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Running It Twice

Live Poker RSS / Marcus Bateman / 01 April 2010 / Leave a Comment

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Running it twice is not something that should just instantly be done if brought up at the table. You need to carefully consider your opponent's state of mind, your own weaknesses and strengths and the exact nature of the game you are in.

Due to many high stakes cash games being televised, the practice of 'running it twice' has started to become widely known amongst the amateur community. Why high stakes players do this teaches us a bit about poker in general, and in this piece I want to look at why you should (or shouldn't) run it twice, and its consequences on games.

Running it twice does not change the odds or the overall equity you have got your money in with. It simply reduces the variance through allowing more cards to come off of the deck. This can be done any number of times - people sometimes do an even more extreme version of running it twice, commonly referred to as an 'equity chop' where they simply split the pot according to the exact equity (say chopping the pot 75/25 if they have a dominating ace, as that is the 'pure' odds of the hand if we ran the whole deck out).

Reducing variance can be both a good thing and a bad thing in poker. If you are playing a bit higher than you normally would, have bills to pay, or are playing a very high variance game like Pot Limit Omaha, obviously reducing the variance on your hands will help you avoid long down swings. In these sort of spots you should be looking to try and run it twice.

However, some of the very best high stakes cash game players (most notably Phil Ivey and Barry Greenstein), nearly always refuse to run it twice, simply because high variance games actually suit their needs much better. Superbly mentally stable players such as these two are actually interested in stopping people reducing variance, as they know they can cope with bad beats and lucky draws much better than their opponents. It is actually in their interest to try and lay a beat on someone, simply because they may well tilt them and get rewarded handsomely later. When the shoe is on the other foot, they can simply brush off their opponent's luck, as they are so mentally stable at the tables.


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Running it twice is not something that should just instantly be done if brought up at the table. You need to carefully consider your opponent's state of mind, your own weaknesses and strengths and the exact nature of the game you are in. Variance is not always a bad thing in poker, and if you have the bankroll and mental fortitude to cope with it, it is actually in your interest to try and keep the game as high variance as possible.

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