Top 5 of 2009: The durrrr Challenge

Tom Dwan
Despite waning public interest, the durrrr Challenge still makes No. 3 on PokerListings' Top Five Poker News Stories of 2009.

PokerListings has criss-crossed the planet this year bringing you the biggest and best poker news from every corner of the globe. Now that 2009 is coming to a close, we’ve decided to sift through the literally thousands of headlines searching for the year’s top stories.

With an eye on the great poker personalities that have made the scene and the interesting fodder they’ve provided for us over the past 12 months, we’ve come up with our very own Top Five Poker News Stories of 2009.

The plan is to present them to you every other day from now until New Year’s Eve and we continue today with No. 3: The durrrr Challenge.

Details first leaked on the Two Plus Two Poker Forums just after the start of the New Year and Tom Dwan was forced to release the first set of rules for what was already being dubbed the durrrr Challenge.

Simply put, the bet was $500,000 and Dwan was offering 3:1 to any player, except Phil Galfond, who could beat him over 50,000 hands, four-tabling $200/$400 Pot-Limit Omaha or No-Limit Hold’em.

To no one’s surprise, the biggest names in high-stakes poker announced their intention to take on the challenge immediately. But guys like Phil Ivey and David Benyamine were going to have to wait for their shot at $1.5 million, as it was announced in January that Finn Patrik Antonius would be first.

Poker forums were flooded with discussions over how much money would be won and lost over 50,000 hands and speculation over who, if anyone, could beat the vaunted durrrr.  

Rumors of the expected start date kept the entire poker world on edge and on the Full Tilt rail nightly waiting for the cards to hit the air before they finally got going Feb. 18 with Dwan taking Antonius for $134k over approximately 1,500 hands.

Several battles  followed with Antonius and Dwan taking turns beating up on one another and the poker world was enthralled, pouring over the details of each session ad nauseum. One group even started an entire website solely dedicated to coverage of the durrrr Challenge.

But just as it seemed interest in the challenge peaked, something bigger and better came along.

Dwan says he started the challenge as a way to spur on action at the highest stakes online, but suddenly the action needed very little help to get going.

Names like theASHMAN103 and martonas had suddenly become the catalysts for almost nightly $300/$600 and $500/$1,000 games and Antonius and durrrr were forced to either put the challenge on the backburner, or miss out on the biggest action online poker had ever seen.

They chose the former.

“I was shocked that there was so much action this year,” Dwan told PokerListings. “The reason we haven’t played that much is because there have been so many sick games - Higher stakes than $200/$400 and running all the time and stuff. It took over. It did.”

As the gap between sessions grew larger, public interest seemed to fall off and the high stakes action outside of the challenge continued to dominate with the emergence of an unknown Swede calling himself Isildur1 in the fourth quarter of 2009.

“Obviously I think really highly of Patrik’s game and he thinks really highly of mine, so we are going to choose to play in the ring games with people we don’t know that well when they are running at two and three times the stakes,” Dwan explained. “There’s been $300/$600 running a bunch and $500/1k games and obviously with this Isildur guy that’s playing lately, there’s been tons of games with him and it just all took precedence over it.”

Following a session last week, Dwan is currently up close to $1 million with 60% of the challenge in the books. Amazingly, the two have wagered over $240 million over 95 hours this year and the finish appears no closer than when they started.

However, Dwan says they will get through it.

“We have a big bet on it so we’ve got to settle it somehow,” he said. “And I am going to play more players in the future under a very similar format, but it’s going to have to change. The side bet will be the same. Maybe we will just up the stakes, I’m not really sure.”

One thing is for sure, if the durrrr Challenge ever represents the highest stakes games online again, the public will be gripped again.

And despite interest waning these days, because of the initial peak and sheer scope of the challenge, it is certainly worthy of the No. 3 spot on PokerListings’ Top Five Poker News Stories of 2009. 


PokerListings' Top Five Poker News Stories of 2009:

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