Run It Once Provides Long-Awaited Poker Site Update
In April 2018, Phil Galfond revealed the start of his new online poker site called Run It Once. Though he had publicly discussed the idea for more than a year prior, first announcing his plans in early 2017, it wasn’t until 2018 that players began to see it take shape.
The first introduction to the website came in April, with more information provided in May, which included his feelings on transparency and how his poker site would address HUDs. A third update, also in May, provided a forum in which to discuss fairness and enjoyment. He knew some of his decisions for the site would be questioned by longtime poker pros, but he explained the necessity of recreational participation and the benefits for all players for features like auto-seating and big blind requirements.
At that point, the poker site still noted that it would be launching in the summer of 2018, though on a limited basis. But much of the summer passed without any further word. Of course, many players were busy with the WSOP and non-poker-related summer activities, but the lack of updates was concerning.
But on August 2, Galfond provided another blog post.
— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) August 3, 2018
An apology for the delay kicked off the post, along with a vow to move forward more quickly from this point onward.
It seems that one thing that was prohibiting progress was the need to make decisions and the desire to involve the poker community in making them. Some will pertain to the design of the tables, cards, and avatars, but the most important to game integrity will be the table cap.
As Galfond and his team were discussing how to proceed with determining the right limit for multi-tabling, PokerStars announced that it was testing out a six-player table cap in its Italian market. Even so, his reasons for wanting to implement a table cap differ from those given by PokerStars.
The caveat in Galfond’s thinking about table caps is that the “right” number will change over time “based on the player pool, skill gaps, and a number of other factors.” With that said, he went into detail about some of the issues influencing his decision to implement a cap in the first place.
Game quality was the first factor, as he feels limiting the number of tables upon which a pro player is competing at a given time affects the number of seats available for recreational players. In essence, Galfond wants to even out the win-loss rates for all players, and fewer pros at the tables will do that. This is likely to be a controversial point on poker forums and social media threads.
Bots was another factor, as the fewer tables a person (or bot) can play at one time reduces the desire for bots to target his site. Reducing the profitability to run a bot on Run It Once by making it tougher and riskier will not only make players feel safer but reduce the amount of time staff must dedicate to detecting those bots.
Rake, on the other hand, is a reason to refrain from implementing table caps, as it reduces the amount of rake collected from players running numerous tables and playing more quickly. “As a new site,” Galfond wrote, “Run It Once would benefit from the added liquidity and revenue generated by mass multi-tabling pros, but it’s not what we believe is best for our games and our players.” And after testing and researching, he actually found that although less rake was collected with caps in place, game quality improved as players achieved a higher win-rate overall. And the enjoyment from winning more in the short term will likely bring players back more often for future deposits and more play in the long run.
Four or Six?
The decision to cap tables at four or six is the point at which the public’s choice will win.
— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) August 3, 2018
A six-table cap seems to have more benefits, including happier players, better liquidity as the site launches and begins to grow, and more short-term revenue for Run It Once that allows better budgeting for things like marketing and development.
The four-table cap is Galfond’s personal preference because it is more likely to deter bots and tends to increase the quality of the games for the average player.
More than just a simple vote, though, Galfond wants input on player choices, such as in the online poker forums and on social media. He and his team are reading all feedback.
Your Vote Counts
Galfond is seeking opinions on other issues for the new site as well. The design of the standard background color for the table pages is up for a vote, as are the cards – both front and back – and the colors of the player avatars.
Everyone with a Run It Once account can vote, and there is no charge to create a new account – participate in the creation of an online poker site that will reflect the will of the poker community.