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Chance Kornuth is on fire so far in 2022.
The three-time World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner has made the money in each of the first three events at the inaugural Stairway to Millions series which began on Jan. 12 at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The American poker pro came away as the victor in both event #2 and event #3, with $136,040 in earnings so far at this unique new PokerGO Tour festival.
Just one day after emerging victorious in the $2,000 buy-in tournament with the $51,600 top prize, Kornuth managed to emerge victorious with his second title of the year. He secured an $80,640 payday as the champion of the $4,000 buy-in event.
“It feels great,” Kornuth told PokerGO reporters. “I ran even better in this one than I did in the last one. It was pretty incredible. I max late-registered and immediately had chips to play with, and it was smooth sailing the entire way.”
In addition to the title and the money, Kornuth also earned 288 Card Player Player of the Year points after coming out on top. With his two titles and 552 total points, Kornuth has now overtaken the top spot on the 2022 POY leaderboard.
The Stairway To Millions is an eight-event series with an interesting format. The buy-ins for the no-limit hold’em tournaments get progressively larger as the festival proceeds, starting with the $1,000 kickoff event and concluding with the $1.2 million guaranteed $100,000 buy-in event. Players who make the money in any of the events are awarded a cash prize and entry into the next tournament.
“Historically, I have an issue with it, the winner’s tilt, if you will, where I’ll play really bad in the next thing,” said Kornuth. “Taking a few minutes to get your mind right and making sure you’re not trying to win too many pots is imperative to doing well in the next one.”
As he said, Kornuth went directly from taking the winner’s photos in event #2 to taking a seat in event #3. By the time play ended for the day with six players remaining, he had managed to secure the chip lead.
Kornuth extended his advantage by scoring the first knockout at the final table. His A9 held up against the A3 of short stack Jesse Lonis (6th – $20,160). The rising tournament star is off to a star was just 11 days removed from a title run in a $200,000 guaranteed $600 buy-in event at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas. The 96 POY points he secured for this latest deep run were enough to see him climb into fourth place in the overall standings.
Daniel Weinand was the next to fall, with his pocket eights running into the pocket aces of a surging Kornuth. Weinand failed to improve and he was sent to the rail with $23,520 for his fifth-place showing. Kornuth increased his already sizable chip lead in the process, taking roughly half of the chips in play into four-handed action.
WSOP bracelet winner Mitchell Halverson’s run in this event came to an end when he called his last 6.5 big blinds off on the river with third pair, only to be shown top pair by Kornuth. Halverson earned $30,240 as the fourth-place finisher.
Nathan Zimnik hit top pair with 106 in a battle of the blinds with Kornuth, who checked to him after a 1052 flop. Zimnik bet 100,000 and Kornuth check-raised to 325,000. Zimnik moved all-in for 1.3 million total and Kornuth called, revealing 52 for bottom two pair. The 9 turn and 8 river kept Kornuth ahead and Zimnik was eliminated in third place ($40,320).
With that Kornuth took roughly a 2:1 chip lead into heads-up play with bracelet winner Joseph Cheong, who finished third in event #1 of this series just days earlier. The showdown for the title didn’t last long. In the final hand of the event, Cheong limped in from the button with J4 and Kornuth checked his option with 93. The flop came down 942 and Kornuth checked. Cheong bet 100,000 with his middle pair and Kornuth called with top pair. The 8 on the turn prompted Kornuth to check a second time.
Cheong bet 400,000 and Kornuth called again. The 9 completed the board and Kornuth checked a third time. Cheong moved all-in for 1.4 million and Kornuth called to win the pot and the title. Cheong earned $57,120 and 240 points as the runner-up, moving into sixth place in the 2022 POY race as a result.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
|Place||Player||Earnings (USD)||POY Points|
Photo credit: PokerGO / Antionio Abrego.