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Poker News | World Poker News

Dwan Issues High Stakes Challenge, Ivey and Antonius Accept

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Tom Dwan has become a well-known member of the poker community for many reasons. Not only is he a wildly successful online poker player with the online moniker “durrrr,” but he has effectively transferred those skills to the live poker tournament circuit and shown that he can compete with the best of the best. And he has moved up so rapidly in limits in only a few years that he is now also known for his penchant for high stakes games.

That penchant has prompted him to issue a challenge, which he did during a recent interview with Bluff Magazine. He announced that he wanted some online action in pot-limit Omaha or no-limit hold’em at the $200/$400 level or higher. He wanted to play 50,000 hands over the course of a to-be-determined period of time, but he wanted four tables playing at once, likely giving him an advantage as a skilled multi-tabler online.

In addition, Dwan stipulated that if the challenger is up only as much as $1 after rake, Dwan will pay that player $1.5 million, but if Dwan is up after the 50,000 hands, he will only take $500,000 for the feat. Essentially, he offered 3:1 odds to any player that would accept the challenge, only noting that friend Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond was exempted from playing. Other conditions of the challenge included the provision that all stacks must be at least 75 big blinds at all times, stakes must remain the same during the entire challenge, and tables can be changed when a stack becomes greater than 250 big blinds.

Dwan stated his motivation for the challenge in an interview with PokerNews, “In my probably biased opinion, the two most interesting, commonly played poker games are heads-up no-limit hold’em and heads-up pot-limit Omaha. I’ve played a lot of people in them; however, it’s very rare that someone will play me at more than two tables. In my again-biased opinion, it’s also more interesting to play at least four tables at once. I say this because while playing four tables, there is less likelihood that a winner or loser will be based on one or two pots, and the better player will make roughly twice as much money per hour compared to two tables. Additionally, when your opponents are doing something wrong for 90 minutes straight, you can notice it earlier, and take more advantage of it on four tables, netting at least four times the profit -- although one would assume most opponents would also adjust in less time on four tables.”

He added, “Hopefully these matches will be fun for all participants, and observers, even if it is costly for some people -- hopefully not me!”

Who would accept such a challenge? There were three players who expressed an interest: Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and David Benyamine. While the public awaits an official statement from Benyamine about his acceptance, Ivey and Antonius have publicly discussed their interest in working out the details and launching their respective challenges.

Phil Ivey discussed his interest in competing with Dwan on Barry Greenstein’s aptly-named PokerRoad show called “Tuesdays with Ivey.” He officially accepted the challenge and noted, “I’ve never posted a challenge like this…I’m just assuming that everyone knows I’m going to play them -- I’m going to play every game…I’ll play anybody, at every game there is. Most of the time I start off as the underdog, I feel like. Eventually I’ll figure them out, figure out what they’re doing -- make good enough adjustments to where I’m a favorite against them.”

Antonius officially announced his willingness to play Dwan to CardPlayer in an interview about it. When he first heard about the challenge, “It sounded too good to be true. I tried to figure out what would be the trap there and I still haven’t really figured it out. But I’m sure he’s really thought about it. For sure, he’s one of the best at the moment.”

Antonius estimated that it would take 80 or 90 hours to complete the challenge over the course of a few months, but he acknowledged that since he doesn’t like to be forced to play and doesn’t always feel like playing online, it could take up to a year to complete the designated number of hands. He also noted that he has played Dwan quite often online. “It’s been a very fun time,” he said in the CardPlayer interview. “I can’t say how much I respect his game. He has a unique style. You have to be a very unique player to be able to have that style.”

PLO would be Antonius’ game of choice because of his experience. “The funny thing is, I think I’ve done better against Tom in no-limit hold’em heads-up, but I think I have a better chance in PLO… I think PLO is a smarter choice probably. But I don’t really mind. My no-limit hold’em game is very good at the moment.”

One comment by Antonius seemed to sum up his feeling about the challenge, as it might also apply to Ivey and any future takers of Dwan’s experiment. High stakes poker players are a different breed, and the thought of a great deal of money on the line, not to mention pride and an audience, is invigorating. “It’s going to be fun,” he said.

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