Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Watch & Wondurrrr: The Tom Dwan Challenge Has Begun

Tom 'durrrr' DwanAm sure most of you reading this here blog have at least heard of that high stakes, heads up challenge issued by Tom “durrrr” Dwan late last year in response to which a few players -- Patrik Antonius, David Benyamine, and Phil Ivey -- have agreed to take a shot. The first match began a couple of hours ago, with Antonius and Dwan each taking spots across from one another at four different $200/$400 pot-limit Omaha tables (especially named “durrrr Challenge”) over on Full Tilt Poker.

For those who don’t know exactly how Dwan set up the challenge, he invited anyone (other than his friend Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond) to play heads up, four tables of either PLO or no-limit hold’em, at a minimum of $200/$400 blinds. The challenge would last for 50,000 hands, at the end of which whoever was ahead -- even by a single dollar -- would be the victor. If Dwan won, the loser owed him $500,000; if Dwan lost, he’d pay his vanquisher $1.5 million.

The winner would also (of course) claim whatever was won during the challenge itself, an amount which has the potential to exceed the bet amount. Considerably.

I’ve actually railed a little bit this morning, and it appears both players are mostly playing tight with big pots erupting only occasionally. Of course, with blinds this huge even the small pots are not insignificant, and with four tables going the swings are noteworthy.

Here’s the biggest pot I saw during the short time I was watching, a $90,000 pot won by Antonius. Took place on “Table durrrr Challenge 3” around 8:10 a.m. ET:

Kind of curious to see both players pushing the flop with what appear to us mortals as fairly thin holdings (even for heads up). Such is the world of high stakes PLO, I guess.

Just glancing at the sure-to-be-monstrous thread over on Two Plus Two (where folks are posting lots of hands), it appears Antonius might have taken an early lead, going up about $68,000 after 170 hands, then Dwan won a couple of huge pots, including one over $100,000. But Antonius battled back and appeared to be enjoying a $70K lead or so after 300 hands of play when the pair took a short break. All that seems a bit fuzzy, though, as posters appear unsure whether or not Antonius might have rebought on one of the tables.

Not to mention that in the time it took me to type that, all has no doubt changed.

I suppose I am as intrigued as anybody about the challenge. Kind of harkens back to that legendary match between Johnny Moss and Nick “the Greek” Dandalos at Binion’s Horseshoe back in 1949 or 1951 or whenever it did (or didn’t) take place.

That was that four- or five-month long match staged by Benny Binion that some want to say planted the seed for the World Series of Poker (which started in 1970), although the connection is a bit tenuous. Although much that surrounds the Moss-Dandalos match is shrouded in mystery, certain details have been repeated many times, including the fact that pots sometimes reached as large as half a million dollars, and in the end Moss won a heady amount off of his Crete-born opponent, perhaps as much as $2 million.

Binion's Horseshoe, circa 1950sThe pair began their match back in the poker room, but Binion apparently moved them out to the casino’s entrance so as to attract the attention of those passing by on Fremont Street. In Big Deal, Anthony Holden notes that “the crowd stood six deep around the table, marveling at the nerve and stamina of these two poker titans, and at the vast amounts of money passing back and forth between them.” James McManus says in a Card Player article there were “200 or 300” watching the match. I suspect a few more than that might be railing over on Full Tilt right now.

In fact, even Albert Einstein -- who was living out his last years in the U.S. at the time -- was reported to have been among the railbirds. (If yr curious, you can read more about the whole story of the Moss-Dandalos match here.)

There is one huge difference between the Moss-Dandalos match and the “Durrrr Challenge,” though -- the historical record. When it comes to the final results of the Antoinus-Dwan battle, one thing we can all be assured of is that it will be reported widely. That wasn’t the case for Moss-Dandalos; in fact, some (including Michael Craig) have expressed doubts about whether the match even took place at all!

No, there will be no doubts, I wouldn’t think, about what actually happened between Antonius and Dwan. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone took all of the hand histories, imported them into a hand replayer such as the one above, and built a YouTube movie of the match for all to watch.

And analyze. And wonder.

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Blogger Unknown said...

For those that don't have the time to wade through the thread on 2+2, you can head to and track the progress there.

2/18/2009 11:20 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Cool, thx for that link, kevmath. Just checked it & it appears after 1,540 hands or so Dwan is now up about $135,000.

2/18/2009 3:31 PM  
Blogger Otis said...

Hey, I took that picture!

Not looking for credit, just excited it's still in circulation.

Back the Dwan was still an up-and-comer who didn't have millions and stopped to have his picture taken by a lowly blogger. Pretty sure I took that in January 2006.

2/18/2009 6:00 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Definitely a cool pic, Otis. Kind of curious the way the staff is standing w/arms crossed in back.

2/18/2009 6:34 PM  
Blogger Greylocks said...

As long as the other player doesn't have a set or two pair, which is unlikely, both players are +EV to get all the money in on the flop because of the large pot built preflop.

It's a fairly classic PLO matchup - AA + backdoor nut flush draw vs TPTK + gutter + backdoor nut flush draw on a dry flop. It's pretty close to even money (about 53:47 in this particular case), and I expect these two players would know that.

2/19/2009 10:36 PM  
Anonymous rakeback said...

When PA accepted the challenge, the 50,000 hands sounded like it might take awhile to complete, but I thought they would be able to finish it within the calender year. I think Antonius will eventually prevail, but the match-up is surprisingly close for how much has been wagered thus far.

10/12/2009 6:30 PM  

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