Former poker pro and founder of the online poker site RunItOnce.eu (RIO), Phil Galfond, has confirmed two opponents for his heads-up challenge. The first is Bill Perkins, while the second is poker pro and coach, Fernando “JNandez87” Habegger.
Galfond issued the challenge via the RIO blog last month. He split it into two variations. The first is the Open PLO Coach Challenge, where eligible participants are poker coaches on sites that compete with RIO (RIO, if it wasn’t clear, and considering who is writing this, it wasn’t, is also a poker coaching site). The challenge would consist of Pot-Limit Omaha at stakes of at least 100/200 and 50,000 total hands. Galfond also set a sidebet of 10 buy-ins, giving the opponents 3:1 odds.
On the non-coach side of the challenge, it’s 100/200 through 300/600 Pot-Limit Omaha, with the possibility of going as low as 25/50, depending on the opponent.
Bill Perkins, high stakes amateur
The games will be played on Run It Once and priority goes to challenges who will stream the contest.
Bill Perkins stepped up to the plate almost immediately. After some back-and-forth on Twitter, the two agreed to play 100/200 Pot-Limit Omaha until they reach 50,000 or until someone loses $400,000. There is also a sidebet, with Perkins putting up $200,000 to Galfond’s $800,000. Whichever player ends up winning money in the heads-up battle not only walks away with their earnings, but also the money from the sidebet.
It sounds like Galfond will not normally be willing to make an exception to his original challenge parameters and accept a stop-loss like he did with Perkins. Earlier this week, Galfond tweeted that people have asked him about stop-losses, to which he replied, “You can quit whenever you want! You just have to pay the sidebet.”
JNandez, poker coach
Not having as much luck find a coach to play against him, Galfond offered to increase the odds on the sidebet to 5:1. Habegger offered to play him at 10/20 stakes, which is probably high for most of us, but extremely low for Galfond. Galfond balked.
But eventually Habegger decided to give the higher stakes a go, just before the 5:1 limited-time offer expired. The two have agreed to play 100/200 for 50,000 hands and a sidebet of Habegger’s $200,000 to Galfond’s $1 million.
All in the family
Galfond’s wife, Farah, who is both an actress and poker player, has had a hell of a sense of humor about this whole thing. She invoked their offspring in a tweet after he announced the Perkins challenge:
Phil told her, “Don’t worry. It will probably be fine.”
And my wife gives me the side-eye if I buy a Nintendo 64 off of the Facebook Marketplace.
Later, after the Habegger challenge was confirmed, Farah wrote, “Jfc fml gl everyone.”
Farah Galfond (formerly Fath) is a solid high stakes poker player in her own right and, like any high stakes player, she knows full well what the swings can be like. In 2017, she tweeted out a picture of the end result of a hand at the Ivey Room in which she lost a $360,000 pot to Jean-Robert Bellande. It was set-over-set on the flop in favor of Bellande and then he ended up rivering quads.