As the year winds down, things tend to slow down in the poker world in anticipation of the holiday season. Not so for Phil Galfond and Chance Kornuth, who have continued to grind away in their quest to play 35,000 hands of $100/$200 pot-limit Omaha.
Their Galfond Challenge match has continued in earnest until a pause on Friday, when the last session before the holiday break was canceled thanks to Kornuth and his wife welcoming a baby into the world.
While things are going fantastically for Kornuth off the felt, the news hasn’t been so joyous in his match with Galfond. After building a lead of close to $350K for the second time, Kornuth has watched his opponent put an incredible month together. Since Nov. 14, Galfond has surged through a $700K upswing, reaching a peak win of $352,000 on Dec. 17 after four straight wins totaled more than $300K.
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It took 40 minutes or so for stacks to get played, with Kornuth already up about $30K after some early success. He got a four-bet in pre and Galfond called, bringing a flop. Money went in after Galfond check-shoved with , getting in with the pair plus draw against for top two. The and weren’t what he sought, so he fell further behind on the day.
Kornuth’s dominance continued when he three-bet and flopped. Kornuth check-called a bet of $1,800, half the pot. He checked the as well and faced another half-pot bet of $3,600. This time, he potted and Galfond tanked a long time before sticking in his $21K. Kornuth called for a pot of $51K.
Galfond had a flush draw and two pair but needed help against the straight. The river provided none. Galfond was in a six-figure hole about 90 minutes in.
The players were almost 150 blinds deep when a single-raised pot that seemed innocuous got huge on the river. After the flop checked through, Kornuth potted the turn for $1,200 on . Galfond called, bringing the . Kornuth bet $1,200 again, and this time, Galfond potted to $7,200. Kornuth potted right back to $25,200. Galfond shoved for just a little more, with Kornuth calling with . Galfond had and saw a $57K pot shipped the other way to deepen his deficit.
An even bigger pot followed. Galfond three-bet it pre and continued for $1,800 on . On the , he checked. Kornuth bet small with $2,400, Galfond potted to $14,400, and Kornuth tanked before sticking it in. That meant a $66K pot when Galfond called off the remaining $15K.
Kornuth improved on the river, but the wasn’t enough to overtake the set.
After the break, Kornuth got a stack back when his nut straight held all in on the turn against a set and a higher straight draw. Galfond took it right back when Kornuth bet-called the turn on and then shoved for $12K effective into $20K on the river. Galfond tank-called with , winning against an .
Then, Kornuth took an interesting line when he three-bet and continued for $2,400 on . Galfond called and they both checked the , bringing an . Kornuth checked again and Galfond bet $4,200, half the pot. Kornuth shoved for $15K and Galfond tanked awhile then called with for aces up. It was good as Kornuth had , turning top pair on the flop into a bluff.
Kornuth followed up moments later by four-betting preflop only to face a five-bet when they were $25K deep. Kornuth shoved but ran his into . The flop was a boon to Kornuth. Not so the that gave Galfond a wheel, and the didn’t bring it home for Kornuth. Suddenly, his $100K lead was down to around $40K.
A cooler then developed when Kornuth three-bet and slowed down with a check on . Galfond bet $1,800 and Kornuth called. On the , Kornuth check-called again, this time for $5,400. Just a little under pot was left on the river, and Kornuth check-called the last $14,391 as he’d flopped a boat with . Unfortunately for him, Galfond nailed the turn and river with , making quads.
That put Galfond positive or close, and he went on a nice run from there to build up a lead of a couple of buy-ins mostly without showdown. His momentum continued when he raised to $4,200 against a small c-bet on , only to have Kornuth lead full pot of $12K into him on the . Galfond stuck the last $4,596 in after some tanking, and his was good against . The wasn’t the help Kornuth needed and he slid further behind.
Kornuth tried getting in with the nuts but even that didn’t work on . He bet twice and called versus a check-raise all in with only for Galfond to get there with , making a straight on the river.
Things finally slowed down after that, and the lengthy session ended with Galfond booking a large win despite a big early deficit.
Hands Played: 700
Results: Phil Galfond +~$113,000
Full session video
Note: by the time this session was picked up for streaming, Galfond had about $50K in front of him between the two tables while Kornuth had about $75K, so there had already been significant pots played with unknown total results.
The players were about 150 blinds deep when Kornuth check-raised a flop in a single-raised pot, with Galfond calling. Kornuth bet $5,025 into about $6,700 on the turn, and Galfond called again, bringing a river. Kornuth bet $12,125 and Galfond tanked a bit then called with to earn a $41K pot when Kornuth showed for straight blockers.
Kornuth grabbed back-to-back sizable pots to snatch a bunch back. On one table, he raised the turn after Galfond bet flop and turn small on . Galfond called a raise from $2,000 to $7,000 and then checked and tank-folded to $10,000, half the pot, on the river. On the other table, Kornuth four-bet and checked back the flop before winning with a bet of $5,400, also half the pot, on .
They were about $28K deep when they played a massive one, with Galfond three-betting and leading $1,200 on . Kornuth made it $4,200 and Galfond called, bringing a . Kornuth potted for $12K after Galfond checked, and he called off the last $10,566 when Galfond jammed.
A $57K pot was on the line, and the river sent it to Galfond.
After the break, Galfond called a four-bet and check-raised all in on , as he’d flopped sneaky two pair with . However, he still had a ton to fade since Kornuth had for the nut flush draw and aces. He added a gutter on the but bricked the river.
Then, one of the craziest pots of the challenge happened. A single-raised pot went check-check on , bringing a . Galfond check-called $600, and the river was the . Galfond checked, Kornuth potted for $2,400, Galfond made it $7,400, and Kornuth potted for $24,600. Galfond thought awhile then called with for nines full. He won against for a straight with a full house blocker, earning a $51K pot.
Galfond added another stack to his winnings when his set of sevens bested Kornuth’s aces and kings, the turned two pair failing to improve. After the break, things did not improve for Kornuth.
In one of the biggest pots yet, Galfond bet $900 into $1,200 after raising preflop and seeing hit. Kornuth put in $2,750 on a check-raise, and the arrived. Kornuth continued small for $2,233, Galfond made it $13,399, and Kornuth shoved for about $34K after some time in the tank. Galfond snapped it to create a monster pot of $71,166.
It was a brutal cooler for Kornuth and he couldn’t find his lone out on the river.
Another cooler happened on a board of . After the flop checked through, Galfond checked and potted to $4,800 against a pot-sized delayed c-bet, and he then led small for $3,600 on the end. Kornuth tanked and shoved for $14,600 and Galfond snapped with for the nuts. It was the worst river in the deck for Kornuth, who had his own massive draw with turn into a straight as well.
Kornuth waved the white flag after that as Galfond booked a win even larger than the one before.
Hands Played: 500
Results: Phil Galfond +~$123,000
Full session video
Kornuth turned on the aggression from the start, half-potting flop after a three-bet then potting for $7,200 on . Galfond peeled, bringing the . Kornuth checked with the awkward stack-to-pot ratio and Galfond shoved for $9,200. Kornuth tanked then looked him up with but had been caught by for a backdoor flush.
A seemingly nondescript was the catalyst for the next big pot as Kornuth check-raised from $900 to $2,750. Galfond called then called $4,466 more on the . On the , Kornuth shoved the last $12K in. Galfond quickly called with for a rivered boat, beating for a lower boat.
Kornuth was able to win several big pots without showdown, though, and he turned in a sustained enough run that he was slightly ahead after a couple of hours of play.
However, once the money went all in again, things turned in Galfond’s favor. This time, it was a Kornuth four-bet that led to a flop. Galfond check-raised all in with , and he was well in front of . Kornuth made two pair of his own on the but it wasn’t enough, and Galfond filled up on the river in any case.
Galfond moved back into the lead with a lucky river. Most of the money had already gone in with Galfond betting the flop big and the turn for pot, $3,000, on , only for Kornuth to pot to $12K. Galfond called, leaving only $7,098 to play on the . Kornuth put the rest in and Galfond called instantly with , having rivered the nuts, and Kornuth showed his set of fours had been cracked.
Even in some of the pots that didn’t go all in, Galfond just seemed a step ahead, such as when he called a bet of $5,400 into $7,200 on a board of . Kornuth had three-bet it preflop, but Galfond looked him up with for just nines and threes, winning against .
Kornuth then blasted three barrels in position on . He potted the turn for $6,000 and the river for $17,410 effective. Galfond tanked a long time then called with for a weak flush. It was good as Kornuth had been caught bluffing again, this time with .
Galfond opted for a check-raise of pot after three-betting pre and seeing a flop. Kornuth shoved and Galfond called off with but was wrecked by . The set held up to earn Kornuth a stack back. It was enough to salvage only a small loss.
Hands Played: 500
Results: Phil Galfond +~$20,000
Full session video
Galfond reraised preflop early on and bet $1,200 on , with Kornuth calling. Kornuth peeled the turn as well for $6,000, the full pot, and the river was the . Galfond slowed down with a check on the , and Kornuth shoved for $14,796. Galfond called with and the set was a winner against .
As Galfond had already got the better of the other pots early, he jumped out to a lead of a couple of buy-ins.
Kornuth got a bunch back in a $52K pot when he Galfond bet $900 in position on a flop and pot ($3,000) on the . Kornuth potted to $12K and Galfond jammed with . He had the best of it against but the river was the .
Kornuth collected another stack when he got the four-bet in and then Galfond potted into him on . Kornuth shoved and Galfond called with for a wrap plus flush draw. Kornuth had and made a better straight on the , runout.
Then, another four-bet pot would see stacks fly in on . Kornuth was the four-bettor and had the best hand with , as well as the best draw. That meant Galfond was in awful shape with and he got turned dead by a spade.
An unusual pot developed after a flop, with preflop three-bettor Galfond checking. Kornuth potted and Galfond called, only to come out potting on the . Kornuth only had a few thousand more and tanked a long time before sticking it in with for flopped top two. Unfortunately for him, Galfond had nailed the turn with and had him smashed, winning the pot on the river.
A cooler went in Galfond’s favor on a board of . He had called half-pot on the flop before the turn checked through, and then Kornuth bet half-pot again, $3,600, on the river. Galfond shoved and Kornuth snap-called with , but Galfond caught him on the river with .
They called it a session right after that with Galfond having booked another nice win.
Hands Played: 500
Results: Phil Galfond +~$73,000
Full session video