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Gossip Column: Galfond Makes Incredible Comeback to Win the First Challenge; Vance & Kenney Win Charity Tourneys For COVID-19 Relief

Phil Galfond & Ebony Kenney - Gossip Column
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  • Attreyee Khasnabis April 13, 2020
  • 5 Minutes Read

What a phenomenal comeback! For almost three months now, Run It Once (RIO) Poker founder Phil Galfond and online beast ‘VeniVedi1993’ have been trading blows in the Heads-Up Challenge, and it finally came to a close on April 12. After being written off by many for having lost his touch, Galfond proved his naysayers wrong! The PLO maestro came out €1,472.08 ahead of his opponent after playing the required 25,000 hands in the challenge and also secured the €100,000 side bet.

Hours before the Galfond Challenge finale began, a charity poker heads-up tournament organized by RIO Poker, was played between a group of 32 players to raise money for the GiveDirectly COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The tournament was won by donator Bob Vance who bested poker vlogger Marle Cordeiro in the final heads-up match-up.

Meanwhile, poker pro Ebony Kenney came out on top in the stay-at-home celebrity poker tournament – All in for America Charity Tournament. She defeated actor Kevin Pollak heads-up on ACR to win the bragging rights of besting a star-studded line up of celebrities and poker pros.


Phil Galfond Makes Incredible Comeback to Win the HU Challenge

It’s finally in the books now folks! PLO legend Phil Galfond has pulled off one of the most impressive comebacks in recent poker history, having won the first of seven confirmed high-stakes clashes in the Galfond Challenge! The three-time WSOP bracelet winner claimed victory against online phenom ‘VeniVedi1993’, and booked €1,472.08 in profit after the 25,000-hand showdown. The narrow margin was still enough for him to secure the €100,000 side bet that his opponent had posted.

Phil Galfond
Phil Galfond


The challenge started on January 22, and for the first 15 sessions, Galfond was on the backfoot. After a long losing spree saw him stuck over €900,000, Galfond finally decided to take a break on February 9. Nearly a month later, on March 4, the challenge was resumed. Galfond came back in blistering form and won 17 out of the next 23 sessions.

The final session that was played on April 12 turned out to be quite an affair, with more than 25,000 viewers tuning in on Twitch to watch the live stream. Entering the final session, ‘VeniVidi1993’ was up by only €8,171. At the stakes they were playing, the match was virtually tied at this point.

It stayed pretty close throughout the final session and eventually came down to the wire. After winning a significant pot, where both players had full houses, but Galfond’s higher hand won, the RIO founder pretty much reached a point from where he folded his way to victory.

Phil Galfond v. VeniVedi1993 (Final Results)


“I did not think we were going to get under 300 hands with it still being anybody’s game. It was ridiculous,” said Galfond in an interview with commentator Joe Stapleton moments after securing the win. He later added on Twitter, “Over the past 15 years, I’ve played poker in a number of high-pressure situations. Nothing came close to feeling as intense as today did. I’m overwhelmed, exhausted, and most of all, grateful.”

The final showdown was also shared on Twitter.

Galfond too shared a very heartfelt message on Twitter.

Final Challenge Results

 Hands PlayedDaily WinnerAmount Won
Day 1 (Jan. 22)655VeniVidi1993€72,572.68
Day 2 (Jan. 23)715Phil Galfond€2,615.26
Day 3 (Jan. 24)557VeniVidi1993€84,437.52
Day 4 (Jan. 25)581VeniVidi1993€17,544.87
Day 5 (Jan. 27)726VeniVidi1993€155,063.52
Day 6 (Jan. 28)703VeniVidi1993€13.31
Day 7 (Jan. 30)823VeniVidi1993€52,057.13
Day 8 (Jan. 31)940VeniVidi1993€60,743.37
Day 9 (Feb. 1)446VeniVidi1993€12,706.51
Day 10 (Feb. 3)696VeniVidi1993€100,993.30
Day 11 (Feb. 4)741VeniVidi1993€15,647.36
Day 12 (Feb. 6)622Phil Galfond€87,940.91
Day 13 (Feb. 7)470VeniVidi1993€267,949.70
Day 14 (Feb. 8)593VeniVidi1993€48,473.73
Day 15 (Feb. 9)659VeniVidi1993€102,593.34
Day 16 (Mar. 4)574Phil Galfond€183,481.38
Day 17 (Mar. 5)582VeniVidi1993€21,571.51
Day 18 (Mar. 6)555Phil Galfond€27,198.94
Day 19 (Mar. 7)638Phil Galfond€26,018.41
Day 20 (Mar. 9)566Phil Galfond€92,803.89
Day 21 (Mar. 10)576Phil Galfond€3,766.94
Day 22 (Mar. 11)556VeniVidi1993€88,465.60
Day 23 (Mar. 12)598Phil Galfond€23,821.05
Day 24 (Mar. 13)628Phil Galfond€19,099.65
Day 25 (Mar. 14)664Phil Galfond€139,485.78
Day 26 (Mar. 19)539Phil Galfond€110,752.58
Day 27 (Mar. 20)645VeniVidi1993€76,026.05
Day 28 (Mar. 21)503Phil Galfond€140,979.28
Day 29 (Mar. 26)642Phil Galfond€85,271.31
Day 30 (Mar. 27)777VeniVidi1993€26,992.32
Day 31 (Mar. 28)393Phil Galfond€106,328.51
Day 32 (Apr. 2)664Phil Galfond€113,680.87
Day 33 (Apr. 3)632VeniVidi1993€28,538.21
Day 34 (Apr. 4)680Phil Galfond€28,722.88
Day 35 (Apr. 6)758Phil Galfond€121,486.95
Day 36 (Apr. 7)592VeniVidi1993€34,580.19
Day 37 (Apr. 9)883VeniVidi1993€78,237.54
Day 38 (Apr. 10)734Phil Galfond€23,581.50
Day 39 (Apr. 12)699Phil Galfond€9,843.25
Total25,001Phil Galfond€1,671.58


With the first challenge out of the way, we could see Galfond moving onto the next match soon!


Bob Vance Ships Run It Once Charity HU Tournament

On April 11, before the final session of the Galfond Challenge had begun, a group of 32 players came together to raise money for the GiveDirectly COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund thanks to Run It Once Poker. Phil Galfond himself, along with former WSOP Main Event winner John Cynn, commentators David Tuchman and Jamie Kerstetter and a whole host of big names such as Daniel Dvoress, Sam Greenwood and Dan Smith battled against the qualifiers. The action was streamed live on Twitch.

Run It Once Charity HU Tournament


Following several hours of play, it was an amateur player and donator Bob Vance who stole the show and won the tournament!

Vance arguably had the hardest route to the final of any amateur in the event. First up, he had to face off against Ben Sulsky, followed by Dan Smith and then squared off against Thomas Knowles. He bested Brandon Young in the fourth round.

It was an exciting final match-up between poker vlogger Marle Cordeiro and Vance.

While Cordeiro was undoubtedly the more accomplished player, Vance was able to outlast her to win the bragging rights of taking down the COVID-19 Charity Tournament!


Ebony Kenney Wins Online Celebrity Poker Game For COVID-19 Relief

Celebrities have been doing their bit for the COVID-19 relief efforts. Only recently we had mentioned that Hollywood A-listers like Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire and Bryan Cranston, Maroon 5’s lead singer Adam Levine, comedian Sarah Silverman, and NFL superstar Tom Brady, etc., would be participating in a charity online poker tournament on America’s Cardroom on April 12. To participate, people had to donate $10,000 to secure their spot. The tournament raised over $1.2 Million.

Ebony Kenney
Ebony Kenney


The entire proceeds from the tournament were donated to the hunger-relief charity organization Feeding America.

On Saturday, the stay-at-home poker tournament titled ‘All in for America Charity Tournament,’ played out on schedule with a live-stream hosted by professional poker commentators Justin Kelly and Michael Loncar.

After hours of playing and 65 contestants total, the three-handed field whittled down to comedian Andy Milonakis, actor Kevin Pollak and poker pro Ebony Kenney. The charity tourney ended when Kenney defeated Pollak heads-up.

Kenney shared the news of her victory on Instagram.

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