A newbie at Run It Up Reno

June 06, 2016

Less than a month after PokerStars and Jason Somerville jointly hosted the Run It Up Rumble in Atlantic City, Jason did the third installment of his Run It Up event at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada. I was fortunate enough to attend – not as an organizer, but as a representative of PokerStars. So I got to be a participant more than a worker bee – it was absurdly fun.

To give you an idea of the vibe, I offer this one-minute video from five #RunItUpReno warriors, explaining why they were there.



As I walked in, the seminar was going full force with Jason Somerville and PokerStars Team Pro Online Randy “nanonoko” Lew answering questions for an enthusiastic crowd.

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It’s the Randy and Jason show!
Only for this event, Randy had been renamed “renonoko”.


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Poker seminars make you hungry
After the seminar I went to the merchandise table so I could buy my Run It Up buttons. You see, subscribers to Jason’s stream on Twitch get a special set of emoji that they can drop in the Twitch chat. Jason’s team had those emoji made into buttons which showed up on shirts and hats all over the event.


On the button: Birds & Runways

Jason has a mechanical crow named “Mirko” who is his co-star on the Twitch stream. Mirko is also his poker advisor. When Jason’s in a tough poker spot, he says “Mirko – what should I do?” Mirko, the mechanical crow, says “Caw!” “Okay, I caw.” The Run It Up Warriors also have a meme called “Feels Bad, Man”, that you use when, well, it feels bad, man. One of the buttons at RIU Reno has a picture of Mirko; it’s called “Feels Bird, Man.”

The four-card PLO event was already going on, but I played the 5-card PLO event two days later. I also got down to the $4-8 mixed cash game that was happening in the poker room. That gave me a chance to play seven, rather than one, games at which I’m tolerably mediocre.

At some point, I realized that Jason himself was playing at an identical game at the next table over. “Hey Jason – let’s play each other’s stacks.” “LeeJones – we’re playing razz; I’m not leaving a razz game.” “We’re playing razz too!”

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So we swapped. I promptly got dealt 6-4-A and was on my way to winning a big pot. I won the next (smaller) pot. “Hey Jason – how you doing over there?” “Folding like a pro!” “Cool – I’m shipping pots like an amateur.”

Normally, it would be unthinkable for two players in a poker room to just swap places and play each other’s stacks. But then again, the dealers saw a lot of things they probably don’t see much.

Like Runways.

When a new dealer sat down at the mixed game, somebody would announce, “Okay, Runway.” Each player puts out $11 – $10 is their buy-in and the $1’s are collected to make a buy-in for the dealer. The dealer deals one four-card Omaha hand to every player, plus one to him/herself (watching the dealer trying to grok dealing themselves a hand was fun). Everybody rolls over one card. The dealer puts out a flop. Roll a second card. Turn card. Third Omaha card rolled up. River card. And everybody rolls up their fourth and final card. Best Omaha hand ships the entire thing, and the dealer’s hand is freerolling for the dealer.

One of our runways, I flopped trip 3’s and was way in front until the river, when the dealer discovered the case 3 at the bottom of her hand. With a better kicker. That pot was worth $100 to her. Me, I was tickled to death; I would have just spewed the $100 off in a bad call somewhere.


On the button: Not like this!

Just like Run It Up Resorts, the low buy-ins and community made all-in events cause for celebration rather than nail-biting drama. Entire tables would erupt in a series of cheers and groans as unbelievable run-outs would happen, just as they do in poker tournaments everywhere. Only these are more fun.

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Not like this!
And this generosity of spirit spread throughout the Peppermill. “I wish everybody was as polite and tipped as well as this crowd,” said one coffee shop waitress, nodding toward a Run It Up hoodie the next booth over.


On the button: Bear traps

One Run It Up emoji (enshrined on a button of course) features a cupcake, in the center of a bear trap. When Jason has a big hand on-stream and wants to lure an unsuspecting opponent in, he will say, “Let’s just put a little cupcake out there…”  Of course, when Jason gets a big hand, cupcake emoji fill the Twitch chat. Wanting to follow the theme, I brought cupcakes into the tournament area on a couple of days. I got to Jason’s table and he shrieked “No bear traps on these!”

All too soon, it was Monday evening and everybody was saying their good-byes and wishes for safe travels. The last chance last chance turbo tournament was running, while games of Open Face Chinese Poker and Exploding Kittens (yes, “Exploding Kittens”) continued on side tables. Some folks were headed down to the WSOP, others back home. But everybody was talking about the next gathering of the Run It Up legion.


On the button: Party with poker tables

It takes a crowd to have a Run It Up event. Mostly it takes the people who want to celebrate poker and all of its ups and downs. And enough people thought this was a good idea to reach almost 400 buy-ins to the $565 main event – a record for the Reno poker year (bigger than WPT, WSOP Circuit, and HPT). But it was one guy who said, “What if we all get together and have a giant party with poker tables in the middle of it?”

Feels good, man.

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P.S. Big thanks to Drew Amato for allowing us to use his excellent photos from the event in this blog piece.


Lee Jones first joined PokerStars in 2003 and has been part of the professional poker world for over 25 years. You can read his occasional Twitter-bites at @leehjones



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