You might recall how Dwan issued his challenge in late 2008, inviting anyone (other than Phil Galfond) to play against him heads up, four tables of either pot-limit Omaha or no-limit hold’em, at a minimum of $200/$400 blinds. Whoever was ahead -- even by just a single buck -- after 50,000 hands would be the winner. If Dwan won, the loser would have to pay up an additional half million clams. If Dwan’s opponent won, he’d pay that person $1.5 million.
A few names surfaced as possible opponents for Dwan (including David Benyamine and Phil Ivey), but it was Antonius who was first in line. The game chosen was PLO ($200/$400). The pair began their match in February of this year amid much hype, but interest died down after several long gaps between sessions. Following the WSOP this summer, they finally began playing again in earnest, and earlier this month crossed the halfway point of 25,000 hands played.
A couple of days ago Dwan and Antonius had a lengthy session in which they played over 2,000 hands versus one another. Dwan had the upper hand for much of the session, and at one point apparently was up around $400,000-$500,000 for the night, but Antonius pulled back closer and when they logged off Dwan had increased his overall lead by $81,716.
There was a moment in there somewhere when they took a dinner break, during which time Dwan chatted with the fellas over at the high-stakes 7-game table about how the night was going. Nicole Gordon, in her latest report on the challenge for PokerNews, shares a funny moment from that conversation:
Ziigmund: who won in challenge?
durrrr: i won small
durrrr: 150 mayb
John Juanda: yeah u won small ferrari
Gotta watch that Juanda. Sits there all quiet like, then -- zing!
According to Full Tilt Poker’s official stats page, the pair have played a total of 27,185 hands to this point (in 42 sessions). Back at the 14,000-hand mark or so, Antonius was up over $500,000, but Dwan stormed back and currently is up $779,248 and Antonius down $785,355.
As the volatility of that session from earlier in the week shows, Dwan’s lead is by no means insurmountable, and indeed could potentially be halved in a single hand. The pair have played at least 10 hands with pots of more than a quarter million dollars, with a couple nearing the half-million mark. Dwan has had the advantage in those so far, having won most (eight) of those “monsterpotten” hands (as Gordon calls them). If you’re curious, you can view replays of those biggies over on the Full Tilt page. (Clicking on the pic will get you there.)
According to the Full Tilt page, the pair have played for a total of 3 days, 14 hours, and 50 minutes. That means the average session has been a little over two hours. That also means they are playing about 5.2 hands per minute when they sit down at their four tables. All of that adds up to nearly a solid week (160-plus hours) of play in order to get the challenge done.
I guess many thought that once the challenge began, it would continue uninterrupted until the 50,000th hand was played, but obviously neither player saw that sort of insane stamina test as preferable. Even playing sporadically as they are, there have been several moments when each player has reported falling asleep at the computer, accumulated fatigue from all of the other high stakes games they are also regularly playing having caught up with them.
I remain intrigued by the challenge and am glad others are keeping tabs on it for me. As I noted in February when it began, we’ve come a long way from that Nick “the Greek” Dandalos-Johnny Moss challenge back in 1949 or 1951 or whenever it was. (Read more about that here.) Full details of what precisely happened at Binion’s between those two -- another high stakes, heads-up battle in which millions were won and lost -- will remain shrouded in mystery, perhaps never to be revealed. But with the Dwan-Antonius challenge, every mouse-click and keystroke is being carefully chronicled.