Galfond to Launch Poker Site This Summer
Throughout the past few decades, several poker pros wanted to launch their own online poker sites. In 2015 and 2016, however, some of them took the idea more seriously. Several major poker sites had been minimizing the benefits for professional players, and PokerStars made the biggest impact when it announced the elimination of the Supernova Elite rewards program.
Players felt that poker brands should be able to cater to new poker players and experienced pros at the same time. Phil Galfond was one of them and sounded rather serious when he announced that he was taking his Run It Once training site and branching out to create a real-money poker site. But when more than a year of silence ensued, many of his followers believed it was a phase that has passed.
Galfond is here to tell them that they were wrong.
The Birth of the Idea
In the latter half of 2016, Galfond wrote a blog post on his Run It Once website about what a poker site should be. It included a plethora of ideals, a compilation of his own desires and those he saw expressed on social media and in poker circles. It started as follows:
A poker site should value poker players.
It should value the casual player for the money he’s willing to put on the line to play a game he loves. For choosing poker over other hobbies, and for choosing their site over other sites.
It should value the enthusiast and semi-professional for the liquidity they provide and for growing the game. For spreading the word, across different mediums, about their favorite site.
It should value the professional for embodying the dream that brings so many people to poker. For proving that poker is a game of skill. For promoting the game of poker to their fans, students, followers or subscribers.
A poker site needs to believe in the dream of poker as a career. It shouldn’t cater to professionals over other players, but it must make every policy change with the viability of the dream in mind.
He went on to name other priorities, such as experience and transparency, fairness and creativity, adaptability and sustainability. And he ended with this:
I want a fair, honest, transparent poker site that believes in the dream that I have lived.
I’m going to give it my best shot.
Galfond was determined to launch a site called Run It Once in the first part of 2017. However, details were scarce, and updates became non-existent. Many figured the expenses and complications of the ordeal were too much, that the minutia of the numerous regulated markets around the world were too frustrating, or that the cost of it all was too overwhelming.
The Impending Launch of a Site
Less than two weeks into April, Galfond was back with a significant update. He directed everyone to his new RunItOnce-dot-eu site, which proclaims, “Long live poker.” The site offers the opportunity to sign up for updates and notes that it the site is “Coming Summer 2018.”
Galfond’s update started with an apology for the lack of transparency over the past year-plus. He admitted to some mistakes and unexpected delays with software development, as well as with leadership and staffing. And he revealed that the site will launch but in two phases in order to incorporate many of his original ideas into the site.
Phase 1 will be the 2018 summer launch for internet cash games only. He noted that there will be some innovative features but not all of the options that the final product will offer. He promised a “unique cash game experience, focused on fun and on pure, authentic poker” with sensible rake and a player rewards program to reward players at all levels. Recreational players will not have to worry about predatory behavior, according to Galfond, and cheating of any kind will not be tolerated.
Run It Once Poker is coming soon!✨
They will provide NLHE and PLO cash games this summer. pic.twitter.com/e5gQFxxHap
— Lillian (@Lily0727K) April 12, 2018
Phase 2 will bring in the tournaments, including SNGs and nosebleed events. There will also be more user options and software updates. However, there is no timetable set for that phase, though Galfond is promising transparency going forward, in the weeks leading up to the Phase 1 launch and throughout the development of Phase 2. He will also be revealing policies before launch, complete with detailed explanations of the reasoning behind major decisions.
All in all, Galfond promises a poker site online that will be different from its competitors while “pushing online poker in the right direction.” Finally, he wrote, “We’re doing everything we can to make it worth the wait.”
Assumptions and Questions
Considering the new poker site has a dot-eu suffix, it’s likely going to be offered in the European market first. The UK is the largest market in which a license doesn’t require a dot-uk suffix or geolocation, and there are several other countries that may be open for the site’s operations.
Will Run It Once go after the new shared liquidity market in the EU? It will require licenses in France and Spain, eventually Italy and possibly Portugal. Licenses are expensive, so this may not be a priority for Galfond until the site builds a reputation and garners revenue.
Will there be a site for US markets? The ones worth pursuing at the moment are New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with Nevada as a possibility because it currently only has one site.
Unfortunately, no US play money at first. It's more complicated than I expected it would be and we need to focus on one thing at a time. Eventually!
— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) April 14, 2018
How long will it take for tournaments to run? Poker players love their cash games, but tournaments deliver a lot of excitement for players, especially when they boast of guarantees. The time between launching cash games and then tournaments should not be too long that players tire of the wait.
How will it be different? This is the key question. Players want a valid alternative to the sites offered in most markets today, but will Run It Once be unique enough and cater to their needs in a way that will bring them to the tables in droves? This is going to be the key to its success.