Phil Galfond Announces End to Global Operations of Run It Once, Looking Toward US Market

  • Run It Once will shut down its games on Monday, January 3
  • Phil Galfond said his goal is to launch Run It Once in the United States
  • Galfond cited poor communication with technology leaders as one reason for problems
  • Galfond was undefeated in four “Galfond Challenge” matches
Run It Once online poker table
Phil Galfond announced that Run It Once will shut down its global operations on January 3, but he has plans to try to relaunch the site in the United States. [Image: Run It Once]

Games ending January 3

Former professional high stakes poker player Phil Galfond has announced that the online poker room he launched three years ago, Run It Once, will cease global operations and begin moving toward a new life in legal and regulated United States markets. He did not offer up a timeline as to when players in one of the handful of states with regulated online poker could see a new site.

Players have until April 3 to withdraw their funds.

As for the immediate future, Run It Once players don’t have much more time at the tables. Galfond announced the site’s closure on Thursday, December 30 and said in a blog post that all games will stop on Monday, January 3. Players have until April 3 to withdraw their funds. Any deposits that remain unclaimed for players in Great Britain after that date will be donated to charity; plans are still in the works for funds in accounts belonging to players in other countries.

Players currently working off deposit bonuses will receive any installments that they have started, even if they have not completed the playthrough requirements for that portion. Legends rewards will cease; for the rest of the existence of Run It Once, players will receive 45% rakeback, instead. Leaderboard competitions will end on January 2 and prizes will be paid to accounts on January 4.

Taking lessons to US efforts

As Galfond and his team were building Run It Once, he provided the public with updates on the progress and his philosophies via the site’s blog. It was no different in the case of the site’s closure, as Galfond tried to be honest about the mistakes he feels he made, despite his good intentions.

He started by saying that Run It Once’s tech leadership fell short. He did partially blame them, but he also pointed the finger at himself, for “not communicating early and clearly enough that we weren’t looking to launch a cookie-cutter poker site.” As a result, they overspent on tech staff instead of putting that money elsewhere.

Galfond also said he severely underestimated how difficult it would be to keep people playing on the site. He knew launching an online poker room would be an “uphill battle,” but he just didn’t realize that even players who indicated they were excited to play on Run It Once would not necessarily do so.

For Galfond, the silver lining is that he planned on trying to bring Run It Once to the United States, so he believes he can learn from his mistakes and improve his product and business as he makes the push in regulated US markets.

We didn’t accomplish everything that we set out to, but we’re far from finished.”

“We’ve poured our hearts, minds, and souls into Run It Once Poker,” Galfond concluded. “We didn’t accomplish everything that we set out to, but we’re far from finished.”

Galfond Challenge was a success

One of the things that helped drum up interest in Run It Once was the Galfond Challenge, which he started at the beginning of 2020. In the Challenge, he played for ultra-high stakes against some of the best players in the world. After a pre-determined number of hands, the player who was ahead kept their winnings and won a side bet from their opponent.

Galfond’s first match was the most incredible. He was down by over $1m against VeniVidi1993 at one point and almost called it quits, but came roaring back to win by just a few thousand dollars with just 74 hands out of 25,000 remaining.

The second challenge was against Ioannis “ActionFreak” Kontonatsios, two-tabling €150/€300 Pot-Limit Omaha on Run It Once. After 15,000 hands, Galfond won €114,765.66 ($130,533.89) and a €150,000 ($171,000) sidebet.

At the beginning of 2021, Galfond completed his third challenge victory, trouncing Chance Kornuth in $100/$200 Pot-Limit Omaha. Kornuth conceded 25,400 into the 35,000-hand match, down by $726,500. Galfond also won a $250,000 side bet after risking $1m himself.

The final challenge ended in August, when Brandon Adams conceded less than a third of the way through 10,000 hands of $100/$200 Pot-Limit Omaha. Galfond won $270,000 and a $100,000 side bet.