Run It Once Poker Aims at U.S. Poker Market

Run It Once Poker, the online poker site owned by poker star Phil Galfond, is closing its doors in Europe to focus on opening in the USA.

Run It Once Poker ceases worldwide operations on January 3 two years after launching. The Phil Galfond-owned online poker site has its sights set on entering the United States poker market.

Galfond launched Run It Once Poker with a public beta on February 6 in 2019. Taking on the established online poker sites was never going to be easy. Players are reluctant to join poker sites with low liquidity. They prefer having a choice of cash games and tournaments. Run It Once Poker was doomed from the start in this regard. A complete lack of liquidity forced Galfond’s hand.

The site sent an email to its customers detailing the upcoming closure. Nobody can join games after 14:00 CET on January 3. Any ongoing game automatically closes at 10:00 CET on January 3. Players have until 23:59 CET on April 3 to withdraw their balances.

Galfond Explains Run It Once Poker Closure

Galfond is not only an elite poker player but an honest man. His frequent blogs on the Run It Once Poker site gave his customers insights into the business. The latest blog reveals the reason behind closing his online poker site. It started with the launch of SNG Select, the site’s sit & go offering.

“Players were having fun, and the feedback was great. That said, games didn’t pick u as much as I’d hoped, and new sign-ups weren’t at all what I expected. Despite the fact that our growth began months before the pandemic, the ease of lockdown restrictions began to knock us back down.”

“With few new sign-ups, our SNG traffic was underwhelming, and our cash game traffic levels began falling, With a break in the Galfond Challenges and our SNG Select campaigns falling short, among other things, our player acquisition efforts weren’t enough to outpace churn. Along with the world opening back up and the compounding effect of liquidity on itself, the decline in traffic accelerated. We were right back to where we started in late 2019.”

Aiming To Enter the U.S. Market

Three-time WSOP bracelet winner Galfond made his desire to operate in the United States no secret. However, he wanted a vibrant Rest of the World poker site to push his U.S. operations. The American online poker market is complex, but Galfond has Run It Once Poker on the path to enter it.

“This has been a dream of mine since well before we 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.”

“My goal when we started this was to become a major competitor in the markets we launched in, and then work towards getting into the U.S. While we’re on our way to half of that, it makes me sad that we didn’t first achieve the other half.”

Why Did The Site Ultimately Fail?

Launching a new online poker site is difficult. Sites need players to attract more players. Even having Galfond as the Run It Once Poker figurehead was not enough to draw in players.

Galfond revealed some of the mistakes made as he launched the site. His initial tech team fell way short of its targets. Run It Once Poker hired a new tech team, but that came at a large cost. It used money earmarked for marketing purposes.

“I also vastly underestimated just how sticky players would be when it came to playing on new sites. Playing on new software, dealing with the requisite KYC hurdles, splitting funds across multiple poker sites, along with a number of other factors, clearly made players want to be sure they’d be moving decent playing volume over before making the jump.”

Run It Once Poker had some innovative features from launch, but the lack of liquidity killed it. The decision to not offer tournaments was ludicrous. MTTs attract recreational players in droves, which attracts the pros. Running frequent $100 freerolls would have drawn in more players than its poor promotions did.

Galfond and his team are highly intelligent people who have learned from this experience. This stands them in good stead when entering the U.S. market.

Brad Johnson

You name the game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brad has either played it or placed a wager on it! Brad calls himself a natural gambler, and someone who gains as much enjoyment from writing about the crazy game of poker as he does playing it.


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