Chance Kornuth has turned the Galfond Challenge into a blowout. But, to the surprise of many, he’s the one who is out in front, and not Phil Galfond, who was heavily favored.
Galfond entered the contest as a 3-1 favorite (some gamblers even laid 4-1 odds). He’s considered arguably the best pot-limit Omaha player in the world and that is the game they’re playing, at $100/$200 stakes on WSOP.com. So, most poker pros expected him to crush Kornuth, a no-limit hold’em crusher.
Through the first nine matches, or about 20% of the 35,000 hands they’re going to play, it all went by the script. Galfond dominated and led by as much as $280,000 at one point. No one was surprised with the outcome and some even wondered if Kornuth would even bother continuing much longer. If he would have backed out, he would have owed Galfond an additional $250,000 for their agreed upon side bet.
But he never strongly considered calling it quits. Instead, he returned to the virtual felt last week following a brief break due to some deposit issues on WSOP.com. And ever since the 10th session — we’re now through 14 sessions — he has completely dominated the match and is now considered the favorite. What a difference a few days makes in pot-limit Omaha.
But it’s far from over
Entering session 14, Kornuth had a $33,000 lead, completely erasing the previous $280,000 deficit. During that most recent session, he booked yet another massive win, his fourth in a row, for $157,000, his best day yet. That puts him out in front by $190,000, which is the equivalent of nine-and-a-half full buy-ins ($20,000 each).
For Kornuth, he’s in a much better position than he was a week ago. The breaks have gone his way lately and he’s far out-performing his pre-match expectations. And he’s completely shifted momentum and the betting odds in his direction. But only 6,850 hands have been played so far, which means they still have 28,150 hands to go, or 80.4% of the match.
Galfond was in a similar position not too long ago. In fact, against “VeniVidi1993,” he trailed by a much larger deficit — $900,000 — before rallying to pull of a miraculous comeback. Pot-limit Omaha is a swingy game with high-variance.
This past week, the crucial all-in pots have gone Kornuth’s way. During the first nine matches, most of those hands went Galfond’s way. Next week and in the coming weeks, that could all change. Still, he’s gone from a heavy underdog who was down a massive amount to the favorite and up a sizable amount.
If Kornuth holds on and wins after all 35,000 hands complete, beyond the money he won in the cash games, he’ll receive an extra $1 million in a side bet from Galfond.
Featured image source: Twitter