In many ways, Black Friday was the start of a Great Depression for the US online poker community. Most regulars were left with a bulk of their net worth stuck online. Stars regs eventually got their money back, but FT regs are still in limbo. Many poker regs were also left unemployed. A few found ways around the system. A few more found smaller sites to play on. But most are still struggling.
So in these hard economic times, I think it's extremely important that we online poker regs try and help each other. The few cynical people out there may be saying, "well, why should I help someone who is effectively my competitor? Die regs! Die!" If that's your attitude, then yeah - maybe not helping a fellow reg could mean you're profitable for the next 16 months instead of 14. But if you suck, you suck. Time's eventually going to catch up with you.
I think it is more important to think of the bigger picture. At the end of the day, we are all a community. We probably see each other at live tournaments and at the local casinos, and entertain each other in the forums. This is a great opportunity to help your fellow man, and maybe make a friend on top of it. A good friend could last longer than your poker career. There are many issues facing online poker players today, and with a little teamwork, I think we can persevere.
The current online poker problem I had in mind was the situation with Merge network cashouts. Currently, it's taking 4+ weeks for check cashouts since the ewallets got raided last week. I've had a check cashout pending for 17 days now. But each of the last two days, I've gotten an email from support saying they are processing the withdrawal as soon as possible. I'm guessing they send me this email every day for the next week or so before I get approved, and then it takes another week or so to get the check. Or maybe they are just stalling. I suppose an email is better than nothing.
But here's what I was thinking... It seems that international players can get cashouts right away (within a day). So if you are an international player on Merge (and there are are few of you I know), why not help your fellow poker player and make a little money on the side? Online poker players transfer funds to each other all the time. Obviously, don't handle too many, lest you look like a money launderer. But I can't imagine anyone's going to care if you're going to exchange money with a few 2+2 friends. The going rate seems to be an 8% vig - and that seems reasonable to me. That seems like a really good return for a low risk proposition. And like I said, you may make a friend.
It's probably not a good idea to advertise on 2+2 - you never know who's reading. Eh hem. If any reasonably well-known 2+2 international regs (or US players liking the risk/reward, or US players that need to reload on Merge) are interested, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a super-well-known and well-liked 2+2 (SS or MS) reg who wants to pay an 8% vig (plus fees), send me an email too. Let me know which skin and I'll match you guys up - all I'm doing is matching. You guys determine if you trust each other to go through with it and the details (like forms of payment, etc). Obviously, I'm going to give preferential treatment to reputable posters (on both sides of the transaction), so you need to give me your 2+2 name. Sorry, but if I don't know you reasonably well from any of the reg's threads, it's unlikely that I can help you. This way, a lot of the counterparty risk is reduced.
If you are a reg but never was involved in 2+2. What can I say? Sometimes it pays to be part of a community. I'm getting nothing out of this, but I do think some leadership and organization is necessary, as people seem confused and worried. FWIW, I'm not too concerned about the Merge situation, but clearly the situation looks a worse this week than it did last. Also, I don't need to take money off of Merge. Why? (later post) But I *may* be in a position to help a couple of people in a month or so. *IF* I get that going, I'll start with people who signed up thru my rakeback site, since I feel like I have on obligation to those people first. But I did tell you not to put a lot on, right?
Ruh oh! I just got super busy again… so some of the posts I’ve been planning for next few weeks are going to be delayed.
The last few weeks, the new business really sucked ass. Apparently, the customers have been getting their asses handed to them being in bearish interest rates trades (rates go higher). So here I am, the noob, saying "Hey guys! These rates are looking kind of low." Not a great way to get myself new business. Um... maybe I need to read some more Art of War and figure out what the customers are doing first!
And to top it off, the shape of the yield curve has been very flat, and hadn't really moved. So there was nothing really for me to pitch the last few weeks. I spent so much time and made so little money this month I kind of felt like a short stacker - questioning why I was doing this, when flipping burgers might pay more.
Okay... not really - I enjoy the mental challenge of looking at the rates markets. My specialty is finding trades that make money when your view is correct, but won't lose as much money when your view is not correct. The thing I like about trading interest rates is that you have an extra dimension (maturity) you won't find in equities and commodities. This greatly expands the number of possibilities. I have the choice of 20+ widely traded 3 month interest rate futures to pick from. I can say something about the 3 month rate a year from now as compared to the 3 month rate 18 months from now, vs the 3 month rate 27 months from now. You have interest rate futures and options (and treasuries, swaps, agencies, corporates, high yield, emerging markets, Fed funds, etc). And most of the G7+ countries have similar instruments.
I've been getting somewhat hammered on a number of trades because of the rally, combined with a little credit risk nervousness from the EU. A sarcastic thanks to all my friends Greece! I feel like a sheep... getting f*cked up the ass by Gree.. eh hem. I digress... Since most of the trades I do have a lower downside than upside, I've minimized the losses on my bearish trades. In fact, I'm still UP since I first started. I guess that's something to be proud of. It's like that session where you run really bad, but you end up making money anyway. Eventually, the cards are going to turn your way...
So yesterday an investor said he wanted to do all my trades, so that was a pleasant surprise. I think it’ll give my newsletter some added credibility and it will let me build a documented track record if I ever wanted to "trade" from home. I'm not sure trading's a direction I want to go though - most people don't realize how time-intensive trading or managing money is (later post). But you never know. As I've been saying all along, it's good to give yourself "life outs." And it's a pretty good deal for him... trying to get 20-30% thru me is better than the 1% at the local bank. I'm *pretty* sure.
In before someone says, "Yes - but how much did you lose?"
As your recent [ewallet] withdrawal [transaction #] of [dollar amount] was not received into your nominated bank account we will be putting it shortly under the “Uncleared Balance” to your [ewallet] Account [account number].
We are communicating with our bank to find out where your funds are currently located and why they have not been processed. The funds were transmitted by us in good faith through a major European bank, and have left our account. We understand that the money has been frozen in the US banking system, and you will appreciate that this is entirely beyond our control.
We fully acknowledge you are the rightful owner of these funds. We will fully support you recover these funds and provide further details as soon as we can assist.
Any remaining funds in your [ewallet] account can still be used to purchase at [ewallet] accepting sites. In addition we are working hard to reinstate our withdrawal facility and so when this is in place you will be able to make a new withdrawal.
Please be assured these remaining funds in your [ewallet] account are safe and secure and we appreciate your continued support. We apologise for the inconvenience that this delay has caused you.
[ewallet] Support Team
So my paraphrased response: "WTF are you talking about? The money's been sitting in my bank for almost a week."
Their paraphrased reply: "Oops. My bad. Pretend we never sent that email."
Then I find out that my ewallet is no longer a viable withdrawal option any more. So I'm just left with checks. How's my check withdrawal going? Well, it's been 13 days and I'm still "pending approval." Apparently, it can take "several weeks" for an approval, and I'm guessing since that ewallet probably got some funds seized, it'll take even longer now. Thanks DOJ. In lieu of my next quarterly tax payment, I'll just send you a case of butt plugs.
Anyway, it looks like it'll be a continual struggle trying to get money off the sites. But Hey! I'm freerolling, baby!
So the major disappointment with moving to Texas has been...
On our few trips out here before the move, we had a few awesome experiences with eating beef at restaurants. For some reason, the beef at the various local outlets (supermarkets, Costco) have been extremely mediocre. I have no idea what's going on. Usually, the Costcos are well-known for the quality of beef - but not at our local branch. I've gone a few times and I've always come out saying "WTF is up with the lack of marbling?" Even the prime beef is not well-marbled. And the beef's like 25% more expensive!!! It's like the Irony Gods decided they needed to mess with with me, and decided if they were going to pick *one* thing to screw me over on, it was going to be the beef. FU Irony Gods!
Seriously, if any of you guys have an explanation, I would love to hear it. The only things I could come up with is that maybe the Texas beef is 100% antibiotic and hormone free - that all other forms of beef are shunned. Or maybe the "tenderizing" that a lot of retail locations do is frowned up on Texas. Or maybe all the Texas restaurants buy up all the good beef. Or maybe Texas beef is crap, but none of the retail outlets wants to buy beef from outside the state. I have no friggin clue! I should have suspected something when I had an awesome steak at Pappas Brothers (one of the best steakhouses in Texas) and the guy tells me they get their beef from Nebraska. WAT?!? They don't use Texas beef?!? Someone enlighten me! I'm too much of a cheap ass to have *all* my steaks "imported" from stockyards.com. But I'm going to do what I have to do.
WHAT'S FOR DINNER?
Oh boy! I think I'm officially becoming a redneck. One of the two closest supermarkets to our house is a Super Walmart. Being a Northeasterner, I've never really had a great impression of Walmart. But our local Walmart is much nicer than the few Walmarts I've been to. It's waaay nicer than the Super Target (the closest supermarket). So I take a look at the wine section, and I find that they have their own wine called "Oak Leaf." I say, "LOL! Walmart Wine for $2.77 a bottle." And they allegedly won "over 40 medals!" Medals given out by the owner's mom? But curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to get a bottle of chardonnay (white) and a bottle of the cabernet sauvignon (red). I was really shocked that the wines were pretty good - probably better than most under-$10 bottles I've had. Since then, I've had all the other varieties. The only one I wouldn't recommend is the sauvignon blanc (white). I just find it funny to look at my bar and see bottles of wine under $3 just a few feet from the bottles of wine over $100. Shoot! Call me a wine redneck. But you really can't go wrong for $2.77 a bottle.
It seems to me that there is a high probability that the new system will be worse than the current rakeback system. I mean, I suppose it's possible that the new system could be better, but seriously, how can it be better than up to 75+% (with the personal rake race)?!? If you ever were going to play on Merge and you don't have an account, I think it's probably a good idea for you to sign up for one, make a small deposit and just play enough to keep the account "active." If the new system ends up being better than the current rakeback system, then you can always have "your father" sign up for a new account. But if the deadline passes and you don't have a rakeback account (under your name or any of your "relatives'" names), you will never be able to get a grandfathered rakeback account. This situation all goes back to giving yourself life options.
Considering most small stakes to mid stakes regs pay between $5-10+K a month in rake, an extra 10% in rakeback is going to be the difference between whether all your meals are at McDonald's or the Cheesecake Factory. Give yourself the option. You don't even have to deposit much. Play the micros or some donkaments for fun to keep your account active.
Of course, if you do sign up, I would appreciate it if you could use my rakeback site. If you already have a RakeTheRake account, they will say you can't sign up thru me, but you can if you use a different email. If that's a hassle, no big deal. Alternatively, there are other guys on 2+2 with rakeback sites. Look into the various rakeback sites details and promotions. Once you decide which one you want to go with, see if any one of your 2+2 buddies has an affiliate thru that rakeback network. Make sure you get the best deal, and if it's not going to cost you anything in benefits, you might as well go thru someone you know, no? Might as well keep the money in the 2+2 (dysfunctional) family.
It's time for my quarterly look at where the poker sites are going. Obviously, the poker landscape is much different than they were a few months ago. Here is the link from last quarter. Pretty much as expected, FT and Stars lost about 30% of their volume. I think they'll be okay. Because poker is an awesome game enjoyed by probably a hundred million people (if not hundreds of millions) around the world. And no f*cking bureaucrat is going to be able to take it down completely. Guaranteed!
This is going to seem like eons ago, but the start of the Stars graph is where they removed the 20-50bb games. Remember that? O look! They barely lost any business from increasing the table stakes. Do you know why? Well the obvious answer is because it's still better for the shorties to play a 50bb game than go and flip burgers. As an aside, burger flippers apparently make like $8 an hour. In before a whole bunch of shorties start flooding McDonald's. Anyway, I think the bigger reason is that poker is an awesome game enjoyed by a hundred million people! It's like how during Prohibition, people still found ways to get a drink. Or if butt plugs are ever banned, those guys at the DoJ would still find ways of shoving stuff up their asses. Guaranteed!
Party and ipoker (the #3 and #4 sites) haven't picked up any of the US traffic, but I think it'll just be a matter of time before someone figures out how to log in internationally. Merge has become the site of choice among Americans who need their online poker fix. They only picked up a fraction of the amount lost by Stars and FT, but during the US evenings they are usually the third most active site. I think the dust is still settling. It'll be interesting to see what the next three months hold in store for us.
[Edit: For some reason, when you click "Merge" on PokerScout, the graph for Carbon comes up. Maybe they are using Carbon as a proxy for the whole site?]
Since I won't be playing as often now, I decided to just post my results once in the middle of the month and once at the end of the month. The weekly updates didn't seem that popular anyway. A few hours before the end of my last session, I was thinking that the small stakes full ring gods were truly kind. And then I started to think, "Wow! Carbon is such an awesome site... I just keep running good. Not even a trace of the cashout doomswitch to be seen!"
And then I hit the last thousand hands of the session...
I don't know if I've ever ran so poorly in such a short span of hands. I mean... being down over a buy-in every 100 hands is pretty gross. And it's not like I'm one of those 10+ 3bet, 4 aggression guys. Fortunately, I was still up five hundred for the session, but I went from epic good to epic bad in a short period of time.
WHAT'S FOR DINNER?
In case you were wondering... Yes, we have been eating since we moved to the new house. But it took Mrs. Fly a few weeks to get the kitchen organized, and I've been a little preoccupied to upload the photos. But she's still making some of my favorites...
Old favorites... like the sauteed chicken gizzards. It's really awesome - especially with red wine. Not sure what the deal with the white wine is.
And new favorites, like this attempt at making the California Pizza Kitchen's lettuce wraps (top of photo). That one's a work in progress, but it was still pretty good. She also made this baked/broiled/left-out-in-the-Texas-sun tilapia. And it pretty much tasted like what you would imagine well- seasoned, well-cooked, flavorless, skinless, white fish FILET(!!!) would taste like. Get that sh*t out of my house!!! :-)
Ugh. I'm super-busy again (later post), so I may only be able to post a few times a week. But I figure that's still more than most bloggers.
Anyway, my big poker news is that I finally received my first Merge cashout via ewallet. It took 11 days (1 of which was my fault). So now, I'm freerolling with any money I win at Merge (for the poker noobs out there, this means I cashed out more than what I deposited).
It took three days for Carbon to approve my cashout. I had previously sent in the Carbon identity document verification. For any regulars playing on Carbon, I would urge you to do this before you need to cash out. The instructions are on this link. The approval only took an hour and a half, but I suspect in a few months when everyone is done with trying to accumulate their deposit bonuses and tries to cash out, it could take longer. Then the ewallet asked me for security verification the next morning and I didn't see the email request until the end of the day. I got an approval early the following morning. Once I got the approval, it took them about 3 days to process the payment and 1.5 days to receive it in my bank account. Maybe if I didn't have the security ID check, I could have gotten the withdrawal in 8-9 days. So I would urge you to pre-submit the security documents with your ewallet as well. If you are a fish, no need to do all that withdrawal paperwork you're never going to need.
Once I requested the cashout, I voided the deposit bonus. They had previously declined my request to change deposit bonuses, so I said F* that! Then give me mah monies! That $2K deposit bonus clears absurdly slowly ($12.5 in net rake to $1) - it's only like an extra 5% in rakeback, so it's really not worth it. It seemed like I would probably rake less than 3K a month, so even if I played all 3 months on my new schedule, I was going to clear less than $450. So for anyone who hasn't signed up, my rakeback site now offers a faster clearing 150% $750 deposit bonus (which clears at $7.50 in net rake to $1). I'm pretty sure they have somewhat regular reload bonuses, so I'm hoping now that I've cashed out, they'll offer me one. My ewallet offered me a $1000 reload bonus (which clears at $10 in rake to $1 bonus) - I'm not sure if I'm going to take that one.
But the other reason I cashed out is that work has gotten really busy, and I don't even think I can put in more than 15-20 hours a week. I suppose that's a full week for many of you. But before I suggested that people sign up small to the site, I wanted to make sure I was able to withdraw. And I wanted to see how long it would take. This way, you can have some confidence in the system. Well, pending the second DoJ crackdown. Eh hem. Anyway, for my second cashout, I decided to try a check. I requested it on Tuesday, May 10, so I'll let you know how that goes.
I also found out that personal rake race (that lets you earn up to 75% rakeback) appears to be a regular promotion on my rakeback site. For $3K a month in rake, its 45% rakeback. But that's still good. They also give Free DragtheBar memberships if you rake $500. Wonder what leatherass is up to these days? Seriously tho, Carbon Poker has so many promotions, it's annoying. Make sure you go to the promotions page of your account and sign up for them all (later post).
I’m a pool noob. I pretty much know nothing about swimming pools, other than I like sitting by them while I have a cocktail. I just assumed when it was 85 degrees outside, the water would be warm enough to go in, but no. So we had to wait around for a while until it got hot enough a few days in a row for the pool to warm up. And then the day finally came!
It was a hot 90 degree day. The whole family was pretty excited and we all rushed out. It was like that scene from Caddyshack where the caddies get to finally use the pool, so there’s a mad dash to get to the pool. Mrs. Fly is like tripping the kids to get to the pool first. (well, I might be exaggerating) The water was a little cold, but it was fine once you got used to it. We were all having a great time. We had our wine, we had some music going, G was jumping off the diving board, and D was playing in the shallow end.
About 30 minutes into one of the reasons we moved 1,600 miles to Texas, it started hailing! Chunks of ice (about half the size of ice cubes from a mini-fridge) started coming down in 90 degree weather! So we had to cover the boys and scramble back in the house. Seriously, WTF?!? If someone told me you could get ice outside in 90 degree weather, I would have said they were retarded. I would have said, “STFU you elementary-school-science-failing tard. Go away. If I need a paperweight, I’ll call you.” But it happened.
Maybe the Mayans were onto something with this whole world-ending-in-2012 thing.