Evaluating the Runner versus Hunters Match

Lee Jones poker writer
Lee Jones
Posted on: December 1, 2022 11:32 PST

(Transparency notice: I don't know who the Runner is. I have zero contact with them – there are other people at PokerOrg responsible for that.I know nothing more about the Runner than you do.)

The Runner-Runner promotion is in its fourth day, and already we've seen some dramatic shifts in strategy and tactics on both sides. Let's review the current state of play.

Early splashing

Man, I wish the Runner had heeded my Illya Kuryakin article from the jump. In that piece, I said that they had to act as if their freedom or life was on the line. We poker players can become inured to dollar figures, but ladies and gentlemen, $30,000 – let's write that out – thirty thousand dollars – is a ton of money. You might say, "Well, it's not really $30,000, because it's a trip, and a ticket into a tournament in which you have a 15% chance, at best, to get some cash back."

You do your own utility, but you could certainly sell 50% of your action, have $15k in your pocket, and still be playing poker for silly amounts of money.

Anyway, I was shocked when I saw how loosey-goosey the Runner was with their gas station video . To be fair, I was equally shocked at how quickly the Hunters managed to narrow it down to a single gas station in South Florida. Do we know for a fact that that's where the Runner was? No. Would I bet a big number, at long odds, that that's where they were? Definitely.

My first conclusion: the Runner underestimated the sharpness and dedication of the people chasing them.

Unless it was something else...

I sit at poker tables and hear players discussing their poker tactics with the people who are trying to take their money. Showing hands they don't have to. This blows my mind. The best I can guess is that they're trying to show how smart or clever they are. But at a poker table, you show how smart and clever you are by winning the other folks' money.

The Runner has one way of showing us how smart and clever they are: by getting through December 16th without getting caught. I'd have thought they'd give out the absolute minimum amount of information necessary to comply with the game rules.

It's also possible that the Runner just has a thing for tacking close to the wind. Like a bank robber who leaves behind some calling card for the police, because that's half the fun. Not me, but I dig that some people are like that.

The good news for the Runner was that the Hunters (at least the ones we can see and hear) seemed to be splashing around too. Like, why in the world would somebody post to a public forum, "I'm pretty sure this is the Starbucks they were at..."

Now, I grant there are (at least) two kinds of Hunters. There are those (hereinafter, "Serious Hunters") who really do intend to capture the Runner and get the Platinum Pass. They are prepared to physically track down the Runner and query them about rabbit hunting . I assume that such people are keeping their own counsel, or at least sharing it only with a trusted group with whom they have an understanding.

The second group ("Armchair Hunters") are those who are in the hunt for the thrill of the chase. They have no real intent (or even desire) to win the Platinum Pass, but by gum, it's sure fun playing Mycroft Holmes to decipher the Runner's location. For such people, the buzz of being the first to post useful information is the reward, and I totally get that.

But overall, I was as surprised by the free and active public sharing of information among the Hunters as I was with the quality of clues the Runner was dropping.

Both sides tighten up

In the last day or so, both sides have upped their tradecraft game. Over on the real-time information feed , things have gotten pretty quiet. My theory? The Thirty Thousand United States Dollars figure is beginning to sink in on both sides. That number might or might not be life-changing money for you, but even if it weren't, how much trouble would you go to win the Platinum Pass?

Here's a thought experiment that I had: for a Platinum Pass, would I drive 8-10 hours, all night? Or even hop on a plane? Would I put on a disguise, and prowl one or a handful of poker rooms where I thought the Runner would be? Would I be willing to embarrass myself by asking a bunch of people how they felt about rabbit hunting, only to get weird looks (or worse) in return?

Hell, yes.

Day 1-2 Summary:

"I can show you a video and you'll never find me."

"Actually, we can find you. Careful what you assert."

Day 3-4 Summary

Runner: "Oh, oops. Maybe I'll be more careful."

Hunters: "Oh, oops. Maybe we shouldn't have made it so obvious how good we are at this."

What's next

Here's how I expect the remainder of the chase to play out...

The Runner will leave as few clues as they're permitted, modulo whatever need they feel to wink toward the Hunters. The Serious Hunters will go radio-silent, scanning both the direct clues and social media for ideas dropped by Armchair Hunters. But they will share nothing.

The Armchair Hunters are the wild cards in the deck. They are helping the Serious Hunters by sharing what they learn and deduce. But they help the Runner by telling them what the public knows and is thinking. I expect the Armchair Hunters to ultimately decide the Runner's fate, perhaps by providing a lucky Serious Hunter with real-time intel that enables them to actually catch the Runner. Or, the Armchair Hunters will inadvertently alert the Runner to a clear and present danger that will enable them to swerve out of harm's way at the last minute.

Which it will be? Stay tuned.

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