Challenge Anarchy

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Poker Challenge Anarchy!

2020 has brought with it a slew of ultimate poker challenges involving some of the world’s best players. Daniel Smyth investigates the various sick props on offer.

The old adage that poker takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master is certainly true, so why then, if perfecting the game is so challenging, are so many players obsessed with dreaming up different quirky challenges?

I Kid You Not

One player never content to let his game drop or his profile slip into mediocrity is the Canadian poker whiz Daniel Negreanu. Kid Poker is currently embroiled in a poker challenge of celestial proportions and he hopes to follow in the footsteps of fellow pro, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.

With a starting bankroll of just $10, Kid Poker is attempting to work his way up the limits and mature his investment into $100,000 within three years. So how does the Canadian star intend to achieve this? “I’ll be playing No Limit Hold’em on Pokerstars, starting at $0.01/ $0.02,” he says. “I will then move up the limits when I have 500 big blinds at the next level.”

Most poker players ply their trade in the micro-limits through necessity rather than choice, so for one of the world’s top players to choose to go back to the bottom seems an odd challenge to want to undertake. The big question then is: Why? “I think it will be enlightening. Plus, it’s kinda fun.”

Certainly the low stakes grinders who subscribe to Daniel’s PokerVT will reap the benefits of seeing one of the game’s best dealing with everything from the mind-boggling to the ridiculous. But other than this is there any other real benefit from Daniel proving he can beat penny poker players? Already Daniel has admitted that he will move up limits without 500 big blinds if he thinks there is enough reason to and he won’t ever move down the limits. Self-discipline and practicing good fundamentals are the backbone to any successful poker player’s game and nowhere more so is the point more pertinent than at the micro and low stakes where tight aggressive ABC is almost foolproof. With this in mind, Daniel’s challenge can serve as an important lesson for any aspiring players, demonstrating that you are never too good to stop learning and periodically reassess the basic elements of your game. Micro-grinders can also take solace watching the likely struggles that a WSOP and WPT champion will face moving through the ranks.

Whatever the driving forces are behind this challenge there is certainly an element of self-indulgence and ego-boosting going on here. The poker world has no shortage of large egos, a la Mr Phil Hellmuth, and undeniably large amounts of self-belief and bravado are necessary if a player is going to be successful in the game. Daniel Negreanu is certainly no shrinking violet and perhaps this little challenge is a bit of an ego trip so that he can cement his place atop the poker world. Indeed, one of the main reasons why teams like Manchester United and Arsenal play pre-season friendlies against teams like Cambridge United are to give the players a confidence boost before the season starts. Crushing a team of footballing minnows inspires the players, boosts their confidence and allows them to go on and perform to the best of their abilities. Much the same could be said, not just for Daniel, but many poker players who set themselves challenges in the game. Whether it’s Annette Obrestad winning a tournament without looking at her cards, or the handful of seemingly suicidal maniacs who risk hundreds of thousands of dollars playing Phil Ivey heads-up over at RailHeaven. Overcoming certain challenges and proving something to yourself can have a huge positive effect on you confidence and the ability to play poker, or any game, with confidence is a major skill.

Whatever Daniel’s reasons there is no doubt that it will make for interesting viewing and it will definitely inject a level of entertainment and interest in the game away from the nosebleed stakes. For the latest developments in Daniel’s $10-$100,000 challenge you can visit the dedicated thread on the Full Contact Poker Forum, or alternatively, you can find yourself $10 and play the man himself on PokerStars. You may need to be quick though because at his current win rate it’s unlikely Daniel will be in the micro-games for much longer.

Serious Dwan Time

From low stakes to high stakes and one player who is bloated with confidence at the moment is Tom “Durrrr” Dwan. The internet phenom has issued a challenge of his own to the poker world.

Unlike Daniel the stakes in Tom’s challenge are slightly higher as the internet star, whom many consider (especially the 2+2 forumites) the best online player in the word, wants to multi-table 200/400 heads-up over a sample of 50,000 hands. The open challenge by “Durrrr” is the ultimate “HU4ROLLZ” battle and is undeniably an appendage-waving contest of epic proportions.

Durrrr is willing to play either No Limit Hold’em or Pot Limit Omaha and is laying odds of 3-1 that he will emerge victorious over the 50k hand sample. If any one of Durrrr’s opponents ends up just $1 ahead at the end then he is liable to pay them $1 million (in addition to any monies already won). However, if Durrrr is ahead after the match then his opponent will owe him a further $500,000. Many of the game’s biggest names, including Barry Greenstein, have already speculated that with the variance and stakes involved that if one player hits a bad run they could end up losing millions. Surprisingly the challenge is not open to Jman/OMGClayAiken, or Phil Galfond as his mother knows him, but already there has been verbal confirmation from Phil Ivey that he is willing to accept the challenge and strong rumours that Patrik Antonius is also keen to play. Even the degen of all degenerate online players, David Benyamine, has found a stable of backers willing to pit him against Tom. That could be a profitable punt when you consider many of the high stakes tracking sites show Benyamine has gotten the better of Tom for over $900k during their time spent playing together online.

The poker community is divided on whether Tom has bitten off more than he can chew with many doubting the edge he has against the likes of Ivey and Antonius. Without question Tom has the superior multi-tabling abilities when it comes to playing high stakes games, but whether this makes him a 3-1 favourite is debatable. You don’t get to where Durrrr is though without having a few ounces of intelligence and he undoubtedly expected at least one of the above to accept his challenge.

There is the chance that this challenge may be a cunning ploy designed to tempt lesser players to commit to a HU match over an extended period – a plausible excuse for Durrrr offering such attractive odds. The waters of the high stakes games are stocked with only a handful of sharks who like to give each other a wide birth and any hapless fish that happen to enter their waters are devoured rather quickly. Tom’s challenge may be just the bait he needs to lure a few minnows from out of the reeds for spot of heads-up.

Dwan has been, and to some extent still is, somewhat of an enigma in the poker world. His unassuming presence, slight awkwardness in the spotlight and degree of reticence has meant his online reputation has proliferated much more than his public profile. Even though he is probably the closest thing the poker community has to a prodigy the internet star still hasn’t managed to secure himself a sponsorship deal. Indeed, his cult status has started to earn him more minutes on our screens in recent months and appearances in shows such as the Full Tilt Million Dollar Cash Game and the forthcoming series of High Stakes Poker will do no harm to his marketability. However, if Durrrr emerges triumphant from this challenge then his name will certainly be etched into the annals of poker lore and the stock in the Durrrr brand may just go through the roof. Whatever the ramifications of his challenge, it’s safe to say that Mr Dwan is set to make the flocks of railbirds very happy indeed over the coming months.

2020 Online poker news blog