Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cleaning Out

Absolutely Cashed OutHere’s a thought experiment for you. Tell me how you’d play this one.

Your company just went through annual evaluations and damned if you didn’t hit the jackpot. The suits think you’ve been doing a super-terrific, bang-up job and have decided to reward you with a big fat, handsome salary increase. New car? Perhaps. First, though, you go ahead and hire that cleaning service your spouse has been talking about -- Matchless Maids or whatever it’s called. You’ve worked hard. You’ve earned it. They start coming around once every two weeks to clean up. No more vacuuming or scrubbing toilets. Life is good.

Couple of weeks go by. The house is in ship-shape. Can you believe it? They’re actually getting that area behind the fridge! And if you go ahead and pay for six months in advance, they throw in an extra cleaning for free. You’re liking this. The spouse is happy, too.

Then one night you’re watching the news and that annoying “Consumer Watchdog” guy pops on there. You know, the guy with the weasely mustache and loud, obnoxious voice who’s always saying he’s looking out for us. God is he annoying.

Tonight he brings news about some complaints concerning the Matchless Maids. Seems several customers have reported missing items. The owner of the company, a guy named Howard David or David Howard, couldn’t be reached for comment. Some other manager-type -- named J.T.-something -- is available, though, and says he’s investigated the situation thoroughly and is confident none of his staff have stolen anything. The mustachioed-Watchdog dude signs off telling everyone to remain watchful. (He always says that.)

You glance around the living room, taking a half-hearted mental inventory. Look at that, you think. They even dusted the blinds!

Couple more weeks go by. Then you happen across another item about the Matchless Maids, this time in the local section of the newspaper. Sounds like the stealing wasn’t just a couple of isolated incidents, but it has been going on for a couple of years. And it hasn’t just been one or two workers. Apparently the entire Matchless Maids staff had been explicitly directed by good old David Howard (or Howard David) to steal what they could on their visits. While they’ve been cleaning, they’ve been cleaning up! Investigators have even uncovered a chart indicating the percentages each worker stood to receive per theft. Pretty damning stuff.

Reading further, it is reported the owner of the company may or may not have been the one in charge of the scam. Might have been that J.T.-something-or-other (and apparently that’s an alias) who had been the one to engineer the grifting. Whatever happened, Matchless Maids is now officially apologizing and says it plans to pay back those clients who have been the victims of theft. They also insist they are taking the whole matter very seriously and plan to investigate every complaint in earnest. They ask everyone to remain assured they have corrected the problem that allowed such unpleasantness to occur, and will continue to monitor themselves moving forward. Indeed, according to the latest presser, Matchless Maids believes it will emerge from this ordeal a stronger company.

Matchless Maids has yet to steal anything from you, as far as you are aware. So tell me. You gonna keep letting these people into your house or what?

What exactly does a poker site have to do to lose its customers? Probably start misdealing hands, I suppose, with two nines of diamonds turning up as your hole cards. Or a fifth ace popping out on the river. Even then some would probably stick around.

Over on Tao of Poker, Pauly says “Even if people knew a site was rigged, they would still play on it. Why? Because they’re a bunch of degenerate gamblers and action junkies.” That may well be one reason.

Of course, not everyone who plays online poker belongs in this category of degenerates and junkies. And I believe there are a lot of folks still playing on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet who are, relatively speaking, non-extreme types who manage risk somewhat effectively -- who aren’t so much “gamblers” as “poker players,” if that distinction can be said to mean anything. So why do they keep playing on the site?

Some American players may not have many other options, which could explain why they remain. Others may be over there trying either to clear bonuses (as Dugglebogey wryly noted in a recent Poker Tells comic). Or to reach that $100 minimum balance required to cashout via check.

But what about the rest? What about those who having learned of the brazen malfeasance perpetrated by those who operate Absolute Poker who still see no problem with continuing to play on the site? They wouldn’t let the Matchless Maids back into their houses, but they still play on a site whose security was not only compromised, but whose management stonewalled and then outright lied about it as well.

I’m less certain how to answer this question. I suspect the explanation might have something to do with the nature of poker.

Just about all poker players come to accept somewhere along the way the fundamental truth that life is unfair. I had my aces cracked twice yesterday by this clown sitting to my left. Once he held JT, the other time J9. (Neither sooted, even.) Both times he made two pair and took big pots. Hell, in the first case he had to call four bets preflop with his crummy JT and didn’t even pair his second card until the turn. Argh!

But that’s poker, right? Forget about fairness. No way to survive these hits without keeping that truth in mind.

The problem is I think a lot of online poker players carry this mentality over to the whole idea of “risking” your moneys to play online at all. I simply cannot understand this mindset, frankly. I am not breaking any laws by playing online poker, so why should I be okay with others doing so and (potentially) taking advantage of me when I play? This is also the mentality that allows crappy customer service to go on without objection, as if it is simply part of the “game.”

Well, I’m not buying it. (Pun intended.) I am paying these sites to play on them. Why should I pay someone to cheat me and/or treat me badly? Why should I -- or anyone -- tolerate a site treating its customers the way Absolute Poker has for the last six weeks (and/or three years)?

I love the game, but not enough to endure such abuse. No amount of damage control-slash-“house cleaning” is going to bring Absolute back into my good graces. Which is why I’ve pulled all of my funds from both my Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet accounts.

For now, I still have three other sites on which to play (Stars, Full Tilt, and Bodog). What do I do if they turn all “Matchless Maids” on me? I clean out of them, too.



Blogger OhCaptain said...

Well said! Great post. I never had any money there, and I doubt think I ever will. Glad to see you took a stand. I can not figure out why people would still be playing there. I don't believe that if there is a run on that bank...everyone will get paid. Get out while you still can.

10/24/2007 5:39 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thanks, OhCaptain. Definitely considered that possibility -- i.e., that it might prove harder down the road to withdraw, should more oddness ensue.

Appear to be experiencing a bit of trouble getting my money off UB (where I had moved a few bucks in a transfer from AP). More to come.

10/25/2007 10:45 PM  
Blogger DuggleBogey said...

Tnx for the shout.

10/26/2007 10:05 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Just got word from UB their check is in the mail, too. I'm outta there.

10/26/2007 11:22 PM  

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