Phil Galfond Run It Once

Phil Galfond Explains Seating Options at

As poker pro Phil Galfond’s new online poker room,, draws closer to launch, he has been posting lengthy updates about what players can expect and why he and his team have made certain decisions. A while back, he provided a third update and while I admittedly missed it (forgive me – I was preoccupied with the end of my kids’ school year and my oldest’s transition out of elementary school), I feel it is still an interesting topic to take a look at, so that’s what I’m doing right now, as you read these words on this webpage.

Phil GalfondThe title of Galfond’s update is “#3: Just Play,” and that’s really as simple a way to put his message as possible. He gets quite wordy (I like him), but his philosophy is that “recreational” player doesn’t mean shitty player or stupid person, but rather a person who players poker for fun. They often lose money (though they can certainly be good enough to win in the long run, too), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t getting something out of their time at the table. They play because they like to play.

Galfond calls poker an “experienced-based product.” For pros, it’s a zero-sum game: one person wins money, another person loses that same money. But for recreational players, it is not necessarily zero-sum. Someone might lose money, but they gained the enjoyment of the experience, just like going to a movie or dumping quarters in to an arcade game (lol using quarters in 2018).

Professional players, he says, often feel like they need to trick recs into thinking they are good or they are winning into order to keep them at the tables and keep them losing money. But Galfond argues – and correctly, I might add – that none of that is necessary if people are simply having fun. As such, much of what he is implementing at RunItOnce is designed to increase the fun and decrease the negative experiences.

One thing Galfond discussed isn’t revolutionary, but notable nonetheless, particularly because of what the entire update was all about. RunItOnce will use an automatic seating procedure aptly called “AutoSeat.” Players just pick the game and the stakes and they are put at a table (multiple tables, if they wish). Ease of use and it scuttles seating scripts.

On top of that – and this is more interesting – RunItOnce won’t allow players to choose how much they want to buy-in for at the cash game tables. It will be 100 times the big blind and that’s that. Galfond feels that this will help recreational players manage their bankrolls better, as they won’t be able to play at stakes higher than they should, but perhaps with shorter stacks.

And speaking of short stacks, this will also eliminate the short stacking strategy, which frustrates many people who don’t do it. In a nutshell, short stacking is buying-in for very little money – generally only 20 big blinds), then playing very tight. But when a short stacker does play, they get quite aggressive, often an “all-in or nothing” strategy. It can work for recreational players because it takes away most decision making and it can keep opponents off balance because they know if they tangle with a short stacker, they have to be prepared to put in some bets higher than they might like.

Overall, Galfond believes simplifying the table selection and seating process will let people just play “pure poker.”

He concludes with this:

To the professionals:

Don’t worry about picking the best table, about finding the perfect seat and then buying in for the right amount based on the makeup of the table and your opponents’ stack sizes. Don’t worry about designing a HUD for our games or about whether or not to use a seating script. Don’t spend half of your mental energy staring at the lobby. Don’t fear being exploited by multi-accounters and dataminers.

In the same way that the players torn about how much time to take in MTTs enjoy that burden being lifted by a shot clock, let us handle improving the experience for everyone else so that you don’t need to decide whether or not to play your part.

To the recreational players:

Don’t worry about pros having a huge informational advantage over you, or about your results being made public. Enjoy not being hunted, not being targeted and attacked in the same way you are on other sites. Enjoy the extra information on your opponents and their play styles, all delivered within a nice, clean interface.

As Galfond said in his first update, the plan is for the RunItOnce online poker room to launch this summer, starting with cash games. Tournaments will come along at a later date.


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