Phil Galfond got off to his typical rocky start in the Galfond Challenge, this one against poker coach Chance Kornuth, who booked a $33,500 win Wednesday. But the match is just getting started.
Early momentum may help, but it likely won’t be a deciding factor in this marathon challenge. The poker pros are competing in a 35,000-hand clash at $200/$400 pot-limit Omaha cash game stakes. WSOP.com is hosting the contest despite Galfond owning a poker site, Run it Once. That’s because RIO isn’t available in the US and neither player wants to travel to another country during COVID-19.
After every hand in the challenge is complete, the player who lost money will owe the winner a side bet. Since Galfond is the favorite, he is betting $1 million to Kornuth’s $250,000. PokerShares initially listed Galfond as a 7-1 favorite before dropping it to 4-1.
Challenger comes to play
On Wednesday, Kornuth showed that he isn’t a pushover. Galfond, if he didn’t already, now knows he’s going to be in for a battle.
Play was live-streamed by a few random streamers on Twitch, including ThalloPoker. Galfond typically streams his action on the Run it Once Poker Twitch channel. But he wasn’t ready to go by the time the first session began at 10 am PT Wednesday. So, he asked on Twitter for other streamers to record the action.
Kornuth out-played Galfond during the first session. But with over 34,000 hands remaining, it’s too early for either player to get too excited or too down. Galfond is used to getting off to a slow start. He trailed “VeniVidi1993” by nearly $1 million in the first Galfond Challenge before pulling off a miraculous comeback. And he lost the first session of his first two competitions, but won both.
Galfond is the heavy favorite due to being considered arguably the best pot-limit Omaha player ever. Kornuth, although he’s a talented overall poker player, is more known for his no-limit hold’em prowess. But he’s off to a strong start in the third Galfond Challenge and the odds will likely now shift a bit towards his favor.
On Wednesday, Kornuth, who founded the poker training site Chip Leader Coaching, came ready to compete. Play lasted about five hours and 45 minutes, about the same length of time you can expect from most sessions throughout the lengthy challenge.
Kornuth played under the screen name “BingShui,” and Galfond went with “HeyGuys” instead of his trademark Full Tilt Poker moniker, “OMGClayAiken.”
Neither player pulled out to much of a sizable lead at any point in the day. At just beyond the midway point, the players were right about even. And although Kornuth’s $33,000 win may seem large, it really isn’t. That’s less than one $40,000 buy-in.
Kornuth’s winning session was thanks in large part to a massive pot he won with just top pair, a rarity in pot-limit Omaha. He sniffed out Galfond’s triple-barrel bluff on the river with top pair to take down a $56,000 pot. Outside of that hand, the session was pretty evenly matched.
Play in the third Galfond Challenge is likely to last until sometime in November. Galfond’s Run it Once Poker Twitch channel will stream most of the action live.
Featured image source: Twitch