Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tread Lightly with ePassporte

According to assorted affiliate forums, ePassporte is severing ties and canceling contracts with some of its gambling-related merchants, even going so far as to lock them out of their merchant accounts completely. ePassporte has reportedly been advised by their legal team to cancel all gambing-related contracts, for all the obvious reasons with e-wallets firmly in the crosshairs of the US guvmint.

This is only affecting merchants at the moment, and I haven't heard of any problems with players and their ePassporte accounts and funds there. Yet. The writing is pretty clearly on the wall, though, so if you have lots of money at ePassporte (or are depending on it as the primary means to cash out funds), you might want to consider your options.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sailing the Seas of Blah

Maybe it's something in the water, but it seems like there's an awful lot of malaise floating around the blogosphere of late. Myself included. Which is kind of odd, as it's been quite a run for me lately, as far as staying upbeat and plowing ahead, keeping busy, trying to stay one step ahead of whatever game it is I'm currently playing.

Even I hit the wall sometimes. Not so much as in the past, when I tussled with more serious questionings of the universe and what the hell was I doing in it, but it's still there, lingering. Maybe it's only natural to hit the wall, fall on your ass, and get back up. I dunno. All I know is that of late it's been harder to wrestle the bear and get to work, instead of simply zoning out on watching yet another house flipping show or Full House re-run (okay, kidding, I haven't quite sunken that low).

I don't think semi-bubbling another EPT prize package yesterday helped me mindset very much, going out 4th after 7 hours of play and being 1st or 2nd in chips for most of the final table. The structure in these leads to much, much play (starting stacks of 2,500, 30 minute levels, and blinds start at 10/20) and, at the risk of tooting my own whistle, I do pretty damn well in slow structures like that.

But I also have to admit that I'm not good at closing the deal, as all these bubbles point towards. Yesterday was pretty frustrating, as I stayed aggressive, chipped up, and was determined to put people to the test, if I got deep and had chips. I was poised to take a huge lead when I got it all in with KK versus A8o, except he flopped two pair and rivered a boat. The very next hand I couldn't get another short stack to lay down J8o on a board of K Q 8, and my J10 got no help. The very next hand after that I couldn't outflip AJo with 1010, and suddenly I was the shorty.

Which would have been fine if it ended there, and I could whine about bad beats, but I hung around and chipped back up, then benefited from a horrible suckout myself with QQ, in a battle of the blinds where the SB had JJ. He just called my hefty pre-flop re-raise, so we saw a flop of J 8 5, got it all in, and I was already out of my chair, ready to kick the dog we don't own, when the turn and river put a four flush on the board, and I happened to have the queen of spades for the flush.

Suddenly I'm back to 2nd, ready to rock and roll. Except I proceeded to play scared and didn't really force things, ultimately making a boneheaded play when I absolutely knew I was beaten by a junk hand from the BB. I absolutely knew he flopped trips with a crap hand and that my KK was mortally wounded, absolutely knew it, but I still called off 2/3 of my stack. Even then I still had chips but couldn't outrace AQo with my push with 55. Boo, me.

Jebus forbid I actually talk about poker, but it's a tough mistress sometimes. Especially in tournaments with ultra-slow structures, where you can play close to perfectly for many hours and undue all of that in a fit of a few seconds of hasty action.

It's easy to bang your head on the wall and say "What's the point, in any of this?" (especially when the two biggest donkeys at the table went on to win the ~$7K trip packages), but, in the end, the reality is that it always leads back to you, in some way or another.

Which I guess is both the frustrating and ultimately redeeming nature of banging your head against a hard, solid object. It's your own damn fault but you can also stop anytime.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Get Paid to Blog About Poker, Sports, and Other Random Weird Crap

One of the things I've been working on of late is an easy way to not only set up a collaborative and/or community blog that any fine poker blogger can post on, but to structure it in such a way that people can actually get compensated their efforts.

I won't say that I've completely cracked the nut, but I've got a beta version of a possible solution, as far as providing a community blog about poker that any poker blogger can post good, juicy content to, with immediate opportunities to make money, as well as a way to get your content in front of a potentially much wider audience.

So I'm basically at the point now where I'm looking for some poker blogger volunteers to give it a whirl and kick the tires, if anyone is interested.

It's set up through WordPress so publishing is a snap, it's all browser-based, and pretty easy to use. I'm also not envisioning this as a replacement to anyone's current blog. My plan is to basically offer the platform, hook it up with optimized ways to make bloggers some extra money, and then let you do your thing.

The content you'd publish to the site would be entirely up to you. You could post new, original content, repost old, existing content, embrace the more commercial side of blogging by posting paid reviews, explore creating content that is solely designed to get search engine traffic, whatever you want. You can also use your posts to drive traffic to any other blogs or sites you run, too. It's your canvas to fill as you like, as long as it's poker-related and within reasonable bounds.

To repeat, this isn't planned as a replacement to existing blogs. It could be, if you liked the results, but the main purpose is to give you an additional outlet to post poker content on, one that is more commercial in nature.

Will this make you filthy rich? Nope. But if it works as planned, it can provide you with a bitof extra money each and every month, and could continue to generate some extra cash for you even if you stopped posting altogether, as your old content would still be generating ad impressions for you.

Aside from the potential to make money, I think it'd be an interesting experiment in and of itself, as far as offering a community poker blog open to anyone, instead of simply a select few that were deemed to already have sufficient traffic or marketability. Lots of truth in the collective wisdom and power of crowds, so it'd be interesting to see that in practice, aside from all the other stuff.

Yeah, the UIGEA has taken a lot of wind out of the US-centric poker blog sails, but there's still a lot of great content being posted by bloggers, each and every day. (And, from a strictly commercial aspect, lots of poker terms are still producing decent payouts in Adsense, and people around the world continue to be interested in poker.)

If you're interested in giving the beta version of this a whirl, shoot me an email at prufrockrocks@yahoo.com and I'll get back to you with more details. I'm also going to run the same beta trial on a sports site and news of the weird site I run, so if you're interested in either of those, holler at me.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why Yes, My Name IS Bubble Boy

Gah. Just finished 3rd in a Stars FPP satellite that paid out two $8K trips to the EPT Dortmund event. At least it wasn't quite as bad as last summer's similar bubble finish (3rd) with the top two spots getting Main Event packages.

I can't get too upset as I was the short stack at the final table and never managed to really chip up, despite hanging around for forever. One big stack went on an absolute tear, wiping out people left and right, and suddenly it was 3 handed, with my wee 40K stack, a 120K stack, and Mr. Moneybags with 350K or so. Went out with A10s in the BB when the button decided to look me up with his 88 after I shoved over the top of his 4BB raise. Boo, bubble finishes.

I also went ahead and cashed out the newfound Bodog roll, booking a profit of $2,000 and leaving myself $300 to donk around with. Which I shortly donked off, sitting at a $300 NL 6 max table. I'm just way too busy with other stuff these days to revert into poker mode, plus the $2K will definitely be handy with the house flipping endeavor. It'll be nice to get a fat check form Bodog sometime in 2017, when it finally arrives. (Thanks, Mr. Frist!)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Umm, Thank You Mr. Bodog

So after many, many hands of poker yesterday and this morning, my Bodog account has blossomed from $24 to just a bit over $2,500. Or, you know, whee, poker is fun!

I hadn't played much NL at Bodog at all, and I have to say it's been pretty interesting. Don't get my wrong, most of the aforementioned buckage has come from simply running hot and isn't reproducible, but a good chunk of it is from people who are more than happy to get all of their chips into the middle on the flop with nothing more than a third nut flush draw, or an OESD. And indeed, you encounter that all over, but there seems to be a lot of gambool in the water at Bodog.

Only problem with reacquiring a bankroll of sorts (especially so quickly) is that I have to admit I'm kind of tempted to cash out, as it'd just about cover my entire cash due at closing on the new investment property, and I'm really way too busy these days to get sucked into 8 hour marathon sessions like yesterday. Yeah, I know, terrible problem, indeed...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ahh Poker, Why Won't You Let Me Go?

Hmm. I got an email from Bodog a few days ago letting me know that I had $24 left in my account and that I should, you know, do me some gambling. Which I did.

So now my account balance is sitting a bit north of $900, which I guess means I might be playing a bit more poker in the near future. I gambooled the $24 up to $150 playing blackjack, then went on a nice run at the $200 NL tables. While $900 is a fairly piddling bankroll, it's something, and I actually have missed playing poker of late. I'm probably going to knock around the $100 NL tables for awhile and see what happens.

It's kind of funny how our monkey brains work, as far as feeling like I was totally burned out on poker back in October/November, and almost grateful for the UIGEA to hit the fan, as far as forcing me to cash out and focus on other endeavors. I didn't really have the itch to play in the months following that, despite knowing I could reload some cash into Neteller and get back to donking away chips at the table.

Once Neteller went into lockdown, though, and I had no easy way to deposit and hardly any funds to play with, suddenly the desire to play increased. Tell me I shouldn't play and that it was time to focus on other things, and I was grateful and couldn't care less about playing. Tell me I absolutely can't play and lo, I get stubborn and convince myself that I really miss playing. Contrary, indeed...

Things are still chugging along, as far as all of my affiliate marketing machinations and house flipping schemings. I need to stop looking at listings, as I found a duplex that just popped up this morning. Foreclosure property, 1700 sq. ft., pretty much ready to rent, listed at $49,900. Gah. No more houses.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

All Finally Quiet on the Home Front

Knock on wood, but my bizarro nuclear family seems to be on the mend. ScurvyWife is completely better and ScurvyRat is back to his normal spastic self, and abcess-free so far. He did gnaw out his stitch from his mini-surgery to drain abcesses way too early, but the incision is healing well, despite being gnarly looking.

The vet kept trying to fashion a little rat cone to put over his head to keep him from licking at it, which was pretty humorous, as she'd strap it on and he'd yank it off with his little rat hands in like 0.12 seconds, she'd try again, he'd yank it off, over and over and over. She was pretty insistent about putting some sort of cone on him, as she didn't think he'd leave it alone otherwise, but we're going to give him a few days to see how it's healing. He'd go absolutely nuts wearing a cone (assuming it'd even stay on), wouldn't be able to eat normally or groom himself, and in general would be a miserable camper, so we're going to try to avoid that, under the assumption that it seems to be healing well and he'll recover better overall if he's in a happier, non-miserable state of mind.

In poker news, I'm pretty much reduced to playing freerolls these days. I had run the last $13 in my Full Tilt account up to about $200 or so, but waved bye-bye to that in when my middle set went down in flames to top set on a raggedy board. 'Twas kind of inevitable as I kept taking my whole roll to whatever NL table I could sit at with at least half the max buy-in, and there's only so long you can play that silly game before going bust-o. I was trying to run it up to at least $1,000 before practicing any sort of responsible bankroll management but obviously didn't get very close.

Still having decent success at the Stars EPT FPP satellites, especially the first stage 300FPP+rebuy ones. I feel kind of silly only playing FPP satellites but it keeps my busy when I'm jonesing to play some poker, and I keep bumping up my FPP balance over time, as I usually just take the FPPs and don't play the next event I qualified for, which are usually 8,000 FPP tournaments that guarantee two packages to whatever EPT event it's for.

Things are zipping along on the investment property buying front, as the home inspection wasn't too brutal. Wrestling with assorted loan options is less than fun, as I have no love for that industry at all, even when working with relatively competent and nice loan agents. I'd never dealt with loan options for properties that might be re-sold very quickly, so the last week has been a crash course in whether or not to buy points, prepayment penalties, and other fun stuff.

I'm probably going with a fairly conventional loan that would mean I can't sell the place for at least three months, which was a little disappointing at first (as I'd envisioned fixing up the place and getting it back on the market in a month) but likely more realistic all the way around. It'll buy me some needed leeway in general, as far as being rushed to handle the repairs, and it honestly might take 60-90 days to sell the place anyway. I'm also going to have to make a detour at some point to work on the Austin house, when we decide to sell it, so there's that to consider, too.

Dead time of the sports year = activate. Please let March Madness get here soon, sports gods.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Where's That Hole At?

I have much new-found respect for people that wrestle with anxiety on a daily basis. Even just a week or so of ongoing uncertainty and sicknesses and maladies that I can nothing about but sit there and hope and pray get better is enough to pretty thoroughly wreck me and leave me wanting to do nothing more than crawl into a hole somewhere and hide.

ScurvyRat is hanging in there. The abcesses seem to be healing well but they were right next to his wee rat penis (bring it on, freaky search term results), and things in general down there look inflamed and not-good. There's just not much the local vet can do at this stage, and she said she'd prescribe the antiobiotics that he's already taking, so the ball is largely in his court, to get the hell better. He's a tough little dude, so, logically, he'll get the hell better. His appetite is off, which worries me, but he's still eating, and it's not unusual for the antibiotics to cause that, and we keep shoving all sorts of food at him, so in reality he's probably not eating that much less than normal.

Not good news from Neteller, as far as the company rolling and handing over all documents and account info to the US government. I was a good monkey and paid all my taxes, but I'm pretty concerned about the fact that almost all of my affiliate income was paid through Neteller. Neteller refused to let me set up a separate corporate account, so all of the affiliate payments to my business had to be routed through my personal account.

Like I said, I paid taxes, so all that is well and good, but I moved a lot of money through Neteller, and an audit could potentially be a royal pain in my ass. The problem is that many affiliate programs weren't big on invoices and paper trails, and would simply dump your payments into your Neteller account (or other method of payment you chose). Many of the programs that paid me relatively large sums of money simply don't exist anymore, having since been dissolved or acquired, and all I really have in the end is the money they paid me, without the traditional invoice that most businesses can produce, to verify income if audited.

Which is probably getting ahead of myself, as far as things to stress over, as all of the income is accounted for and I paid taxes on all of it. But it looks pretty damn fishy (and rightfully so) and would take much 'splaining, in the unfortunate event that anyone uses Neteller records to demand some 'splaining from US citizens.

Again, what a colossally bad beat we all took, as far as the perfect storm of events that led up to the UIGEA getting rammed through. I have to admit that even though I've been doom and gloom from day one, I'm still amazed that the US government continues to push this thing so damn hard, as I'd have thought they'd have largely shrugged their shoulders, turned a mostly blind eye to things, and not actively pursued it as they have. I guess Harrah's really, really wants to get that online poker site of theirs up as soon as possible.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Boo, February

This week is officially fired.

Too much tumult and turmoil in the Scurvy household of late. Wife was largely feeling better after her mini-visit to the hospital last Saturday and Sunday, but has still been really sick in the mornings. (No, it is most definitely not that, so don't even go there.) She's out of sick days at work, though, and just started a new job, so we tussled back and forth on Wednesday morning, as she didn't feel like going in, I kept trying to convince her to suck it up and deal, etc.

She ended up staying home that day, but drove in to work this morning. After, you know, making repeated stops to throw up on the side of the road. Once she got to work, her bosses pretty much immediately told her to go home and stay home for the week. Err, yeah, there's a reason why I'm not a doctor and don't even play one on tv.

Normally I'd have driven her when we carpooled in, but I was busy taking ScurvyRat back to the vet. He'd developed an abcess just to the side of his peas and carrots a little over a week ago, which is basically the rat equivalent of a boil, and a fairly common malady that they get. The vet drained it, gave him some antibiotics, and he seemed to be completely fine, eating like a horse rat, scampering around.

But last night another big abcess developed near the first one, which turned out to be two abcesses when I took him to the vet today. She cleaned the new ones out, but was guarded about the prognosis, since the infection had obviously spread. If she caught it all and the new antiobiotics she gave us knock it out, he'll be fine. If it spreads any more and new abcesses form, surgery is really the only option, to completely remove all infected tissue, and that's a whole other ball of wax, as far as if its right to put him through that, and even being able to operate, given the location of the infections.

He's nearly 2.5 years old, so he's had a good, long rat life. The sucky part is that other than this crap, which likely resulted from something simple like a cut or scrape getting infected, he's really healthy and active for his age. He bounced back from the assorted trauma today pretty well, hasn't gnawed out the stitch they put in, and ate a bunch and crashed out.

At this point, there's no reason not to believe that the antiobiotics will clear it all up and he'll be fine, so that's what we're going to stick with. But preparing myself for the potential idea of a rat-free household is pretty sad. So if you have any extra pet-get-well mojo lying around, feel free to send some ScurvyRat's way.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Count Thy Blessings

Nothing like spending 36 hours or so in the ER/hospital room to make one appreciative of the finer things in life, both large and small. ScurvyWife had a nasty stomach virus and ending up getting pumped full of fluids and what-not for a day or two, before they kicked her loose last night, and is feeling better, and all that good stuff.

But sweet Jebus, what an absolute clusterfuck health care is in this country. Yes, indeed, it's nice to have neato-o gadgetry and laptops to wheel around, and bar code scanners on patient wrists that help nurses track what meds have been given, but, at the same time, it's more than a little nuts when you have to wait 12 hours for an actual doctor to come by, due to the fact that they're a rare, endangered species and cover 6 different hospitals and spend most of their day physically driving around.

I think I'm more surprised that people were surprised when Neteller announced that, umm, all your monies are in fact belong to us, locking down all accounts due to the investigation and lawsuit that the good ol' US of A is pursuing against them. I'm about as far from all knowing as possible, but there's a reason I cashed the hell out last October when the UIGEA crap hit the fan, when I could have been making $1-$2K/month whoring sportsbooks.

If you're willing to completely write off any money you have in poker sites, electronic wallets, and/or checking or savings accounts linked to those electronic wallets, then by all means, game on. If that sum of money is too large for you comfortably kiss it goodbye forever, should the worst case scenario come about, then you need to cash out funds until it's a sum you're comfortable with never seeing again.

And yeah, I'm fear-mongering again, by mentioning "any savings or checking accounts linked to those electronic wallets". I will freely admit that anyone coming after funds (or freezing them while investigations are pending) in your linked account is an absolute worst case, nuclear scenario, but it's one you can easily avoid. Open a separate account just for gambling stuff if you're still going to try to play the game these days. While it's 99.5% likely to never be an issue, why would you evertake even a 0.05% chance and link your primary checking/savings account to an e-wallet of any sort in this day and age?

Why people continue to make it easy for the renegade US government to mess with them, I do not know, especially when all the warning signs have been writ large for anyone to read. If you understand the risks and continue to pursue degenerate activities because the potential reward is acceptable, more power to you. But if you're taking on risk, ignoring the warning signs, and crossing your fingers that all of this stuff will work out okay in the end, well, my condolences.

In other news, man, what a sloppy Super Bowl. I'm glad we don't have to endure any more Manning choker stories, but watching Grossman wallow around out there wasn't much fun at all. I'm far from a guru analyst, but I don't think anyone should be too surprised that Sexy Rexy's I'm-going-to-close-my-eyes-and-chunk-it-downfield-somewhere approach wasn't, in fact, quite good enough to win a Super Bowl. Somewhere out there Trent Dilfer is nearing the endgame of one hell of a bender, knowing that he'll hand onto the crown of Worst Quarterback to Wina Super Bowl for at least one more year.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Things I Find Funny: Chapter 172

I've received lots of variations on the below email, due to the fact that I have 182,102 affiliate accounts set up at online poker sites and casinos. By and large it doesn't impact me finacially, since they send these out to US-based affiliates regardless of whether they owe you money or not, so I'm sharing for the humor element, and not because I'm upset or owed money or feeling shafted.

I'm also summarizing, so the below isn't a copy-and-pasted email I've received (which should be obvious, but, you know, just saying):

Dear Valued and Treasured Affiliate Partner Based in the US:

Due to recent changes, we are unfortunately no longer able to send you affiliate payments that you have earned, either by electronic means, bank wire, or by check. Rest assured, this is not because we hate you or don't appreciate you promoting out sites, it's simply a reflection of the fact that we can't currently process any withdrawals for US-based players and affiliates.

Don't despair, though, because there's great news! You can still transfer your affiliate commissions to your personal player account, so you still have access to your commissions! We're dedicated to ensuring that you always have access to your affiliate commissions, because we love you!

So keep promoting our sites, and please to be ignoring the tiny detail that, umm, US based player accounts still can't withdraw their funds, so your money is still stuck with us, indefinitely!

Your Favorite Online Gambling Affiliate Program

Poker Tables at Cardroom Supply

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While the poker chip set and playing card selection are fairly limited as compared to other suppliers, they offer a decent selection of 11.5g chip sets in 300, 500, and 1000 chip quantities. CardroomSupply also offers related accessories such as drop boxes, tournament timers, and chip racks.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

May You Live in Busy Times

It looks like I may shortly be putting my money where my mouth is, as far as buying, rehabbing, and selling houses. We made an offer on a house on Tuesday, they accepted on Wednesday, and both sides are apparently motivated to get it done quickly, so hopefully closing won't be too far out.

I'm going to be mightily curious to see how all this works out in the end. It's a 3-1 built in the 1930s, 1400 sq. ft. or so, in a decent neighborhood really close to town. Hardwood floors throughout and some neatoriginal built-ins in the living room and dining room. It's got some less-than-perfect features (the third "bedroom" is pretty tiny, and the hookup-ups for the washer-dryer are actually in that room, in a big closet) and it needs a lot of cosmetic work.

The sellers were sort of schizophrenic, as they did a few things (new countertops in the kitchen, a new vanity in the bathroom) but managed to ignore other things, like switch plates for outlets and couldn't be bothered to actually nail the trim to the wall in places. The exterior was recently painted but nothing was painted in the interior, despite it desperately needing it. The hardwood floors had been refinished but they left the cheap vinyl tile in the kitchen and bathroom, which was literally peeling off in huge chunks. No attempt at landscaping or anything to add any curb appeal.

The price, though, was definitely right, as it was originally listed at $90,000, didn't sell, they dropped it to $78,500, didn't sell, then they took it off the market and rented it for awhile, got tired of that, and were ready to re-list it at $65,000, just to get some needed cash out of it. (The seller's real estate agent works in the same office as our realtor, so we got a bit more of the backstory than would normally be the case.) We offered $60,000 and they accepted, without bothering to counter.

I'm not going to get rich on the deal, as it's forever going to be a starter home with some bumps and flaws, but all the work needed is of the cosmetic nature, and I can realistically (fingers crossed) put $5,000 in repairs into it, do nearly all of the work myself in a month, and then list it at $90,000, hoping to get $85,000 for it. Our realtor said he thought it was reasonably priced at $78,500 and would have moved at that price as is if they'd been a bit patient, so I don't think I'm shooting too insanely high.

Backing out assorted fees and expenses and what-not, I'd be looking to likely make $10,000-$15,000, which isn't too bad for giving up my weekends and a few nights for a month, even accounting for Uncle Sam eventually getting his cut in taxes. Repeat the process 2-3 times a year and it starts adding up to some decent cash.

Aside from that stuff, I've been merrily expanding my blog empire, launching a new NASCAR blog as well other sundry affiliate sites. Still largely knocked on my ass, as far as income from my affiliate endeavors not recovering from the UIGEA, but the needle is at least moving in the right direction again. And, in the world in which lemons make great lemonade, I'm at least being smarter this go around and not lumping all of my eggs in one basket, as the new sites I'm working on are a pretty random-ass assortment of themes and models, as far as where income potentially comes from.

I'm pointedly refraining from commenting on any of the continued fallout of payment processors and dwindling traffic on online poker sites. Come up with a solution that doesn't involve the ACH system and the US financial infrastructure in general, and I'll be excited. Continue to ignore the real issue and keep trotting out "new, exciting!" transaction methods that use the existing framework in the US, that are just going to get shut down, umm, not so exciting.