The Neverending Story: Durrrr Challenge Edition

Tournaments may be the bread and butter of the online poker world but nothing ever quite captivates the imaginations and enthusiasm of railbirds the same way high stakes cash game action has. From Johnny Lodden making his first forays into the realm of nosebleed online superstardom playing as “bad_ip” on the Prima network almost a decade ago, to Viktor “Isildur1” Blom continually stacking opponents and blowing million dollar runs on Full Tilt Poker (chances are he’s actually doing it while you’re reading this sentence), high stakes cash game wizards know how to bring the drama. Back in the day it seemed like the drama would only be ramping up higher and higher as high stakes dominator Tom “durrrr” Dwan issued a now infamous challenge.

The premise of the Durrrr Challenge was simple – Dwan laid 3 to 1 odds on $500,000 that he could beat any player (with the exception of Phil Galfond) online heads-up over 50,000 hands playing either PLO or NLHE at stakes of $200/$400 or higher. How could this be anything less than epic? Well – spoiler alert if you’ve managed to not follow the now years-long odyssey – it was anything but. This was supposed to be an event that took at most a few months, but things didn’t pan out that way. In fact, the 1st Durrrr Challenge – with Patrik Antonius as the opponent – has technically been going for 4.5 years now. The 2nd iteration of the challenge, which inexplicably started with Daniel “jungleman12” Cates even though the 1st one had basically ground to a halt, is also still on-going years down the line.

Now to be fair, we’re writing about this now because there’s been rumblings that Cates and Dwan are set to finish their heads-up battle soon, and with a structured game plan in hand no less (we’re clever like that). But while many seem to be of the opinion that these challenges faltered out of financial concerns from one party or another, or that Black Friday was partly to blame – it came along almost 2.5 years after the start of the Durrrr Challenge – no one seems willing to chalk it up to a much more simple fact. Poker players are a flakey bunch. That’s what happens when positive EV games go from being a thing you talk about with friends and look for on the weekends to becoming a definitive lifestyle choice. It’s the least glamorous explanation imaginable, but it’s the most likely one. In fact, the most valuable thing about the Durrrr Challenge to fans is the intriguing insight its repeated failure offered regarding the psyche of the high stakes pros involved.

These challenges aren’t even as much about the game anymore as they are a platform for poker melodrama at (literally) the highest stakes. These guys bicker, disagree, waffle on commitments, talk about – and sometimes to – each other through the media. In short, they’re human, and this challenge brought them closer to their fans regardless. Even if it proved to be a drawn out experience that didn’t at all end up where we as fans expected it to. Lastly, we should point out that yes, Jungleman has been fairly proactive about finishing the challenge lately. As he has a few other times in the past. We’re guessing that’s because playing durrr seems like the best spot for him right now. Could that change again next week, or next month? We will see. As for Dwan’s challenge with Antonius, its 80% of the way done with Dwan ahead by over $2 million. And no – we still don’t expect that to ever end.

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