Run It Once to Focus on Fairness and Enjoyment
It is not often that poker players and fans are able to see the entire thought process that contributes to the creation of an online poker site. The ability to follow the progress of a person preparing to launch the site gives anyone with an interest in the game a glimpse into the complications and drawn-out decisions that precede that launch.
Phil Galfond is doing just that. He is releasing lengthy and personal blog posts ahead of the unveiling of his Run It Once online poker site.
One reason that many players have subscribed to the “rigged” notion of internet poker and so easily believed that operators were dishonest was a lack of transparency. Galfond has taken that seriously, so much so that he is revealing the thought processes behind all of his major decisions regarding Run It Once. He wants players to trust his site and everything that went into developing it.
I set out to talk about one type of user experience but ended up focusing on a much more important one.
My latest Run It Once Poker update: https://t.co/5DbJBi7ifL
— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) May 24, 2018
Two Simple Goals
Galfond revealed that he has two major goals for players who patronize his site. He wants to provide a good experience for them, and he wants them to have fun.
It sounds simple, but it’s often something that poker sites online fail to keep in mind when making decisions for and about players.
He wrote: “We not only want to level the playing field and make the games more fun for recreational players; we want to improve the experience for pros, too. We don’t want you to have to deal with distractions and annoyances that come along with deciding whether or not to take part in one form of incessant edge seeking or another.”
With that in mind, Galfond goes into two policy decisions, one that increases the win rates of pro players and the loss rates of recreational players, and the other that helps recreational players and some pros at the expense of other pros.
AutoSeat and 100BB
More poker sites have taken to seating players automatically to eliminate bumhunting and seating scripts, which are practices used by some pros to prey on recreational players. It often discourages inexperienced and casual players from returning, especially if they feel that they were taken advantage of and lose their money too quickly.
Galfond is going to use an automatic seating system as well. Players will simply choose the game and number of tables they want to play. The kicker for players at Run It Once will be that they do not choose the buy-in amount as on most other sites. Instead, the tables will reflect how much the buy-in will be. For example, a €50NL table will be a €0.25/€0.50 table, meaning the buy-ins are 100 big blinds.
The reason for this decision is that it “forces bankroll management onto the type of recreational player who normally just plays the highest game they’re able to.” He feels that their deposits will last longer, they will learn better bankroll management, and they will have a better overall experience.
LOVE It ! As a recreational that is a slight winner overall who still has "the dream" I love every word and sentiment in this article.
— Alex Bunin (@AlexanderBunin) May 23, 2018
Benefits for Pros and Recs
Galfond’s message to professional players is to spend less time worrying about choosing tables, seats, and buy-in amounts based on a plethora of data. He also believes that HUDs and seating scripts take too much time, while players also have to be on the lookout for competitors who are multi-accounting, datamining, or using other intricate methods of finding advantages.
To recreational players, his message is to enjoy the game without fears of finding embarrassing hand histories on a poker forum or being targeted by HUDs and other programs that peg them as weak players. All players should feel welcome at the tables and not as a target of pros who use programs to rip money from their bankrolls.
All in all, Galfond keeps in mind the notion that poker is a zero-sum game, one in which a player can win by causing another to lose. Since this is the mindset of most poker players, it leaves recreational players in the losing category. Therefore, he said, “I believe that, due to the nature of online poker, there’s a deeply rooted problem in the online pro community. We don’t give recreational players nearly the respect they deserve.”
Of course, it is not unhealthy for pro players to keep that zero-sum mindset, as it is the bottom line of poker, but he feels that the “product” of poker doesn’t need to be zero-sum. “So,” he wrote, “if the pros aren’t going to improve the experience for recreational players, the responsibility has to fall to the poker operator. That’s us.”
Essentially, Galfond hopes that pros will step back from generalizing about and stereotyping recreational players, as they have many reasons for wanting to play poker. And in order to do that, some of the divide between pros and recs must be removed, and it is the job of the online poker operator to do it.