Thursday, 22 March 2012

money money money.

I don't read many blogs, but do keep up with the wisdom that Phil Galfond likes to spew every now and then. He's probably just very bored, but this article was something that I think needs talking about. It's a part of the poker world that happens all the time, and something I think non-poker people would be intersted to read about. Obviously as a true hustler I've already thought this over but it's something that I don't think my fellow professional poker players consider enough.

Back in the day I used to be super lax about lending money or even really keep track of it. I'm pretty sure I'm out at least 3k+ in chinese poker debts I've never chased up. Oh to be young, dumb and printing money like it was 2007 again!

I've come to realise that making transactions to help people is generally a loss. At best you can really only break even. If you break even you still got negative freerolled. As Phil says in his blog though, it is a necessity of the industry. There are many instances where I can be short and needing money, it happens to everyone. 

In my old age these days I actually employ a strategy that annoys some of my friends, and also puts me in a spot where maybe I don't always get as many financial favours as 'I should'. However this is fine by me. In the modern poker world, we essentially operate with two devices, online money and cash. There is a 3rd, bank transfers, but it loosely comes under online money due to it's nature. 

Online money is easy to move because of peer to peer transfers via several poker sites, and currently one in particular (it used to be 2 sites, but RIP FTP). There are also online wallets that have found themselves a strong niche in facilitating gamblers around the globe, neteller and skirll.

Cash however is quite a lot harder, as it's actually a physical thing. In the modern tournament poker world, we need to have access to euro, USD and a little sparingly GBP. Sometimes we need stuff like aussie $, DKK, czech crowns, etc. As a British resident, GBP is a lot more important to me than most of my peers, and is both a bit of a hinderance and a blessing at the same time.

My long term base currency is GBP, because that's what currency my living expenses are in and where I can make my ~4% a year in my bank account. USD is important to me because of the 6-8 weeks in Vegas every summer, and/or God forbid I go back to PCA. Euros are obviously needed for most EPTs and many major traditional tournaments like the Amsterdam Masters, Irish Open, WSOPE, etc.

With this comes quite serious logistical problems, as one needs access to all 3 currencies in cash.
 So I need some reserve of each in order to be fluid for each tournament I want to play. As someone who is decently well known in the community (mostly amongst online players of course), I am constantly asked for help swapping money. This is rarely useful to me.

Hence my policy is to charge people 5% vig for any exchange that they make with me, even very close friends unless it's a transfer I need to make (eg. I have too much of one currency and want another).

 This EPT Madrid, even though I didn't go, I made 3 seperate tranactions selling euros to people to make the vig, and get rid of all my excess eurosbefore the summer. The best time for me is actually EPT London, when everyone needs GBP and I can get some vig for online money. It used to be so much better when the WSOPE was ibn London. I was absolutely killing the vig market.

Even with all this though, I very very rarely make transfers with people I do not know pretty well, or am very very sure are legit trustworthy. I think that it's so absurdly important to not get scammed in transfers now that I do my very best to reduce that risk to zero.

I've been burned several times albeit in different ways from scammers. One time I was looking to get a transfer from party to stars. Some dude I didn't know contacted me and convinced me to do a smaller xfer for $1k in two batches from party to cake. He sent first so I wasn't too worried. However apparently he used a stolen credit card and I got fucked out fo the 1k I sent, as cake took the money back and locked my account. To this day I still cannot make deposits or withdrawals on that site because I was involved in this incident, even though they took the money and I'm actually the real victim of the crime. This is probably a huge indication of why their poker site is such a failure.

The other main way I got scammed was during the 2010 WSOP. I bought a lot of action on staking forum, and at least 3 seperate people scammed me by stealing my money. One of which was old school legend HIV, whom I'd met several times and even hung out a little with that summer. Another was one whom JohnnyBax had actually vouched for is character Fergwrx. He owes me ~$2.5k still.

Thankfully none of these instances have broken me, but as I'm currently on the absolute worse downswing of my life it does annoy me a lot sometimes when thinking about it. It would be nice to eventually get this money back.