Running It Twice

Running it twice (or three times) is fairly common in the private no limit Texas Hold’em games I frequent. This option happens when

  • Two players are all-in before the river card has been dealt, and
  • By mutual agreement, the pot is divided in half, and the remaining cards are dealt once for half the pot, then again for the other half.

If the all-in occurs on the flop, a first turn and river card determine the winner of one-half of the pot, then a second turn and river card decide the other half. If the all-in is pre-flop, the entire board is spread twice. Running it three times simply divides the pot into thirds and runs out three boards.

There are several reasons for players wanting to run it more than once, mostly revolving around reduction of variance.

What amazes me, however, is how quickly players ask “how many times do you want to run it?” after the call is made. Many players in my local poker ecosystem offer to negotiate this detail prior to showing their cards.

Not me. I’m willing to negotiate, but only after all the cards are face up on the table. I want to be able to assess the odds, to see how close we are to a coin flip or alternatively to a sure thing. If either player is drawing dead, running it twice is a waste of time.

Poker is a game of incomplete information. So much of what we do is an effort to inform our decision making with more and better information. In the exact spot where the betting action is complete, the house allows running it more than once and another player offers to negotiate over one final decision, I’m only doing that with more information.

To run it twice or not to run it twice is the only decision we get to make after seeing the villain’s cards. Why should I pass on the extra info?

If you call my all-in bets with draws, be forewarned. My default against callers with draws is to run it once. I’m not going to encourage idiocy. I’m not going to allow an expectation that I’ll take pity and reduce your variance. If you don’t have the goods already, I suggest you think twice instead.


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  1. Just found the blog from the link at Pokernews. Working my way newest -> oldest. Excellent content. I was a little surprised this one didn’t generate any comments. I don’t play a lot of live cash (online micros cash/tournaments and live tournaments mostly) so I don’t have a lot of experience with run it twice. That said, I don’t usually see players expose their hands prior to making the decisions. Is this common?

    1. First of all, thanks for the kind words, Nate!

      As to running it twice (or three times), I see players frequently negotiating over how many times they want to run out the board prior to exposing their hands, at games where this is allowed. There are other idiosyncrasies, such as players who only running it once or three times (so there is always a winner / never a chop), always running it once if behind in the hand but multiple times if ahead, always deferring to the other player to decide how many times, or taking great offense to my insistence on full disclosure prior to negotiating.

      The whole concept of running the board out multiple times after an all-in bet is called exists outside the framework of poker rule books, which makes it fascinating to see how different players approach it.

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