The Phil Galfond Challenge: Galfond Presses Pause to Rethink VeniVidi Challenge; Cue The Pigeon Killer

There are more than 800 breeds of pigeon. 

There are the rats of the skies that hobble, one-legged, hoping for a crisp, and then you have racing pigeons like Armando, sold to a Chinese bidder for $1.4m in March. 

Before the creation of the telegram in 1844, the fastest way to get messages to people was via homing pigeon, because they could fly a 1,000 miles, and reach speeds of up to 90 miles p/h. 

Today, we have Twitter.

The last time we reported on the ‘Phil Galfond Challenge’ it was going as well as a weasel picking a fight with a pride of lions. After 15 sessions and 9,927 hands, ‘VeniVidi1993’ had won €900,240.17. Or, Galfond had lost €900,240.17, depending on your point of view.

With gossip rife and a day of R&R in the bag, Galfond took the unusual step of pressing the pause button. 

Writing on Twitter Galfond stated:

“Until a few days ago, I was very proud of the way I’d handled a very unfortunate run. I think that I played well and remained as level-headed as can be expected.”

Galfond then continued to state that his €88k win made him feel “great about his play,” and that he “got a taste of the downswing ending, and was excited about the future.”

As we now know, the following day, Galfond’s cape ended up in the fireplace when VeniVidi1993 pocketed €268k from him. 

“I felt tilt during that session, but managed to play my B game,” Galfond wrote on Twitter. “Again, I was proud of myself considering the circumstances.”

Cue The Problems

Since that razor to the carotid loss, Galfond has gone on to lose a further two sessions, and approx. €150,000, and it’s these two sessions that have gotten Galfond all agitated. 

“I could tell that I’d abandoned my gameplan for plays that felt better (emotionally), and I couldn’t seem to gather my thoughts coherently, or to make reads like I normally do.”

“I was playing scared. I was expecting to lose. I simply couldn’t get my brain to work properly.”

Galfond went on to state that he had experienced €900k losses before – that wasn’t the problem. It was the crushing ‘loss of hope.’

“I lost that hope, and it was replaced by depression,” wrote Galfond. “I have found my mind’s limit.”

Downswings of this nature are not uncommon to a man who has been plying his trade for a decade-plus. Still, it’s rare to lose so much, so swiftly at the start of the most talked-about heads-up, high stakes challenge since Tom Dwan’s infamous tongue wavering. 

With Galfond admittedly ‘unable to play my A or B game,’ and with realism kicking in that he needed time to heal, the Run It Once founder has decided to pay the €3k day penalty losses until he either throws in the towel or feels confident enough to resume on March 1. 

Throw a Bomb on The Man When He’s Down

Back to those pigeons.

Never shy of controversy, Luke Schwartz, penned a hilarious and cutting, assessment of Galfond’s decision, his play during the challenge, his decision to face ‘a human-robot in the first challenge,’ and his post-match meanderings on Twitter. 

Here is the tweet in full.

And the cliff-notes.

Schwartz called Galfond a ‘washed up nice guy,’ and a ‘spent force’ whose ‘time has passed,’ and that the smart thing to do is to ‘wave the white flag.’

The tirade continued with Schwartz stating that Galfond either has too much ego or is ‘too stupid to quit,’ because he’s no ‘LeBron James. He’s a nerdy little guy who was trying to extend his poker money-making by getting some traction on his failing site.”

There was also time to give Galfond’s fans some advice – “It’s time to get some new poker heroes lads.”

The man from the UK also offered Galfond some business advice suggesting that it was a ‘horrible business decision’ to choose an ‘unknown solver who is five years and 14 advanced solvers better than him, as his first challenger.’

And Schwartz isn’t without empathy.

“Listen up, save your site. Come and play me.” Wrote Schwartz. “We are the same age and have similar egos. I’ve never studied a hand of poker in my life. Let’s level out the playing field, and give the fanboys a proper rail.”

The Hendon Mobster, Barny Boatman, believes that Schwartz should get off the fence, and tell us what he really thinks.

With no VeniVidi1993 to think about for a few days, Galfond was able to spend a few moments on Twitter when he came across the pigeon killer’s dig.

Schwartz responded immediately, writing to Galfond to assure him that he was merely ‘hyping it.’

“Rest up, go and get some Perkins money and avoid ActionFreak. Be well, Phil x” Wrote Schwartz.

“Ok, cool, just fact-checking. I am happy with you talking shit about my posts and my play. Carry on.” Replied Galfond, ending the tweet with a thumbs-up emoji; evidence that Phil Galfond is not one of those 800 breeds of pigeons because none of them has thumbs.