In the third of a series of blog posts designed to give RunItOnce Poker players a deeper insight into the mechanisms and decisions behind the big summer reveal, Phil Galfond continues to impress, this time explaining how and why he will make the RIO experience a pure and streamlined one.
The new book I am reading with my daughter is called Carrot and Pea: An Unlikely Friendship.
It starts out:
I am Lee, and I am a pea.
It continues by selling the subconscious parable to children that even if you are different (a carrot amongst peas) that’s ok.
I have very paradoxical feelings about this parable. I was born a carrot in a world of peas. I always wanted to be a pea, but secretly, I loved being a carrot.
So I guess, my name is Lee, and I am a carrot.
I know another guy called Lee. He lives in Manchester, where I was born. I helped him to become someone who doesn’t drink alcohol. He’s a writer, and to thank me for helping him stop drinking; he sent me books ( a lot of them), one of them was Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski. After finishing that excellent novel, I continued reading Bukowski – his stories, his poems and his letters.
I want to share one with you.
On July 12, 1991, at 9: 39 pm, Bukowski sat down opposite his typewriter, likely with a whore lying in his bed, and a bottle of wine hanging out of his mouth.
He wrote this:
Read where Henry Miller stopped writing after he became famous. Which probably meant he wrote to become famous. I don’t understand this.; there is nothing more magic and beautiful than lines forming across paper. It’s all there is. It’s all there ever was. No reward is greater than the doing. What comes afterwards is more than secondary. I can’t understand any writer who stops writing. It’s like taking your heart out and flushing it away with the turds. I’ll write to my last god damned breath, whether anybody thinks it’s good or not. The end as the beginning. I was meant to be like this. It’s as simple and profound as that. Now let me stop writing about this so I can write about something else.
It makes me weep.
I love it.
It applies to so many areas of life, and today, I choose to apply it to the philosophy of one Phillip Galfond.
The Philosophy of RunItOnce
If you’ve been keeping up with the RunItOnce Poker saga, you will by now, understand that when Phil Galfond says he wants his poker room to be transparent, to keep the dream alive and to be the home of good and fair experiences, he’s not sticking stuffing up your hairy arse crack.
Some online poker rooms have teeth like ice, melting under the gauntlet of corporate responsibility. RunItOnce will not be one of these poker rooms.
In his third blog post explaining the philosophy and dynamics of RunItOnce Poker, Galfond begins by talking about the theory that poker is a zero-sum game.
Using an example of visiting Disneyworld, Galfond brilliantly applies context to show that people play poker because it’s entertaining. I needed that reminder. It’s been a long time since I felt like that. But I did. I once loved the game. And then it became the dirty stuff underneath your fingernails that smells of fish if left unearthed.
For me, poker became less about entertainment and more about NOT losing money. Galfond wants to create an ecosystem that feels more like the former and creates fewer people who fall into the latter pit to be eaten by snakes.
Like Bukowski says in the above letter, expanded upon by Galfond’s third blog post, no reward is greater than the doing.
Although taking money from someone to win seems like a zero-sum game, Galfond wants you to see that the game of poker is zero-sum, but the product of poker isn’t.
Galfond wants us to stop thinking like peas and carrots.
I have been guilty of this.
I have challenged how Galfond will create an online poker room that can appease two very different sets of customers. But he is slowly changing my mind. I have been thinking about peas and carrots. Maybe it’s time to stick the lot into a blender and mush them into one.
Are we so different?
Don’t we all want to be entertained?
If your position on any specific thing is that it will upset recreational players, but it wouldn’t upset you, you should be ready to explain why you’re so different from all of them.
Getting into the nitty-gritty of the blog post, Galfond wants to streamline the poker experience, reducing wasted energy pros deploy thinking of ways of seeking out and sucking the chlorophyll out of the peas, and to give the little green rolly things a less predatory environment.
RunItOnce plans to solve this problem by making the interface quick and easy to use. Log in, and within two clicks you are sitting at a table playing poker. You can’t scout tables. You can’t use third-party software like seating scripts. You click, and you play.
The other significant change is to force players to play 100bb poker. Galfond is open about his lack of surety on how successful this will be for non-professionals but does believe that it will help them focus on bankroll management forcing them to move down in stakes when money becomes an issue.
Upon reading Galfond’s third instalment, I couldn’t help think how close the edges are in the online poker market when it comes to operators behaviour.
Take this paragraph for example:
This is why it matters how long a player’s deposit lasts. This is why the playing experience is important. Poker is an experience-based product. The more enjoyable the games are, the more players can lose without actually losing. I’m going to repeat and reword that for emphasis: If the games are more fun, more value is created, recreational players will spend more in exchange for that added value, the pros and the poker site will profit more, and nobody needs to be tricked.
Isn’t this what PokerStars is trying to accomplish by creating poker variants that reduce edges such as Split Hold’em and Showtime?
PokerStars has a good defence. Where I believe Galfond will be able to squeeze in a few well-timed uppercuts is his consistent brand story. RunItOnce Poker has declared they will take responsibility for providing a good experience and fair game for all players. They will maintain the viability of the dream to make it to the higher echelon of the game. They will make the site a pure, streamlined experience. They will be transparent, and the leader will always be visible and vocal.
Pair this with PokerStars and their brand narrative of the importance of treating poker players with respect, and their most recent decision to stop real money gaming in Hong Kong without giving their players a reason why?
Can you imagine Galfond having to pull RunItOnce Poker from, let’s say, Germany, and sending everyone a bog standard corporate email giving them a cutoff date and nothing else?
Not on your nelly.
Galfond is likely to roll out a Charles Bukowski novel worth of blog posts explaining every facet of every decision. You might not agree with everything that Galfond is doing, but you will grow to trust him and his brand because of the consistency and pureness of delivery.
I can’t see Galfond flushing the peas and the carrots down the toilet with the turds.
Galfond and his team are going to make them both feel like caviar, and I am slowly starting to believe him.