Phil Galfond wins Galfond Challenge as Brandon Adams bows out

Dave Consolazio
Published by:
Posted on 08/24/2021

Phil Galfond and Brandon Adams had originally agreed to play their version of the Galfond Challenge live in person over five eight-hour sessions. This heads-up battle was unfortunately mired in controversy and canceled early. The two players agreed to start the challenge over again, this time over the course of 10,000 hands played online. The online portion of the challenge produced a clear and decisive winner in Phil Galfond.

The new rules of the Phil Galfond vs. Brandon Adams challenge stipulated that Galfond and Adams would play two tables of Pot-Limit Omaha against each other at $100/$200 blinds. Galfond took the early lead over the first 700-hand session on July 30 with a $75,000 win. Adams bounced back over the 750-hand session played the next day, booking a win of $40,000 to cut Galfond’s lead down to $35,000. Galfond responded with a $110,000 profit in the 750 hands played on August 1, and the two players agreed to take a few weeks off before continuing the challenge on August 22.

Brandon Adams entered Sunday’s session down $145,000. Galfond delivered a crushing blow with a $150,000 win across 700 hands played, extending his lead to $295,000 through the first four sessions of online play. With 7,100 hands still left in the originally-agreed-upon 10,000 hands of the challenge, Adams decided to exercise his right to concede the match.

Adams and Galfond had a side bet of Galfond’s $400,000 against Adams $100,000 that Galfond would win this heads-up challenge. By conceding the match, Adams also conceded the side bet, bringing Phil Galfond’s earnings in the online portion of the challenge to $395,000 between his earnings at the table and on this side bet.

No controversy this time around

The second portion of the Galfond Challenge played out to a controversy-free finish as Adams decided to call it quits after losing just under $300,000 over 2900 hands. The first attempt at this challenge went far less smoothly.

The controversy cropped up on the fourth day of the allotted five in the challenge. Galfond was up $48,000 with 15.5 hours to go and decided to start taking the full amount of time he was allotted on every decision. Adams believed that this went against the spirit of the challenge. Galfond pointed out that Adams had selectively tanked at other points in the event. He also said the whole reason to have an allotted time on decisions was to clear up any gray area on how much tanking was legal.

The players took to Twitter to try to reach a consensus. Eventually, they agreed to eliminate the tanking issue by converting the challenge to hands remaining. Ike Haxton and Max Silver helped determine that Galfond and Adams should play 338 more hands.

After Galfond’s lead shrunk to $16,400 with 280 hands to play and stayed right around there down to 236 hands remaining, the two players agreed to call off the challenge and scrap their side bet of Galfond’s $150,000 against Adams’ $100,000 on who would win. Phil Galfond got to keep the $16,500 he was up, and the two would restart their challenge online.

Phil Galfond remains undefeated in his challenges

With his win over Brandon Adams, Galfond moved to 4-0 through his first four completed Galfond Challenges. His first heads-up win against Venividi was one of the greatest poker matches of all time. Galfond miraculously erased a deficit of over €900,000 to take a small lead, and by the time the final session of the 25,000-hand match rolled around, the two players were virtually neck-and-neck. The final victory came by just €1,671.58, completing the comeback and earning Galfond a €100,000 side bet win.

Phil Galfond had a much smoother path to victory against Ioannis “ActionFreak” Kontonatsios, opening up an early six-figure lead and holding on for the full 15,000 hands to book a €114,765.66 win on the tables and a €150,000 side bet win. Chance Kornuth erased an early Galfond lead to take a $344,500 lead of his own in his 35,000-hand challenge, but eventually decided to throw in the towel down $726,500 through 25,400 hands.

Galfond claimed he was a “washed-up ex-pro” when he created the Galfond Challenge to bring attention to Run It Once Poker and to bring back the glory of railing high-stakes games. If anyone was buying that “washed-up” line before Galfond’s dominance in this challenge, they certainly aren’t anymore.

Featured Image Credit: Flickr – World Poker Tour