What Does "Running It Twice" Mean in Poker?

"Running it twice" occurs in high stakes cash games, where two players facing a huge pot might agree to seeing two river cards instead of one. Whoever has the best hand with the first river card wins 1/2 of the pot, while whoever has the best hand with the second river card wins the other 1/2 of the pot. Running it twice never happens in organized tournaments. Also, most casinos won't allow these agreements at low stakes and middle stakes games, because it wastes the time of the other players at the table. It's a rare event, under most circumstances. Some online poker sites offer the Run it Twice feature - Carbon Poker and Sportsbook Poker.

Why Do Players Run It Twice?

Players in a ring game might see pots of $500,000 or more. That's a huge stack of money, no matter how you are. A player with a 60/40 or 70/30 chance to win holds an advantage, but they can lose the entire chip stack on the outcome of one single card. By playing out the hand over two cards instead of one, this takes some of the variance (luck) out of the equation. Different players have different attitudes on the subject of running it twice. Some would prefer to go for the jugular when they have an advantage. Others see that they have what amounts to an edge, so the less luck in the game, the better from their perspective. Running it twice gives a gambler with the advantage two chances to let their advantage take effect.

From that perspective, it might make less sense for the player who only has a 40/60 or 30/70 chance of winning the pot to want suggest running it twice. It's similar to a player playing blackjack or pokies and facing a house edge; the fewer times they have to beat the odds, the better their chances of winning are. That supposed the player on the wrong side of the odds wants to take home all the money, though. When they run it twice, they get two chances (outs) to catch a card and win half the pot. In either case, the players are conceding the chance at seizing everything to play it safe and have something to show for their big hand. In these circumstances, the pot is likely to have other players' money in it (besides the two still in the pot), so both could end up net winners.

When Do Players Run It Twic?

Players have to agree to this bargain before the river card is revealed. No one going to agree to run it twice after they see they've won, of course. In many circumstances, the agreement is made before the turn card. The circumstances require a heads-up poker situation and a likely all-in call. In a cash game, playing the hand twice becomes a chance for two players to avoid the chance of buying in again or going home. Once again, I feel the need to make clear to readers this won't happen in a tournament hand and casinos won't allow it at low limit tables.