Run It Once Poker Training Review – Is This Membership Site For You?
What you will learn:
- Preflop ranges for various poker formats
- Advanced postflop strategies from the best players
- Vital exploitative adjustments to win more often
- Identify most costly mistakes in your games
A Complete Run It Once Poker Training Site Review
Back when Phil Galfond launched his Run It Once poker training site in December of 2012, it was by far the most comprehensive training community around.
While many competitors launched till then, RIO introduced numerous changes and improvements, bringing it in line with the demands and expectations of modern-day poker players of 2024. See it yourself.
Recently they hired some of the best poker players in the world to share their knowledge and create training videos. This includes the likes of Dan Smith, Justin Bonomo, Jason Koon, and other top pros, so Run It Once has something for everyone, from complete beginners to advanced players looking to take on the toughest games around.
In this Run It Once training site review, we’ll look into all the pros and cons of the website to help you figure out if this might be the best next step to progress your poker career.
Run It Once Training in a Nutshell
As mentioned in the introduction, the Run It Once poker training site is the brainchild of Phil Galfond, one of the best-known names in the world of high-stakes poker. Galfond has had many appearances on numerous poker shows, and his results, both live and online, speak for themselves.
On top of all that, Phil is well-respected in the community not just for his results but also for his integrity and various contributions over the years.
When Galfond launched RIO back in 2012, he started with the idea of offering players the most comprehensive training site out there, gathering a large group of top-level professionals to make content for the members.
Today, there are more than 100 pros working on the site, with countless hours of quality videos on different topics and new content uploaded every day.
Listing all the people who produce videos for Run It Once would take way too much time, and there is not much point in doing that since you can find the full list over at the RIO site in the “Meet the Pros” section. Therefore, I will just mention a couple of well-known names:
- Phil Galfond
- Jason Koon
- Dan Smith
- Dan ‘Jungleman' Cates
- James Obst
- Ben Sulsky
- Dan Smith
- Elliot Roe
- Sam Grafton
- George Danzer, and many more.
At the moment, the site is looking to expand its roster of coaches even more, and by the time this plan is implemented, subscribers will get to enjoy content produced by four of the current top ten biggest winners on Hendon Mob.
I like that every pro sticks to what he or she knows the best, be it No-Limit Hold’em cash games, MTTs, Pot-Limit Omaha games, or even Open Face Chinese.
Then, there are those like Elliot Roe who aren’t focused on the technical aspects of the game but rather cover the mental side of poker, so you pretty much can find everything you need on the site.
P.S. – All new videos have translated captions in 8 languages (English, Portuguese, German, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, French, Russian)
Essential vs. Elite Membership
If you decide you want to join Run It Once training, you’ll be given three options. The first one, which is called Basic, is to give you a taste of what the site is all about and what kind of content you can expect to find inside.
The Basic membership is completely free, but it provides very restricted access to training materials, only letting you see a couple of Elite-level videos and only preview of other recordings and you get full forum access. So I would say this option is not for learning but rather for seeing what you can expect inside the paid option.
The Essential membership is priced at $24.99 per month, and this is where you can get a lot of training materials for a more than reasonable price. The membership has over 3,000 videos (at the moment) aimed at helping you develop your game and crush lower stakes. You’ll also get at least five new videos every week.
Finally, there is the Elite membership, which will cost you $199.99 a month. While it may seem a bit costly, this is definitely the option to go for if you’re looking to seriously improve your game.
You get access to all videos from the top professional poker players, covering mostly high-stakes games produced by the likes of Galfond, Koon, and many others.
Having access to the Elite section can be beneficial to lower-stakes players as well. Although a majority of content relates to higher stakes, you’ll get access to many advanced concepts and approaches used by some of the game’s best, and you can find the way to apply many of these at lower stakes as well.
Navigating the RIO Video Library
There are thousands of videos to go through, and if you go with the Elite plan, the sheer amount of content is quite overwhelming. This is a good thing, of course, as you’re getting your money’s worth, but most players out there will be interested in certain videos and not others.
Luckily, there is a very good navigation system to help you get around the site and filter the type of content you’re interested in. Once you get to the Pro Videos section, you’ll see the navigation bar, allowing you to apply filters such as:
- Game Type (NLHE, PLO, 2-7, Mixed, MTT, etc.)
- Coach (Pro)
- Video type (hand reviews, live play, theory, mental game, etc.)
These filters will help significantly reduce the time spent looking for lessons you’re interested in and maximize the time spent actually studying. At the moment, Run It Once is doing some work behind the scenes to further improve the site navigation.
If you want to go into further specifics, you can click on ‘More Filters,’ where you’ll have to ability to refine your search even more, selecting the number of players at the table, when the video was uploaded, and even how popular it is to see what other users seem to like.
Standalone RIO Poker Courses
There are thousands of standalone videos readily available on the RIO training platform, and with some searching, you can find a host of valuable materials regardless of what topic you might be interested in. However, this approach doesn’t work for everyone.
Some people, especially those new to poker, prefer a more structured, course-like approach, that takes them from start to finish. This is where the selection of Run It Once standalone courses comes in. In 2023, the platform celebrated the launch of its 10th standalone course, and there are more to come in the future.
These courses come in two categories. The first one is ‘From the Ground Up,’ which, as the name suggests, is intended primarily for less experienced players. The second category are more advanced, specific courses, which are geared towards more experienced players.
From the Ground Up Courses
At the moment, RIO provides four courses in the ‘From the Ground Up’ category, covering all four main areas of the game and giving beginners a perfect way to start their learning process in a simple and structured fashion, being taught by some of the best players around.
NLHE From the Ground Up
Taught by Peter Clarke, this course covers everything you need to know about No Limit Hold’em. From fundamental mathematical concepts, over opening ranges, strategy by the street, and some more advanced ideas and concepts, this course is a perfect introduction for someone just taking up poker.
In addition to the basics, this course covers ideas such as blockers, ranges, frequencies, and many other modern concepts, so it is really up to date. It teaches about the game as it is played today and prepares you for the challenges down the road.
MTT From the Ground Up
Containing over 40 video lessons taught by Owen Sheils, the course is geared towards tournament players. It covers all the important MTT basics, such as stack and bet sizes, and even helps you with setting up your HUD the right way for MTT play.
After covering these fundamental ideas, the course addresses play by individual streets and covers other important concepts for MTT play, such as ICM, bankroll, game selection, and even addresses some mental game aspects such as tilt and variance.
While primarily geared towards beginners, this course can certainly benefit more experienced players as well with some novel ideas or to help them plug certain leaks they may not have even been aware of.
SNG From the Ground Up
While the sit-and-go format may not be nearly as popular as it once was, these games, in their different iterations across poker sites, still offer a lot of potential. This course, taught by RIO’s Essentail coach Ryan Martin, is designed to make you a winning SNG player.
The course kicks off with a lesson addressing the above point about ‘SNGs being a dead game,’ so it even helps point you in the right direction and explains how you can still make money from this format.
The rest of the course represents a great mix of in-game strategy (opening ranges, play during different stages, ICM), and guidelines to optimize your efforts by taking notes, organizing your play, designing your HUD the right way, etc.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of taking up SNGs but weren’t sure about it given all the negative talk in the poker community about these games being dead, check out this course, and it will likely change your mind.
PLO From the Ground Up
If you’re looking to take up Pot Limit Omaha, this just might be the best introductory course there is out there. It is one of the most extensive courses in this category as well, with over 50 lessons, most of them lasting over 30 minutes.
It may sound like a lot, but the course takes the right approach, first covering all the essentials, such as the bankroll management, variance, rake, and how to properly transition from NLHE to PLO, which is what most players taking up PLO are doing.
Only after this introductory module, the course moves on to the actual strategy, starting with all things preflop and moving on to other, more complex topics. Everything wraps up with plenty of examples from low stakes games, so you get everything you need even if you’re starting from scratch.
Advanced RIO Courses
While From the Ground Up courses are geared towards beginner players, the rest of the courses on the site are there for more advanced students who already have their fundamentals straight and are looking to crush the game at a higher level.
- PADS on PADS – taught by Patrik Leonard, this is one of the most comprehensive MTT courses out there. As mentioned, it is geared towards advanced players, so it doesn’t dwell on basic concepts such as preflop opening ranges. Instead, it covers many advanced concepts and gets into the nitty gritty of tournament play and how to gain an edge even when playing against the toughest competition.
- Knockout Tournament Mastery – Knockout tournaments have taken the poker world by storm, and you’ll find a huge number of these on a schedule of any major poker site these days. This RIO course, taught by Alex Theologis, provides a deep dive on the KO tournament strategy, covering differences between regular and knockout MTTs, and offering you a blueprint for beating these games across the stakes.
- The Game Plan – This Kevin Rabichow’s course is different from the rest, as it doesn’t focus on in-game strategy or math. Instead, it represents an extensive guide on how to become the best poker player you can be by first evaluating your play and then improving upon it. In 2023, this course received a special update, addressing some of the most recent developments and how these could influence the future of poker and what they mean for you as a player.
- A-Game Poker Masterclass – Taught by Elliot Roe, one of the best mindset coaches in the industry, this course is designed to help you overhaul your mindset and improve your performance. Regardless of what games you play, strategies and advice found inside will help you improve your results.
- This Is PLO – A course created by none other than Phil Galfond, This Is PLO is the most advanced and most in-depth Pot Limit Omaha course out there. If you’ve been playing the game for some time but want to take things to the next level and really start crushing, this is the course for you. After all, Galfond is recognized as one of the best PLO players to have ever lived, so it goes without saying that there is plenty of top quality information contained inside.
How Are RIO Pros Selected?
One of the biggest issues Galfond has talked about over the years when it comes to poker training is the fact that there is so much free content out there, but it is hard for the players to know what’s good and what’s not.
Someone looking to get help in a particular area of their game could actually suffer from confidently delivered bad advice.
For that reason, instructors at Run It Once training site are hand-picked, and their ability to teach is carefully analyzed before offering a contract.
Usually, the site will reach out to players they believe would be a good addition. If they’re interested, they’ll submit a sample video that is checked by Galfond and a few others. Only if they’re happy with the quality of the content and the mode of delivery, they’ll sign up a new instructor.
This selection process has produced very good results so far. You’ll only find high-quality videos on RIO, and you can rest assured the advice contained within them is sound and useful.
So, while you’re paying for the content, you’re at least certain that the advice you’re getting isn’t going to hurt your game, which can cost you a lot more than the membership in the long run.
The Run It Once Training Structure: Start Where It Feels Right
One of the things Run It Once does differently than most sites is that it gives you the option to learn the way you feel the most beneficial.
If you are looking for a structured and guided learning experience, there are several courses to choose from, and for beginners, these are probably the best place to start.
On the other hand, there is a huge library of video lessons that allows you to tailor your own learning plan if you feel confident enough to do so. As explained, you can use filters to navigate different categories and types of lessons and filter the content you want to see.
The main categories you'll come across are:
- Getting Started
- Mixed Games
- Open Face Chinese (OFC)
Every category contains a range of different subcategories, so you can pinpoint the exact area that you’re looking to improve in and work from there.
So, if there is a certain area in your game where you feel you’re lacking or need advice, this is the fastest and easiest way to start working on it without having to skip through hours of material that may not be relevant to you at the moment.
The bad side of this approach may be that not all players know exactly what they’re looking for and prefer structured courses that take them by hand and go step by step. This is why RIO decided to introduce From the Ground Up courses, offering players new to the game and poker training an easy way to start without getting confused.
Run It Once training was clearly envisioned as a more proactive type of site where you have better control over what you’re spending your time on. It may take you some time to get comfortable with that concept, but you can always start with one of the courses, which will help guide you further in your quest for poker knowledge.
RIO will work great for players who already have a bit of experience with poker and can figure out on their own what areas they need to focus on to improve their win rates.
Less experienced players may like a structure that could be found in Upswing Poker Lab or similar courses. That said, with the addition of From the Ground Up courses, I feel like Run It Once has addressed this side of the issue pretty well, so you should feel at home even as a complete novice.
Vibrant RIO Community to Help You Get Better
One area where the Run It Once training site stands out from many other options is its Forums section.
Being around for almost seven years now, RIO has gathered a huge number of members, from micro-stakes players just looking for their place in the world to high-stakes crushers. They all meet on the site.
The forum is, of course, divided into several sections and subsections by the game type and average stakes. You’ll find members are very active, and you can ask your strategy questions here and discuss poker all you want.
You can also talk about videos and any areas that you might find confusing or need some extra explanation.
The biggest difference from other Reddit poker and public forums is that you are way more likely to get quality answers from good players or even RIO poker instructors here than anywhere else.
I haven’t seen many contradictory opinions like in 2+2, for example, and many players give their reasoning. Not just the answer, which can be a valuable tool when learning.
Having a living forum on a site such as this is a big plus. If you become active here, it is one of the best ways to stay sharp between your session and gather additional information.
Conclusion: Is Run It Once Training Membership Worth It?
For someone looking to get better at poker, the question is always the same: will my money be well-spent with a particular site?
With some sites, it isn’t always easy to give that answer, but when it comes to Run It Once, I do think it is an investment that will yield dividends in the future.
If you prefer a structured and guided approach, there are several top-quality courses to get you started. Even if you're completely new to the game, RIO has you covered.
After that, or if you're already a more advanced player, there are thousands of lessons divided by the topics rather than delivered in the form of “ready-to-go courses”. This allows you to pick and choose the topics you're most interested in.
Even the Essential plan gets you thousands of coaching videos on all sorts of topics, so whatever your area of interest is, you’ll get heaps of knowledge for a very reasonable price. It is really hard to say that $24.99 for a month is too much.
Of course, this is where you need to put in some work to make the most out of it. But even Galfond himself stated a few times that the membership isn’t worth buying for the players who aren’t ready to put in work and take a serious approach to studying poker.
Then, we have the Elite package, which may seem a bit steep. However, the Elite membership does give you access to the top-tier coaches, so the value for money is there.
Moreover, you are not risking much because you can cancel your subscription whenever you want. In my opinion, seeing how the best players think, play, and break down their strategies for $199 is a no-brainer, but you decide for yourself. Check the site to learn more!