Galfond Challenge: Galfond Retakes the Lead over Kornuth


Phil Galfond is doing work of late against Chance Kornuth.

The battle between Phil Galfond and Chance Kornuth at $100/$200 pot-limit Omaha for the Galfond Challenge has been a swingy one thus far, and the latest swing appears to be going in Galfond’s favor.

After dropping to about $350,000 in losses on two separate occasions, Galfond roared back with a monster series of wins. After booking his first six-figure win in more than a month on Nov. 14, Galfond followed up with back-to-back wins worth $190,000 total.

While Kornuth did manage to string together three wins in a row after that, they were only for about $60K total. So, when Galfond then won $124K across back-to-back sessions, he retook the lead for the first time since October on Dec. 3.

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Day 26

Galfond dominated the first hour or so of play as he won enough medium pots to post a lead of about $45,000, including one hand where he potted river for $6K on q-Spades7-Diamonds3-Spades9-Clubs4-Clubs with nines and sevens and got called by worse.

Kornuth came back as he stacked Galfond in a single-raised pot when k-Hearts6-Clubsj-Spades flopped. Kornuth bet $600 in position and Galfond raised to $1,800. Galfond then potted the 5-Diamonds turn and shoved the 8-Spades river for $14K, just under the pot. Kornuth snap-called since he had k-Clubs9-Clubsq-Spades7-Spades for the backdoor nuts, while Galfond had been on dust the whole way with q-Clubs2-Clubs10-Hearts5-Hearts.

Then, two more huge pots were pushed to Kornuth. First, he coolered Galfond with bottom set against top two on 7-Spadesq-Diamonds6-Hearts for $46K. At the exact same time, Kornuth bet small in position on the flop and turn as the board ran 2-Spadesq-Clubs4-Spades6-Spades4-Diamonds. Kornuth potted the river and Galfond check-shoved, only to get snapped off by 5-Spades3-Spades3-Clubs2-Hearts for the straight flush. Incredibly, Galfond had been stone cold coolered with 9-Hearts4-Hearts9-Spades4-Clubs for quads.

Galfond then went for a tiny bet of $600 into $3,600 on 7-Diamonds7-Spadesq-Clubs and Kornuth made it $2,400. Galfond called and Kornuth checked back the 5-Clubs. On the 5-Diamonds river, Galfond led small with $2,400. Kornuth made it $12,300 and Galfond shoved for $17,600. Kornuth went deep into the tank before making the reluctant call with a-Spades5-Spadesj-Diamonds7-Hearts for sevens full of fives, no good against Galfond’s k-Clubs7-Clubsq-Spades9-Hearts.

Once again, Galfond bet tiny with $600 on a 4-Heartsj-Diamondsj-Clubs flop after three-betting. Once again, Kornuth raised to $2,400 and they went to a 7-Diamonds turn. This time, Kornuth bet-called it off with his full house, showing k-Clubs4-Clubs10-Spades4-Spades. Galfond was behind this time but drawing live with a-Diamondsk-Spadesq-Spadesj-Hearts, smashing the q-Hearts river for the winning full house.

Along with several medium-sized pots in between those, Galfond suddenly had a lead north of $50K.

After a break, Galfond took another strong line when he bet-three-bet shoved a board of k-Diamonds5-Hearts7-Clubs7-Diamonds after Kornuth raised his small turn bet. Kornuth tank-called off with a-Spadesj-Spades7-Hearts4-Diamonds for trips, and he was good against a-Heartsk-Hearts8-Hearts9-Spades. The j-Hearts needlessly improved him on the river.

In the last big pot that closed out the session, Kornuth bet $1,200 after three-betting and seeing a j-Spades2-Clubs6-Spades flop. On the 8-Clubs turn, he checked and Galfond potted. Kornuth jammed and Galfond called with 9-Spades8-Hearts7-Hearts6-Diamonds for two pair and an open-ender. He was behind as Kornuth had a-Diamonds8-Diamondsj-Hearts4-Hearts for top two, but Galfond drilled the straight on the 5-Hearts river.

Hands Played: 500
Results: Phil Galfond +~$47,000
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Day 27

What kind of day would it be for Phil Galfond? Well, on the first hand played he won a $32K pot with the nut full house, getting $10,800 of river value. By the end of the next hand on that table, he was already up a buy-in.

Just minutes later, Kornuth three-bet and put in $1,200 on 5-Spades10-Spadesa-Spades, with Galfond calling. Kornuth then check-called a pot-sized bet of $6,000 on the q-Diamonds, bringing a 3-Clubs. Kornuth checked and Galfond shoved the last $11K in. Kornuth made the crying call with q-Heartsq-Clubs10-Diamonds6-Diamonds but was against k-Spades8-Spadesj-Clubs10-Clubs for the nuts.

At the same time, Galfond scooped a $22K pot getting a blocker size paid off on the river when he had quad eights, and he was up more than $50K in under 15 minutes of action.

The next hour would see Kornuth cut into the lead at first, but Galfond just wound up building up to a couple of $50K stacks to increase his edge to around $70K overall on the day. A few minor swings over the next hour would see them wind up at about the same place before action got heavy again.

Galfond earned a $36K pot with a river check-raise holding aces full, then moments later, he three-bet and called a four-bet to bring a board of 2-Diamondsa-Hearts5-Hearts. Kornuth potted in position for most of his remaining monies and Galfond shoved.

Galfond: k-Diamondsk-Hearts5-Diamonds5-Clubs
Kornuth: a-Spadesk-Spadesj-Diamonds3-Diamonds

Kornuth was in rough shape with his best hope being a gutter, but he did pick up another straight draw on the q-Diamonds. Galfond was the one improving to a full house on the 2-Hearts river, though.

The rough session continued for Kornuth when he called a three-bet and then $1,200 more on the 8-Clubs5-Clubs2-Clubs flop. Galfond checked the k-Clubs turn and Kornuth went with his own small sizing of $2,000. Galfond potted to $12,000 and Kornuth stuck around for the inconsequential 6-Hearts river. There was $30K in the middle so Galfond jammed for $20K effective, with Kornuth letting it go without a fight.

They were almost $28K deep on the other table at the same time as Kornuth raised preflop and Galfond called, bringing a 6-Clubs3-Diamondsq-Spades flop. Galfond check-called $900, then he checked and faced a pot-sized bet of $3K on the j-Spades. Galfond check-raised pot to $12K there also, and Kornuth shoved.

Galfond: k-Heartsq-Heartsq-Diamonds7-Hearts
Kornuth: 8-Spades6-Spades6-Hearts7-Diamonds

Both had monster hands but Galfond was in command with top set. The 9-Hearts river ensured him of a pot north of $55K.

Buried nearly $150K, Kornuth opted to call it an early day.

Hands Played: 350
Results: Phil Galfond +~$143,000
Full session video

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Day 28

Unlike the previous day, things would start off a bit more slowly, until about an hour in when Kornuth got the four-bet in with the players about $28K deep. Galfond peeled and then led out for half-pot, $5,400, on 5-Clubs8-Diamonds9-Diamonds. Kornuth shoved and stacks were in for a pot just shy of $56K.

Galfond: 8-Hearts6-Hearts8-Spades6-Clubs
Kornuth: a-Hearts9-Hearts9-Spades6-Spades

It was a nasty cooler, with Kornuth on the better end of it. Galfond still had a shot with his gutter, but that ended when a 5-Spades hit, and Kornuth made quads on the river to boot.

Kornuth kept rolling on that table until he had built a stack just shy of $100K, meaning Galfond was down a few buy-ins as they approached the two-hour mark. Galfond did snag a $33K pot when he potted a completed board of 6-Diamonds7-Heartsk-Hearts4-Diamonds2-Spades with the nuts and got paid, but it was still a fairly ugly start for him.

A bit after the break, Kornuth half-potted a q-Clubsa-Clubs7-Diamonds flop after three-betting then went full pot for $7,200 on the 4-Hearts. Galfond set him in for $11,098 more and Kornuth quickly called with a-Heartsq-Heartsj-Diamonds3-Diamonds but top two was no good against 7-Clubs4-Clubs7-Spades5-Diamonds for a set. The 9-Hearts wasn’t what Kornuth needed, and Galfond raked in a stack.

Another $30K pot went to Galfond when he checked and picked off a pot-sized river bet of $10K on a board of 5-Diamondsj-Diamonds8-Clubs3-Clubs7-Clubs. Kornuth had been bluffing with a-Diamondsk-Clubsa-Spades3-Hearts but Galfond had a pretty weak holding with k-Hearts5-Clubs8-Spades7-Spades and opted to call anyway.

It was Kornuth’s turn to play hero when Galfond check-raised from $900 to $2,400 on 10-Diamonds4-Clubs3-Spades. Kornuth called then called a pot-sized bet of $6K on the 8-Hearts. On the 4-Diamonds river, Galfond shoved for $13,596 effective, a bit over two-thirds of the pot. Kornuth went into his time bank then called with a-Clubs3-Clubsk-Hearts10-Spades, having had his two pair counterfeit but still holding full house blockers. It was good as Galfond had been bluffing with q-Clubs5-Clubs9-Hearts3-Hearts from the start.

Kornuth got the better of the stretch run and put a dent in Galfond’s $300K upswing with a medium win.

Hands Played: 500
Results: Chance Kornuth +~$48,000
Full session video

Day 29

Kornuth won the majority of the bigger pots over the first hour to build a lead of about $50,000, but Galfond emerged victorious the first time stacks went in. Kornuth called a three-bet then potted most of the effective stacks over a pot-sized continuation-bet on 9-Clubsa-Spades10-Hearts. He had a big draw with q-Clubsj-Clubs8-Clubs6-Hearts up against the top two of Galfond. Kornuth missed the turn and watched as Galfond made aces full on the river to reduce his edge to around $30,000.

Galfond then squared things up when Kornuth three-bet and led small for $1,200 on k-Clubs2-Hearts5-Clubs. Galfond called and both players opted to see the river for free after a 4-Hearts turn, with a q-Hearts arriving on the end. Kornuth checked and Galfond potted for $6K. Kornuth check-piled $24,000, nearly all of Galfond’s snack. Galfond looked him up pretty quickly with k-Hearts9-Hearts7-Hearts9-Spades for the second nuts with a blocker, and Kornuth had a-Diamondsa-Hearts10-Spades7-Clubs for the bare-ace bluff. Galfond collected a $54K pot, one of the larger ones in the challenge.

The positive variance continued for Galfond when he called a four-bet and 10-Heartsj-Diamonds2-Diamonds flopped. The rest of the money went in with Galfond looking for eights and diamonds holding a-Diamonds7-Diamonds9-Clubs5-Clubs and Kornuth holding a preflop powerhouse: a-Spadesk-Spadesk-Hearts2-Hearts. He had to be pleased with the q-Clubs turn but far less so with the 9-Diamonds river as Galfond made his flush.

One of the biggest pots went down when the players were more than 150 bigs deep and they saw the turn for free, making the board 2-Heartsk-Diamonds4-Clubs6-Diamonds. Kornuth turned on the aggression again with $2,700 but Galfond made it $8,800. Kornuth called, bringing the 5-Clubs. Kornuth piled the last $20K, just under the pot, and Galfond snapped it with 8-Clubs7-Diamonds5-Hearts3-Diamonds, having both turned the nuts and rivered the nuts. Kornuth showed busted aces again: a-Spadesa-Hearts7-Hearts6-Hearts, and it was a $61K pot to Galfond.

Another stack went to Galfond in a four-bet pot when Kornuth’s nut wrap again failed to turn into a winner, this time versus bottom set, and Galfond had built a handsome lead of about $80,000.

The second half of the day had a much different outcome.

First, Kornuth stacked Galfond after flopping kings full on 4-Spades4-Clubsk-Spades. Galfond had trips and raised a small c-bet then barreled off with a small full house to drop a stack.

A cooler then developed on a board of 9-Hearts2-Spades4-Diamonds8-Diamonds as Kornuth check-raised all in on the turn. Galfond was happy to get his money in with j-Hearts10-Spades4-Spades4-Clubs for a set and open-ender but Kornuth had him pipped with q-Clubs8-Clubs8-Spades9-Diamonds, holding a straight blocker to boot.

Kornuth continued to close strong when he three-bet preflop and led large for $2,400 on 4-Clubs10-Diamonds9-Diamonds. Galfond called and the turn was a 9-Clubs. Kornuth’s turn to check and he called a half-pot wager of $4,200. Kornuth checked the j-Diamonds river and Galfond set him in for $15,826, just a bit under the pot. Kornuth went into his time bank then called with k-Diamonds8-Diamonds8-Spades10-Hearts for a flush, while Galfond had the ideal bluffing combo with q-Spadesj-Spades10-Clubs4-Hearts.

Galfond then check-potted on 7-Clubs6-Heartsq-Diamonds after three-betting pre, getting stacks in with a-Spadesa-Clubs10-Diamonds8-Spades against 8-Diamonds7-Spades6-Clubs4-Hearts. Kornuth found one of his ideal turns as the 5-Clubs significantly reduced Galfond’s equity, and the 3-Diamonds river kept his straight best.

They were almost 150 bigs deep again when they played for stacks one more time. Kornuth four-bet it preflop and then potted a j-Clubs3-Diamondsq-Clubs texture. There was more than $24K left to play with $10,800 in the middle and Kornuth potted again. Galfond tanked then stuck it in on a check-raise.

Galfond: a-Hearts9-Hearts10-Clubs8-Spades
Kornuth: a-Diamonds10-Diamondsa-Clubsk-Spades

Galfond was in trouble with a weaker hand and weaker draw, and the 6-Hearts and q-Hearts didn’t bail him out.

The result of all the massive hands was a tiny win for Kornuth, effectively just knocking off a chunk of the hands to get him closer to victory.

Hands Played: 550
Results: Chance Kornuth +~$3,000
Full session video

Day 30

Stacks went in just minutes into the day’s play on a flop of 6-Diamondsq-Diamonds7-Spades. Kornuth bet-three-bet for nearly all his money after Galfond raise his small flop c-bet, and Galfond had committed himself with k-Diamonds10-Diamonds8-Diamonds4-Diamonds, flopping well with the ugly hand. Kornuth had top set but watched as Galfond smacked the 5-Hearts turn for a straight and held on the river.

Kornuth forced another big pot when he three-bet pre and bet small with $1,200 on 10-Clubsk-Heartsq-Hearts. Galfond called, bringing a 9-Hearts. Kornuth bet $4,000 and Galfond continued to the 2-Diamonds. Kornuth made a pot-sized shove of $13.8K and Galfond looked him up after a long tank with q-Diamonds8-Hearts6-Hearts5-Clubs for a flush but it was no good against a-Spadesa-Hearts10-Heartsj-Clubs.

Galfond lost several decent pots that followed but he dealt the big blow in a four-bet pot when Kornuth was unable to run down his double-suited kings despite flopping a 17-out wrap and turning a pair to boot. He snagged a couple of more big pots with uncalled pot-sized wagers and appeared to be up around a buy-in heading into break.

Kornuth bit out of a big chunk of that when he three-bet and slowed down with a check on j-Diamonds6-Clubs5-Spades. Galfond bet half the pot, $1,800, and Kornuth called. The turn was the 8-Clubs and Kornuth check-potted over a small bet. Galfond decided to go with his hand, and it was a big one.

Galfond: j-Clubs3-Clubs8-Hearts7-Spades
Kornuth: q-Clubs10-Clubs9-Hearts6-Hearts

Kornuth’s draw was so massive that equities were almost even, and he found the nuts with the 7-Diamonds. He won a $15K pot at the same time on the other table with a big bet on a double-paired board, and things were about square again.

Galfond won almost a full stack when he three-barreled 7-Spadesj-Diamondsq-Diamondsq-Spades5-Spades after three-betting. Kornuth called his $12K river bet but couldn’t beat 8-Clubs7-Clubs7-Hearts6-Hearts for sevens full.

Nothing too terribly significant happened down the stretch, and the session was once again close to a wash with Kornuth eking out a small win.

Hands Played: 600
Results: Chance Kornuth +~$9,500
Full session video

Day 31

The first hour was fairly uneventful and saw Galfond build a lead of $20K or $30K before they went to break. The second was looking much the same with Galfond inching his way to some profit before a huge hand occurred when they were more than 150 blinds deep.

Galfond was the aggressor preflop but it was Kornuth barreling post as Galfond check-called $1,800 on the 9-Heartsq-Diamonds7-Spades flop and then full pot, $7,200, on the k-Hearts turn. On the 7-Clubs, Galfond potted into Kornuth for $20,878 effective, just under the pot. Kornuth tanked awhile then called with 10-Diamonds7-Diamonds4-Hearts4-Spades, having stumbled into trips after bluffing the turn. It was no good, as Galfond showed q-Spadesq-Clubs10-Spades9-Diamonds.

Another pot almost as large occurred following a 7-Clubs6-Hearts3-Spades flop with Galfond slowing down by checking after three-betting pre. Kornuth took the opportunity to bet $2,400, which Galfond called. On the 9-Spades, Galfond checked again and Kornuth sized fairly big with $6,300. Galfond potted it and Kornuth snap-called all in, about $20K more, for a pot of $61K.

Kornuth: q-Spades5-Spades8-Hearts7-Hearts
Galfond: a-Diamonds9-Diamondsa-Hearts9-Clubs

Kornuth was in great shape with the straight, but a 7-Spades river gave him improvement he didn’t want. He was stuck in a hole of about $70K as they went on break for the third time.

The rough run continued when he three-bet preflop and then barreled off on a board of 9-Diamonds6-Clubs2-Diamonds10-Hearts3-Clubs. He bet small on the flop then potted turn for $6K and shoved river for just under the pot. Galfond looked him up light with k-Diamonds10-Diamondsq-Clubs2-Spades for tens and deuces, but they were good as Kornuth missed a nut wrap with a-Heartsq-Diamondsj-Clubs8-Clubs.

Roles were reversed when Galfond bet a $2,400 into $7,200 on a q-Clubsj-Diamonds4-Diamonds4-Spades board and then potted the 6-Diamonds. Kornuth shoved for a pittance more. Galfond called as he’d stumbled into a boat with a-Clubs6-Clubs6-Hearts3-Hearts, but Kornuth had q-Spades3-Spadesq-Diamonds9-Diamonds.

They then exchanged stacks. First, they got it in on k-Diamonds7-Diamonds8-Clubs2-Spades. Both had big draws with a pair but Galfond’s j-Hearts10-Diamonds9-Hearts9-Diamonds trumped 9-Clubs2-Clubs6-Diamonds4-Diamonds in nearly all aspects and held on the river. Then, Galfond four-bet and called Kornuth’s five-bet for almost all the money. He had a-Heartsj-Heartsq-Diamondsq-Spades when they showed down on the 4-Diamonds2-Heartsj-Clubs flop, and Galfond had only backdoors that didn’t find a home with 10-Diamonds6-Diamonds8-Clubs7-Clubs.

Kornuth snagged another stack when Galfond shoved two pair and a gutter on the turn only to run into turned top set of aces.

“BingShui” was back in business. He snagged yet another stack when they got it in on j-Diamonds6-Spades2-Hearts. Both had top two but it was Galfond’s j-Hearts10-Diamonds9-Clubs6-Clubs nailing the 9-Spades turn against a-Hearts6-Heartsj-Spades10-Spades. Kornuth still had redraws, however, and the 2-Spades was just the ticket for him.

The comeback wasn’t complete, but Kornuth did eat into what was once about a six-figure win. He managed to hold his lead despite giving up about $28K.

Hands Played: 500
Results: Phil Galfond +~$28,000
Full session video

Day 32

Galfond was already up about a buy-in from winning some early pots when he doubled his lead on a cooler. He had called a three-bet only to see Kornuth check the 10-Clubsq-Hearts9-Spades texture. Galfond put in a half-pot bet of $1,800 and followed up with pot on the 6-Clubs turn. Kornuth check-raised all in this time for $16,400 but his j-Diamonds8-Diamondsj-Hearts7-Hearts was stone dead against k-Clubsj-Spades6-Diamonds5-Diamonds.

The cooler went right back the other way when Galfond three-bet and then fired in one-third sizings on every street as the board came j-Diamondsk-Diamonds10-Clubs10-Diamonds9-Diamonds. On the river, Kornuth shoved for $18K over the $3,200 that Galfond bet and he called with k-Heartsk-Spades10-Spades8-Spades but was beaten by 8-Diamonds7-Diamonds5-Diamonds5-Clubs for a straight flush.

Kornuth then put on his hero cape to square things up in a big pot. He three-bet and sized down with $1,200 on j-Diamonds4-Spadesq-Spades and Galfond called to bring the 2-Clubs on the turn. Kornuth continued small again for $2,000 and Galfond made it $7,400. Kornuth called and checked the k-Hearts. Galfond shoved for $16,548 effective and Kornuth found the call with k-Spades8-Spadesq-Heartsj-Hearts. It was good as Galfond had just j-Clubs9-Diamonds7-Hearts7-Spades. Send the $54K to Kornuth.

Galfond had only a small edge heading into the final hour. From there, he caught heat.

The stream cut in mid-hand with Kornuth betting $2,700 into $3,600 on a board of 9-Hearts7-Hearts9-Diamonds4-Clubs. Galfond called and the river was a q-Clubs. Kornuth bet $5,555 and Galfond piled. Kornuth had just over $11K back and called with a-Spadesa-Diamonds5-Diamonds2-Clubs after some thought. Galfond had flopped it: 9-Clubs7-Spades6-Diamonds4-Hearts.

They were $27K deep when Kornuth five-bet in $16,200, with Galfond peeling to the 4-Heartsk-Spades3-Spades flop. The last $11K went in at that point.

Kornuth: a-Diamondsk-Diamondsk-Heartsj-Diamonds
Galfond: 10-Diamonds7-Diamonds9-Hearts6-Hearts

It was a beautiful spot for Kornuth put he did have a gutter to fade. That became a double gutter on the q-Clubs turn and the 5-Spades river brought what he originally feared to send the $54K pot to Galfond.

When it was all over, Kornuth had lost his long-held lead for the first time in more than a month, setting up a second-half battle that’s anyone’s game.

Hands Played: 600
Results: Phil Galfond +~$96,000
Full session video

Want to know everything about the Galfond Challenge? Check out the PokerNews Galfond Challenge page for more information!

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