Run It Once Poker Looks Awesome, But Not For Americans

New poker site Run It Once Poker launched to the general public this week. The site, a brainchild of poker star Phil Galfond, opened for a public beta test on Feb. 6.

For right now, the site only offers cash games for no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha games. Unfortunately, the site is not and will not be available for players in the United States.

Run It Once is different in practice, not appearance

Galfond first devised the site after the 2016 World Series of Poker. He made a long post on the Run It Once forums about all the things that he felt a poker site should be.

Most of all, Galfond indicated the overarching need for transparency. This site is the product of that set of values he wrote.

Run It Once is a meat-and-potatoes site. The overall presentation of the site remains, at this point, rather rudimentary.

However, this simplistic quality belies the fact that there are some excellent design features on Run It Once. The chief differentiating feature on this site is the use of so-called “dynamic” avatars.

Dynamic avatars

Avatars on poker sites are nothing new, and players can often use them as an extra element of their online game and presence. However, the dynamic avatars on Run It Once will actually yield information about their players to other opponents.

So, a tight player’s avatar might appear to be asleep. A wild maniac might have an avatar with hair and clothing askew.

In this aspect, the avatar acts similarly to a real-life person’s face, yielding information and tells to the opposition. On the other hand, the ever-changing avatar will also serve to help the player monitor his or her own table image.

Player protection

The site will also take numerous steps to reduce the amount of player targeting. In other words, good players won’t be able to make notes and alerts when weaker players sit at various tables.

As a result, recreational players without a target on their backs. Any player who sits down at a new table will both have their identity concealed and be assigned a new avatar.

Run It Once also bans the use of heads-up displays at most of its buy-in levels. Only players at the highest levels can use these types of software.

Game selection

These highest levels are meant to be the province of top players. At present, the cash games range from €4 buy-ins to €2000 buy-ins.

There are only five strata of buy-ins right now. Both the hold’em and Omaha games host each level of buy-in.

Run It Once offers a host of generous promotions

In keeping with Galfond’s ethos, Run It Once has more generous promotions than players might typically see. One of the most robust promotions is the Splash the Pot feature.

Run It Once Poker is already pledging to return 51 percent of rake back to all players in the form of splash pots. Pots at all buy-in levels will receive boosts at random times as play goes on.

Run It Once is also offering rakeback to players that stream their gameplay through various websites. The feature, known as StreamR, rewards players based upon their number of view hours. Potentially, a player could receive up to 110 percent rakeback through this functionality.

Finally, Run It Once is welcoming new players to the site with an expansive first deposit bonus. The site will match 100 percent of the player’s first deposit up to €600.

The match bonus will dispense in chunks according to a playthrough schedule. However, unlike many similar bonuses, there is very little in the way of a time limit on this bonus.

As long as the player plays one hand in a calendar month, the bonus will remain active on the player’s account. So, players don’t have to feel rushed to achieve any particular number of hands.

American players can’t run it at all

As indicated by the € symbol above, Run It Once Poker operates using the Euro as its currency. That choice is reflective of the fact that the site does not have any plans to open its operations to residents of the United States.

Although that fact may seem unfair or harsh, it’s quite understandable. For a new site trying to get off the ground, operating in the United States, under its numerous laws and red tape, would be an unnecessary headache.

For those of us in the “land of the free,” though, it’s a shame. There are a lot of things about Run It Once that would be fun to try out.

Grizzly Games II Is A Great Reason To Try Global Poker

Global Poker will start its February with a roar. The poker site is offering hundreds of thousands in guarantees for its Grizzly Games II tournament series.

Grizzly Games II will begin its run on Feb. 3. The festivities debut with a $5,000 freeroll in Sweeps Cash (SC) that any player, $weeps (Sweeps) Cash or not, may enter.

Beginning the next day, Global Poker will run four events each day of the week and seven on weekend days. Altogether, players will compete for 158 Grizzly Games trophies and SC$850,000 in real-money guarantees.

The series will culminate with a three-tiered main event on Feb. 24. Players can choose from a Low, Middle or High event, which comes with buy-ins of SC$22, SC$110 and SC$218, respectively.

Notably, the High event will carry a guaranteed prize pool of SC$40,000. All events in Grizzly Games II will guarantee at least SC$3,000 up for grabs.

Grizzly Games II perks go beyond mere cash prizes

Most tournament prizes stop after the cash gets awarded. Players compete in the events, win the associated prizes, and that’s it.

Thankfully, Global Poker wants to take care of its competitors in Grizzly Games II. So there will be a whole host of perks, benefits and swag for players who come out on top in an event.

Champions Pack

The first of these benefits is the Grizzly Games Champions Pack. All players who win an event at Grizzly Games II will receive one of these packages.

Inside, they will find an exclusive, personalized trophy commemorating their win. The pack also comes with a Global Poker T-shirt and hat.

Hometown Heroes

Event winners will also gain the ability to participate in Global Poker’s Hometown Heroes promotion. In this promo, players can receive money just for wearing Global Poker gear around town and posting selfies on social media.

Players must complete five tasks assigned by Global Poker. These tasks typically involve wearing Global Poker gear in front of landmarks or at the players’ local cardrooms.

Each task carries a Sweeps Cash prize that the player will win upon completion. Prizes range from SC$20 to SC$1,000.

Tournament of Champions

Finally, players who win or come in second in a Sweeps Cash event will receive tickets to Global Poker’s Tournament of Champions (TOC). The TOC is an exclusive tournament open only to those two groups of people.

However, Global Poker is adding SC$10,000 to the TOC’s prize pool. Each final tablist at the TOC will receive no less than SC$250 in cash.

Most notably, the winner of the event will receive the grand prize. Global Poker will award the TOC champion an SC$5,000 ticket to a live event of his or her choice.

So, at least two players will enter the TOC from an SC$3.30 tournament. There is a possibility that even that tiny buy-in could turn into thousands in cash and tournament tickets.

A quick reminder about the way Global Poker works

Global Poker operates using a sweepstakes model. Players purchase Gold Coins from the site, which bears no monetary value. However, at the time of the sale, Global Poker also awards Sweeps Cash to players equal to the amount of their purchase.

This second currency, Sweeps Cash, is usable for real-money transactions. The model may sound a bit convoluted, but its structure is what allows Global Poker to exist in virtually every US state.

If you’re interested, head on over to Global Poker and get started. New players will receive 5,000 Gold Coins to seed their endeavor.

Remember: The first tournament in Grizzly Games II is a freeroll, and open to everyone. There’s no reason not to check out Global Poker in February.

PokerStars Is Challenging You To Hit The Golden Button

PokerStars NJ is rewarding New Jersey players who demonstrate persistence. That’s why players who hang on and complete their puzzles in the Golden Button Challenge may win $20,000 — every day.

How the Golden Button Challenge works

To get started, simply log into a valid PokerStars NJ account. Proceed to the Challenges Window, and opt into the Challenge.

Then, start playing. Make sure to sit at a table with at least four players.

Every time you get dealt an ace, pay attention. If you can win the hand, you’ll match a regular ace on the puzzle.

Pay special attention to the game if you’re dealt an ace on the button. A winning hand from that position will match one of the golden aces on your puzzle.

Complete the challenge, and you’re guaranteed a win. You will receive a random cash prize of up to $20,000.

The best part is that these prizes come with absolutely no playthrough requirement. You will be able to keep your winnings the instant you receive them.

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The fine print on the Golden Button Challenge

The Golden Button Challenge is currently running on PokerStars NJ. It will continue as an active promotion until Feb. 17.

The challenge will come with a minimum buy-in level. However, that level will be based on your historical gameplay and activity.

You must opt into the challenge before you begin playing. Any hands played before then won’t count toward the puzzle.

You can only receive a maximum of one puzzle piece per hand. The prize will only release once you complete the entire challenge.

However, there’s not much else to this promotion. Go check it out as soon as you can.

Enough about NJ; when is PokerStars heading to PA?

The question that people keep asking is about how soon PokerStars will make a move into Pennsylvania. PA poker players are hungry for the worldwide leader to open shop in the Keystone State.

So far, there is nothing to indicate a change to the previous timeframe. PokerStars has its approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in hand and looks to launch sometime in the next couple of months.

Unfortunately, the recent Department of Justice opinion on the Wire Act has thrown the entire industry off its game. The prevailing wisdom right now is that all interested parties should wait to see how the DOJ instructs its prosecutors to proceed.

Until that happens, it seems unlikely that PokerStars will launch in PA, regardless of any other challenges it might have. But, for right now, there’s no reason to panic. PokerStars will be coming to PA soon enough.


PokerStars Winter Series Gives Players 40 Million Reasons to Play

PokerStars Winter Series

The end of the year is a time of giving and receiving. PokerStars is generously giving players the opportunity to win their share of $40 million in the PokerStars Winter Series.

The PokerStars Winter Series will commence on Dec. 23. The series will offer 60 online events over the course of 16 days.

Well, actually, it’s a bit misleading to say that there are just 60 events up for grabs. Each of the events has four tiers – micro, low, medium, and high – that essentially quadruples the actual number of events.

The tiers are separated according to their buy-in levels. They break down as follows:

  • Micro – up to $5.50
  • Low – up to $55
  • Medium – up to $530
  • High – up to $5200

So, there’s an opportunity to hit it big no matter the size of one’s bankroll. Each event carries guarantees on all four tiers.

Notable PokerStars Winter Series events

The series will build to a fantastic Main Event on Jan. 6. The guaranteed prize pools for the four tiers of this tournament are worth nearly $4 million alone.

The Main Event will feature 8-max no-limit hold’em. The four tiers of the event are:

  • Micro: $2.20 buy-in – $100,000 guaranteed
  • Low: $22 buy-in – $750,000 guaranteed
  • Medium: $215 buy-in – $1,500,000 guaranteed
  • High: $2,100 buy-in – $1,500,000 guaranteed

If a $2,100 buy-in seems a bit steep, PokerStars is running special Spin & Gos that will award seats to the big table. For either $2.50 or $20, players can compete against two other players in a hyper-turbo winner-take-all battle for a seat or, at least, a random cash prize.

There will also be two High Roller events during the series, running Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. These events, which 8-max no-limit hold’em tournaments as well, carry a $5,200 buy-in with a $500,000 guarantee.

Even players who are down on their luck can take part in the Winter Series, thanks to the series’s special freeroll. Players who complete the appropriate challenge will earn entry to the Winter Series $25K Freeroll.

Finally, the Winter Series will offer $3,500,000 in guarantees on its selection of phased tournaments. A phased tournament is a fancy way to describe tournaments with multiple flights or Day 1s.

The great thing about them is that they can allow players to lever themselves into a huge payday, even at the lowest buy-in levels. The Winter Series micro tier of the phased tournaments has a buy-in of just $2.20, but a whopping guarantee of $250,000.

Players who want some variety in their game selection won’t be disappointed, either. Almost every conceivable variation of hold’em has its own event, and there are multiple pot-limit Omaha and no-limit Omaha Eight or Better tournaments as well.

Millions in guarantees even without the Winter Series

Of course, the Winter Series is not the only thing going on at PokerStars. In fact, there’s even more money available just in the course of normal business for the site.

Concurrent to the Winter Series, PokerStars will offer tournaments with combined guarantees totaling $45 million. Chief among those tournaments are the ever-popular Sunday Million events.

The Sunday Million is a $215 buy-in no-limit hold’em donnybrook that has been a staple of PokerStars for more than ten years. The tournament runs every weekend and carries a $1 million guarantee on its prize pool. During the Winter Series, the Sunday Million will run on Dec. 23 and Dec. 30.

PokerStars remains one of the top sources of innovation for poker, too. There are numerous games exclusive to the site, such as Zoom, Spin & Go, and Fusion.

All in all, there’s simply no reason that PokerStars shouldn’t be on everyone’s list during the holidays. Make this a winter to remember!

Not Quite Dead Yet: PokerStars May Bring Back Showtime, Split Hold’em For MTTs

Split Hold'em

PokerStars has distinguished itself this year with limited-time introductions of new poker variants. It is now possible that the online poker giant will bring two of them, Showtime and Split Hold’em, back for multi-table tournaments.

In an interview with Poker Industry Pro, PokerStars Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset indicated that the games might reappear due to player feedback.

“Some players were disappointed that they could not find games when we turned them off, so this is something that we want to potentially offer,” said Rasset.

What are all these PokerStars variants?

So far in 2018, PokerStars has released and withdrawn three different games. All three offered different mechanics and strategies for players to attempt to master.

Split Hold’em

The first variant, Split Hold’em debuted in March 2018. The concept was relatively simple: every hand would feature two full boards of community cards – two flops, two turns, and two rivers.

Essentially, it’s an entire game of running it twice. Each board would be worth half the pot. Players could win on either board or, potentially, scoop the entire pot.

Pots in this variant would typically be larger than an average Hold’em game. Players would have less idea why an opponent bet or which boards the opponent was betting.

Split Hold’em ran until May 2018. Then, PokerStars introduced Showtime Hold’em to the masses.

Showtime Hold’em

Compared to Split Hold’em, Showtime Hold’em was less of a shift from typical gameplay. Instead, the twist would occur when a player folded their cards.

Any players who folded would have their hands revealed to the entire table, The folded hands would remain visible for the rest of the hand.

There are two ways this twist would affect the game. The first is obvious: it became much easier to understand the type of opponents at a table.

Tight players accustomed to getting paid off might get folds. Loose players accustomed to getting folds might get called more often.

The other main difference would be that the odds would need calibration. The knowledge that certain cards had or had not been involved already would be invaluable information for marginal decisions.

The game introductions keep rolling at PokerStars

Rasset’s comments coincided with the site’s withdrawal of another variant, Unfold. As with the other two formats, PokerStars ran Unfold in a six-week trial period.

In Unfold, players contributed antes to a side pot at the beginning of each hand. After the flop, a folded player could match the side pot and retrieve their mucked cards.

The best “Unfolded” hand would receive the pot. However, folded players had no shot at the main, and could take no further action after buying back in.

Amazingly, PokerStars is not finished with running new variants out for players to try. In fact, PokerFuse is reporting that the site will release two more games in 2018 – Six Plus Hold’em and Fusion.

Six Plus Hold’em is also called Short Deck, and as its name implies, the game plays with all cards under six removed. The result is a Hold’em game with a tighter range of holdings for everyone at the table.

The game made a big splash at Macau this summer, with poker pro Nick Schulman winning his first short deck tournament in July. Undoubtedly, PokerStars players have been clamoring to try it out.

PokerStars will also roll out Fusion. Fusion remains a bit of a mystery, but will combine elements of different games.

In short, players of all calibers will not fail to find something new on PokerStars. Even though it’s the largest site on earth, PokerStars doesn’t seem to be resting on its laurels.

Sunday Marks The Start Of Coin Poker’s First-Ever CSOP

blockchain graphic

The Crypto Series of Poker (CSOP) will debut on CoinPoker on Sunday, May 27 at 4:00 PM EST. This tournament series is the first major cryptocurrency tournament available to players around the world.

To celebrate, CoinPoker is adding 10,000,000 CHP to the series to reward players for their loyalty. The series will feature 17 tournaments with added CHP prizes worth between 200,000 and 1 million CHP.

The series will run from May 27 until June 3. The event will culminate in a massive main event on June 3 with 2,500,000 CHP added to the pot.

Coinpoker wants this series to serve as a coming-out party for the crypto website as a major player in the poker constellation.

“The Crypto Series of Poker is the first event of its kind,” said Paulius Mikaliunas, head of poker operations. “As a cryptocurrency-powered poker room, we are [excited] to match and exceed prize pools offered by mainstream poker events.”

CSOP an opportunity to calm nervous newcomers

Mikaliunas went on to tout the benefits of blockchain technology that underlies the website. He cited increased security and the ability to make instant transactions as major benefits of the platform.

These sorts of benefits are important for attracting new players who might be daunted by the exchange of actual currency for the site’s token, CHP. However, CoinPoker has recently streamlined that process by linking and allowing transfers with Ethereum, one of the major cryptocurrencies in the market.

CoinPoker is also sweetening the deal for new players who join for the upcoming CSOP. New CoinPoker players can play in the first CSOP event free and can walk away with their share of 250,000 added CHP. All you have to do is sign up.

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CSOP will lead to Tony G and the WSOP

For players in the Main Event, they will find an added challenge. Well-known poker professional Antanas Guoga, or Tony G, will be playing for the championship alongside the rest of the field.

Tony G will also carry a bounty on his head. Whoever knocks him out of the tournament will find themselves 20,000 CHP richer.

Players will also have an opportunity for some sweet Tony G money in the Mini Main Event. The Mini will run with an attractive 1,000,000 CHP prize pool earlier in the day on June 3.

Alongside the CSOP events themselves, Coinpoker will also run a CSOP Leaderboard. Players will earn points based upon their performance in series events, and the top 50 will play in a special freeroll.

That freeroll leads to the grand stage of poker. Coinpoker is putting three WSOP packages up for grabs.

So, even if you don’t ship one of these events, a strong performance could punch your ticket to the Rio. Even if you can’t make it, the mere chance of taking down Tony G is a good reason to sign up.