Why hasn’t The Runner been caught?

Lee Jones
Published by:
Posted on: December 10, 2022 5:48 pm EST

I’m comfortable with being wrong.

It happens frequently, and often in public, so I’ve made my peace with being on the wrong side of the facts now and then. However, I try not to be wrong on the same subject multiple times within a ten-day period. But welcome to my experience with Runner Runner.

When the promotion first started, I thought that by using a reasonable amount of espionage tradecraft, the runner could avoid capture for the requisite 18 days.

That was until they published their first video, showing a few seconds of them pumping gas at a Texaco station. Within hours, the exact location of that Texaco station (south Florida, not that it matters now) had been published on Twitter.

“Runner’s toast,” thunk I.

That feeling was only reinforced when he/she started dropping many more hints than seemed necessary. Like, carpet in casinos is a fingerprint – no two are identical. Obviously, the Runner is no stranger to casinos and would have known that. That two-second clip of the carpet – they may as well have stood in front of the “Encore Boston” sign for a selfie.

How much more explicit could they be?

Apparently I’m an OMC

But the more I watched and read, the more pieces fell into place, and I understood what was happening. In fact, when I was a guest on Solve For Why’s “Only Friends” podcast, I admitted that I was completely wrong about how much information both sides would share. Matt Berkey succinctly articulated the concept that had been slowly forming in my brain:

Me: [at the beginning of the promotion] What’s going to be the content here? Both sides will be absolutely dark.

Matt: You were way too dismissive of the virality of the Internet.

Conrad Simpson: There’s too many egos involved in this.

Matt: We just want to put out a Tweet that gets a thousand “likes.”

The other half of this equation is that poker players, as a group, are not wired to be cooperative. Our game is an individual one – teamwork is specifically against the rules. And yet, I believe that teamwork is an absolute necessity if the Runner is to be caught.

To that point, I believe that if the Runner is caught, it will be by a syndicate of people who are not necessarily poker players. Or at least are not “serious” (pro or semi-pro) players. It will be a group of people who are naturally given to organization and coordination, potentially one that already exists for another purpose. I mean, suppose the Grambling State Marching Band decided to go after the Runner. I predict that they would nab him/her within 48 hours. Thirty thousand bucks will buy a lot of wind instruments.

Stop griping and get your skates on

In short, I believe that cooperation and coordination is necessary, but also sufficient. There’s been a lot of whining on the Internet that there’s no way the Runner can be caught. Well hell, if you just Tweet every thought you have about it, every clue you spot, all the while being loosey-goosey and eating a sandwich, you’re right, they won’t get caught.

But the information is out there. As the Real Time Tracker has noted, there are half a dozen people in the U.S. who, thanks to the QR cards, have seen the Runner and know it. And a couple of the Armchair Hunters have been quite savvy about putting clues together. Don’t tell me that the combined knowledge of some subset of those people couldn’t figure out who exactly this person is, and then mount a coordinated campaign to track them down.

Easy? No. Possible? Certainly. Worth $30,000? Not for me to say.

Will the Runner get caught?

Given my narrative above, you might think that my answer is, “No, they won’t get caught.” But even as I’ve been shocked by the lack of coordination among the Hunters, I’ve been equally surprised by the amount of leg that the Runner is showing. It’s almost as if they want to get caught. I dunno – maybe that’s too strong. But they are digging the chase, and apparently enjoy tacking close to the wind.

Full transparency, again: I don’t know any more who the runner is than you do. And I don’t know if they get any compensation if they get caught. I do know that they’re on the trip of a lifetime, and I am (as my editor, Brad Willis, noted earlier) deeply jealous that I’m not the one running around the United States playing poker in a brown paper bag. It may be that the Runner doesn’t care as much about preserving the Platinum Pass as they do about a fun cat-and-mouse game. And if that’s the way they see it, then (a) they were the perfect candidate for this gig, and (b) they may get caught yet.

So, this is as good a time as any to tip my hat to you, Mr/Ms Runner, whoever you are. You are dancing between the raindrops, leading thousands of people on a merry chase, and allowing the poker world to revel in the creative, clever, and sharp, rather than scandals and reality game shows. You’re my hero/heroine.