He’s got mirrored shades, a lady-killer smile, and the chip lead in the 2015 PCA Main Event.
Chance Kornuth could be the boy next door, a 21st century Dennis the Menace, a kid who leaves a charming wake of destruction among his grumpy neighbors on the felt.
But Kornuth, now 28 years old, thinks it may be time to be an adult.
“I’m just trying to be a grown up,” he said.
If only everybody understood how hard that can be.
Kornuth rose to live poker fame nearly six years ago when he won half a million dollars and a gold WSOP bracelet in a Pot-Limit Omaha event in Las Vegas. It was a heady time for someone who was then still too young to legally rent a car.
“When I won the bracelet in 2010, I thought, ‘well, I can win money any time.’ And then I realized it’s not as easy as that,” he said.
Like any poker player, he’s had his ups and downs over the years. He lived in Vegas, and the nightlife proved to be a big draw for the newly-rich young gun.
He’s come to Paradise Island twice before to compete in the $10,000 Main Event. He never even made it to the Day 1 dinner break. Now, however, he’s the chip leader with ten players remaining.
There have been changes in his life. Last year, he traveled to the Great Wall of China with his girlfriend, Emily. He asked her to marry him, and she said yes. Today, she appeared out of nowhere to surprise him here in the Bahamas as he prepares to make the final table.
An engagement isn’t the only change. He moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with Emily, and Kornuth has started working on that pledge to grow up a little.
“I’m not partying with the same frequency as I used to when I lived in Vegas,” he said. “I’m not saying I don’t party. I still party way too much.”
The nightlife aside, the guy who has proven to be one of this year’s toughest competitors has started taking a look at his bottom line. The days of thinking, “Hey, I’ll just jump in this big game” don’t come around on the calendar as much as they used to.
“I’m just trying to lead a more normal life, have better bankroll management, and consider more of the future,” he said.
The winner of this event will win nearly $1.5 million. There will be trophies, media interviews, and an expensive SLYDE watch to whoever ends up with all the chips. But, for Grown-Up Chance Kornuth, the end-of-year financial statements are the thing.
“The money is everything,” he said. “I mean, fame and everything is cool, but I like money and financial comfort.”
With that in mind, he says he has swapped out and sold very little of himself in this event. Unless something goes terribly wrong before the end of the night, he stands a good chance at making hundreds of thousands of dollars–if not $1.5 million–by the Wednesday’s end.
“I’m having a blast,” he said. “There’s a lot of nice guys still left. Hopefully I can beat them all.”
And if he does, that might afford our grown up man a chance to remain a kid at heart for a little longer.
Follow all the action from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure on PokerStars Blog. Everything from the Main Event is on the Main Event page, High Roller live updates are here, and the live stream is on this PCA Live webcast.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging