Phil Galfond chips away a small chunk of Chance Kornuth’s lead

Jon Sofen
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Posted on 10/29/2020

Phil Galfond stopped the bleeding, at least briefly, in the Galfond Challenge and has chipped away at Chance Kornuth’s lead. But he still holds a sizable deficit, albeit in the relatively early stages of the third Galfond Challenge.

Galfond and Kornuth are playing 35,000 hands at $100/$200 stakes of pot-limit Omaha on WSOP.com. Early in the match — well, earlier than it is now — the Run it Once poker site founder absolutely dominated Kornuth, who owns the Chip Leader Coaching poker training site.

At one point, nine sessions into the challenge, Galfond held a $280,000 lead, and some poker fans were even questioning if Kornuth should just give up and pay off the $250,000 side bet instead of losing more money, potentially $1 million.

Kornuth made what appears to be the smart move and continued playing. If he wins this challenge, he stands to receive $1 million from Galfond on top of however much money he earns during play. Thus far, through 8,500 hands (24.2%), he’s sitting pretty at a $234,000 profit.

That’s a stark contrast to his position a couple weeks ago when he was down $280,000 and had many in poker questioning why he’d take on such a difficult challenge. After all, Phil Galfond is considered to be the best PLO player in the world. And Galfond has already won two high-stakes challenges against a pair of tough online poker pros — “VeniVidi1993” and “ActionFreak.”

So, what could possibly bring Kornuth, an exceptional no-limit hold’em player and three-time WSOP bracelet winner, to think he could hang with the top PLO player? Clearly, he knew something the rest of us didn’t know, because he hasn’t just been competitive in this challenge. He’s dominated the match for quite some time. But Galfond might be turning a corner.

Galfond battles back to narrow deficit

After five consecutive losing sessions — two of which exceeded $150,000 — Galfond got a much needed victory on Tuesday. He turned a $99,000 profit, erasing more than one-third of his $298,000 deficit.

During Tuesday’s session, the tide turned a bit. Over the past couple of weeks, he’s been losing nearly every crucial all-in pot. When he’s got his money in on a draw or against a draw, he’s been losing. That’s helped Kornuth run up a massive lead. But on Tuesday, he actually won a couple of those key hands and finished with nearly a six-figure profit.

At the very least, the winning session helped to stop the bleeding. But on Wednesday, he couldn’t get much going again. On a positive note for the Run it Once founder, neither could his opponent. They went back and forth for five hours before Kornuth ended up winning the session by around $35,000, which really isn’t all that much given the stakes they are playing. Still, it was a sixth victory in the past seven sessions for Kornuth.

The Chip Leader Coaching founder’s lead is now at $234,000 through 8,500 hands. They still have 26,500 hands left to play and it will take a couple of months to finish this thing off. Kornuth and Galfond will take another break and return to WSOP.com for more of the Galfond Challenge on Election Day, November 3 (Tuesday).

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