Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Get Paid to Surf the Internet Tubes

AGLOCO is back, with a promise that many of us greedy, money-grubbing folks respond to: get paid for surfing the Web.

Back in ancient times, AGLOCO was known as All Advantage, which did exactly the same thing, as far as paying people to download a gizmo in your toolbar, which would track your time spent surfing around and pay you accordingly. Advertisers paid All Advantage to be in the system, which is where the money can from that was paid out to surfers.

It was pretty unobtrusive and didn't really interfere with anything you'd normally do, so it was an easy way to make some beer money each month. You could also artifically rig it to simulate surfing and get paid more than beer money, which helped to cause All Advantage to bo busto when the cat got out of the bag and too many people started gaming the system.

The same company is back, with the same business model, but a new name, now doing business as AGLOCO. They've got various measure in place so that the past won't repeat itself and are offering some new ways for you to make cash, other than just surfing. (One of which is by referring other members, so if you click through any of my links here and sign up, I potentially get a tiny cut of your action; if you refer other people, you potentially get a cut of their action, and so on).

Is signing up at AGLOCO, encouraging other people to sign up, and downloading the software when it comes out of beta going to make you rich? Nope. But it'll probably pay for your beer money each month, as far as what you get paid for surfing with the toolbar installed, and it's completely unobtrusive and doesn't require you to do anything, other than sign up and give it a whirl when available.

I'm giving it a whirl because, hey, money is good, and it'll be interesting to see just how all of it plays out, as far as the earning potential. I'd sign up sooner rather than later, as companies tend to sometimes scale back the benefits of these programs right before launch, and signing up now also gives you more time to lure other people into the horrible, evil net of free money from doing nothing but sitting on your ass and surfing the Internet tubes.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

State of the Non-Poker Union

I can't say I'm missing the poker too much, as I've only dinked and donked around in freerolls for the last few weeks. Part of me wishes that I was ready to take up arms, whip myself up into a righteous frenzy, and rail against all the evil that has brought only poker to its knees.

I just can't, though. If I had to pluck out a single emotion that the current state of affairs has produced (as far as having zero money online and zero ability to easily transfer funds to an online account), it'd probably be relief of sorts. Well, no. It's pretty much straight-up relief.

I've been my own worst poker enemy over the last year or so, despite knowing better. Playing without discipline, without a plan, playing while working on 17 other things playing above my bankroll, playing games I had no edge in, playing when I didn't feel like it, playing with no other goal than to win enough money to somehow justify all the time I was spending playing poker.

I won't necessarily say I have an addictive personality, but it's a close cousin. If I find a flaw in a system that can be exploited in my favor (without, you know, blatantly breaking the law or injuring other peoples), I tend to exploit the hell out of it. Even if I know, in a broader, long-term sense, I'd be happier just putting it down and walking away.

The problem with poker, in my particular case, is that it ceased being exploitable when I started playing like an ADD-addled lemur. But it was always, in theory, exploitable, so I had a hard time walking away.

With that decision largely made for me, the last few weeks have been nice. Don't get me wrong, the fact that the choice was involuntary still riles me up, but it's hard for me to ignore the results. I'm reading more, getting more work done, and spending more time with my wife. I'm much more engaged with the world, as far as cooking up new projects, overhauling some existing stuff that I'd let slip to the side, and in general taking more responsbility, as far as extracting the things I want from the world.

It's that last one, I think, that's most important, and maybe most applicable to the current state of online poker in the US.

If you want to play poker online, for the sheer right of playing poker online, fight for it.

If you were depending on the money you were making from playing poker, either fight for the right to play poker or find another way to make money.

If you want something, take it.

On a less didactic note, assuming that online poker largely goes bye bye in the US for quite awhile, what's the net loss/net gain going to be on the total number of divorces?

At first I'd wager that an unintended consequence of kneecapping online poker would be that some marriages would be saved, as the husband and wife would no longer disappear for hours on end to pursue their evil, degenerate activity, resulting in more quality time together to discover anew the wonders and joys of your life partner.

On the other hand, poker might be responsible for keeping some rocky marriages limping along, as it's much easier to deal with a largely deadbeat spouse if they wolf down dinner and then disappear into the office for the rest of the night.


Friday, January 26, 2007

You're All on Notice

Animate and Inanimate Objects that are Officially on Notice

Blogger fiddlers: You know who you are. You post something, usually long, and Bloglines alerts me that you've updated. Cool. I read it.

20 minutes later and lo and behold, Bloglines alerts me that you have a new post. I go and read it, only to discover that it's the same post, except you changed a colon to a semi-colon and re-published it.

15 minutes later, a new post. I know better, but I check anyway. This goes on and on and on. Fiddler! A pox on your house! Stop fiddling! None of you are ever going to win a Pulitzer. Hit it and quit it.

Blogger: Blogger, you're definitely on notice. For the love of Jebus, stop telling me that I can switch to the new Blogger. I can't. If everyone can't switch yet, DO NOT FUCKING USE "Hey, it's ready for you to switch now!" as your default greeting. It is most fucking definitely not ready for me to switch now.

Stop lying to me, Blogger, you fucking tease. I will kick your ever-loving free ass if you continue this.

Barack Obama: For the love of all that is holy, get out of the way, let Hillary run and lose miserably, and then run in 2012. You have a shot at winning the whole enchilada. Stop listening to whatever clown is telling you that you should run this cycle, bide your time, and do the smart thing.

Also consider changing your name to "Bill Powers".

Rex Grossman:
You singlehandedly kept me from winning a couple of different football pools this year, as you would inevitably flail when I picked the Bears to win, then pass for 2,373 yards when I picked the Bears to flail.

I have no money riding on the outcome but if you somehow pilot the Bears to a victory, against all odds, I will pay Kyle Orton to smother you with his beard.

Anyone involved with Chase Bank:
You're all on notice, every last single one of you. Why I continue to do business with you, I do not know. You consistently screw up even the simplest of banking matters, all the while slipping in the most ridiculous charges in the world.

$74 fucking dollars for new business checks, of which I use approximately four a year, due to the wonders of electronic banking? Are you kidding me? And when I ask you, you tell me it's because of the binder book they come in? Is it fucking plated with gold, underneath the plastic cover?

Slow turners:
You're in the right hand lane, turning right, have your signal on, and there's nothing obstructing your progress, whatsoever. I mean nothing. It's like a huge flat empty expanse of Antarctica, with nothing obscuring the horizon.

You start to turn, yet somehow manage to brake at the same time, maintaining the tiniest fraction of forward momentum, turning, turning, carefully, so carefully, with only the sheer mass of your car inching your forward as you glacially, painfully complete your turn and finally get the fuck out of my way.

Why? No, really. There's nothing there. Once you complete your turn, you usually resume a normal rate of forward momentum. WHAT IS IT ABOUT TURNING THAT REQUIRES YOU TO VIRTUALLY STOP? IT IS NOT AN EITHER OR SITUATION, DUE TO THE MECHANICAL WONDERS OF THE HORSELESS CARRIAGE!

Acronyms: Seriously, what good have acronyms ever done you? Fuck all acronyms. Count up all of the times where acronyms are actually useful, and a common shortcut that saves you time, on a regular basis. You've probably got fingers left over.

Now count up all the ridiculous acronyms you've supposed to manage at work, which not only don't make your job any easier, but actively make it more difficult. Divide that number by three and it still dwarfs the entire population of useful acronyms.

Fuck all acronyms.


(I've actually had a really good couple of weeks. Amazing what getting my ass into gear and getting stuff done will do, as far as improving ones mindset.)

(Edit: Err, yeah. So it actually did let me switch, literally 15 minutes after denying me the chance to, right after I banged out the above post. And now I'm fiddling. Fiddling and lying. Whee.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Support the Wee People

I'm not sure if everyone realizes it, but everyone's favorite midget poker blogger is the mastermind behind a new UFC site, and he's sponsoring one of the fighters on UFC Fight Night 8, which is broadcast tonight on Spike TV. Performify is also contributing to the site, so link it up, check it out, and support some bloggers.

I'd be inclined to throw some cash on their fighter, but, umm, my government has decided to make it difficult as all hell for me to do so. So I won't. Thanks, Mr. President.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Stupid Douchebag Dinosaurs

One thing worth noting in all of this current online poker mess is that, as many people have pointed out, it's pretty impossible to kill off poker now. I'm not turning in my current "Yes, the sky is falling" hat, because I pretty strongly believe that it is indeed falling, for the short term, but I think the long term picture is actually fairly encouraging. Maybe even more encouraging, in the end, having gone through what we are right now. It was a pretty big asteroid that slammed into the online poker world in October but it was in no way a poker killing asteroid.

I think it's pretty inevitable, at some point, that the US government will give the green light to Harrah's or MGM to launch a "safe", "responsible" environment for all of us silly US citizens who can't protect ourselves otherwise to play online poker at. They'll tax the hell out of it, we'll all have to suffer through the same growing pains as it ramps up, but it's not crazy at all to imagine that some version of the above will be reality, five years from now.

I think the saving grace, somewhat ironically, is going to be the creaking Social Security system. We're reaching crunch time there, as far as it becoming harder and harder to simply stuff our collective heads, as a country, in the sand and pretend that the whole Social Security thing is going to work itself out. We've got about ten years until it's running in the red, and once it starts picking up momentum in that direction, it's going to be a bitch of a runaway train to stop.

People are finally waking up to that fact. Unfortunately, there's not a lot more of a load you can put on consumers, as we continue to max out our credit cards and carry a personal debt load that's unprecedented, while we continue to save less and less. Real estate is wobbling and everyone has already re-financed to pile up even more debt. Property taxes are already insane in many regions of the country. Charging $50 for a pack of cigarettes isn't going to be a long-term solution, either.

There's not a long list of new things we can tax that we aren't currently, as far as generating money to offset Social Security plunging into the red. Pretty much weed and online gambling. And for reasons I will never understand, we're still really far away from getting our heads around the idea of legalizing and taxing weed.

So that leaves online gambling, which, logically, is a no-brainer. We've already decided that it's morally cool to gamble in many states across the nation, as long as you physically sit your ass in an actual chair. So we're cool with the concept, just not (based on recent developments), the execution of it, as it's far too dangerous to allow US citizens to gamble online now because we will either "click the mouse and lose the house" or Osama will use money transfered to his Party account to fund blowing up more people.

Those really aren't huge obstacles, especially for our friends at Harrah's, as they have a long history of helping people overcome gambling addiciton (yeah, right) and they can easily get together with the banks and combat that whole money laundering thing (yeah, right). On paper, it's an easy sell. Especially when you start looking at alternatives to make up shortfalls in the budget or Social Security. People may, in theory, proclaim that online gambling is immoral and shouldn't be allowed, but they'll vote "Hell yes, legalize it" in a heartbeat if the alternative is that their property tax goes up $500/year or that a six-pack of Bud Lite will cost $10.

As far as poker itself, that genie is out of the bottle. Too many people play now for it to completely die off, even if US players can't play online for a few years. Existing sites will probably convert enough Asian players to keep the Euros happy, so things will continue to poke along (albeit at a much reduced level), until US players get back to the virtual tables.

So yeah. Doom and gloom in the short run, mucho poker fun in the long run. We all just have to find some way to occupy ourselves for the next few years, twiddling our thumbs.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Department of Justice Issues Subpoenas To Banks Worldwide To Hand Over Online Gambling Related Materials

US Gaming Probe Rocks Top Banks

Early Effects of NETeller Leaving the U.S. Market per PokerSiteScout

But you know, don't worry. This is all going to blow over. There's no way the Department of Justice will ever get serious about enforcing all of this, plus there's too much money to be made, so the poker sites and transaction processors will figure this whole mess out and everything will continue to skip along merrily.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

This is Not a Post About Doom and/or Gloom

I've been working my ass off pretty consistently for the last three or four weeks, which feels surprisingly good. Still plugging away over at the affiliate marketing site, and I've managed to launch two or three new sites as well, on top of movnig all of my web stuff over to a dedicated hosting package and getting that up and running.

I was actually perilously close to saying the hell with the affiliate stuff for awhile there, not willing to summon upon the energy to start rebuilding things from virtually scratch, but I'm glad I managed to grit my teeth and power on. Even though a lot of the stuff I crank out is shilly and not that embiggening for the Internet tubes as a whole, it's work I enjoy, and I find the whole affiliate model pretty fascinating in general, especially when using programs like Google Adsense.

The day job has also, miraculously, slightly improved. We managed to dodge the layoff bullet in our department, for the most part, and even though we reorganized yet again and I have a new boss (I'm on my fifth new boss in the last 12 months; some co-workers have had 7 or 8 bosses in the last year), new boss has been there for forever and actually has a soul, and, better yet, at least a tiny desire to show empathy towards her direct reports and make their lives easier, when she can.

I still waffle, pretty much daily, on whether I should stay there or leave. I see more and more SEO type jobs cropping up, which are completely and utterly in my wheelhouse, and most would involve at least a 50% salary increase. Which would be nice, but I basically only work 30 hours a week as it is and only have to be in the office three days of the week. People also completely leave me the hell alone, my phone never rings, and I can sit at my keyboard and type away at anything I want. It'd be nice to get a much juicier check come pay day but it'd also mean 50+ hour weeks, no telecommuting, and a lot more talking to people.

Still scouting around for real estate investments and meeting with our realtor on Monday to look at 5-6 new listings, but so far I haven't found much to get too excited about. Which isn't the worst thing in the world, as it buys me more time to chip away at projects around the house. Things are likely to get pretty hectic in the spring, as we're looking to sell the Austin house around that time, so anything I can knock out of the way now is good.

As far as poker, I'm rolling around the idea of playing a couple of smaller WSOP events, probably towards the end of June. The timing may not work, for all the obvious reasons, but assuming we can sell either the Austin house or unknown property that I buy soon and rehab (and making the further assumption that we make a goodly amount of extra scratch upon sale) before then, I like the idea of rewarding myself with getting to play in a couple of $1,500 events. Whether my wife likes the idea remains to be seen, but I think she will, as she's actually been encouraging me to buy into one regardless, so we'll see. I'd definitely go the NL route this time, as the Limit event I played last year was like slow, slow torture.

I've been playing some FPP satellites to the EPT events on Stars, mainly just to kill time while doing other work. I haven't been able to play in any of the ones I managed to satellite into, so I just cash out the FPPs, with about 30K of them sitting in my account now. Not sure what I'll do with them, as I have no desire to repeat my performance from last year, playing about 15 hours to finish 3rd in a mega FPP satellite to the Main Event that paid the top two spots trip packages. These things are pretty crapshootastic and no one will ever fold anything, but it's pretty easy to bide your time and just play simple, non-lemur poker and usually at least get fairly deep.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sky, Meet Head...Head, Sky...

I've gotten a few emails about my personal belief that the sky is falling on online poker being more motivated by the fact that I'd largely abandoned the field of online poker anyway, and that it's easy to be negative and throw stones at the cool kids still partying on after you've left and are skulking in the bushes. And, honestly, there's a tiny bit of truth in that, as it is easier to be analytical and logical about a situation when you no longer have a vested financial or emotional stake, but it's also pretty far from the truth, in many other ways.

I've detailed my own tales of woe here right after the UIGEA passed, but I took probably a ~$40,000 hit upon its passage and the immediate effects of affiliate programs pulling out. Instead of looking at $40,000 or so in income from my existing affiliate player base in 2007 (and that's assuming no new players), I was suddenly looking at a number that was much, much closer to $0.

That's not a fun spot to be in. I wasn't a happy camper. I spent a lot of time wallowing around and feeling shitty and blaming all sorts of other people for the spot I was in.

Eventually, though, I finally got my head around the idea that the person I should really be mad at was myself. I was too smart to have all of my eggs in the single basket of online gambling affiliate programs, yet that's exactly what I did. When the UIGEA stuff first started brewing many months before it was actually passed, it was much easier to listen to the reassuring words of online sites, affiliate programs, other affiliates, and forums and news sources. Basically listening to everyone who had a vested financial interest themselves in the sky not falling, who, not surprisingly, continued to repeat that the sky wasn't falling, to chill out.

I didn't have a backup plan if the sky did fall. Not because I don't see the value in having backup plans (I do), but because I had too much of a financial and emotional stake in the results, because I wanted to believe too badly that the sky wouldn't fall on my personal little world.

Guess what? The sky fell.

The point of my recent gloomy posts isn't to express my hidden, secret glee that all of the cool kids crushing the games for tons of money are about to have their worlds turned upside down in the coming months as online poker rapidly implodes. It's because I wish someone had tried harder to slap some sense into me a year or two ago, as far as recognizing just how fragile the whole online gambling affiliate world really was, and to motivate me to have multiple plans to fall back on, if the worst came to pass.

If you make a substantial amount of money from online poker and depend on it, you need to start preparing for the end. Signing up with Click2Pay and waiting for MyPersonalSaviorEWallet to open its doors is not a backup plan. Playing tons of poker now while you can is not a backup plan. Relying on the good folks at Full Tilt to figure this thing out is not a backup plan.

I would not at all be surprised if Everest Poker is the largest online poker site a year from now, with a whopping 5,000 players at peak hours. It would not at all surprise me if Stars and Full Tilt close their doors to US players within the next few months. It would not at all surprise me if all sites close their doors to US players within the next six months. The only reason sites are still allowing US players to play is that they each weigh the potential legal risk versus the potential profit. Each comes to their own number, as far as how much they need to make to tolerate the risk involved. Cut too deeply into their profits and the risk becomes too high, and the door closes.

Proxy servers and foreign bank accounts aren't the answer for US players. It's just prolonging the inevitable. Cut off the US and the games are going to dry up. They just are. Sorry.

The good news is that poker has crammed itself into the public consciousness to the extent that it won't go away. If you're an online pro or semi-pro, you'll still be able to make many grandusands of American dollars playing poker. You'll just have to do it playing live, instead of from the comfort of your own home.

Anyone who has played NL games in Vegas can attest to the fact that there's no shortage of dead money in the games, and it's just getting deader, not smarter, over time, as limit HE dries up. All those lemurs that got their jollies playing online aren't going to take up squash, they're going to get their same jollies at home games or casinos. Not in the same numbers, but enough to provide you with all sorts of juicy opportunities.

If you're making substantial income from poker and you don't live near casinos or have access to home games, then you really should be considering moving to some place where you do. That's your only real viable option to keep that income stream alive.

If you do live near casinos and/or have access to home games and you're married or otherwise engaged, you need to make sure that your spouse and/or family is cool with you logging many hours away from home, playing poker. It may seem the same to you, as far as the time you spend holed away in the office playing online, but it's likely not the same at all to them, if you're instead at some dude named JimBob's house until 4 in the morning.

Is the sky absolutely destined to fall? Of course not. Poker might get a carve out a month from now from the UIGEA and bam, everything is magically restored to the way it was. I'm wrong about tons of crap, each and every day. But having a real backup plan that you never have to use only invlves the waste of the time you spent putting it together, whereas having no real backup plan when you suddenly really need one can be pretty damn expensive.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It Was Fun, Neteller

As expected, Neteller has completely pulled the plug on allowing US players to deposit to any horrible, immoral online gambling sites.

It should be noted, though, that they're not closing the accounts of US citizens, and they went out of their way to make it very clear that you can still use your Neteller account, can still transfer from account to account, etc. I wonder how much of that is wishful thinking and how much of that is tacit acknowledgement that we'll likely see all sorts of sites crop up in the near future that will serve as middlemen to get funds to poker sites for you, accepting a Neteller transfer or Paypal payment from you and, for hefty juice, then moving funds into your player accounts at poker sites.

It's probably a moot point, as I imagine most banks will move to prevent US citizens from electronically transferring funds to Neteller simply based on their past activities. Interesting, though, especially since they have no real business other than serving the gambling market, so it's not like keeping US accounts active will keep the trains running in other areas where merchants accept Neteller transactions.

Too bad there's no practical use for the 27 million Neteller points (no, really, I actually have 27 million Neteller points in my account) I have in my account. I kept holding out hope they'd open a schwag store at some point or at least something other than the pseudo money draws they hold that no one ever wins, despite buying a ginormous number of entries with their Neteller points.

For everyone patting themselves on the back for setting up Click2Pay accounts and other e-wallets, sorry kids, but the writing is on the wall. FirePay and Neteller have already rolled over (and Citadel has pulled out as well, just based on what transpired with Neteller) and there still aren't any regulations on the books that they have to comply with. If any company might have held out and fought the good fight (and had the resources to do so), it was Neteller.

As for a new company stepping in to fill the e-wallet void, that's just wishful thinking. Rini has a better explanation as to why that's a pipe dream, as far as the backend difficulties, but you also have to take into account how broad the language in the UIGEA really is, as far as who can be charged with a felony for aiding and abetting US citizens in gambling online.

Remember, while the Neteller guys that got pinched were co-founders and obviously highly visible, they had absolutely nothing to do with the day to day operations of Neteller currently. They were simply ex-employees. And completely fair game to go after, due to how broad the language of the UIGEA is.

Any current online gambling site (or any e-wallet start-up) would be similarly at risk, so it's not just a matter of the founders or execs being willing to move to a country that doesn't like to extradite people to the US, as well as being willing to never return to the US for the foreseeable future. Every employee of the company would be assuming that same risk, from programmers to affiliates to customer service reps. And you have to believe that anyone openly flaunting the enforcement attempts by the US and launching a new e-wallet company would have a huge, huge bullseye firmly planted on their chests.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Online Poker in the US Takes Another Shot to the Kidneys

It's been posted everywhere by now, but two of the founders and former directors of Neteller were the latest to get pinched by the feds while traveling separately in the US, and are currently being held and investigated for money laundering and with the intent to promote illegal gambling, with each facing a maximum of 20 years in jail.

Early reports aren't promising as far as the effects of the arrests, with all InstaCash deposits being disabled by Neteller, and individual sites such as Bodog reportedly no longer allowing deposits using Neteller in any form. Neteller is publicly traded on the LSE and, at their request, their shares were halted when news first came out regarding the arrests, as they knew it'd be a bloodbath for their share price (and market cap) if they allowed their shares to trade.

Coming on the heels of Pinnacle exiting the US market at what is one of its most profitable times of the year (Super Bowl), the future ain't too bright for online poker players in the US. It's definitely not time to nail up the coffin but it's also rapidly approaching the point where people have to admit, finally, whether they like it or not, whether it's riduclous or not, that the passage of the UIGEA is going to have a huge effect on the ability of US players to play online poker.

Assuming that Neteller pulls out of the US market completely (and this is looking more and more like a foregone conclusion), many people are currently shrugging their shoulders, saying So what?, and vowing that there will always be another electronic funds processor out there that they can use. Not only is that a sloppy, shortsighted vow, but it doesn't get to the real issue here.

While some players may be dedicated and savvy enough to hop from processor to processor, it's not those players that are feeding the online poker world, from the bottom up, and pumping new money into the ecosystem. Pretend for a minute that for whatever reason all deposits to online poker sites ceased, for forever, and that no new funds were introduced. How long do you think the current conditions would continue at Stars and Full Tilt? How long before the losing and marginal players went busto, games tightened up, and total players on the site plummeted, impacting your ability to find good games whenever you log in, causing many players to finally give up and throw their hands in the air, speeding up the death spiral? 'Tis just a wild-assed guessed, but I think it'd happen very, very quickly. Even as quickly as a month or two.

Removing Neteller from the ecosystem is, in many ways, closely akin to the above doomsday scenario of no money flowing in at all. People seem to think that if Neteller exits stage left, they'll simply sign up somewhere else, with a similar service, which, if it doesn't exist now, will be launched in the near future to replace Neteller.

Umm, okay. Which one? FirePay has already fled, so you're looking at services like ePassPorte and Click2Pay or InstanteChecks, and all of those are almost certain to roll over now and pull out as well. If any processor was going to weather the storm and stick it out it was Neteller, and they're already rolling over.

As far as new services springing up or a someone buying out Neteller and taking it private and maintaining the status quo (despite the risks made patently obvious in the last few days), well, sure, who knows what the future will hold. Not me. But I can't help but think that you're grasping at straws when you can't even hang a name on your potential savior.

Poker sites will likely still offer the ability to deposit/withdraw via paper checks, but that's just delaying the inevitable death blow, as that's just not a viable way to provide the necessary influx of new money. Remember, it's getting new money in, quickly, on a regular and consistent basis, that's the real key to whether or not online poker in the US can dodge this bullet. Sites could offer withdrawals only by burros carrying packsaddles filled with gold bullion and it wouldn't impact winning players, who are more than content to patiently wait for their donkey to arrive at their front door. Those players don't matter, though. If anything, they'll speed the demise of online poker in the US, as they'll be extracting a proportionally larger amount of the available cash floating around in the poker ecosystem, if the influx of new money slows.

At this point, I'm not sure what can save online poker as we know it. You'll still be able to play, at least at a few sites, but it may be a radically different game that you're playing, as far as a much more social endeavor, sort of like online bingo in its current state, where many people are drawn by the ability to chat and interact with virtual friends, and the actual money at risk is relatively insignificant. If you depend on poker for a substantial portion of your income, you're going to have to work much, much harder for that money.

(Stepping back a bit into grunt-monkey land of personal opinion, all of this really fucking sucks. I try not to take for granted all of the benefits involved in living in the US, because there are a ton of them, but this particular period of US history is one I'd really like to forget. Politicians of every bent and party affiliation have displayed the ability to be superlative, crooked as shit, and mediocre in every way, so I pretty much view all that as a wash, but I'm so fucking ready for the current climate to shift away from the current crop of conservatives that feel perfectly comfortable legislating what adults of an age of majority may do, whether it's marry, play poker online, or give birth.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Buh Bye, Pinnacle..

Wow. Pinnacle is pulling out of the US market, which is, umm, kind of shocking if you dabble in the world o' sportsbetting.

I've been prone to assuming the online gambling sky is falling in the past, so feel free to ignore me, but this isn't good news at all for the long-term future of any online gambling site, including Stars and Full Tilt, as far as continuing to serve US players. Pinnacle is the 900 lb. gorilla of the sportsbook world and for them to willingly turn their back on what is reported to be 60% of their revenue is pretty telling.

Especially since sportsbooks had been pretty willfully flaunting US law anyway by accepting bets from US players, so barring the door to US players is an even stronger vote about the real impact of the UIGEA on US gamblers being yet to come.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bite Me, Blogger

Sweet Jebus, Google. I likes me my free Blogger and Gmail services, and I realize the idiocy in complaining when free things go down and don't work, but this is sort of ridiculous, not allowing me to access anything and then pushing me to upgrade to your new platform, except I can't upgrade, because you can't accomodate a blog with the massive size and girth of mine.

Ups and downs of late, ups and downs. Despite all attempts to empty my online pokering funds, I keep winning money. Which is good, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't help me make a clean break from the pokering to focus on business stuff.

Getting approved for a line of credit via my business to buy real estate is cool, but seeing both properties I was eyeing go under contract literally hours after getting approved sort of sucks.

Sinking weeks of work into a potential freelance project to be told "Thanks, but no thanks," sucks, but at least... Well, no, that one just sucks.

We're "reducing organizational complexity" at work, which would normally elicit a "Praise Jebus, Hallelujah!" from me (especially since it's that time of year when we do our byzantine annual reviews), except for the fact that in these environs "reducing organizational complexity" means we're firing 10% of the workforce. Sweet.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mmm, Mansiony Overlay...

After some nudging and poking, I played in one of the $100,000 Guaranteed tournaments last night that Mansion is currently running. The first night they ran it there was an overlay of $50K or so, as only 500 people ponied up the $100 entry. I was expecting more people to show last night as the word got out but nay, there were something like 532 runners when it got started. Can you say overlaylicious?

I didn't make much noise and ended up going out before the first break. The structure is kind of fast (1500 starting stacks and 12 minute levels) and I was getting short when I got a free look at a flop with J8d. Four of us see a flop of Jc 6d 4d, someone slightly shorter than me goes all in, I shove trying to isolate, but there's another call and I'm up against Qc Jh and Ad 10d. Oops. It actually felt good to get my money in really bad and lose, as opposed to yet again being sent packing despite being on the right side of a 80/20.

I know a $100 entry is a little pricey for some but it's hard to beat a $50K overlay.

Wait, crap, I'm talking about poker.

Real estate real estate work sucks affiliate affiliate work sucks real estate rats work sucks affiliate work sucks real state real estate rats rats rats real estate work sucks real estate.

There. Now all is right with the world. Whew...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Squeeze More Money Out of Your Blog With Text Link Ads

If you're looking for a way to wring a few more bucks out of your blog each month, you might consider giving Text Link Ads a whirl. Until recently their system wasn't compatible with Blogger but that's changed in the last few weeks, and as long as you're using the new fancy Blogger version (or upgrade to it), you can install Text Link Ads and start making some extra scratch each month. (Unless you have an old, large blog, like this one, which you can't yet switch over to the new Blogger platform.)

Signing up for Text Link Ads is pain-free and they give you control over how many ads you'd like to sell on your site, what they look like, all that good stuff. They'll also give you an initial instant estimate of what they think you'll make each month, based on a quick analysis of your site. You install a bit of code in your blog, Text Link Ads automatically finds it, then gives you a thumbs up and starts trying to sell the spots on your site to their base of advertisers.

Pretty simple and painless and I've made decent money on other sites of mine using them. The ads also aren't insanely annoying, as they're simple text ads with no graphics or any other hoo-ha. They pay you the first of each month by check or PayPal for the ads sold the previous month. The income won't make you rich but they're a nice source of extra cash that requires very little work on your part.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Congrats are in order to all the poker bloggers stepping up into the big time, including Drizz, Change100, Maudie, Amy Calistri, and JoeSpeaker. Definitely well-deserved and I hope all of you cool kids continue to knock the cover off the ball.

There's the selfish, jealous part of me that rolls over every time a poker blogger announces such news, which is pretty quickly silenced by me telling myself: "Umm, self, shut up, it's been many months since you've earned the right to call yourself a poker blogger. So, you know, put a stitch in it." Which I do. And all is well again.

Real estate wheeling and dealing may commence sooner than I'd planned. I spent a good chunk of my time off recently scoping out places and went to check them out with an agent a week or so ago. He grabbed a few extra listings that just came on via the MLS, one of which was a foreclosure. It's in a pretty crappy neighborhood but the house is actually in good shape, and would just need painting and new carpeting. 1600 sq. ft. 4/2 house that's been split into a duplex (3-1 on one side and a pretty small 1/1 on the other). Purchase price? $39,500. The agent was pretty baffled at the price, as it should rent for $700-$800/month pretty easily, and I could have a property management company deal with it and still show a little profit each month.

I'm probably going to miss out on this one due to not having cash ready to pounce, but it's encouraging in general to see stuff like that. The main house I wanted to see was encouraging, too, as well as equal parts scary. It's been on the market for forever, was listed by the children after the parent died, needs a whole crapload of cosmetic work and landscaping, as well as central air and heat installed and a new roof. It's in a great neighborhood, though, and on a huge lot. Basically it's a $125,000 house when fixed up that needs about $30,000 worth of repairs done. It's currently listed at $65,000, so the math works, but it's kind of an intimidating prospect, when standing there looking at the house in its current state.