Galfond Challenge: Galfond Up Small on Kornuth After Four Days

Phil Galfond and Chance Kornuth are off and battling in their 35,000-hand match.

After a few months of quiet during the summer while several online poker tournament series took over the headlines, the Galfond Challenge is back, with Phil Galfond against Chance Kornuth underway on

The parameters this time around: 35,000 hands of pot-limit Omaha at $100/$200 with the Run It Once Poker founder laying a mighty price to his fellow coach: €1 million against Kornuth’s €250,000.

The rounds was good to the Chip Leader Coaching boss. Kornuth booked a $33,500 win on Day 1. However, Galfond struck back in slightly greater force on Day 2, taking Kornuth for about $45,000 to grab a small lead. He followed with another win on Day 3, while Kornuth won on Day 4 to make it a fairly even match in the early going.

Day 1

Galfond collected the first big pot of the challenge about an hour in, when he was already ahead something like $10K. Kornuth three-bet and then came out with $1,800, half pot, on {k-Clubs}{2-Spades}{10-Diamonds}. Galfond called, bringing a {9-Diamonds}. Kornuth barreled again for $5,400 and a {7-Hearts} completed the board. There was just under pot to play left, $16.5K.

Kornuth opted to shove and Galfond didn’t need too long before calling with {k-Diamonds}{j-Hearts}{8-Clubs}{7-Spades} for the second nuts. Kornuth had an airball with {a-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}{q-Hearts}{5-Hearts}.

Kornuth worked his way back though, and a seemingly boring hand developed where Kornuth raised, Galfond three-bet, and Galfond continued small for $1,200 on {9-Clubs}{j-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds}. Kornuth called and the {4-Spades} checked through to a {j-Hearts} river. Galfond checked and Kornuth bet $3,000. Galfond sprang to life with a pot-sized reraise to $15K, and Kornuth put the last $3K in. Galfond tanked until his bar was nearly exhausted before calling with fours full of nines, but Kornuth had the quads.

Galfond continued to bleed cash on that table as Kornuth built up to $100K, and they reset the stacks after Galfond got a double in a four-bet pot when the flop came {2-Hearts}{6-Hearts}{q-Diamonds}. Galfond had binked top two with {q-Spades}{6-Spades}{9-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} while Kornuth had {a-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}{j-Hearts}{5-Hearts} for a flush draw plus backdoors. He turned the {k-Clubs} for additional outs but improved no further.

One of the biggest pots of the day developed awhile later when Kornuth got the four-bet in preflop and Galfond led out small for $2,400 on {3-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds}. Kornuth called, bringing the {9-Diamonds}. Galfond bet again with $7,800, half the pot. Kornuth peeled again and the river was the {8-Hearts}. Galfond stuck in the last $12,484 and Kornuth tanked a long time before calling with {a-Diamonds}{a-Spades}{10-Clubs}{5-Clubs} for just aces with the nut blocker. It was good, though, as Galfond didn’t have so much as a single diamond: {q-Hearts}{10-Hearts}{10-Spades}{8-Spades}.

Galfond did close out strong, winning a $26K pot when he turned kings full and got a pot-sized river raise paid after a turn slowplay. Plus, he won a four-bet pot on the other table, potting the flop and forcing a fold. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome his earlier losses as he posted an estimated tally of -$33,500.

Hands Played: ~750
Results: Chance Kornuth +~$33,500
Full session video

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Day 2

No archived video exists for this match, but Galfond was in a hole after the first hour or so, as Kornuth built a lead of around $40,000.

Awhile after that, they played for stacks. Galfond opened on the button and called a three-bet, seeing a {10-Diamonds}{9-Spades}{3-Clubs} flop. Kornuth continued small with $1,200 and Galfond peeled, bringing a {q-Spades}. This time, Kornuth potted for $6K and Galfond called again, setting up pot to play on the {6-Diamonds} river. Kornuth shoved for just under $17K effective. Galfond went deep into the tank and finally clicked call just a bit before his time ran dry. Kornuth showed {a-Hearts}{k-Hearts}{k-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds} for two nut blockers and kings, and Galfond took it with {q-Clubs}{10-Hearts}{8-Spades}{2-Spades} for queens up.

That hero-call, worth about a $52K pot, got Galfond close to even.

Galfond continued to win medium-sized pots and before long, he had about $55K on both tables and Kornuth was back down to his starting $20K buy-ins. Galfond then opened up a decent lead when he nailed the nuts on the river with a nine-high straight and got a pot-sized bet of $7K paid.

Another huge pot went to Galfond in a single-raised pot when {2-Diamonds}{8-Spades}{4-Diamonds} flopped. Kornuth bet the flop in position, Galfond check-raised, Kornuth three-bet and Galfond shoved. A call created a pot of $42K.

Galfond: {8-Clubs}{8-Hearts}{j-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}
Kornuth: {a-Diamonds}{k-Diamonds}{7-Hearts}{5-Clubs}

Kornuth missed the {9-Hearts} turn and the river gave Galfond quads.

After getting his teeth kicked in for awhile, Kornuth struck back on a board of {5-Spades}{9-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}{7-Hearts}. Galfond sprung a check-raise to $12,000 and faced a shove worth just under $22K. Deciding he was committed, Galfond called with {q-Hearts}{3-Hearts}{j-Diamonds}{4-Clubs} for a combo draw. Only the hearts were live as Kornuth held {q-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds}{j-Hearts}{8-Clubs} for a made straight with an identical higher draw. A {2-Spades} river meant a $46K pot for Kornuth.

He kept the momentum going, getting thin value with a ten-high flush and a pair blocker, potting river for $7K and getting called light by an unknown hand. Then, Galfond potted for $12K on a flushing river on an ultra-coordinated board after the turn checked through. Kornuth shoved and got through and appeared to be roughly even with that win.

Galfond righted the ship by picking off a couple of sizable bluffs, both times when he flopped huge hands and Kornuth went for check-raises and barreled turns and rivers.

After five hours of play, they called it a session with Run It Once later tweeting that Galfond had won $45K.

Hands Played: ~850
Results: Phil Galfond +~$45,000

Day 3

Again, no video archive exists for this match.

It wasn’t quite for stacks, but the first big pot came up about 25 minutes in, though it didn’t get big until the river. A flopped six-high straight remained the nuts, and Galfond led out on the end from the big blind only to face a raise on the king-high board. He potted right back to about $13K and Kornuth tank-called with a set of kings and a five blocker, which was a winner against Galfond’s own single-blocker bluff.

However, Galfond won enough of the other pots to make it so he was up an estimated few thousand at the first break.

Galfond escaped a rough spot when they got all in on a board of {q-Spades}{10-Diamonds}{2-Clubs}{8-Spades}. Galfond had the nuts with {j-Hearts}{9-Hearts}{7-Spades}{4-Hearts}, but Kornuth had him freerolled in multiple ways with {a-Diamonds}{j-Spades}{10-Clubs}{9-Spades}. Luckily for Galfond, the river was a {6-Hearts}, enabling the get half of the $57K in the middle.

Kornuth attempted a large bluff catch when he three-bet preflop and bet $1,800 on {3-Diamonds}{6-Clubs}{j-Diamonds}, enticing a call from Galfond. On the pairing {3-Clubs}, Kornuth slowed down with a check and called $3,600. On the {j-Clubs} river, Galfond went into his time bank then piled for $13K. Kornuth tanked even longer then called with {q-Hearts}{q-Diamonds}{9-Clubs}{6-Hearts}, but the light call failed as Galfond had {k-Clubs}{7-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}{4-Spades} for a flopped wrap that ran out a backdoor flush.

Galfond had given back much, maybe all, of his winnings when a big pot developed on {q-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}{2-Spades}{3-Spades}{3-Hearts}. Kornuth bet half the pot and called a pot-sized raise on the turn, about $16,000. On the river, Kornuth check-folded for his last 13K, and Galfond retook a small lead.

Galfond picked it up in the following couple of hours, winning several sizable but non-all-in pots that boosted his win to around $30,000 or $40,000. Showdowns were few and far between in big pots, as each time a player piled river the other decided against looking up the final bet.

Kornuth won a big pot when he opened on the button and Galfond three-bet, bringing a {k-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}{a-Hearts} flop. Galfond potted for $3,600 and Kornuth peeled, and Galfond liked the {9-Hearts} enough to pot again. Kornuth shoved and Galfond called for a $40K pot.

Galfond: {9-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds}{6-Hearts}{5-Hearts}
Kornuth: {a-Diamonds}{k-Hearts}{q-Hearts}{4-Clubs}

Kornuth had a nice spot with top two and nut hearts against a pair of nines, and one live flush draw with a gutter. The {5-Clubs} river didn’t do it for Galfond, and Kornuth moved into the green.

A beautiful spot developed for Kornuth when he opened on the button, Galfond three-bet, Kornuth four-bet, and Galfond got it in for $27K preflop. Galfond was in rough shape with {a-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{k-Diamonds}{k-Hearts} against {a-Diamonds}{a-Hearts}{5-Hearts}{2-Spades} but the {j-Spades}{q-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}{10-Clubs} board bailed him out with a winning straight.

There was nearly $10,000 in the middle on {q-Hearts}{k-Hearts}{9-Spades}{10-Clubs} when stacks went in for a $40K pot once again. Galfond had flopped the nuts and turned better nuts with {a-Clubs}{j-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}{2-Spades} while Kornuth had {j-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{9-Hearts}{8-Spades} for the second nuts and a set. The {a-Diamonds} failed to improve his hand.

They quit after a long session of more than five hours with Galfond estimated to be up a bit and full results pending.

Hands Played: ~900
Results: Phil Galfond +~$67,000

Day 4

There weren’t many huge showdowns in the early going, but Kornuth saw enough of the medium and large pots go his way that he cooked up a decent win of around $30,000 in the early going.

He added to that after they took break in a single-raised pot when {6-Hearts}{9-Spades}{j-Diamonds} flopped. Kornuth bet in position, Galfond check-raised to $2,400, Kornuth came back with $8,400, and Galfond piled. Kornuth quickly got in there with {j-Clubs}{j-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{2-Spades} for the nuts. Galfond had the top wrap with {k-Clubs}{q-Clubs}{10-Clubs}{2-Hearts} but saw the board brick out to send the $40K pot to his opponent.

A notable hand went down about two hours in when Galfond put in the three-bet preflop and Kornuth peeled. They checked the flop to a board of {4-Clubs}{6-Clubs}{10-Spades}{2-Diamonds}. Galfond checked again and Kornuth bet $1,800. Galfond called and the river was the {4-Diamonds}. Galfond checked and called $5,400, winning a shocking showdown with just {q-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}{6-Hearts}{5-Hearts} for sixes up as Kornuth showed {k-Spades}{8-Spades}{9-Diamonds}{3-Hearts}.

The players were almost 200 big blinds deep when they played a huge pot for a three-bet from Galfond. Galfond went with a small bet of $1,200 on the {10-Diamonds}{a-Clubs}{k-Spades} flop. Kornuth continued and faced a pot-sized bet of $6,000 on the {6-Diamonds} turn. The river was a {6-Spades} and Galfond potted once more. This time, Kornuth tanked and then shoved. Galfond had to release, and at the same time, he bluffed off on the other table to lose a pot of $37K when Kornuth picked off his river pot with two pair and a straight blocker.

At that point, Kornuth was racing toward a six-figure win. Galfond managed to turn things around in the second half, though.

He started by getting a four-bet in preflop to make the pot $10,800. Kornuth led into him for $3,600 on the {10-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds} flop and Galfond called, bringing the {7-Clubs}. Kornuth potted for $18,000, nearly everything Galfond had. Galfond was ready with {a-Clubs}{a-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}{q-Hearts}. He only had a few cards to fade as Kornuth showed {j-Clubs}{4-Clubs}{10-Spades}{6-Spades} for top two on the flop.

With the session close to winding down, Galfond earned another stack. He raised and called a three-bet then called a continuation-bet of half the pot on {5-Hearts}{2-Clubs}{q-Hearts}, bringing the {a-Spades}. Kornuth bet on the large side with $5,400 but that was met with a pot-sized shove of $21,666. Kornuth decided he couldn’t get away from {a-Diamonds}{q-Diamonds}{j-Hearts}{4-Hearts} but was up against {9-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds} for the nuts. The {10-Clubs} kept Galfond best for a $50K pot.

The rally was enough to get Galfond close to unstuck on the day but he still ate a small loss of $20K.

Hands Played: ~750
Results: Chance Kornuth +~$20,000
Full session video


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