Phil Galfond still has a huge lead despite Chance Kornuth’s recent winning session

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: October 12, 2020 6:36 pm EDT

With over 8,000 hands played in the third installment of the Galfond Challenge, Phil Galfond has a huge lead over Chance Kornuth. But the Chip Leader Coaching founder posted a bounce back performance on Saturday to make it more respectable.

The online poker pros — both of whom run poker training websites — are competing for potentially millions of dollars in a highly publicized online poker competition. The name of the game is pot-limit Omaha — Galfond’s specialty, and the stakes are $200/$400.

Each of the 35,000 hands they’ll play during the challenge will take place on, which is available in Nevada where both participants reside. They aren’t playing on Galfond’s poker site, Run it Once, because the site isn’t available to U.S. players and neither player agreed to travel outside the country to compete.

Thus far, through 10 full sessions, Galfond holds a lead of $200,000, which isn’t unexpected given he entered the Galfond Challenge as a 3-1 favorite. Should he hold that lead throughout the competition, or any lead at all after all 35,000 hands are dealt, Kornuth will owe him an additional $250,000. But if the reverse is true, he would owe his opponent $1 million.

Kornuth making a comeback?

On October 2, Kornuth was down over $280,000, and his account balance was down to nearly $0. Given this is a high-stakes match, each player needs to keep a significant amount of money in their online poker account in order to compete.

But Kornuth had reached his deposit limits and was unable to continue in the challenge for a full week before getting that issue corrected. As soon as he did, the poker pros went back at it on Sunday, and it was a glorious day for Kornuth, who got back to within striking distance.

Kornuth booked a $78,000 win, or about the equivalent of two full buy-ins, and now has the match down to slightly over a $200,000 deficit. The players have completed just over 8,000 hands, so we’re still in the early stages of the Galfond Challenge.

The Chip Leader Coaching founder dodged a crucial early river card in a $62,000 pot on Saturday to help him book a much needed win. With both players all-in on the turn in the aforementioned hand, Kornuth had a set of 6’s and was up against Galfond’s combo draw (open-ended straight and flush draws).

The river was a blank and Kornuth could breathe a sigh of relief. Play was competitive the remainder of the session. They went back and forth for five hours in total but that one hand was the key to Kornuth’s winning day. Had the river in that crucial pot gone the other way, he may have instead booked a losing session, or a very small victory.

There’s still plenty of time for Kornuth to rally from a $200,000 deficit. Pot-limit Omaha is a high-variance game, and there will many more swings throughout the competition. On the other hand, there’s still plenty of time for Galfond to pull away even further and finish the competition up seven figures. Galfond and Kornuth will return to for the 11th session of the Galfond Challenge on Tuesday morning.

Featured image source: Twitter