Cards so nice let’s run them twice

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By Christopher Cosenza

It’s a $1-$2 no-limit hold’em cash game at your favorite Florida poker room and Joey looks down at AHKH. He raises. Steve peeks at his cards and sees a pair of ladies. He reraises all-in and Joey calls. The cards are turned up and, of course, Joey hits his ace on the river. Steve goes broke and rebuys.

This scene happens about a billion times a day in Florida. But, let’s tell the story again, only this time it’s in the future and there’s true no-limit poker. Joey looks past his numerous stacks of $100 and $500 chips and sees he has AHKH. The limits are $100-$200 and he’s in late position, so he raises to $800. Steve, in the big blind, finds a lovely pair of ladies. He has only about $3K left in front of him and thinks Joey is just stealing. Steve shoves and Joey, who has him covered, calls. They turn up their cards and see it’s a race.

If this were Nevada or California, one of the players might be so inclined as to ask his opponent if he wants to run it twice. What’s that? It means the pot is split and the dealer puts two boards on the felt with each board’s winner taking half the pot. Someone could still win both pots, but this way each player has a decent shot at getting their money back. Anyone who has seen High Stakes Poker on GSN is familiar with this tactic. It cuts down on variance and allows players who have a lot of money at risk to go broke a lot less often. You also see it often when someone has top pair on the flop and another player has the nut-flush or nut-straight draw. With two cards to come they sometimes deal the turn and river twice, again to lessen the blow of variance. Sometimes they even run it three times to ensure someone comes out a winner.

But this is Florida, and running it twice (or three times) is not an option. And with $100 buy-ins there really shouldn’t be an opportunity to do this, even if you’re playing in a $5-$10 game. A player just can’t get too hurt buying in $100 at a time. In anticipation of higher limits eventually making their way into our card rooms, however, it’s something to be considered. Plenty of poker room managers and players are on record as saying they think higher limits might hurt Florida poker because players could go broke so much quicker. Running it more than once would help combat that.

There’d have to be parameters set, such as a minimum pot size or high-stakes games only, which could be worked out at the state level. No one wants to watch two guys in a $.50-$1 NLHE game run two complete boards for a $36 pot. There are all kinds of pros and cons to running it more than once, but here are just two examples for each.

The pros
• Players keep their bankrolls intact much longer, allowing them to remain at the table. This pleases the player and the house. A player with chips is a happy player, and a happy player tips dealers and gives the house rake. Try getting tips and rake from an empty seat.
• The state also will benefit from a player generating revenue. Plus, as fewer players lose, the calls to 888-ADMIT IT will decrease, which should placate a state that’s conservative by nature.

The cons
• It slows the game. But not that much, and when you consider it’s just an extra board it shouldn’t take more than a minute.
• Collusion may increase. Let’s say Player A raises, Player B calls and Player C shoves. Player A calls and Player B folds. Then Players A and C agree to run it twice. They are essentially chopping Player B’s money, which may tick off Player B.
But, let’s face it, there’s nothing to stop a variation of this play from happening now with $100 buy-ins. Only in the $100 buy-ins the chopping of Player B’s money happens in the parking lot instead of on the felt. It’s up to the poker-room staff to recognize when players are consistently sitting with each other day-in and day-out and if they’re constantly raising and reraising players out of big pots. 

When it comes to the health of a poker player’s bankroll and the stability of the game, clearly the pros outweigh the cons. So how can a poker room get permission to “run it” more than once?

“The cardrooms would notify us of the intent to operate the game and provide new internal control procedures on how it would be played,” said Alexis Antonacci Lambert, press secretary for Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. “We would review those internal controls to see if it would be allowed via our statutes or rules and sign-off on it before they could operate this procedure.”

Basically a poker-room manager would have to deem it important enough for his/her players and request the procedure be considered by the state. If the state agrees then it would be allowed. And, after all, it is the players’ game, right?

Poker purists might say running it twice goes against the code, that if you’re willing to put your entire stake in the middle you better be able to live with the consequences. But what’s more important, having a code or having players in your game?

— Email Chris at chris@anteupmagazine.com