Why Is Run It Once Not Crushing Online Poker

When high stakes legend Phil Galfond wrote his famous blog post A Poker Site Should, the poker community were wondering what he had in mind.

A poker site should value poker players.

By: Mark Patrickson

This gem to start off the article is what the whole poker community has been thinking in the post-Black Friday poker ecosystem.

With the American player pool firmly segregated from the rest of the world, the major sites started to back away from the lucrative rakeback deals we had become used to. Poker players, particularly the high-volume regs, didn’t feel valued any longer.

Changing Times

As the online poker landscape settled down from all the changes, only partypoker looked to be pulling out all the stops to satisfy their customer base. This has continued in their drive to compete with market leaders PokerStars, but even they are hamstrung by the need to make correct business decisions.

When Phil Galfond announced that he had the backing to create his own poker room, the community took notice right away.

Here was a guy who was confirmed as one of the world’s elite players and knew exactly what real poker players wanted. Could he really turn the online poker industry on its head?

Early in 2019 Run It Once Poker opened their virtual doors for business and we were all keen to see what would happen. Sadly, there would be no American players allowed - Galfond was going to do things by the book.

Slow Start

Even offering 51% rakeback through an innovative “Splash the Pot” system - now up to 75% with the “Road to Legend” system - many would have thought their tables would be rammed full. This has clearly not been the case.

Even at peak times, people are reporting less than 100 players on the cash tables.

While miracles can not be expected overnight, as we head towards a full year since the site went fully operational people  were hoping to see more grinders moving over to Run It Once.

All About the Rec’s

Run It Once marketing can be found all over poker journalism websites. Anybody who considers themselves a reg will have heard of their arrival on the scene, and also know exactly who Phil Galfond is and what he has achieved with his career.

Nobody has a bad word to say about Galfond, and he has incredible support behind him in the drive to take on the giants like PokerStars. But is it really possible in this day and age with the relatively static state of the industry?

Their marketing is seen everywhere that a reg might come across it, but how many players do they have that are new to the game?

Without an influx of recreational players, the regs are going to stick to what they know, regardless of what rakeback they can get. There is even an offer for people to stream their Run It Once exploits on Twitch and receive 110% rakeback!

The rec’s are the lifeblood of poker and without finding a way to attract them to Run It Once it is difficult to see how they can grow into a serious market competitor. Just think of the exposure PokerStars and partypoker get from operating their live festivals that attract the world’s best players.

Phil Galfond can use his reputation to attract experienced players prepared to give him a chance, but it simply isn’t enough to grow into a huge site.

Against the Tide of History

Online poker hit the web back in 1998 and within a few years the big hitters we see today were already in place. Pacific Poker - now 888 Poker - was a main player almost right from the off. PokerStars and partypoker were to become industry leaders during the poker boom following Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP Main Event victory via a satellite entry.

partypoker only lost their status as the biggest poker site following the UIGEA legislation in 2006. This resulted in them not following the lead of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Ultimate Bet in continuing to service US-based customers.

Even following the devastation of Black Friday in April 2011 no newcomer to the online poker industry has started from nothing and become a roaring success, with the possible exception of GG Poker who have focussed on the Asian market.

GG Poker appear to have extremely deep pockets following their signing of Daniel Negreanu, who was rumoured to be paid as much as $12 million per year according to the rumour mill. This kind of insane expenditure appears to be what it takes to grow into an industry main player.

Time will tell if Run It Once can grow to the heights they are aiming for. The poker community is no doubt hoping that they can make a success of it, turning the scene on it’s head and giving poker players everything they need.


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