Posts Tagged gambling

Mixed Martial Arts

How, and more importantly why, has this sport over the last fifteen years become so popular that people wear tee shirts showing the splattered winner’s faces and set up viewing parties at home?  One answer that I’ve read explains that it all began in New York city with formation of the something called the UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championships.  But Wikipedia presents a slightly different explanation, one that may be related to the David Mamet film, Red Belt.  It claims it all started in So Cal with the famous Brazilian martial arts family, the Gracies in collaboration with film maker John Milius. 

Whatever its origins, I personally hold it started with the Romans and probably explains the popularity of such weak film fare as Gladiator.   1993 seems to be the beginning of the current phenomenon.  According to the history of the UFC, gathering enthusiastic competitors from all kinds of fighting sports, the spectacles quickly became competitive events fought in an arena shaped like an Octagon.

 

The octagonal competition mat and cage design are registered trademarks and/or trade dress of Zuffa, LLC and are symbolic of the highest quality mixed martial arts events brought to you under the Ultimate Fighting Championship® brand name.  In 1993, UFC events were the first to feature an eight-sided competition configuration which has become known worldwide as the UFC Octagon™
 
The UFC Octagon is unique from any other fighting arena because the octagonal shape and structure have become inherently associated with Zuffa and the UFC brand name among mixed martial arts consumers, other mixed martial arts organizations and the national media.  The UFC Octagon is regularly featured on UFC Pay-per-view events, UFC® Fight Night™ and The Ultimate Fighter® reality TV series.  The UFC Octagon creates a neutral arena to showcase the skills of UFC mixed martial arts athletes. The UFC organization has established a reputation for providing the maximum safety to the fighters with commission approved ring structures, canvas, and all safety padding and fences.  Zuffa makes major investments to ensure the safety of competitors in the UFC Octagon — as a result, when people see the Octagon they associate it with the reputation and quality delivered only by Zuffa at UFC events.  
Add Las Vegas, males aged 18-34 and their companions, to beer drinking, football loving, and bet craziness and real Americans have apparently found their match.  Fight clubbing, clamoring for more wars, as long as they don’t actually have to enlist, the current followers of this sport brook no interference to their “god-given” right to watch other people beat themselves into bloody unconsciousness.  And then they sit idly by, as Micheal Vick is sent to jail.
What is it in our psychological makeup that somehow does see this violence for what it is?  In this dissertation, I found the following to be of interest:
Ernest Becker is a psychologically oriented anthropologist who focuses on fear of physical death as the mainspring of human behavior. He sees himself as continuing to develop Jung’s idea of the projection of the shadow, but he very emphatically argues that this shadow that is projected is a rejected awareness of one’s mortality. Because human beings are animals, we are mortal. But we also have highly developed brains that give us an ability to be self-conscious and to anticipate the future. We can see that death is our eventual fate, but because we are animals who are basically narcissistic, we want to be immortal. This clash between what we want and what we know is coming overwhelms us. It disturbs us so much that we invent all sorts of personal and social lies in our efforts to somehow pretend that we are immortal. One of the lies we tell ourselves is that if we can triumph over our enemies, we can rise above the limitations of our condition. We can project the shadow, that awareness of our mortality that we have repressed into our unconscious, onto the enemies or the scapegoats we attack in an attempt to prove that they will die and we will not. At root, violence against others is an effort to avoid facing one’s own mortality with existential honesty and courage.
Which brings to mind the film Rollerball and the conflict between the Oligarchs who run/own the games (See Las Vegas) and the players like Jonathan E who enjoy the competition for its own sake.
Am I getting anywhere with all of this?  Will any of what I think change the yearly income of millions this pay-per-view event earns or shift the viewers to whom I appeal for rationality to another choice?  Probably not.  Do I wish someone would comment on my original question?  Most def.
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Gambling the night away

Whirr, click, jangle jingle jangle, that’s the sound the new slots make that’s so much like the real thing that you actually look down to see if the tray is filling with quarters.  Luckily for us, within an hour’s drive from where we live there are eight casinos to choose from if you want to just spend the night gambling.  Five of them provide hotels if you can afford to stay over and vacate.  One is just a large but very popular card room.  And all of them have benefited from the new slot machines the voters have just installed. 

Of course, you have heard about the fabulous buffet, right?  Billboards show and celebrities extol the qualities that make all you can eat a suitable reward for taking a chance.  Instant winners, cash, cash, cash, and, oh yeah, the roll call of headline attractions coming to a stage near you.  Not to sound cynical but who are they kidding?  But on the other hand, if you are talking addiction then fat people and their gambling habits is not a bad place to start.

But all of that aside, I didn’t begin this post to berate the gambler within us, nor to make fun of the gazillions of seniors who live for the bus ride.  I am really just happy that the gambling industry has become the be all and end all of our nation’s retirement community.  As far as I know, Vegas and Florida now officially employ the most seniors per capita.  So, when it is time to take a break around here, there is nothing like heading out to our local (see the above) gambling den to remove the stresses and strains of ordinary living.

I don’t know how to say this so I’ll just say it okay.  Some people are just addicted.  Others apparently have too much time on their hands.  A few are just interested in the spectacle.  And one or two, like me, just tag along because that’s where their significant other likes to go.

When I first met my partner, we worked all the time.  As independent contractors, we filled the hours with multiple jobs since we both had put ourselves in debt for various reasons and now we were hard at work digging our way out.  So it was with some surprise, when we finally got a break, it was T’s birthday, that I discovered she had booked us rooms in Laughlin.  I was amazed.  She knew all the games, and really liked to play the roulette table.  Well, you know what they say, party hardy.  Only, when we got back home to go to work, she was more than a little depressed.  The fact that I don’t gamble had sort of acted as ballast but still she had lost all the extra money it had taken her weeks to earn in just three short days.

As she explained it to me, it was a family thing.  Everyone in her family; grandma, dad, mom, sisters, brother, cousins, aunts and uncles, all gambled.  They played puzzles, worked out sudokus, and couldn’t wait to think of another excuse to hit the nearest casino.  She even told me stories about how her grandmother taught her to read the tote board and pick six. 

But a funny thing has happened on the way to today.  T who used to need to gamble now can only handle it in very short doses.  Not because she isn’t still addicted, you know, once an alcoholic always an alcoholic.  But because she has replaced that need with something even more powerful.  She wants to be free from debt and semi-retired like me.  And I should say, she wants to stay free from debt because by dint of paying off her credit card debt, and starting her own business, she has been debt free for two years now.  So when we go vacationing at our local casino now, she may gamble a bit, but her need to keep her money makes it easy for her to get up and walk away.  We have even gone there and just spent our time at the pool, and dancing at night, and seeing a show, without once dropping even a penny in a slot.   These days, instead of gambling, it’s more likely we’ll be gamboling the night away.

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Live and learn, Stoozing

Well, we all woke up to a increasingly troubled financial market and as Trace Adkins pointed out on Bill Maher last week, “even though we’ve all seen it coming, it still seems like it just blew up all of a sudden.”  So today the fed announced another interest rate cut down to 3.25% which should (they hope) affect the economy in a stimulating way but meanwhile, the way the stock market is careening all over the place doesn’t bode well for any instant changes.  However, T and I are Stoozing about 50K and today we have to think about how this will affect our ability to refi.  We have 5 props all mortgaged at between 6% and 6.825% and fixed for 30 years.  But refis are now coming available at 5.25 and even lower for 15 yr loans.  We have no debt aside from the mortgages and the three Stoozes and our FICO is at 760 and holding.  Still, we are a little doubtful about the viability of a refi once the lender looks at the newest hits on our credit cards.  One thing that I think at this point works for us is time.  We can pull and pay the Stoozes off quite quickly.  Then if the credit environment stays the same as now, with our solid employment record and long list of assets we should be able to take advantage.

On the other hand, on a less personal note.  What good will all this financial maneuvering do if the whole economy tanks?  We have savings and emergency funds but they are in banks.  And what I’ve been discovering lately is that the domino effect that most of us used to laugh at back in the day when the war hawks used to use it to describe why they needed to keep bombing Vietnam is actually a good way to look at the financial trouble we are all in.  The whole thing is one big series of Stoozes and it all relies on the original concept of keeping the principal stable and liquid.  I am not sure but it may well be that this has gotten so far out of hand that countries, banks, lenders, investors and the people that run them may not even know anymore who owes who what.

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It’s morning and I’m ready to Stooze

Well, maybe not ready to myself but definitely ready to oversee T. as she works at it.  And definitely ready to share with any readers their experiences along the Stoozing trail as she and I go forward.  BTW, I should mention that most of the info we are gathering appears to be from England, though I know the Aussies are using it too, so don’t get thrown off when the money amounts are expressed as pounds instead of dollars.

Anyway, so there it is.  Right in front of us.  A brand new income stream funded by manipulating the very system that the credit industry has been using to rope us in.  We hope.  Frankly, that’s why T. and I are such good partners.  She gambles where I would not.  I gamble when she would not.  But we never gamble when we aren’t in agreement about the consequences.  We always talk them through.

Unfortunately for me, that means I’ve got to spend sometime researching the whole idea while she runs off to find the best offers to take more advantage of.  I like the things I’ve found out so far but beware of something for nothing keeps running through my thoughts as I check out Wikipedia and then start reading at www.stoozing.com.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide how much of a review to give the site that sits behind the stoozing.com one that looks to be a combination of information and sales.  Hmmm. 

Stoozing is a way of making money by exploiting credit cards which have an introductory period during which no interest is charged.
There is fierce competition in the credit card industry, so many lenders have introductory periods of between 3 and 18 months during which they charge 0% interest on the card balance. This allows the Stoozer to borrow money for ‘free’ and to move it into a high interest savings account.

Seems simple when you say it like that.  Take those damn tempting offers and instead of going into debt start earning income from them. 

At the end of the 0% introductory period, the money is withdrawn from the savings account and used to pay off the full credit card balance. The interest gained from the savings account is your ‘profit’. As with any other savings account interest, taxpayers need to pay tax on the interest earned.

Also, you have to be aware of two other things.  One, there is usually a one time fee for the use of the money, either 3% or $99 whichever is higher.  Two, there are three types of offers, 0% on money for a limited period, 0% on balance transfers, and 0% on purchases for a limited time.  Beware of the balance transfer and save it for part two of the Stooze. 

Part Two:

Rather than pay off the credit card directly from the savings account at the end of the period, the Stoozer would normally have another 0% credit card lined up to pay off the first one. Thus, the borrowed money could stay in the savings account for a considerable amount of time.

A Stoozer would typically earn between $400 and $2500 per annum from Stoozing.
Why not put some figures into the stoozing calculator and see how much you could earn?

That’s the part where if you want to be accurate you have to check out the current exchange rate or you can just do like I did and use the numbers in the calculator as a guestimate.  Stoozing has been around for a relatively short time but investors and banks have been doing it for a long time in something called the carry trade.  Even so at the stoozing.com site this caveat is in place:

However, before embarking on Stoozing for the first time, please read our risks section. This is important because you need to be aware of the effects on your credit history and because not everyone has the attention to detail necessary for successful Stoozing. Once you have understood the risks, take a look at the full guide from the pull down menus or click an option below.

One last item for today,  once a month T. and I host a financial game night where we play Cashflow 101 and discuss different financial strategies culled from personal experience.  One person came to a meeting last month and wanted to talk about a new mortgage paying strategy that was being offered by an Australian Bank.

An alternative way of making money from Stoozing is to put the borrowed money into an offset mortgage instead of a savings account. This reduces your mortgage payments, ‘earning’ you money in that way; usually tax free.

We talked about this quite abit at our meeting but could come to no consensus.  No one at the time saw the connection to Stoozing.  And one of the things that I’m discovering is that there isn’t much information about Stoozing in the U.S.  So this  statement from the stoozing site seems apt.

Partial reconfigurations of the offset mortgage are being introduced in the United States, however due to differing US mortgage policies and accounting practices as well as US tax laws these programs are generally not effective.

So that’s it for now.  In a couple of days I’ll take a look at what T. has found out and share it here.

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Stoozing . . .

I believe I’ve mentioned several times over the last few months a money-making technique my partner T. discovered during the process of running our small business.   Two years ago, with all our credit cards paid off and no bills in sight, T. received one of those continuous credit card offers we all get these days that offered her to borrow up to her credit limit of $27,000 for a full year at 0%.  She was already tiering her CDs so she knew immediately that here was an opportunity to make some money if she played her cards right (ha ha).  And off she went.  So far she’s used this strategy to fund construction work on our rentals, by borrowing it and then loaning it to our real estate business at a modest interest rate;  to money market and CD it, by shopping for the highest rates to fit the correct tier; and by loaning it again to our other business to fund construction of a concession stand and buy storage.

And now she’s discovered, thanks to a post from Gary at Think-CreditCards.com, that there is a whole Stoozing.comworld just waiting down the blogoshere hallway.  And she’s been in up and back down that hallway to yell at me “Come see this” ever since.  I tell her its just an appearance of our old friend Serendipity and try to go back to writing this.

Anyway, just a little looking at both sites, tells me that there is definitely a community of Stoozers with a forum, and stoozing calculators, and competitions for best Stoozer, and of course the ubiquitous 0% credit card offers.  (As soon as I saw the latter knew that T. and I needed to talk more about this venture.  Luckily, Gary’s Think-CreditCards site was an immediate help in this regard since it is actually a web site designed to link you up and help you out with a range of financial insight and information about the how and why of Stoozing the credit card market . . . 

In the article on business credit cards, for example, I was reminded about being wary of giving your personal SS# to back up the card amount.   The real Snoozer remembers to only accept an offer that is willing to use the company’s EIN since one of the side effects of this particular strategy that you are trying to achieve is that it will raise your company’s credit score while separating your personal finances from any possible calamity.  It is a nice point and the succinct way it was presented fit snugly into a neat less is more feel to the whole site.

See you tomorrow for more adventures with the Errant Stoozer.  Oh yeah, I meant to mention that this seems to be mainly an English phenomenon for now.

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