In the early morning hours of Wednesday February 18th 2009, the much-hyped “durrrr challenge” got underway at Full Tilt Poker. Patrik Antonius and durrrr are kicking off the challenge which is expected to last for the better part of 2009. For those of you unaware of the back story behind the challenge, let’s review.
A few months back, the famed online player Tom “durrrr” Dwan issued a challenge to the poker world (with the exception of his friend Phil “OMG Clay Aiken” Galfond). The terms were pretty simple:
- 50,000 hands
- Stakes must be a minimum of 200/400
- Game must be PLO or No Limit Texas Holdem
- Challenge hands must be played while four tabling
- Must reload (ie, add money to the table) when under 75 big blinds in your stack
That pretty much covers it. However, the bonus is that Dwan added the following clause: At the end of the 50,000 hands, whoever is up (even as little as $1) gets a bonus to be paid by the loser. And Dwan offered to pay up $1,500,000 if he lost but only get $500,000 if he won. This offer shocked the poker world. Who did Dwan think he was and how much of an advantage did he really think he had against the best online poker players in the world? The answer is no one really knows — even durrrr himself.
Three players have accepted the challenge thus far: Patrik Antonius, Phil Ivey and David Benyamine. All three are very well-known high stakes online poker players and the first two are members of Team Full Tilt. Benyamine, a former Full Tilt pro hailing from Paris, is a top online pot limit Omaha player who is famous for putting in super long sessions and have multi-million dollar swings on a regular basis. For whatever reason, it has been decided that Patrik Antonius will take Dwan on first. Thus far, there have been 1541 hands played and Dwan took approximately $135,000 off of Antonius. While this is a promising start for Dwan, $135,000 is not a big lead with over 48,000 hands to go at stakes like 200/400 PLO. In fact, it’s approximately equivalent to getting out to a 6-2 lead at the start of a basketball game — almost meaningless!
One good rule of thumb is that no limit holdem games are rarely beatable for more than 1/3rd of a small blind per hand. In other words, because of the variance and luck involved in poker, it’s hard to have a bigger edge than that. Obviously a bigger edge can exist, but that’s factoring in people playing reasonably serious and tight poker. In heads up, that edge can often get larger due to the increased skill involved in heads up poker. But at the highest stakes where skill tends to be very close, that can bring the number back down. But, assuming that Dwan has a 1/3rd of a small blind advantage, that means he will win, on average, about $67 per hand played ($200/3). Multiple $67 times 50,000 and you get $3.35 million. So, on average, Dwan can expect to never be able to win more than $3.35 over the course of this challenge but he’s willing to give up $1 million dollars in bonus money at the end. A risky proposition to be sure.
There are a few theories about why Dwan would offer such a challenge. One is that Full Tilt Poker put him up to it and is somehow adding incentives to the challenge for Dwan. Maybe he wants to be a member of Team Full Tilt (the elite team, not a simple Full Tilt Red Pro, of which there are many). It’s also possible that Dwan did it on the assumption that players like Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey would accept the challenge without fully thinking about the implications of playing four heads up tables at once. Very few players (even the best in the world) are capable of playing their best of the course of long sessions while playing four heads up tables. The game goes along at a rapid pace and it’s hard to keep up. Whatever Dwan’s reasoning, it stands to be seen whether he can capitalize on the acceptance of his challenge and defeat Patrik Antonius.
While TightPoker will be following the challenge regularly, we recommend you get daily updates on the Durrrr Challenge at durrrrchallenge.com. That website is totally devoted to covering the challenge and they’ll be posting frequently as the games progress.