Online Poker Legend Phil Galfond Opens Up On Million Dollar Checks And His Secret To Success
Phil Galfond was barely in his twenties when he had millions in his online poker accounts.
But the high profile lifestyle he lived wasn’t about buying flashy cars or traveling the world. He got his kicks by having the freedom to order takeout seven nights in a row.
Galfond is one of the greatest poker players of all time. He beat the best with felt and behind his computer screen.
The 35-year-old entered the scene in the mid-2000s under the online pseudonym OMGClayAiken, a name he created as an antithesis to the overly macho screen names that prevailed in poker at the time.
He is also known as MrSweets28.
But if rivals across the table thought it was going to be a soft touch, they would be hopelessly wrong. He would soon become an online gaming superstar.
The secret of Galfond’s success? Well, being awfully good at the game played a part. But at first it was because he wasn’t afraid of losing everything.
“I remember when I was 20, 21 and playing for huge sums,” he said.
“All my friends were broke. I wasn’t afraid of losing everything because if I did, I would be just like all of my friends. This is a big advantage when you play without fear.
“The thought of what you could actually buy in the real world doesn’t really occur to you.
“Having all I wanted in college was ordering food every night if I wanted it for $ 20. It was the sumptuous life she gave me!
“It’s a big downside when you’re older and understand the value of money.
“When you go through a crisis, you realize that it actually has a huge impact on our financial security right now. I appreciate it more now.
“Looks like it’s a good thing, you should enjoy what you’re playing for … but in reality, you better not.” You can play better if you don’t. “
Such was Galfond’s fearlessness, he quickly ended up competing with the best in the world in what are called “nosebleed” games. These tables often see people sitting with six-figure sums in front of them – if not more.
Although he was playing the kind of money an average Joe could only dream of having in his bank account, Galfond rarely considered his poker balance to be real money.
He said, “When I was 21 and playing nosebleeds, I was playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars and the most expensive thing I ever bought was $ 200.
“It took me a long time to use the money, it was like playing huge stakes before I got some in the real world, everything was online.”
Galfond turned his back on the university before the end of his final semesters. His potential job as a SAT tutor was put on hold because he realized he was making more money playing cards on his computer.
His eureka moment came while he was living in his college town of Madison, Wisconsin. The amount of money in his life finally made him gasp.
He had helped another poker player friend with an investment and eventually owed a large sum of money.
“He sent me a check. It was a check for a million dollars, ”recalls Galfond.
“I went to deposit it in the bank. I lived in a college town, everyone who had an account there was just a student.
“It was the first time it occurred to me, when I went there and handed the check for a million dollars to the bank teller and I’m just surrounded by college kids who probably have $ 40 in their account.
“This is the first time it strikes me like ‘this is pretty crazy’.”
Galfond has become a real poker superstar. He has three World Series of Poker bracelets and plenty of other live titles – and that’s before you even consider the money he’s playing for on the internet.
He is now based between properties in Las Vegas and Vancouver alongside his wife Farah and one-year-old son Spencer.
His hobbies away from the computer screen remain fairly modest: he enjoys sitting at home, watching television and spending time with his young family.
A few years ago, he chose to move so far away from the game of poker and develop his business, Run It Once Poker, from a training site that has become a fully-fledged gaming platform.
This is how the Galfond Challenge was created. Anyone who wanted could face Phil in a heads-up over 25,000 hands.
Real money would be put into play – at least € 20,000 per session – and at the end of the gigantic match, which would take place over more than 30 days, the winner would pocket another previously agreed six-figure sum.
Galfond’s first opponent was a ruthless online poker pro under the pseudonym Venividi.
But for Phil, a few years out of the game to focus on business meant he was rusty. In fact, it couldn’t have been worse. He found himself almost a million euros less.
He came out trying to intimidate his rival, but Venividi was cunning and knew the game plan, so he quickly pushed him away.
But as the last session approached, Galfond was back. He had reduced the deficit to just € 10,000.
“Everything was really going against me at the start so it was a rough start and it was a ridiculous swing both ways,” said Galfond.
“I’m probably looking at it in really boring terms, but it’s super unlikely, low frequency. A bad race to start and then the right low probability race to follow.
“Even without the huge drop and huge recovery, it’s crazy to come back to the last session with less of a buy-in between us.
With just over 100 of the remaining 25,000 hands, Galfond turned a profit and held onto the win with just € 1,671. As a result, he pocketed an additional € 100,000 from Venividi.
Galfond was back at the top of his game. He made it clear why he is considered by many to be the greatest online poker player of all time.
“I appreciate people who see me as a difficult player and their respect for me, but what really matters to me is how I feel about me as a player,” he said. declared.
“There was a point where I felt like one of the best, then when we started Run It Once Poker it took so much time and energy, I kind of accepted that I didn’t wasn’t going to play at very high levels again.
“It’s so easy to fall behind and so hard to keep up, and I’m so busy with other things.
“It’s good for people to respect you and your game, but for me it’s really the fact that I can play really well is the one thing I care about – and potentially return to it.”
- Run It Once Poker was founded by Phil Galfond to create a different kind of online poker site. The inaugural Galfond Challenge saw Phil beat Venividi by € 1,671.58 in 25,000 hands in addition to the additional bet of € 100,000. The second challenge match has already started and will be streamed for free on the Twitch Run It Once Poker channel in April and May.