Galfond Challenge: Galfond Off to Dominating Start Against Kornuth

17 min read
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.

After a very competitive first few sessions that saw the Chip Leader Coaching boss almost step-for-step with Galfond, the latter put on a dominating run over a few sessions to open up a six-figure lead. With just under 20% of the hands played, Galfond edged past a $200K win and put the match on hold as Kornuth was forced to replenish his funds. They're expected to resume playing sometime this week.

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

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 K210. Galfond called, bringing a 9. Kornuth barreled again for $5,400 and a 7 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 KJ87 for the second nuts. Kornuth had an airball with A5Q5.

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 9J4. Kornuth called and the 4 checked through to a J 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 26Q. Galfond had binked top two with Q695 while Kornuth had A7J5 for a flush draw plus backdoors. He turned the K 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 374. Kornuth called, bringing the 9. Galfond bet again with $7,800, half the pot. Kornuth peeled again and the river was the 8. Galfond stuck in the last $12,484 and Kornuth tanked a long time before calling with AA105 for just aces with the nut blocker. It was good, though, as Galfond didn't have so much as a single diamond: Q10108.

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 1093 flop. Kornuth continued small with $1,200 and Galfond peeled, bringing a Q. This time, Kornuth potted for $6K and Galfond called again, setting up pot to play on the 6 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 AKK4 for two nut blockers and kings, and Galfond took it with Q1082 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 284 flopped. Kornuth bet the flop in position, Galfond check-raised, Kornuth three-bet and Galfond shoved. A call created a pot of $42K.

Galfond: 88J6
Kornuth: AK75

Kornuth missed the 9 turn and the river gave Galfond quads.

After getting his teeth kicked in for awhile, Kornuth struck back on a board of 59107. Galfond sprung a check-raise to $12,000 and faced a shove worth just under $22K. Deciding he was committed, Galfond called with Q3J4 for a combo draw. Only the hearts were live as Kornuth held Q2J8 for a made straight with an identical higher draw. A 2 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 Q1028. Galfond had the nuts with J974, but Kornuth had him freerolled in multiple ways with AJ109. Luckily for Galfond, the river was a 6, 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 36J, enticing a call from Galfond. On the pairing 3, Kornuth slowed down with a check and called $3,600. On the J river, Galfond went into his time bank then piled for $13K. Kornuth tanked even longer then called with QQ96, but the light call failed as Galfond had K754 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 Q10233. 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 K8A flop. Galfond potted for $3,600 and Kornuth peeled, and Galfond liked the 9 enough to pot again. Kornuth shoved and Galfond called for a $40K pot.

Galfond: 9465
Kornuth: AKQ4

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 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 A9KK against AA52 but the JQ21010 board bailed him out with a winning straight.

There was nearly $10,000 in the middle on QK910 when stacks went in for a $40K pot once again. Galfond had flopped the nuts and turned better nuts with AJ102 while Kornuth had J998 for the second nuts and a set. The A 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 69J 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 JJ62 for the nuts. Galfond had the top wrap with KQ102 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 46102. Galfond checked again and Kornuth bet $1,800. Galfond called and the river was the 4. Galfond checked and called $5,400, winning a shocking showdown with just Q765 for sixes up as Kornuth showed K893.

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 10AK flop. Kornuth continued and faced a pot-sized bet of $6,000 on the 6 turn. The river was a 6 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 1056 flop and Galfond called, bringing the 7. Kornuth potted for $18,000, nearly everything Galfond had. Galfond was ready with AA9Q. He only had a few cards to fade as Kornuth showed J4106 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 52Q, bringing the A. 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 AQJ4 but was up against 9543 for the nuts. The 10 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

Day 5

In a three-bet pot that occurred early on, Galfond raised a flop bet on 57A and then four-bet all in against Kornuth's three-bet from out of position. It was a standard PLO flip with Galfond on Q684 for a monster draw and Kornuth showing 7744 for a set. It was the former's draw coming home on the 10 river that earned the pot. He was up several buy-ins at that point thanks to nearly every significant pot going his way.

In a deep-stacked pot, Galfond then three-bet preflop and continued small for $1,200 on 8J6 with Kornuth calling in position. Galfond slowed down with a check and Kornuth bet pot for $6,000 on the 4. Galfond called, bringing a 5. Galfond checked again and Kornuth potted. Much to his dismay, Galfond shoved. It was only $2,190 into a pot of $54K but Kornuth eventually gave it up, shipping the pot to Galfond without showdown.

One notable hand went down in another three-bet pot when Kornuth bet $1,800 on 9K3 and Galfond made it $4,400. Kornuth called and both players checked the 4, bringing an A. Kornuth bet small for $4,200. Galfond went for a call with JJ63, which was shockingly a winner as Kornuth had 8476 for a pair and a missed combo draw. Luckily for Kornuth, the sting was lessened as he stacked Galfond on the other table with a set of kings against top two, aces and kings.

The big pots continued right after that in a four-bet pot when 7K2 flopped. Galfond checked and Kornuth, the aggressor, continued for $3,600. Galfond peeled for a 5 turn. He faced a much bigger bet of pot, $18K. He called again after a long tank. On the 4 river, Kornuth emptied the clip for the last $13K. If Galfond called, it would mean a pot of $80K, and that's exactly what happened as he showed down Q7Q2 for bottom two on the flop. It was good as Kornuth had missed a nut draw with A885.

Kornuth got it in way behind in another four-bet pot, when 9A6 flopped and he check-raised all in. His Q7109 was smashed by KKJ10 but he was able to rip off two pair on the turn and hold for a $46K pot.

Kornuth kept the comeback going in the final pot of the night, another of the four-bet variety. The 9KQ flop prompted Galfond to bet small in position with $3,600. Kornuth called and each player checked the 3. Kornuth piled on the 6 and Galfond went for the hero-call with A976 but was very far from good as Kornuth had QJ108 for the nuts.

After being down six figures on the day, he managed to cut his deficit to about $43K.

Hands Played: ~800
Results: Phil Galfond +~$43,500
Session highlight video

Day 6

Kornuth took the spotlight about a half hour into the match with a sick river call. He'd three-bet it preflop and found a flop of 837. He opted to check it and Galfond bet $1,800, half the pot. Kornuth continued and then faced a pot-sized bet of $7,200 on the 2. He called, leaving half pot to play on the Q river. Galfond fired the last shell and Kornuth tanked awhile then called.

The commentators were aghast as his 10976, good for just a pair of sevens, was a winner against 10953.

A little luck helped propel Kornuth to an even bigger lead. He called a three-bet from Galfond and then took the lead with a bet of $1,200 in position on 735. Galfond called, bringing a 9. Galfond checked and faced another small bet of $2,000. This time, he potted it to commit most of his stack. Kornuth tanked awhile then shipped in the rest.

Galfond: K446
Kornuth: 9887

Galfond had flopped the nuts but still had a lot of cards to fade with Kornuth holding two pair, a flush draw, and a higher straight draw. The K filled his flush draw for the win.

Galfond earned a stack back when they got in a raising war on KK7 in a three-bet pot, Galfond holding AK82 and Kornuth A776 for sevens full. Galfond nailed an ace on the turn to scoop it.

The momentum continued in his favor when he got the four-bet in preflop and saw a 9K2 flop, which he bet for a small sizing of $3,600. Kornuth peeled and then just shoved into Galfond for about $14K into $18K on the 7.

Kornuth: A8J10
Galfond: KJ96

Galfond's preflop bluff had yielded top two with a turned flush draw and he held against the wrap as the 3 completed the board. That pot was worth $47K.

He then turned Kornuth's bluff-catching into his own favor as Kornuth tried betting river for a small sizing of $2,400 into $7,200 on A65Q4. Galfond potted up to $14,400 and Kornuth eventually called with something weaker than J989. Thanks to that run, the players were close to even as they went on break about three hours in.

Just before the next break, Kornuth found a dream turn in a three-bet pot after check-calling a flop bet on 6K5. The 9 arrived and Kornuth checked, Galfond potted, and Kornuth shoved. Committed with K1082, Galfond called with his combo draw and was against 10887 for the turned nuts. The 4 river didn't change anything.

Things looked grim for Galfond after he tried an epic hero call late. The board had run 5K4A9 and Kornuth had shoved river for $15K effective into a pot of $20K. Galfond tanked until his timer was nearly dry and clicked call with K228, only for Kornuth to show top set.

The last big pot played on stream came up when Galfond called a three-bet then called $1,800 on the Q35 flop and $4,800 more on the 5 turn. On the 7 river, Kornuth finally checked and Galfond shoved for $12,290. Kornuth tank-called with AA86 but was no good against A9106.

Kornuth's early and late heaters were enough to push him to his biggest win yet, $70,000.

Hands Played: ~800
Results: Chance Kornuth +~$70,000
Full session video

Day 7

Just 10 minutes in, they played a pot of $48K when Galfond called a three-bet and Kornuth bet half the pot on J92. Kornuth potted the 4 turn and Galfond shoved for $20K. Kornuth called with KKQ7 for the overpair, gutter and flush draw. Galfond was slightly leading with J542. He got a clean river with the 6.

Another big pot went Galfond's way when he called a three-bet and Kornuth conceded the betting lead on 854. Galfond bet $1,800 and Kornuth called. On the 9 turn, Galfond potted for $7,200 and Kornuth jammed for $23,500. Galfond called to create a pot of $54K.

Galfond: AQ76
Kornuth: A5104

Galfond's nutted hand was still fading a fair amount on the river. While the board paired, it was a harmless 9 from Galfond's perspective.

The deficit continued building for Kornuth when he three-bet preflop and then bet $1,200 on 95Q. The turn was an 8 and Kornuth bet small again for $2,000. Galfond made it $7,200 and Kornuth three-bet jammed for $18.5K. Galfond was ready with J10104 for the nuts, and Kornuth was in really rough shape with KJ86. He needed a miracle river but the Q wasn't it.

Already stuck roughly $100K, Kornuth almost dug even deeper when he half-potted into $6K on 7648 in position and Galfond potted it. Kornuth went with his 7654 to create a pot of $53K. Galfond had the nuts, though, Q10109. The 8 filled up Kornuth on the river.

A pot of roughly the same size went right back to Galfond when he four-bet 10785 and called a five-bet cracking aces by flopping top two.

When they got stacks in on the turn on 104106, a chop looked imminent as Galfond had AK107 against AA103. However, Galfond nailed the K on the river to make a full house and scoop the $45K.

Perhaps the biggest pot yet came up when Galfond four-bet, Kornuth five-bet for $16,200, and Galfond repotted right back on the six-bet. Kornuth rolled with his AQ108 for $52K total and Galfond had the best of it with A3A2. Galfond ran out the nut flush but was good the whole way to get a commanding lead of six-figures on the day.

The pace finally slowed after that, and Galfond booked an estimated $125K win.

Hands 750
Results: Phil Galfond +~$117,000
Full session video

Day 8

The players were aggressive right off the bat, playing three-bet pots left and right, but it took about 30 minutes for stacks to go in for the first time. It was a board of 53K8 that did it, with Kornuth the three-bettor and the flop aggressor for half pot. On the turn, he potted for $7,200 and Galfond shoved for $9,800 more.

Galfond: K10103
Kornuth: 7465

Kornuth had a big draw but only one card left to get there against Galfond's two pair. The 8 didn't do it for him.

The Galfond train kept rolling shortly after as he got paid for half pot on a paired board with a king-high flush to scoop $20K and he followed up in the very next hand by stacking Kornuth in a four-bet pot. Kornuth potted in position on 7Q4 for nearly all his money then called off the rest, but he was a mile behind with A10106 against KQJ9. No help emerged and Kornuth found himself in a fairly deep early hole.

After break, Kornuth got a stack back when his top set held versus overpair plus flush draw in a three-bet pot. Another followed when Galfond tried leading for $3,600 in a four-bet pot on 108J and then shoving for $11K effective on the 8 turn. Kornuth was ready with AAQ9 for the flopped nuts and Galfond was way behind with K764. The straight he hit on the river was worthless.

Galfond righted the ship when a slowplay worked to perfect as he flatted $1,800 in position on J3Q, bringing a 3. Kornuth went with a small sizing of $2,000. Galfond made it $6,400 and Kornuth peeled, with the A completing the board. Kornuth just jammed into him for a little over half the pot but that got snapped off as Galfond had QQ76 for queens full, easily beating 10987.

Another $43K pot went Galfond's way when he got paid off potting an underfull on the river for $14K in position, and he rebuilt his lead to around $80K on the day.

Stacks went in again on 1048 in a three-bet pot as Galfond potted over a bet from Kornuth, who stuck it in with J9107 for top pair and a wrap. Galfond had top two with Q5108 but turned another pair that he definitely didn't want as the Q gave Kornuth a winning straight.

Galfond then three-bet and saw a J45 board that he continued on for a small sizing of $1,200. Kornuth called, bringing a 3 turn. Galfond conceded the lead and Kornuth took the opportunity to bet $2,000. Galfond piled in $8,200 and Kornuth stuck around for the 6. Galfond shoved for $12,694, less than half the pot, and Kornuth needed some time before clicking call with Q684. That was a winner as Galfond had QJ108 for a bluff.

Kornuth was close to getting back to even, but he slipped late. Galfond cracked his top set on A1076 as he turned the nuts with KQ98 and jammed over a big bet, fading the board pairing. A few more decent pots had him booking a small win of $28K.

Hands 750
Results: Phil Galfond +~$28,000
Full session video

Day 9

Galfond had already chipped away for a $30K lead less than an hour in when two huge pots went down simultaneously. One one table, Galfond four-bet preflop and then potted a J73 texture, earning the pot. On the other, he potted turn for $6K and shoved river on K6927, winning without showdown as well.

Kornuth appeared to take a nasty beat in a five-bet pot as he shoved the last of it in on 6A4. Galfond called with A7J5 and turned a straight against AAKQ but Kornuth filled up on the river.

A single-raised pot saw Galfond bet $900 in position on 105J and Kornuth raise to $2,750. Galfond peeled and the 4 arrived. Kornuth barreled again for $4,425 and Galfond stuck around for the 2 river. Kornuth shoved for just over $12K and Galfond tank-called with 10983, beating AK57 for the bare-ace bluff.

A little under two hours in, Galfond three-bet and called a four-bet then led small on 584. Kornuth shoved and Galfond snapped, having flopped the joint with K765. Kornuth was in horrid shape with AA29 and didn't have an out in the deck after missing the turn.

That was apparently it for Kornuth's roll on

As such, they called it an early session with Kornuth buried.

Hands 250
Results: Phil Galfond +~$103,000
Full session video

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