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This question mentions "running it twice" - I can infer the basics, but can someone define exactly what this means, and how (and why) it happens?

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1  
too much high stakes poker ;-) –  Svisstack Jan 26 '12 at 15:25
    
@Svisstack: "run it twice" was available on small stakes (and mid- and high-) tables back when Full Tilt Poker was operating. (the option didn't exist on micro-stakes tables that said). : ) –  TacticalCoder Jan 26 '12 at 23:16

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

When:

  • There are two players left in the hand
  • No more action is possible because at least one of the players is all in
  • There are more cards to come
  • Before or after hole cards are exposed
  • In a cash game (not usually in a tournament) where this is allowed

The two players may:

  • Agree to run the rest of the hand multiple (n) times

Mechanics:

  1. The cards that have been dealt so far will be part of all the outcomes

  2. Deal out the rest of the hand (including burnt cards) as usual and decide the result

  3. Move the cards that were dealt out in step 2 out of the way

  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have run the hand the desired number of times (n)

Result:

  • Divide the pot into (n) parts
  • Each player gets 1 part of the pot for each of the runs that they won
  • If any run results in a tie; split that part of the pot equally between both players

Motivation:

Player may do this to try to reduce the variance impact of very large pots on their win rate.

  • For some players and some games, the outcomes of very large pots can dominate your win rate

  • Because very large pots are comparatively rare you might have to play for a long time before your actual win rate from these pots approaches you expected win rate. Running it twice is like doubling the number of times the situation occurs. As the number of trials increases the likely-hood of your actual win rate being close to your expected win rate increases.

  • In very large pots, very rare events, like a player hitting a 1 outer can have a large effect on your overall win rate. Running the hand multiple times reduces the statistical impact of these rare events on your win rate, especially in the short term.

  • If a player doesn't have multiple buy-ins, running the hand multiple times reduces the odds of them being knocked out of the game completely by any single hand.

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Running it twice usually happens when one player is all in and there are still some cards that have not been dealt yet. The two players discuss the terms of their agreement and then the rest of the cards are dealt multiple times.

The pot is split up according to how many times the cards were run, IE half if running it twice, thirds if running it three times, etc. Whichever player wins the particular set of cards wins that portion of the pot.

It is a way of smoothing out the volatility. A player with a huge hand is not going to lose quite as much on average on those rare occasions when he gets beat. A player with a long shot has a slightly better chance of taking away some of the pot.

The reason it happens when one player is all in is because in that case the cards have been shown. Part of the agreement is knowing in advance who is ahead/behind and what the odds are.

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Basically, if a player is all-in at some point during the betting, the other player can offer to run it a number of times e.g. twice.

If they decide to run it twice, then the pot is divided in half and awarded to the winner of each "run". A run, is the rest of the cards still to come - so if you've already seen the flop then this is the turn and river. If the play went all in on the turn, then it's just the river. If the player went all in pre-flop then you'd seen an entire board twice.

Similiarly, if you run it 3 times then the winner of each run gets a third of the pot.

Running it multiple times helps with combatting variance. Whilst you should win a particular situation say 9 out of 10 times (because of the outs), by running it twice, it is far less likely that you'll lose the whole pot on some freak outcome. In a situation where things are very close e.g. a coin flip after the flop, then by running it twice, there is a reasonable chance that both players will win half the pot each - which reflects the odds. It means that your winnings more closely match the probabilties of the situations you end up in, and not just on the particular outcome of that particular hand.

Hope that helps.

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So, to clarify, it only happens when you're down to two players, and one of them is all-in? And the offer comes after the hole cards are shown? –  gkrogers Jan 26 '12 at 20:07
    
@gkrogers - That is the only time I have ever seen it happen. Though I supposed it could happen if there were multiple players with all of them or all but one all in. –  Chad Jan 27 '12 at 20:26
    
Typically in my experience, the offer of how many times to run it is usually decided before the player's holdings are revealed. Sometimes in the discussion, the players may talk about their hands in vague terms or may decide to reveal what they have. It's up to the situation and the players and even their relationship. Barry Greenstein for example only ever runs things once. I think Doyle Bruson might also. –  Lee Oades Jan 30 '12 at 10:44

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