888poker’s new 888Ride podcast has hit the airwaves, and the second guest is the inimitable Phil Galfond. This legend is a poker OG with the classic memorable online poker moniker “OMGClayAiken”.

Join us as 888poker commentator David Tuchman jumps into 888Ride with Phil and reflects on the challenging times in Phil's life and his upcoming content creation plans.

Follow that up with the unenviable position of being down a million dollars to Venividi in The Galfond Challenge, and this podcast is a must-listen!

Check out the full-length Phil Galfond podcast HERE.

In the Beginning…

Phil got his start in friendly card games relatively young. Playing cards with friends was his favourite pastime from ages 12 through 18. But you’d be mostly wrong if you think this is where he honed his poker skills. Most of the games they played were exclusive to the group.

Check out the podcast for ear-popping descriptions of some of the more unusual poker variants on the table.

Phil’s early school life was a breeze, and he aced his classes without even trying. This ability was to haunt him later at the poker tables after a whirlwind of initial success.

"I was never a very good student. I never studied or did my work…essentially. Why? I think what happened was, like, through middle school, it was too easy."

The poker world was abuzz with talk of GTO and solvers, but Phil was unwilling to set foot in this brave new world:

“And now, you know, 2020, 2018, 2019, 2020 and beyond, with the advent of solvers and all these other tools, you can't be at the top without trying. And I was afraid to try. And so it was happening all over again where I had fallen off because I wasn't willing to study and find out that I wasn't, that I couldn't.”

Dealing with the Negativity

Many people struggle with the negativity around them. Phil struggled with the negativity within - negative self-talk. He was dealing with a form of “imposter syndrome”, believing that “they're gonna find out, they're finally gonna realise I have no idea what I'm doing”.

So, even though internally he thought pretty highly of myself, he didn’t think other people saw him in the same light.

Unlike most high-stakes pros who tend to err on the side of overconfidence, Phil rated himself as more underconfident. So, he would question his play more often than most people.

Only with the help of a mind/mental coach could he address these negative thoughts and become more productive and consistent.

The Venividi Debacle

A significant part of Phil's comeback after a 3 ½ year absence was the Galfond Challenge, a series of high-stakes heads-up matches between Phil and various combatants.

His match with Venividi didn’t go as planned. Again, check the podcast for an inside listen at what and how Phil felt at the time.

Venividi was on a tear, and Phil was down a million before you knew it. It's scary and intimidating when an opponent is running so hot. You begin to doubt…

"It was especially hard because this was my, you know, this was my, what's the word? This is like my, what is the word? Like homecoming? This is when I came back to poker.

And so, 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 if I would continue."

And what a decision to continue that was! Not only did he make the poker comeback of all time, but he also won! Galfond secured a net win of €1,472 and a €100K side bet.

Biggest Win – Ever!

Phil wouldn't be a poker superstar if his most significant online win weren't against another poker phenom. In this instance, Viktor "Isildur1" Blom stepped to the plate.

It was before Black Friday, and Phil was living in New York. The game of choice was $300/600 PLO, increasing to $500/1K PLO.

Phil banked $1.6 million that night.

“And then you, you know - by the end of it, was he tilting? Yeah, he was. He was tilting for sure. He was, I mean, a phenomenal player, but he tilted. And it's always funny, like compare, you know, when you win a big tournament, there's all the fanfare and stuff.

But when you win $1.6 million online, and you're alone in your apartment at 4 AM, it's just like, you close the tables, and you just sit there, and you smile - and that's all.”

New Mindset, New Horizons on the Cards

Phil took a step back from hardcore online teaching, but he's back with a free e-book called “Poker Mindset Strategy”.

He enjoys educating and teaching the skills he has learned over the years. Run It Once is still a significant factor, but he is focusing on more beginner-friendly training content.

"The problem with Run It Once is [that] even at like our essential, which is our cheaper membership, $25 a month, it's still pretty advanced. 

"And so, I'm working on more of an on-ramp to that content, more content that people will be able to absorb, that beginners will be able to absorb, kind of getting them to that next level, to where they can understand the rest of the Run It Once content."

Check out the full-length Phil Galfond podcast HERE.

Hyacinth Swanson is a part-time live and online poker player who enjoys writing and editing poker content. She currently runs marketing firm PurpleGob.com.