Phil Galfond Opens Up on Struggles and Loss on 888Ride

Phil Galfond Opens Up on Struggles and Loss on 888Ride

During the 2023 World Series of Poker, Farah Galfond spoke with David Tuchman for the 888poker series '888Ride'. The duo talked about poker goals, child acting and The Galfond Challenge, which saw her husband, Phil Galfond, battle in series of Pot-Limit Omaha heads-up duels that featured million-dollar swings.

In the latest episode of 888Ride, the other half of the poker power couple finally hopped into the Chevvy for a chat and cruise around Sin City. Over the course of the interview, (Phil) Galfond opened up on what it is like playing the biggest games, creating content, and facing million-dollar swings, along with the hardships he's faced on his road to success.

Dealing with Loss and Social Anxiety

In 2019, Galfond founded the online poker room Run It Once (RIO) but had to cease operations in 2022, following a stressful 18-months for the business.

"RIO poker at the end of 2020 was struggling," shared Galfond. "It became clear to us we needed to either sell the company or partner with somebody big because we weren't going to reach critical mass on our own."

"Long story short, the whole year of 2021 was dedicated to trying to make that happen. There were a lot of disappointments, a lot of stress, and a lot of money coming out of my bank account every month."

Following a string of meetings to try and save the company, Galfond received another hammer blow after being told that his father had passed away following a heart attack.

"With all that coming together, there was so much pressure on me and so much that I had to do. I kept moving forward because I had to."

"I always assumed they were thinking the worst of me,"

Galfond further touched on tough times during his life.

"I grew up with very bad social anxiety, and the way that it manifested in me was just the lens through which I viewed reality, specifically with other people, was so distorted. In school, I had a lot of friends, and everybody liked me, but I thought I was an outcast. I was delusional."

"Through every interaction, I just always put thoughts in people's heads, and I always assumed they were thinking the worst of me. My whole childhood, on paper, was fantastic, but I had all these imagined troubles throughout most of it."

"I've been working on it a long time, but it's been a slow journey."

How to Know If You're A Good Player

"When you're at tables and you can't spot mistakes, that's how you know that you're not doing so well."

Later in the interview, the conversation turns to Galfond's peak online years, which he said were from the ages of 21 to 26. During that period, he made more money than he did in the following ten years.

"There was a lot of money to be made," he reminisced about the old glory days. "There were probably ten pros of somewhat similar skill level playing those high-stakes games. I was one of them, and then there were a lot of non-pros. The games were big, and they went well."

Tuchman then posed the question, "How do you know if you're a good poker player?"

"I think the unfortunate truth is, you really can't know, but how I know is I see my opponents make more mistakes than I make."

"That's how I gauge my confidence level, seeing enough of my opponent's mistakes. When you're at tables and you can't spot mistakes, that's how you know that you're not doing so well."

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Being Down $1 Million

The first Galfond Challenge saw the man in the passenger seat battle against online player "Venividi". The bout lasted for 25,000 hands at $100/$200 with six-figure side bets wagered by both players.

Galfond was the favorite heading into the duel but soon found himself down $1,000,000.

"(I was doubting myself) quite a bit. I thought I had come into the match quite prepared, and it's so hard to tell when somebody is winning nearly every day."

"At the point where I was down a million, I took a break. I paid the penalties to take a break because I just wanted to decide whether to continue...At first, I told people I was quitting, and then I was like, I'm not sure yet."

While taking a few days from Venividi, Galfond dipped his toe into the Zoom pools at $25/$50 and $50/$100. This proved fruitful, as he won back $180,000 against good players, which gave him the confidence to continue the challenge.

When play between the two restarted, momentum swung in Galfond's favor. He managed to turn his red line into green and win the challenge, to the surprise of the poker community. He narrowly won the challenge with a 9,843.25 profit to have his hand raised as the victor.

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Watch the Full Interview

The above only covers a few topics discussed in the hour-long interview, so sit back, relax, and discover a few more things you likely didn't know about one of poker's most talented players.

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