The last time we wrote about RIO was in December 2018, after the largest beta test of the client, which revealed tons of issues with the software. In January another round of beta testing was performed, and before announcing the launch date, Galfond posted about the only missing topic in the room: rake and rakeback. As usual, Phil's approach in this matter was uncommon.
Run It Once Poker — Rake
During the beta testing, the players unsuccessfully tried to identify the rake structure of the poker room. The last tests had NL50 tables (before that the highest stake available was NL25) and we can say that the servers stability were optimized. Now with the data shared by Phil, it can be seen that those calculations were not entirely precise as rake in NLH and PLO changes from stake to stake:
No Limit Hold'em rake structure:
Omaha rake structure:
|Stake||2 players||3-4 players||5-6 players|
|NL4, PLO4||€0,50||€0,50||€ 1|
|NL10, PLO10||€0,50||€ 1||€1,50|
|NL20, PLO20||€0,50||€ 1||€ 2|
|NL50, PLO50||€ 0,75||€1,25||€ 3|
|NL100, PLO100||€ 1||€1,75||€3,5|
|N200, PLO200||€ 1,20||€2,25||€3,5|
|NL500, PLO500||€ 1,20||€2,50||€3,75|
|NL1K, PLO1K||€ 1,20||€2,50||€3,75|
|NL2K, PLO2K||€ 1,20||€2,50||€3,75|
* those numbers may still change until the official launch of the room.
Before posting this table, Galfond wrote a long article about the role of rake in modern online poker, the current poker ecosystem, among other subjects. But what can we really understand from these numbers?
In short, at almost all NLH stakes the rake is higher compared to other rooms (standard 5%). On the contrary, at the Omaha tables, the commission is one of the lowest.
At the same time, Phil said that the rake in his room will be lower than PokerStars and partypoker. He justifies this using the "net rake" concept, which is the rake paid minus the bonuses received by the player. To understand how true this is, it is necessary to study the rakeback and rewards program of Run It Once Poker.
Run It Once Poker — Rakeback
Galfond believes that there are two types of player rewards in modern online poker:
- PokerStars way — a non-transparent system which where the amount of the reward is not related to the amount of rake paid;
- partypoker way — a transparent system where the rakeback size depends directly on the volume of rake.
Phil decided that none of them was suitable to Run It Once Poker and came up with his own model, called "Splash the Pot". In their words, it will represent a 51% of rakeback. But the trick is that this percentage is not for a particular player, but for the whole room. Why are they proposing this and how it will work? During the game, randomly 1bb to 1,000bb will be added to the pot (literally the chips will fall from the sky). The larger the amount, the less likely is to fall out. The player who wins the hand will receive both the pot and the bonus. And in total, the amount of money randomly added will represent 51% of the total rake paid by the players. Galfond and his team brought the rakeback to a new level of randomness. With Splash the Pot it is possible to have a shortage of rakeback, the value will be unstable, and it can be from zero to almost any value, depending on the player's luck.
Of course, Splash the Pot will add fun to the tables, and it's not difficult to understand how it will work and what is Phil's idea, but it doesn't guarantee any payments to the players and makes of the rakeback a completely random factor. In short, Hold'em players will pay more rake and they will have no idea about the rakeback payment.
In fact, Run It Once Poker sticks to the PokerStars scheme. The model is a bit similar to GG Fish Buffet, but at least there, the level system has a clear rakeback structure, its percentage depends on the volume and there is a minimum payment of 10%. At Run It Once nothing is certain and we can conclude that Splash the Pot is just a random rewards system and variance will have another meaning in the room.
Days before of its official launch, we consider Run It Once Poker as another option for recreational players, such as Unibet. But, unlike that one, with a large rake at almost all stakes, a strange client and a system depending on your luck.
Galfond states that all types of players are important for RIO, but so far, it doesn't correspond with the room principles. In the next few months we will see the real results, but right now it's difficult to believe in the great viability of this project.
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