11/19/09 – The first contender in Full Tilt Poker's Dwan Million Dollar Challenge, Italian Marcello ‘Luckexpress' Marigliano, has narrowly beaten the American online poker ace in London. ub
 
Each player bought into the heads up for $250 000, playing at the Les Ambassadeurs club in London in the series of three events organised by Matchroom Sports. The games are limited to 500 hands or 12 hours, whichever is achieved first.
 
It took 11 hours of NHLE and a further hour of Pot Limit Omaha to decide the issue, but Marigliano was up $22 500, giving him the victory in a confrontation notable for its swings of fortune. Although Dwan took most of the pots, his Italian opponent cleaned up in those where it mattered to secure a victory.
 
After the match Marigliano said: "In the end I won a small amount, but I'm happy though, as I won with bluffs. He [Dwan] raised a lot pre-flop and you have to play tight, but I made some good moves and I'm happy I proved I can play with Tom."
 
"It was a really aggressive match," said Dwan. "It's so crazy that at the end there was just a 25 000 difference – that's absurd. It's so unlikely that one of us didn't lose 500 000.
 
"I was up 150 000 at one or two points and down 200 000 – but it still wasn't as swingy as I thought it would be."
 
The rules for the challenge are straightforward: Dwan will take on each opponent across 500 hands of No Limit Hold’em or Pot Limit Omaha. The series has a buy-in of $500 000 and neither player is permitted to leave the table until they are broke or the requisite number of hands has been played.
 
Dwan was already in action with his second challenger as we went to press, facing the formidable Finn Ilari Sahamies. The duo started off playing $500/$1 000 Pot Limit Omaha at a hectic pace, battling through just over 50 hands in the first 60 minutes with the cards apparently favouring Dwan.