Run It Once shuts down worldwide operations in favor of U.S. markets

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on 12/30/2021

Run It Once Poker is closing down temporarily as it pivots from serving the international player pool to the legal and regulated markets of the U.S.

In a post titled “Running it again,” Phil Galfond explained the move.

Despite holding back on some of the details, the lede here is thoroughly buried halfway into the article.

“I’m holding back some of the finer details for the time being,” Galfond writes. “(I’ll have more to share in the next few months!), but the bottom line is this: Run It Once Poker is now headed down a path to enter the legal & regulated US market.”

He adds, “This has been a dream of mine since well before we first launched. I didn’t initially think it would be an option for us for another half-decade, so I’m very excited to be on our way to achieving it!

“The very unexciting part of this news is that, in order to head in that direction, we’re shutting down our Rest of World operations and focusing fully on getting our platform complete and prepared to operate in the US regulated environment.”

The training arm of Run It Once will not be affected.

Mistakes were made

In the post, Galfond is candid about the mistakes he and his team made along the way. The smaller factor he mentions is underestimating the activation energy required to get poker players to switch to new platforms.

The bigger factor is that he hired entirely the wrong tech team to launch the kind of site he was aiming to make.

“Our initial tech leadership, which I put into place, came nowhere remotely close to their targets,” he writes. Part of that was on them, but part was on us, too – not communicating early and clearly enough that we weren’t looking to launch a cookie-cutter poker site. […] Even when we put the right tech team into place, later on, we’d been set back so far that completing our platform was no easy task.”

This coupled with the drop in online poker playing as lockdowns unlocked after late-2020 seems to be what did the site in.

Play it again, Phil

Despite the site’s troubles so far, Galfond seems excited to get a second go-around with a new launch in a new market.

There is a growing handful of states where online poker is legal and regulated. But until Galfond and his team are ready to go live in them, the key points for Run It Once customers are as follows:

  • registration for games on runitonce.eu will stop running at 2AM on January 3, 2022;
  • play will stop eight hours later at 10 AM on January 3, 2022;
  • players must cash out by April 3, 2022;
  • UK players who do not cash out by the deadline will have their funds donated to charity;
  • the fate of all non-UK player funds is still to be determined; and
  • a full breakdown of what will happen to player rewards can be found on the Run It Once website.

It is a shame to see Phil Galfond’s project stumble like this. Run It Once’s innovations and attitude to player experience have become one of the governing paradigms of the online poker industry with reach far beyond the company’s own player base.

The work involved in keeping Run It Once Poker running, while he planned its next move, might explain why we haven’t seen much movement on the Galfond challenge front.

It will be interesting to see the new U.S.-based project unfold. In the meantime, maybe Galfond will finally have a little free time to play more of the game he so clearly loves.

Featured image source: Flickr by WPT used under CC license