Phil Galfond cedes early control of Galfond Challenge

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 09/28/2020

Phil Galfond claimed an early lead in the Galfond Challenge against Chance Kornuth through four matches, but it’s still anyone’s ballgame.

During the first four sessions, Galfond has won and lost twice. Kornuth won the most recent session on Sunday by about $20,000. That’s the equivalent of one full buy-in. The poker pros are playing pot-limit Omaha cash game on WSOP.com, a poker site that’s only available in New Jersey and Nevada, at the $100/$200 stakes, two hands at a time.

Kornuth, the founder of Chip Leader Coaching, took down Day 1 of the Galfond Challenge, winning about $13,000. His opponent then shipped the next two sessions for a combined $92,000, before Kornuth came back to book a $20,000 profit on Day 4. As it stands, Galfond is up around $59,000, or around three total buy-ins.

But the players are running a marathon, not a sprint. The online poker greats have only completed around 1/17 of the 35,000 hands they’ve agreed to play. Still, Galfond should feel ecstatic he’s in the lead, no matter how early it is. In his first competition against online poker pro “VeniVidi1993,” he was nearly $1 million in the hole early on. The PLO specialist then rallied to squeak out the match at the end of the 15,000 hands.

Galfond is attempting to win three straight heads-up competitions. In his last one, he jumped out to a quick massive lead against “ActionFreak,” and held on to take it down. This time around, he’s a huge favorite to beat Kornuth, one of the top no-limit hold’em players in the world.

Favorite holding his own, thus far

Galfond is favored due to his proven history of crushing it in the game of pot-limit Omaha. On Full Tilt Poker, he won millions of dollars playing against the top pros in the world. Should he win this match against Kornuth, he’ll take home a $250,000 side bet on top of his cash game winnings. But if he loses, he’ll owe Kornuth an additional $1 million. So, he’s risking potentially millions of dollars to prove he’s top dog.

Thus far, he’s doing rather well in proving why he began the challenge as a heavy 4-1 favorite. But with just over 2,000 hands played, the sample size isn’t large enough yet to determine if he’s running hot or if Kornuth is an inferior opponent.

Following his most recent session, which he lost, Galfond was satisfied to “only” lose by $20,000. That happens when a poker player is down by over $80,000 at one point in the session. It may have even felt like a win.

Kornuth briefly regained the overall lead during Sunday’s session. The poker superstars will take a day off before returning to the virtual felt on Tuesday. You can catch each hand live on Twitch, hosted by “ThalloPoker.”

Galfond isn’t just focused on the high-stakes heads-up poker challenge. He’s also currently attempting to dig up data on alleged poker cheater Mike Postle, who continues to proclaim he’s innocent and that there is no proof he cheated during numerous Stones Live streams.

Postle avoided legal issues recently when a California judge said there wasn’t proof he cheated. But Galfond, along with fellow gambler and poker pro Haralabos Voulgaris, hired data miners to dig up their own proof. The poker community, most of whom believe Postle is guilty, eagerly await the results.

Featured image source: Flickr