Phil Galfond Stages Epic Comeback; Here Are Four More

How many of you have managed to stage a poker comeback in the same vein of these five amazing feats?

Everyone loves an underdog story, especially when the comeback is made at the poker table. Poker is littered with stories of players defying the odds. We’ve selected five of our favorites for you to enjoy.

Phil Galfond’s Epic Comeback Against “Venividi1993”

Phil Galfond staged a comeback from ?900K down to win his 50K hand challenge

Phil Galfond was a substantial favorite against online grinder “Venividi1993” in his heads-up challenge. Galfond took on the unknown PLO player in a 50,000 hand €100/€200 cash game over the course of 39 sessions.

Variance in poker throws up some strange results, but nobody expected what happened in this battle. Venividi1993 seemingly could do nothing wrong and continually won key battles with three-time WSOP bracelet winner Galfond.

The challenger managed to forge a €900,000 lead over his talented opponent; Galfond looked dead and buried. So shocked was Galfond that he took a break from the game to re-evaluate his strategy.

Whatever he studied worked because Galfond began winning again. He won so much that he actually won his challenge with only 75 hands to spare! Such an epic comeback.

Stu Ungar Earns the Nickname “The Comeback Kid”

Stu Ungar became known as The Comeback Kid

Many regard Stu Ungar as the greatest poker player of all-time. There are so many ridiculous stories about Ungar that you don’t know which are true and which are not. Him becoming the three-time WSOP Main Event champion is a true story, one earning him the nickname “The Comeback Kid.”

Ungar had struggled with his addiction to cocaine for several years. The continual abuse wrecked his mental state and ruined his body. Billy Baxter, despite this, staked Ungar in the 1997 WSOP Main Event. Ungar had only cashed once in a live tournament since 1991 so it seemed like a strange decision.

Baxter looked set to be taken for a fool because Ungar fell asleep a the table several times on Day 1. Ungar manage to not only compose himself but even emerge victorious to win his third Main Event! Everyone called him “The Comeback Kid” after that.

Sadly, Ungar died a year later. His body was found in a Las Vegas hotel room. He was essentially penniless despite winning an estimated $30 million during his career.

The Famous Jack Straus Comeback

Have you ever heard the poker terms “a chip and a chair”? It stems from the remarkable comeback story involved Jack “Treetop” Straus.

Straus was all in during Day 2 of the 1982 WSOP Main Event. He lost the hand, rose from his seat, but was stopped from leaving the table. Why? Because he had a single 500 denomination chip that had slipped under a napkin. Straus hadn’t verbally stated he was all-in so was allowed to continue playing.

Amazingly, he staged a superb comeback and went on to win the entire tournament! Straus was later posthumously inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Greg Merson Comes Back From 3BB to Win WSOP Main Event

Read more about greg merson's amazing comeback story

Greg Merson’s personal journey is already an impressive comeback story. The professional poker player from Washington D.C. suffered from drug addiction before getting himself clean.

He entered the 2012 WSOP Main Event and made it through to Day 3. Merson lost a big pot that left him with only 50,000 chips, which was three big blinds at the time. Most players would have given up and simply jammed all-in at the first opportunity. Merson isn’t like most players.

The cash game specialist chose his spots carefully and started rebuilding his stack. And rebuild he did, eventually reaching the final table with 28,725,000 chips. You can already tell that Merson’s comeback completed when he became the last player standing, thus securing an $8,531,853 payout and a coveted gold bracelet.

Olivier Busquet Turns Around 20:1 Deficit

Olivier Busquet had the reputation of being the best heads-up poker player in the world. He terrorised opponents at PokerStars under the alias “Livb112” where he won millions of dollars playing HUSNG games.

Busquet found himself heads-up in the 2009 WPT Borgata Poker Open. Jeremy Brown was Busquet’s last remaining opponent, one with no prior live cashes. The writing would have been on the wall for Brown had he not held a 20:1 chip lead! Everyone expected the unknown Brown to become a WPT champion.

That was until Busquet figured out Brown and embarked on a superb comeback. Busquet channelled all of his superior heads-up knowledge and chipped away at Brown’s lead. Amazingly, Busquets came back and got his hands on the winner’s trophy and $925,514

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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