Doug Polk Calls the Durrrr Challenge the "Largest Scam in Poker History"

2 years ago
Doug Polk Calls the Durrrr Challenge a Scam
18:21
09 Aug

Allow me a quick history lesson. Way back in 2009, online poker phenomon Tom “Durrrr” Dwan issued his ‘Durrrr challenge’, an open challenge to the poker world (minus Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond) that he would play a challenge match of No Limit Hold’em Heads-Up, offering 3 to 1 odds on $500,000 where Durrrr would risk $1.5 million to the opponents $500,000 with the winner taking the others stake if they were ahead after 50,000 hands.

Durrrr won the first challenge against Patrik Antonius after Patrik bought out late on. Next to take on the Durrrr challenge was Dan “Jungleman12” Cates, a relatively unknown player at the time, but as we now know, someone with lots of game and subsequent success. Dan proceeded to take a big lead after 20,000, but following Black Friday play slowed to a frustrating grind then halting with no play in almost three years.


In an effort to get play moving, an ‘incentive program’ between was agreed where Durrrr would pay substantial penalties to Jungleman if there was no play between them for two months. Unfortunately this did nothing but see Durrrr rack up $300,000 of non-playing penalties. Jungleman recently revealed that Durrrr has stopped responding to his calls and texts and he remains around $1.2 million up after around 20,000 hands of the 50,000 having been played. To this day he hits the poker media to criticize Durrrr for not completing the challenge and many others share his frustration.

Enter Doug Polk. He has had enough and voiced his thoughts very eloquently on YouTube where he has a successful channel, where he echoed the views and sentiments of many poker fans around the world who were very excited when the challenge started in 2011 but who became extremely frustrated when, in October 2016, three years had passed since any hands were played. Polk took to his ‘Polkernews’ program to give his thoughts on Durrrr and his thoughts on the durrrr challenge in general. He didn’t hold back.


If you don’t have time to watch the video, here is a summary of Polk’s comments.

  • Between Tom Dwan and Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, Dwan was more of the “fish on a heater” having won most of his money from Cirque Du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, who lost millions in 2009 in the highest stakes cash games on Full Tilt Poker.
  • Dwan is a reasonably good player but he was aggressive with his bankroll and ran hot at the right time.
  • Polk gets asked a lot about what Durrrr is up to, which he finds strange as he doesn’t really know him and does not consider Durrrr a friend.
  • He feels the Durrrr challenge was a scam because both players were supposed to escrow to Phil Ivey, $1.5 million from Durrrr and $500,000 from Jungleman. Jungleman escrowed but Durrrr did not.
  • Polk feels the challenge is unlikely to ever resume.
  • As the money is not escrowed the side bet cannot be completed and because Durrrr has a deficit Polk feels Durrrr is deliberately not playing because he is both losing the challenge now and likely to lose overall. Polk says this money is effectively “Jungleman’s money” so Durrrr has scammed him.
  • Polk has friends who have tons of side action on Jungleman winning and Durrrr has gone “conveniently missing” as he puts it and gets away with it because he failed to escrow the money. This has cost everyone equity in Polk’s view.
  • Polk feels this is “****** up and should not be tolerated by the poker community.”
  • Polk feels anyone who defends Durrrr does not recognise that not to escrow is scamming the opponent.
  • In Polk’s view this is the biggest scam that has ever happened to an individual in poker.

You can watch this and other videos from Doug Polk by clicking this link and subscribing to his YouTube channel.


Notwithstanding the mash-up on the end played out to Daniel Powter’s 2005 hit, ‘Bad Day’ which is a light ending to the video that is pretty hard-hitting stuff and very critical of Durrrr.

Polk also made further comments on the Power Poker Podcast (see 45.20). Initially in the interview I noted that Polk was unaware Durrrr had been sighted in Vegas and was pleased to note that he was safe, as numerous rumours abounded about Durrrr’s wellbeing, but nevertheless Polk repeats many of the criticisms of him and it is clear he has no time for Durrrr and his antics surrounding this challenge.


My research suggests the poker community remains split on this issue but what most people want, as I do, is the challenge to either end and be settled or, better yet, be played to a finish so we can rail the action.

Personally I doubt the challenge will ever be completed and I think Durrrr should be criticised for not escrowing his side of the money if that was the agreement, particularly as he issued the challenge under his terms. I’m sure Ivey would have forwarded the money by now had he had it in his possession. For me too much water has gone under the bridge and I always thought offering 3 to 1 was generous anyway and would always be taken up by heads-up experts who felt Durrrr was offering value.

What is your view and do you think the challenge will ever restart?


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Malcolm comes from Consett in the North East of England and is an avid poker player and writer.Read more

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