Monday, May 27, 2024

BetRivers Poker Preview

Must read

Up until now, regulated real money online poker in the US has been the domain of just three operators — WSOP, PokerStars, and BetMGM. A fourth operator, BetRivers Poker, could join them soon and change the United States online poker landscape as we know it.

BetRivers Poker might be new, but its platform is not. It was used for three years in the international online poker market under the name Run it Once Poker, an offshoot of Phil Galfond’s training site of the same name.

The site closed in January 2022 to focus on the newly rejuvenated US market. A few months later, Rush Street Interactive (RSI), a leading igaming operator in the US, announced it had bought the company to use the poker platform to integrate into its existing gaming vertical, BetRivers.

BetRivers Poker, powered by Run It Once, could go live in the second half of 2024. New Jersey and Michigan are expected to be the first two states where it launches, featuring shared liquidity capabilities right from the start. It could also launch in Delaware from Day 1, a state that is already a member of the multi-state online poker compact and where BetRivers operates online casino.

The company will consider launching in Pennsylvania: it is the biggest regulated online poker state, but has yet to join the multi-state agreement. Nevada and West Virginia are possible launches later on. We know that Ontario, Canada, is also on BetRivers’ long-range radar.

Read on to find out everything we know about the forthcoming BetRivers Poker.

BetRivers Poker US: Key Facts
🚀 Expected Launch 2024
📍 Potential Markets Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ontario, Pennsylvania
🕹️ Expected Games on Offer Cash Games, MTTs, and SNGs
🤑 Potential Welcome Offer 100% up to $600
🎁 Potential Rewards Program Legends Rewards Program
Main Highlight Low rake coupled with high rewards & innovative features
🏢 Owner Rush Street Interactive

Is BetRivers Poker available in the US?

No, BetRivers Poker is not yet available in the US. The poker site Run it Once used to cater to the global market but shut down in 2022. Rush Street Interactive purchased it and plans to relaunch it under the name BetRivers Poker in late 2024.

When BetRivers Could Launch

BetRivers has been tight-lipped about details surrounding its US launch. In 2023, Galfond was asked on Twitter if he expects the launch of RIO in the US this year, to which Galfond replied, “I have an answer to that, but it’s not for me to disclose anymore.”

BetRivers Poker Coming Soon

RSI was selected in August by the Delaware Lottery as its exclusive igaming provider and launched an online casino and sports betting in the state at the end of 2023. The Lottery confirmed it was working with RSI to launch online poker, but did not provide a timeline.

The online poker room is expected to open in the second half of 2024. RSI’s website shows that its online poker product is coming soon.

Where BetRivers Poker Could Launch

map of the us. the states where online poker is legal and regulated are highlighted in blueBetRivers is live with online casino gaming in five states — Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Online poker is also legal in all five states, and four are part of the Multi-State iGaming Agreement, allowing multi-state player pools. RSI could launch poker on the Run it Once Poker platform in all these markets.

RSI could also potentially launch the platform in two new markets: Nevada and Ontario. below, we explore the likelihood of a launch in each

BetRivers Poker: Potential Launch States

State Active online poker? In MSIGA? BetRivers Casino? Likely BetRivers Poker launch
Michigan ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Expected to be first
New Jersey ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Expected to be first
Delaware ✔️ ✔️ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Could be among first, or not far behind
West Virginia ✔️ ✔️ ⭐⭐⭐ Likely later on
Nevada ✔️ ✔️ ⭐⭐ Possible later on
Pennsylvania ✔️ ✔️ ⭐⭐ Possible (definitely with MSIGA)
Ontario, Canada ✔️ ✔️ ⭐ Possible long-term

BetRivers Poker Michigan

[Michigan joining MSIGA] reaffirms our belief that the US online poker market is poised for future growth.

Michigan will be among the first states where BetRivers launches online poker. It already has an online casino licensed in the state, and Michigan is part of MSIGA, meaning that it could form part of a cross-border US online poker network at the start.

There’s no doubt RSI is aware of this opportunity. When Michigan joined MSIGA, Galfond, the founder of Run It Once, said in a statement at the time that he welcomed the development.

“Rush Street Interactive and Run It Once are pleased about the recent developments involving Michigan joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), and we believe more jurisdictions will continue to join the MSIGA over time,” Galfond told us at the time. “This reaffirms our belief that the U.S. online poker market is poised for future growth.”

In Michigan, BetRivers would compete against three more established rivals: BetMGM Poker MI, PokerStars MI, and WSOP MI. Currently, only PokerStars takes advantage of MSIGA in Michigan to connect its MI and NJ player pools together. WSOP is expected to follow suit in 2024.

BetRivers Poker New Jersey

Like Michigan, launching in New Jersey is an easy decision for RSI: It could connect it with Michigan (and Delaware) to form a multi-state US online poker network from Day 1. BetRivers already has a licensed online casino in the state.

New Jersey is also a more crowded market than either Delaware or Michigan for online poker. BetRivers would face PokerStars NJ (connected to Michigan), but would also get competition from WSOP (which connects NJ with Nevada), BetMGM Poker, Borgata Poker, and partypoker. These last three all combine to share a single player pool in New Jersey.

However, the increased competition won’t stop a BetRivers Poker NJ launch. If they want to launch online poker, then they need to go live in as many states as possible to create a large enough player pool to complete.

So we are very confident that BetRivers Poker will be a two- or three-state online poker network from Day 1, and it will include New Jersey.

BetRivers Poker Delaware

RSI will probably launch multi-state poker when it brings a platform to market, and Delaware would be one of three states where that could happen first. That’s because Delaware is a member of the MSIGA, and BetRivers has exclusive access to the state.

The Delaware Lottery selected RSI as its exclusive igaming vendor in August 2023. The operator launched an online casino and online sports betting at the end of 2023. Although both the Lottery and RSI say they are planning to launch online poker at some point, they did not provide a timeline for when that could happen.

The main reason Delaware may not be among the first states is that it is so small, its contribution to a US online poker network would be minor. Therefore, in terms of priority, it does not raise to the same level of Michigan or New Jersey.

However, it would keep the lottery happy (it has promised online poker would return), it has a monopoly position, and it has the license. It has had outstanding success with its relaunched online casino in Delaware. Every little helps with online poker liquidity, which is why we think a BetRivers Poker DE is likely: If not on Day 1, then soon after.

BetRivers Poker Nevada

Nevada is an entirely different animal — the state is a member of MSIGA and has online poker, but it also only has one operator active in the state: WSOP NV.

That could be changing. BetMGM has teased that it will launch online poker in the state one day. Other operators have been reluctant to move forward because, despite being home to Las Vegas, Nevada is a small market for online gambling.

It could be an attractive option for BetRivers to help grow its online poker network. However, there is no online casino gaming in Nevada, so there is less benefit to the company operating there. That factor has so far discouraged other sites launching in the state.

BetRivers Poker Pennsylvania

Things get a little different here. While Pennsylvania has legal online regulated poker and is a populous state, it is not a member of MSIGA. That means that while RSI could launch BetRivers Poker PA in the state, it couldn’t connect to its player pools in states like Michigan and New Jersey.

But the Keystone State is also a lucrative market for online poker operators because of its sheer size (13 million residents). Pennsylvania’s previous governor considered joining the compact, but left the decision to his successor, Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro, who took office in January. Pokerfuse is coordinating a grass-roots effort to Grow PA Poker and get PA connected and there has been some positive momentum in 2024.

If PA joins MSIGA, then BetRivers launching online poker in PA is a no-brainer: It is the largest and most valuable online poker state in America. Whether it does prior is another question. On one hand, it won’t help grow its US online poker network and could be a distraction. It would also struggle to build enough liquidity against stiff competition.

On the other hand, all other operators are live in PA, and it might want to lay the groundwork and build up a customer player base ahead of an expected MSIGA launch. So give this one a 50/50 shot at happening at launch.

BetRivers Poker West Virginia

West Virginia has legal online poker. It is a member of MSIGA. However, unlike every other state mentioned here, there are no online poker sites live in WV yet.

BetRivers could be among the first to go live there. While WV is small, it would help BetRivers establish its multi-state online poker network and would be a differentiator from the competition. The company already operates its online casino in the state, so it would be a natural extension.

BetRivers Poker Ontario

Ontario isn’t a US state but is the most populous Canadian province with a growing online poker market. BetRivers was one of the first operators to launch in Ontario back in April 2022, and it has operated an online casino and sports betting there.

While Ontario is a segregated market, RSI could be interested in its cross-selling opportunities with online poker running alongside its casino and sportsbook products.

Jason Senti, Head of BetRivers Poker, told Poker Industry PRO in an exclusive interview in March 2022 that RSI was focused on US states but added that a launch in Ontario would also be considered.

What BetRivers Poker US Could Look Like

Before there was BetRivers Poker, there was Run it Once Poker: a site that operated for three years in the international and UK online poker market. It shut down when RSI purchased the platform.

This gives us a good idea of what the software will probably look like. While it has been in development since it closed, we imagine that the core gameplay and UI design will be similar. That means that some of its most famous features — from Splash the Pot to Dynamic Avatars — will make a return when it launches.

Check out the images below on what Run it Once looked like, and read our preview of five features we expect to make a return in BetRivers Poker US.

Splash the Pot

Splash the Pot (STP) was arguably RIO’s most innovative feature. It was a unique system where rewards were randomly added to the pot. The loyalty program was return 30% of rake taken at the table as extra money distributed and added to cash game pots.

How big the pot “splashed” was based on the pot size of the previous hand. Bigger pots yielded higher rewards, with splashes ranging from 1 to 1,000 big blinds. Every time a splash of 100 big blinds or more was triggered, players were forced “all-in or nothing,” which meant that they were only competing for the splashed pot.

The feature added a new dynamic to the game. It also served as an additional method for keeping bots off the platform. STP was such a big innovation that it would be surprising if it was not included in the US relaunch. We expect some tweaks to be made to the STP once the site goes live in US markets.

Dynamic Avatars

BetRivers Poker Dynamic AvatarsAnother unique feature of the RIO platform was Dynamic Avatars, a system where players had a random avatar with a unique expression based on the player’s recently observed play style. Eight facial features were included — among them, asleep, passive, and angry.

Expressions were based on pre-flop play style. The “asleep” expression would apply to a player playing tight; an aggressive player would get the angry avatar. Dynamic Avatars discouraged the use of third-party tools such as HUDs and helped protect casual players.

RSI has been talking about this unique feature of its online poker software, so it is very likely this will be available when the site relaunches as BetRivers Poker.

HeroIQ

Run It Once HeroIQSix months after RIO debuted, it launched an optional built-in HUD called HeroIQ that integrated seamlessly with Dynamic Avatars.

The built-in HUD provided the three most common pre-flop statistics — the VPIP, PFR, and 3-Bet percentages — which have long been considered the “default” heads-up display statistics in third-party software. Similar to Dynamic Avatars, HeroIQ stats were displayed after a minimum of ten hands were played.

The VPIP and PFR statistics were shown next to the avatar of all players at the table, including their own. The stats were color-coded with a heat map ranging from green to red. When the player hovered over the display, the 3-Bet percentage was shown, along with two gauges and the number of hands observed.

SNG Select

SNG Select was RIO’s unique interpretation of lottery jackpot sit and gos. The game offered both standard sit and gos, called Classic, and lottery sit and gos, called Cub3d. RIO used the same player pool for both types of games, so the action would often start quickly.

Under the Classic version, players competed for a fixed prize based on the total prize pool minus the rake. The Cub3d version worked like a lottery-style SNG format, where the prize pool was randomized — prizes could range from 2- to 1,500 times the buy-in.

Regardless of which game players chose, they were three-handed and in the winner-takes-all format. Players on Cub3d had access to “Glitch” — random prizes awarded with a bonus, even if players lost.

Auto Seating & Fixed Buy-in

RIO’s international version offered cash games through the blind lobby system of auto-seating. Buy-ins were fixed at 100 big blinds, under a policy to keep games quick to join and fair to play. Seat selection was eliminated after RIO removed the list of tables and players playing on the table. Players were instead presented with a choice of buy-in and were automatically moved to an available seat. The system reduced a player’s ability to look for specific opponents.

A fixed buy-in system was also instituted to create force bankroll management on recreational and professional poker players. If RIO implements auto seating and fixed buy-ins, it would be the first online poker room in the regulated US market to offer a blind lobby.

What The BetRivers Poker Welcome Bonus Could Look Like

Like most online poker rooms, Run It Once Poker also had a generous welcome bonus for new players, including the traditional 100% deposit bonus offer.up to €600. The welcome bonus was appealing because there was no expiration date to clear the bonus as long as players played at least 1 hand every 30 days, and all deposits in the first 30 days counted towards the bonus, not just the first deposit.

In the highly competitive US online poker market, operators often go the extra mile to attract new players. At least two operators currently provide enticing incentives, such as a 100% deposit match up to $1000 and additional perks like $100 in free tickets as part of their first deposit bonus.

Given the level of competition in the market, it is expected that BetRivers Poker US will at least match industry standards and offer a comparable welcome bonus.

BetRivers Poker Promotions

Run it Once Poker also used to offer very generous promotions. For example, 101% Week gave back 101% of all rake collected at the tables, providing an additional 50% rake returned to players on top of the regular 51% returned through the Splash the Pot rewards program.

The site also ran direct rakeback promotions, like Splashy Hours, which increased the Splash the Pot during designated hours, bigger pot “splashes,” rake races, and more. The promotions also catered to four-card lovers by running PLO Appreciation Week.

Leaderboards ran for both Hold’em and Omaha variants as well as for SNG Select. RIO also offered free SNG ticket bundles of value up to €100 from time to time.

Whether BetRivers offers the same sort of promotions remains to be seen, but what we do know is that the facility is there in the software already if they want to offer them, and we expect generous promotions out of the gate as RIO will look to build traffic.

BetRivers Poker Rake and Rewards

Will we See Lower “Net Rake” and Higher Rewards?

Run It Once Poker was known to offer lower rake despite being very generous in rewarding its players. At cash games, the site charged 4% to 5.75% rake, with the rake cap from €0.50 up to €3.75. When compared with other sites, the rake on RIO was notably higher at similar games and stakes, but with its generous rewards scheme, the “net rake” was much lower than its competitors.

Whether this carries through to BetRivers Poker, we don’t know. We expect a fair shake-up here, as the different market dynamics in the US will require a fresh approach to rake-vs-rewards.

Legends Rewards: Will it Return in BetRivers Poker USA?

Run It Once Poker Legends Rewards Five TiersRIO also offered an excellent loyalty program called Legends. The rewards system encouraged high-volume play by returning more money weekly to players that reach specific play-through targets. Legends had five reward tiers and each tier had five levels. Upon completing a level, players were awarded cash prizes and received a level-up boost. Players earned one point for every €0.05 in rake they paid.

The Clubs tier started at 10% rakeback and was given to anyone who earned at least 60 points — the equivalent to paying a €3 rake. The cash rewards increased as players generated points, creating an incentive for players to increase their volume.

There were also opportunities for players to earn points faster, including bonuses for starting tables, stopping tables from breaking, and playing regularly. Combined with STP, the rakeback returned to players ranged between 30% to 75%.

Again, we don’t know whether this will make a return to BetRivers Poker, but it seems likely we’ll see something similar. Rewards programs are very similar in the US and RSI will want to offer something compelling to attract players.

However, it is also likely to somehow tie into BetRivers’ existing rewards program, iRush Rewards. This existing program already spans the casino and sports book, rewarding play across both verticals. We expect the online casino and sportsbook to be integrated into the poker client, so it will be seamless to play a casino game or place a sports bet while playing poker.

BetRivers will want to encourage that, so poker will likely tie into iRush Rewards, with play earning iRPs.

Streamers Could Get Special Treatment at BetRivers Poker

RIO also offered a secondary rewards program called StreamR. The program encouraged players to stream their play live on Twitch in exchange for 50% to 110% in additional rakeback based on the number of hours viewers watched in a given month.

Twitch streaming is just as important now as it was before, so StreamR could make a return in the US version of BetRivers Poker.

Run it Once, BetRivers and RSI: A Brief History

Galfond and his team won legions of fans in the global online poker community when RIO was first announced as a project back in 2016. The site’s innovative and unique features generated significant buzz among players when the platform finally went live in 2018. At the time, RIO stood out from the crowd.

Despite its best efforts, RIO failed to gain enough traction with players to remain open. Galfond cited decreased traffic, development problems, and mounting costs as reasons to shut the site down on January 3, 2022. All real money games and sit & gos were suspended.

Two months later, RSI announced that it had acquired RIO for $5.8 million and would integrate the poker platform into its existing gaming vertical.

RSI and BetRivers

Rush Street Interactive logo in white on blue backgroundRush Street Interactive (RSI) is a Chicago-based gaming and entertainment company. It has online casinos in five US states, conducts online sports betting in 15 states and runs retail sportsbooks in eight states. RSI also has online casino and sports betting operations in Ontario, Colombia, and Mexico.

BetRivers is RSI’s flagship brand in Ontario, and most US states where it operates.

Rush Street Gaming is an affiliate of RSI that owns and operates two brick-and-mortar casinos in Pennsylvania and one each in Illinois, New York, and Virginia.

Who Is Phil Galfond?

Phil Galfond pro poker player and Run it Once Poker founder is seen seated at a poker tablePhil Galfond is an American professional poker player and entrepreneur. Galfond is well known for high-stakes cash games, primarily $200/$400 stakes and above. He is considered by many as one of the most successful online poker players of all time, with over $10 million in lifetime earnings.

His biggest achievement came in March 2010 when he won a staggering $1.6 million in online poker in a single day. Galfond also had success in live poker, with nearly $3 million in total live earnings and three WSOP gold bracelets to his name.

In 2012, Galfond founded Run It Once Training, a poker training site. Over the years, this platform has flourished, with a remarkable roster of 125 coaches contributing valuable content as of September 2019.

Poker Night in America

poker night in America logoRSI acquired of Poker Night in America — a popular TV series that features cash games and Sit & Go action and airs nationally on the CBS Sports Network — in August 2022. At the time, CEO Richard Schwartz lauded Poker Night for its “deep library of poker TV content and media creation capabilities that will help to further build out the BetRivers network.”

Schwartz added that the Poker Night and RIO acquisitions represented “two tuck-ins [that] will position us well for when we eventually launch online poker, and the associated strong cross-sell opportunities that poker will bring to our casino and sportsbook verticals.”

PNIA App

Poker Night in America Mobile AppIn 2017, Poker Night in America (PNIA) introduced a social poker app. This app allows players to enjoy poker games for free while also giving them the opportunity to win real-world prizes, including poker lessons from top professionals. Additionally, players have a chance to secure a seat on the Poker Night in America TV show.

During its initial years, the app presented an exciting offer where users could enter a sweepstakes contest and compete against renowned poker personalities at the table. These included Phil Hellmuth, Shaun Deeb, Doug Polk, and even Hollywood stars like Jennifer Tilly and Brad Garrett. The prize package not only provided a seat at the table but also covered flights, accommodations, and a $5000 buy-in.

It remains to be seen whether RSI has any plans to integrate the Poker Night in America free-to-play app with Run It Once once the site relaunches in the US. PNIA social poker app is accessible to both Android users and iOS users. Android users can download it from the Play Store, while iOS users can find it on the Apple App Store.

Studio 52

Studio52 StudioIn May 2023, Poker Night in America launched Studio 52, which received support from various poker celebrities.

This show is being promoted as the first-ever “poker residency” and is broadcasted from a studio located within the lavish residence of Todd Anderson, the founder of Poker Night. Anderson’s opulent Las Vegas mansion spans an impressive 10,000 square feet and boasts luxurious amenities such as a backyard wine cave and an outdoor game pavilion.

Studio 52 features an extensive lineup of prominent poker personalities, including Lon McEachern, Joye Ingram, Jason Somerville, and even the RIO founder Phil Galfond himself. During the inaugural episode of Studio 52, which premiered on May 15, the BetRivers branding was prominently displayed throughout the show. The episode was live-streamed on popular platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, and the BetRivers Network.

pokerstars casino

Great Welcome Bonus!

Bet $1 & Get $100!

  • Unlock a $100 bonus after wagering $1
  • Great variety of gaming options
  • Quality player rewards program
Claim Signup Offer

Please play responsibly. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800 GAMBLER.

BetRivers Poker FAQ

When will the new BetRivers Poker launch?

While Rush Street Interactive hasn’t shared a time frame for when it could start offering online poker in the US, we think the site could go live at some point in late 2024.

Will there be a BetRivers Poker App in the US?

Yes, there will very likely be an app for BetRivers Poker. Run it Once Poker was reportedly developing a mobile app when RSI acquired it in March 2022.

Will there be BetRivers Poker tournaments?

BetRivers Poker on four tablesYes, there will also very likely be BetRivers Poker tournament action once the platform is launched. Although it did not support tournament play before RSI acquired it, inclusion in a future rollout is considered essential if it’s to compete against BetMGM Poker, PokerStars, and WSOP — each of which regularly hosts tournament play.

Will BetRivers Poker allow international players once the site relaunches?

No, online poker at BetRivers will be exclusively for US players once the site relaunches. It will operate under BetRivers branding but on the Run It Once Poker platform.

Where is BetRivers Poker expected to launch?

BetRivers Poker is expected to go live in Michigan and New Jersey from Day 1, and potentially Delaware as well. BetRivers already operates online casino in all three states. It also operates in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and Nevada could be an option down the road too.

Will BetRivers Poker share liquidity in the US?

Yes, BetRivers Poker US will likely have a multi-state online poker network from Day 1. BetRivers already operates in Michigan, New Jersey and Delaware. All three states are members of the multi-state online poker compact. BetRivers Poker would take advantage of this compact and launch the shared liquidity network right away.

Does BetRivers Poker have any plans beyond the US market?

While the primary focus would be the US market, it has also considered Ontario, Canada’s largest province. Down the road, it could also make a return to the international dot-com market, but that is unlikely to happen any soon.

Will Phil Galfond be an integral member of the BetRivers Poker US site?

Yes, it has been confirmed that Galfond will have a similar role to his previous one. The company has stated Galfond will be the brand ambassador of the room and will be involved in all decisions involving the product, game features, and policies.

Will BetRivers Poker have 3-Handed SNGs or Spins?

Yes, the 3-handed lottery-style sit-and-go, more commonly known as “Spins,” will be part of the game offerings under the name “SNG Select.”

Why did Run It Once Poker shut down?

Run It Once Poker ceased operations on January 3, 2022. At the time, Phil Galfond, the professional poker player who founded Run It Once Poker, said the platform was being shut down as a necessary step before launching in regulated markets in the US. RSI acquired Run It Once Poker two months later with plans to integrate it into its existing platform.

Is there a BetRivers online casino? Can I play poker there?

Yes, RSI operates online casinos in Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia under the BetRivers Casino brand.

Does BetRivers have online poker?

BetRivers does not currently offer online poker, but its parent company, Rush Street Interactive (RSI), acquired an online poker platform Run It Once Poker (RIO) in March 2022. RSI has said that it plans to offer online poker in the future.

What is BetRivers?

BetRivers is RSI’s flagship brand for online casino gaming and sports betting. BetRivers is live in 17 US states, including five for online casinos. North of the border, you’ll find BetRivers Casino Ontario and BetRivers Sports Ontario.

Where does BetRivers operate?

The BetRivers brand is active in over a dozen US states plus the Canadian province of Ontario. BetRivers also runs online casinos in five states (DE, MI, NJ, PA, and WV). In Ontario, BetRivers offers online casino and sports betting.

Is BetRivers legit?

Yes. BetRivers is a brand owned by RSI, a legitimate and well-respected gaming company. The appropriate authorities license it in all jurisdictions where it has operations, and like all gaming companies, it is under intense regulatory oversight at all times.

Latest article