Galfond Talks Run It Once Transparency and HUDs

Galfond Talks Run It Once Transparency and HUDs
Phil Galfond offers more poker site insight

Several weeks ago, Phil Galfond provided an update about his Run It Once online poker site and its summer 2018 debut. Last week, he followed it up with the answers to some questions and clarification of issues that were addressed by a number of poker players.

Since transparency was one of the key characteristics of the Run It Once experience, Galfond chose to go into great detail about some of his decisions with regard to the site.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Galfond started his blog post on the Run It Once site by discussing policy choices. When developing the ideal poker site, he shared many of his wishes and those expressed by poker players in general. Priorities for the site were going to include showing players that they are valued, whether a casual player or professional, as well as providing a “fair, honest, transparent poker site that believes in the dream that I have lived.”

Those broad goals have been narrowed and incorporated as the site prepares for launch, but Galfond realized that any decisions he makes will inevitably frustrate some part of the poker community. Some of the choices involve HUDs, fast-fold poker, rake at varying stakes, advertising, VIP rewards, and lottery-style SNGs.

Essentially, Galfond wrote, “It comes down to figuring out what you’re trying to achieve as a poker room, then playing with a number of combinations of policies and features until you find one that best suits your goals. Certain policies will work very well with a certain offering but very poorly with another.”

With that said, he decided to refrain from going into much detail about any one feature or policy and how those decisions were made without providing sufficient context for the players and readers.


Run It Once will not allow players to use HUDs, and the primary reason is to ease the widening gap between pros who use HUDs to increase their skills exponentially and casual players who have only a limited amount of money they are willing to lose before they leave the game altogether.

The team making the HUD decision first agreed that HUDs should be banned if it can be done effectively and allowed if a ban would not be effective. The members of the group also agreed that they have not yet seen a poker operator effectively ban HUDs.

Therefore, their plan for HUDs would be separated into three categories:




Screen Names

One way to disincentivize will be for Run It Once to randomly assign a fictitious first name and last initial as the alias with which each player will be identified at the table, a unique way of mimicking the anonymous tables that other sites have recently employed. Every new table will start players each with new names.

While this removes approximately 60% of the HUD advantage alone, there will be an deincentivization with the hand history policy. Players won’t be able to see their hand histories until 24 hours after the action, though the information will contain all hole cards.

Dynamic Avatars

Since players won’t be able to use HUDs, Galfond and his team decided to find a way to include some HUD statistics into every player’s online identity. Dynamic avatars will do that by an automatic grouping into one of eight categories which consider VPIP, PFR, and 3-bet statistics. And these percentages will be transformed into avatars that represent that player’s table statistics against a particular opponent.

Not only will this reduce the effectiveness of HUDs by nearly 90%, it will give newer players more information upon which to base their hand decisions if they choose to use it.

You Just Might Get What You Need

As Galfond explains, Run It Once won’t – and can’t – be everything for every player. But it’s also not realistic to cater mostly to pro players while leaving others without incentives to play on the site.

“Over the last couple of years,” Galfond wrote, “I think the poker community has grown to understand that improving the experience and environment for recreational players is ‘pro-friendly,’ and that not every policy needs to have a winner and a loser.”

Meanwhile, the Run It Once team is still accepting – encouraging, even – feedback. There is a discussion thread opened for each blog post, giving everyone the opportunity to provide input and ask questions. The discussion thread for this particular post had exceeded 200 comments within one week of the original publishing. Players do want their voices to be heard.


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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