In High Stakes Poker and in other poker broadcasting on TV you can often see players who decide to run an all-in twice. What does it mean to “run it twice” and why is it good for the players? In what kind of poker and what levels can you use the “running it twice” option?
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Running a hand twice is great for poker players because they can reduce the risk of losing a big pot when they have the advantage and it also gives them a better chance for a draw hand to win part of the pot.
Let’s look at an example: you have a straight on the flop, you push all-in and your opponent calls. The pot is $20 000 which is a lot of money for both of you. The flush draw has about a one-third chance of winning the pot. You have the remaining two-thirds. In this case it makes a lot of sense to run it twice and reduce the variance. The dealer will deal the turn and river once for half of the pot and once for the other half. No one can promise that you will win at least once or twice but in long run the results will be closer to the actual probabilities because the increased number of all-ins decreases the overall variance, and suckouts will not affect the whole pot
A key aspect of running a hand twice is the reduced chance of losing a whole all-in. While your opponent’s flush might hit once, the chance of it hitting twice is lower. Although this might not always be the desired effect (since you might want to eliminate him from the table or force him to rebuy and in that case his chances of losing the whole pot are lower as well), it can certainly help you reduce your risks.
You can apply the “run it twice” strategy in case both players are all-in (or one pushed all-in and the other called). The running it twice option can be decided before the flop, on the flop or on the turn.
Of course players can run it only twice if both sides agree. If more than 2 players are involved then all of the players have to agree. Sometimes players run it even 3 or 4 times to give themselves a higher chance of distributing the pot as “it should be”, based on the odds.
Running it twice is only applicable for cash games. There is a very logical explanation for it. A tournament has to have a winner and all-ins decide who stays in the tournament and who is out. In a tournament there is no possibility of reducing the risk factor in all-ins by running it twice (it is forbidden to run it twice) and there are also no deal options (maybe at the very end of some tournaments the last few players can make a deal on how to divide the money).
It is also not possible in many poker rooms and even if the option is possible you can only have the option from blind level $1/$2. On a 5c/10c table you cannot choose to run it twice.
To see when it really makes sense I show you a hand I saw some months ago. It was a $1/$2 pot-limit omaha high (a game with high variance) and Player1 had $264, Player2 possessed $294. One was holding TQ9Q the other ♦T♦9♦K♠T. The flop was ♠Q♣9J and Player1 bet $19 with the top set and open-ended straight draw. Player2 raised the pot to $76 with the nut straight. Player1 made the call assuming the nut straight from Player2. The turn was 6. Player1 checked and Player2 bet $171, almost all-in. Now this spot was perfect to run the river twice. Player2 had a 55% chance of winning, Player1 had 40% and there was a 5% chance for splitting it. Player1 is a slight favor so running it twice basically gave him a great chance to win at least once. Player2 had a flush draw, draw to a full house and also a straight draw for mking it the same straight. Basically with such a draw he almost ensured winning at least once and getting half the pot for it. Player1 reraised all-in, Player2 called and the river was dealt: 4 the first time and 8 the second time, meaning that Player2 won both times and the pot was not split.
I hope you got an idea why it makes sense in certain situations to run a hand twice or even more times.