?

Anyone initially disappointed about missing out out on live PLO action played between two of the world’s best, immediately received good news.

“Playing tomorrow [Friday] at 3pm Pacific. We’ll be playing the next 5 days (Starting at different times).”

The online challenge will involve 10,000 hands, thereby removing the issues that the live, timed challenge created. And just to add a little spice to a contest that has been steadily heating up, this time the side bet on the winner sees Galfond laying $400k to Adams’ $100k.