Move over Polk and Negreanu: Galfond Challenge is Neck and Neck

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: December 11, 2020 9:00 pm EST

If you’re bored of the one-sided affair in the Doug Polk versus Daniel Negreanu match, perhaps the Galfond Challenge is more up your alley. Phil Galfond has now completely erased a massive deficit against Chance Kornuth. But the highly competitive match is too close to call.

Negreanu and Polk have now completed over 9,800 hands, with Polk leading by just under $1 million. It has long been abundantly clear who is destined to win that no-limit hold’em poker battle.

But we couldn’t even pretend to guess who will end up winning the third Galfond Challenge. That is because barely more than one full buy-in separates these talented poker pros.

Galfond entered the contest a few months ago as a heavy favorite. As such, he laid 4-1 odds on a $250,000 wager (his $1 million to Kornuth’s $250,000). After the challenge, the losing player is owed that side bet money on top of the amount they won during the 35,000 hands they agreed to play.

Galfond Challenge is up for grabs

For the first nine sessions, everything went as planned. Galfond was up nearly $200,000 at the $100/$200 PLO stakes on Many were left wondering why Kornuth would even take on such a difficult task, battling against arguably the best PLO player of all-time.

But then he began making all the doubters look bad. Kornuth would go on to dominate the challenge for the following couple of months, at one point running up a $340,000 profit. And then the tides turned the other way yet again. The Galfond Challenge has been dominated by Galfond the past few weeks. He’s erased a massive deficit and, for the first time in a long time, has taken over the lead.

But that lead is quite small. Following Thursday’s session, Galfond leads by just $23,000 through 19,300 hands. That is barely more than one $20,000 buy-in. Given that they’ve played so many hands, it’s clear there isn’t a huge difference in skill between these players.

With that said, the momentum is clearly now on Galfond’s side. But, as any poker player knows, it doesn’t take long for momentum to shift the other way. We’ve already seen numerous momentum shifts during this lengthy heads-up PLO battle.

Most of the poker world right now is tuned in to the Polk versus Negreanu match. If the Galfond Challenge continues heading in this direction with some competitive play, the fans will start tuning in again.

They’ve agreed to play 35,000 hands, and have completed 55% of the challenge in more than three months. You can expect this one to finish sometime around late January or early February.

Galfond and Kornuth, both long-time poker coaches and poker champions, will get back to the virtual felt Friday morning. You can catch the action live on Twitch.

Featured image source: Twitter