run it once poker closed

Run It Once Poker, a Phil Galfond headed online poker room with a goal of bringing much-needed innovation to the online game, has shut its doors after dealing its last hands-on January 3rd.

The move comes on the heels of a traffic decline over the last year after a strong 2019 and strong pandemic bump that had led to significant optimism for its future growth.

An opportunity in the United States could mean that Run It Once Poker could relaunch in the emerging market sometime in the future, but for now, Galfond noted that the move “marks the end of an era.”

Reasons for Run it One Poker shutting down

Run it Once Poker launched in February 2019 during a time when online poker growth has been stagnating. They hoped they could penetrate a market dominated by the likes of PokerStars, GG Poker and iPoker Network sites such as Bet365 Poker and William Hill with a refreshed focus on the online poker player experience.

The poker room was heralded for its large rewards, responsive customer support, and cutting-edge software (although no rabbit hunting). Galfond, the poker room’s heart and brains, used his extensive poker knowledge and status as one of the nicest people in poker, to bring more players to the game to an online poker room that wasn’t a “cookie-cutter” poker site.

For a bit, things seemed promising. Run It Once earned high marks for its approach and potential, launching with much fanfare through 2019 into 2020.

Traffic continued to grow in 2020 with more players playing online and the Galfond Challenge garnering headlines, but that faded as more players hit the live tables throughout 2021, but Run It Once kept trying including adding Jungleman to the Run It Once Training team, which will continue to operate.

With traffic dwindling and the newly launched Run It Once Poker Sit And Gos not getting the response Galfond expected, he came to a realization:

With traffic having dwindled below pre-pandemic levels after all of the progress we’d made, it became clear to me that we weren’t going to break through and reach the volume we needed to just by completing our platform and doing a bit more marketing. The hill was too steep. It was going to take a lot more.

Run It Once Poker 2.0?

In his blog post titled “Running it Again” announcing the RIO closure, Galfond detailed that despite the fact that RIO is gone for now, it has a plan to come back — through the the United States market.

For now, Galfond is holding back many of the specifics of the plan, but confirmed that “Run It Once Poker is now headed down a path to enter the legal and regulated US market.” In fact, the US market opportunity is one reason why Run It Once Poker had to put on the brakes for its rest-of-the-world operations.

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.

This was always part of the plan, according to Galfond. Unfortunately, the new focus on the United States meant that it would be at the expense of the players in the rest of the world. Perhaps someday if Run It Once Poker is successful in the United States, it could one day open up again to the rest of the world. Time will tell.

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