Phil Galfond's Run It Once Poker Site to Launch With Public Beta Feb. 6
On Sunday, Phil Galfond took to the RIO blog to announce that the Run It Once poker site he has been diligently working to develop for over two years will be launching Wednesday, Feb. 6 in “Public Beta” mode as they continue to work out kinks and make improvements to attain near-perfection. That may explain why last Monday’s planned three-hour beta session was extended through three days.
Upon launch, players will be able to see firsthand the many features Galfond has outlined in previous update posts, including the newly announced "Splash The Pot" rewards system, explained in more detail below.
Recent Updates on Run It Once
After several delays pushed previous launch dates back, Galfond posted a video on Sept. 3, 2018 to demonstrate some features of the site and fill the public in on what they were working on. He apologized for being wrong about the launch date, but assured everyone they would continue testing and improving in preparation for launch.
Earlier in 2018, Galfond released details on site development and features that would set RIO apart. These included the disallowing of Heads-Up Displays (HUDs), use of table aliases, and a system of dynamic avatars that serves as a kind of built-in HUD. He later explained the features of AutoSeating and fixed buy-ins, put in place to prevent "bum-hunting" tactics like use of seating scripts or table scouting.
In his Nov. 19 post, Galfond announced the Run It Once StreamR rewards system that incentivizes players on the site to stream their games, with 50% net rakeback as a reward for achieving the modest Level 1 requirement of 200 hours of watch time per month. The rakeback goes up to 75% and 100% for the next two tiers, with Team RIO streamRs getting 110% rakeback "and more."
Just after the recent three-day beta session, on January 31, Galfond posted details about the rewards system that RIO will launch with as well as base rake numbers for a range of cash games. And it became clear that launch was growing ever more near.
Splash The Pot Rewards System Explained
In his initial post about the Run It Once site, Galfond explained his belief that a poker site should value all types of players, so it comes as no surprise that they’re launching with a very visible rewards system that rewards all players equally through splashed pots.
“When poker is your profession, or just a game you’re passionate about one day becoming a winner in, pricing is no longer about what people are willing to pay – it’s about what is sustainable and what is fair,” Galfond wrote.
“...Pricing is no longer about what people are willing to pay – it’s about what is sustainable and what is fair.”
The 51% rakeback across the board will go back to the players through randomly selected hands that will see chips fall from the sky to boost the pot, with anywhere from one big blind to 1,000 big blinds, the smaller amounts occurring more frequently. The base rake numbers are also presented, ranging from 4% in the biggest cash games to 5.75% in the smaller games, those coming with caps between €3.75 and €1.00, respectively. He explained the reasoning behind the system:
“We decided that all types of players would get more enjoyment out of a fun system that achieved our net rake targets through higher base rake and high rewards. And even if the price sensitive players were indifferent to the rewards mechanism, it would still be better for them if the price insensitive players had more fun by seeing rewards coming their way.”
Some benefits of the Splash The Pot system Galfond points out are equal rewards for all players across the board, no uncollected rewards, plus added benefits of making games more interesting and dynamic, and serving as an additional form of bot deterrent. Bots would have a hard time adjusting properly to the differing levels of splashed pots, which could tip off their nature upon scrutiny.
“We believe that all poker games should be beatable, and that common sense should be used to adjust rake based on game types, speeds, and achievable edges.”
“We decided that all types of players would get more enjoyment out of a fun system that achieved our net rake targets through higher base rake and high rewards."
He clarified that faster-structured games with accompanying lower achievable edges would be raked at lower rates than longer-structured games. The common sense approach along with the company's belief system will guide rake decisions, which also mean constant re-evaluating of what's best for the players in the site's ecosystem.
“As we get more information, as we learn about our ecosystem and the effects of the rake we’ve started with, as those factors change over time, and as we introduce new stakes, new formats, and new game types, we will be making rake decisions again and again."
Also in the name of transparency, a common theme in the RIO company language, Galfond assures that changes will be accompanied by explanations, and their reasons will be guided by company values.
"If a day comes when we make a decision to spread a game we don’t believe is beatable (for reasons I can’t yet foresee), I will tell you, I’ll explain our reasons, and those reasons won’t include, 'because we can.'"
This Wednesday, Run It Once launches to the public with 6-max NLHE and PLO tables, with more game types and formats to be added at a later date. In the launch announcement, Galfond called on supporters to help by playing (at least) one hand on Wednesday and sharing one impression, via social media or to a friend. He told PokerNews:
"The main hope I have, and I've mentioned it in my most recent post, is that players who want to support us will give us a try as soon as possible. We really need the liquidity in our games in week 1 in order to have a successful launch, and I know as a player how easy it is to wait and never get around to signing up for a site until I know I'm going to move a lot of my play there. If people will give us a shot early, it will mean a lot for our chances of achieving those long-term goals."
He wrapped his post with the following vision:
“The deck may be stacked against us, but I believe that with just a little bit of help from you, we can make our poker dream a reality."
“The deck may be stacked against us, but I believe that with just a little bit of help from you, we can make our poker dream a reality - we can conquer threats to online poker’s future through the innovations we launch with and the countless more still to come, we can be a driving force for positive change in the industry, and we can make Run It Once Poker exactly what a poker site should be.”
Then he embedded the words of his initial September 1, 2016 post where he outlined what a poker site should be, which concludes with the vision he set out for RIO: "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."
And that is what Galfond has done, and continues to do, with Run It Once Poker.
To everyone saying that they'll be there to play @RunItOncePoker on Wednesday - Thank you so much! You truly will… https://t.co/FMpvIgHmFs— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond)