"I think I've lived long enough to see competitive Counter-Strike as we know it, kill itself." Summary of Richard Lewis' stream (Long)
I want to preface that the contents of this post is for informational purposes. I do not condone or approve of any harassments or witch-hunting or the attacking of anybody.
Richard Lewis recently did a stream talking about the terrible state of CS esports and I thought it was an important stream anyone who cares about the CS community should listen to. Vod Link here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/830415547 I realize it is 3 hours long so I took it upon myself to create a list of interesting points from the stream so you don't have to listen to the whole thing, although I still encourage you to do so if you can. I know this post is still long but probably easier to digest, especially in parts. Here is a link to my raw notes if you for some reason want to read through this which includes some omitted stuff. It's in chronological order of things said in the stream and has some time stamps. https://pastebin.com/6QWTLr8T
"The last month has convinced me, that we are going to be heading into a dark place for Counter-Strike esports in 2021."
"I think I've seen the scene essentially kill itself."
"For the past 5 to 6 years, we've basically been in a holding pattern of people coming into our game wanting to run it, wanting to run all of the esports and wanting to profiteer and its been sort of a concerted effort to drive them off and push them away."
"We're spread way too thin."
"If Riot don't get involved and stop the scumbags that have moved over to Valorant from getting their feet under the table, Valorant is going to have real problems."
RL thinks too much has happened all at once for us to do anything except watch it play out, like:
Recent CSPPA strike against BLAST
ESIC failures and them not being supported enough
Teams cheating i.e. coaches/bugs
Widespread match fixing
"People who try to hold bubble events are so incompetent and fuck up and people get the 'rona and its their fault."
"People who say Flashpoint is a bubble is full of shit and is a lie and people are now suffering for that lie."
"To save money they let people go home and break the bubble for a week."
"Not just Flashpoint peoples decision, they have a partner that handles the production." (hinting FACEIT)
"People are trapped in hotels essentially under house arrest because of COVID restrictions and has fucked peoples lives up."
"It's all too much, all of this incompetence, all of this greed, maybe we ride it out."
RL says he has talked to the Riot devs (the ones working on Valorant) and says, "They are so cognizant of all the fuck ups and all the problems we have in Counter-Strike."
He continues to say that this is factored into their business plan and that we never had a competitor, but just so happens to have one coincide, when we are at our worst.
CSPPA - Counter-Strike Professional Players' Association
"Who does this union really fucking serve?"
RL believes that the CSPPA is a mockery.
He points out the hypocrisy that they wouldn't strike for the pros who were kicked out of ESL Pro League, or for Jamppi or dream3r.
He also says ESL paid CSPPA and are racketeering and many other TOs have to pay them to get their "seal of approval"
He says they would strong-arm TOs saying "well if you don't give us the money, these guys are so we'll just have to commit to playing their event."
Also points out that they will strike against a competitor they are not in agreement with (Flashpoint)
RL: "It's what it says about every other time you haven't done it and it's about every time you don't do it now moving forward." "The issues they've chosen to ignore this year alone are embarrassing."
Then he points out that there was no strike for Valve qualifiers even if we have no major but Jamppi and dream3r can't play in them.
"and Valve have said 'Oh yeah we know actually their stories are accurate, Jamppi didn't cheat, now in a legally binding document. Yep dream3r did have his account hacked in a LAN café', but they still can't play. Where is the fucking solidarity? Gone. Doesn't exist. It's not important [because] it doesn't affect you." "That's what the union does right now, it looks after all the tier 1 people."
He says the CSPPA doesn't represent all players all the time and has driven a divide where you have the haves and have-nots
"We have a tier of players that operate with impunity and do not help their tier 2 or tier 3 players out at all." "If you are not a tier 1 player you do not matter, they don't event ask your opinion."
He tells chrisJ to admit and own the fact that the reason he didn't speak up during the ESL Pro League debacle is because it didn't affect him
"They are looking after some players at the expense of other players. How the fuck is that a union?"
He says the BLAST situation is a reasonable dispute and supports the players but is not the right time for a strike and have not even identified the correct enemy
He thinks players are lashing out now due to previous incidents and are upset that BLAST are working with ESIC
He stated that CSPPA shouldn't beefing with ESIC and they should be working in harmony
He says what they need to do is talk with the teams/organizations that have sold that right to BLAST
RL: "Your employers, the people who pay you that massive exorbitant salaries, when you don't stream and you don't do interviews and you offer no value beyond your ability to click heads and you get 25k dollars a month." "Why don't you talk to them about it? Oh right. You're happy to take away BLAST's paper, but you don't want to risk your own."
"I am seeing such unbelievable cowardice from the players here with the battles you choose."
"Where was the strike action when in the qualifiers for the world championship, there were teams and players engaged in huge conflicts of interest?" "Where was the strike action when your image rights were taken and sold to every league you've ever been in every union type organization you've ever been associated with like, WESA, to your org every time you sign a contract, to the leagues you play in."
"Your image rights are essentially worthless now, there's about 10 fucking separate parties that have them, and how many of them are giving you anything for it? Not much pretty much your org by the way."
"That's a big issue. Your image is you, your image is your brand. What are you doing about that? Nothing."
He is also angry at SirScoots who is "popping off" at people on Twitter who all want the same thing, which is 'A unified Counter-Strike scene for everybody, that works for everybody, that has a sustained ecosystem that nourishes everybody.' "We don't have that now."
He also says their rankings are a joke
"Just so happened, oh look TACO, that very important prominent member of the board, we pushed his team artificially up when they weren't even in the fucking top 20, not by a long shot."
He also says the ineptitude of the CSPPA cost Flashpoint a monitor sponsor
"Is it really a player association or is it like a fucking agency at this point"
ESIC - Esports Integrity Commission
"They have been put in an impossible position."
RL says that Ian Smith, the founder of ESIC and who was done work in mainstream sports, is a good and honorable man who has dedicated his life to integrity and sports. He takes on both sides, ensuring match fixers are punished, but also doing appeals and ensuring those punishments were fair.
"ESIC is a tiny organization" and are in need of money, "They didn't run a grift like the CSPPA did."
"Saying 'you want our support and you want the players to turn up you better pay us.' They don't do that."
"Had startup seed money from MTG and since then they've been pecking shit with the hens."
Ian Smith made sure that the money given by MTG (Modern Times Group, parent company of ESL, ESEA, DreamHack) was nothing more than startup money and wouldn't be in debt to them
Ian Smith sat down with other TO's not part of MTG and wanted to partner with them. They declined and called ESIC "ESL spies and we will never align ourselves with you"
"They only were just able to afford, hiring a PR guy on a full time salary to deal with the press and send out those releases you've seen, this year."
"They have a tiny group of staff investigating these things and they have taken on the biggest problems in our scene: the cheating, the match fixing."
ESIC have had "unprecedented levels of cheating to deal with, because there's something wrong with our scene ever since we went online. There's something wrong with it, everyone's lost their fucking pride and self-respect and they got no passion for it anymore, so they think fuck it, what's in it for me?"
He calls out coaches who are talking about players rights when they would rob and steal from them.
Also says more coaches being banned are coming
He also points out flaws in community's reaction to the punishments to coaches bans: "Half of the cunts still have jobs and some of the cunts got new jobs. We didn't even shun the cheating coaches."
ESIC have "found I think another 2 or 3 exploits like that one and they are investigating them all right now, it's going on right now."
"I know that there are going to be more names getting banned, again."
"So they're doing that on a skeleton crew while, investigating 3 continents worth of match fixing in MDL and semi-pro level CS." "They're doing this with half a dozen people." "They don't have any money or any help. People barely even fucking cooperate with them, they are treated like pariahs. It's ridiculous."
"Why are the CSPPA popping off at ESIC on my Twitter timeline, when you should be working together." "because its all about what's in it in for me." "2020, the online era of CS: 'What is in it for me?' How can I cheat, how can I get my paper, how can I bleed this scene one last time before I fuck off and play shooty shooty bang bang Riot Games babys first fps."
RL says that in the CIS region, teams have gone to tournaments and have been eliminated multiple times by the same team. We found out they were cheating and those players who lost, have been cut from their roster, careers ended because of cheaters.
"They're all at it in the online era, they're all at it, they're all cheating, they're all using exploits, probably that see through smoke bug got used a bunch of times"
RL talks about how there is no integrity from dead (the player), always denying when caught doing something
On the topic of 'BLAST never said we couldn't stream snipe': "Lies, BLAST never said you could do that, they had to sort of retcon it." "because what happened after that they fucking started snitching and squealing"
"Suddenly you had like, 10 of the top 15 teams in the world, staring into the abyss of being banned for 6-12 months in line with ESIC recommendations."
He says that ESIC was put in a tough situation and couldn't enforce the bans because it would have resulted in killing CS. What resulted was, BLAST, ESIC, and teams came together and gave them a warning and told them, in RL's words "don't do this again or you're gonna get got."
He then says the top teams brushed this off and didn't give a fuck
The new MiBR team playing Flashpoint, that wasn't involved in the previous incidents are doing it again (stream sniping). He gave credit to Flashpoint for the quick resolution and punishment and respect for cogu's response to the situation.
"ESIC came out and said, once more, 'Guys, zero tolerance from now on.'" RL then got upset at community's reaction calling ESIC "pussies" for their non enforcement and said if we want competitive CS we cant ban the top 10 teams.
He points out how players have no integrity and will do anything for an edge as long as they won't get detected or banned or it's within a grey area.
"All of this shit was mad avoidable, even in the pandemic era."
He talks about why aren't we filming them. Why aren't there representatives for leagues and tournaments making sure players aren't cheating?
"How many years have we let our scene be fucking pillaged by these greedy cunts?" "We just let it happen."
RL says that gambling and skins betting which existed in moderation was "accelerated and blown up by the Call of Duty greedy fucks."
"Never forget TmarTn was on the board of EnVyUs." "His website, CSGOLotto, they had a bunch of off-the-books sponsorships." "NBK promoted them. People forget."
"Those people who had access to the skins, go to the players" "Even people like s1mple, best player in the world, even he scammed knives and skins off fucking fans."
Owners of skin casino sites would approach pros and lend them skins to use in tournaments and possibly keep them after reaching a deal
Players would tip off inside info about matches and teams in exchange for skins. Info such as: roster changes, how they played in scrims
They would use this info to bet and subvert the odds on their sites. "That happened religiously, I can't even tell you how many times it happened."
"I had access to the biggest database of information, from an inside betting circle in NA, and it would take information and screenshots from other pro players, who were feeding them info in exchange for money or skins."
"Some of these players are still playing." "Incredibly, there are players still in the CSPPA today, complaining about the BLAST recordings, that were embroiled in this murky shit back then."
RL also says that there were tournaments where teams contrived with each other, who should throw, who should win.
"There's a handful of people that are trying to fucking clean it up, and you think you get something over the line and you see something like the CSPPA and it's run by corrupt fucking chuckle heads, and now you've got another corrupt body you have to fight on a fucking daily basis, it's demoralizing."
"It's too far gone. Our entire semi-professional scene is compromised."
"It's rife guys, I'm not going to lie any more. It's not just China, it's not just Russia, it's here, it's NA, it's Europe, it's Australia, so much more than you think, so much more than we can prove."
"I get sent chat logs all the time […] and they're morons, these players, short-sighted, amateur, morons and they're doing it on WhatsApp." People would get cut from the bets because they want to make more money, then they leak the logs. He says, from the chat logs, they spread "little" bets across every site they can (400 to 1k dollars) to prevent shifting odds
He says the scumbags who've fucked off to Valorant will do the same there if Riot doesn't do something and says Valorant "is an esports scene heading for a very early fall based on the sheer volume of scumbags that are already there."
"That's tier 2 CS in a nutshell these days. They know they're never going to play in a major, so what's the punishment?"
"All of these tier 2 fucks that are fixing games now they are like the fucking mafia compared to iBuyPower" "These guys are working with organized criminals to fix entire seasons worth of games. That's what's going on in your tier 2 CS."
"I'm literally being told that there are players fixing games at all levels of Chinese esports and motherfuckers with guns are turning up to team houses and stuff."
"Everyone in NA has left we've lost a continents worth of support during this pandemic and Valve haven't said a fucking word."
RL says the Call of Duty "goblins" that destroyed CS for years are the same people who are now trying to leave CS. "The nerve to treat a game where the fans, and the community, and the TO's were nothing but good to you." "To just kick the players out now and go and leave and say 'It just doesn't make financial sense.' Oh you'll slither back when we have a major though for them stickers won't you."
There's a cascading effect in NA where people don't bother with CS anymore and people like Chaos suffer.
He says NA team owners are incompetent for always wanting it easy and always wanting a guarantee on their investment without skill or nuance.
RL says he would be able to market a team correctly and would have a good ROI and also points out how TSM wouldn't even be bothered to tweet that their team, which was one of the best in the world, was playing at the Major.
He also says not all NA owners are like that, compliments and respects Jason Lake who nearly lost everything to keep Complexity going.
He then calls out the incompetence in Infinite Esports when they acquired OpTic Gaming and bought an Indian CS team.
He says HECZ is not to blame here and that they couldn't tell forsaken was cheating when it was so obvious.
They measured his reaction time to the likes of dev1ce and s1mple
When an enemy showed up on his screen he won that duel something like 44% of the time
"was like the number 1 player in the world statistically"
He brought a laptop to their bootcamp and refused to use the high end PCs that hey provided
He respects Andy Miller (NRG CEO) and HECZ but says that the attitude of not being able to easily monetize their teams is "piss weak" and there needs to be a risk.
He says Chaos EC shouldn't be cutting their roster and should be competent enough to be able to figure out how to make money off their team.
He says there are still opportunities in NA and people are panicking and pulling out, and says Valorant will be the same if not worse.
He also says "bums" who couldn't even get out of groups in NA competitions, are making crazy money in Valorant and says it will continue to inflate.
He also said that he heard rumors that EG (Evil Geniuses) are done.
He also thinks that the rumors of a Valve franchised league from before was sparked up from "these lazy fabled weak NA fucking team owners basically trying to see if Valve would bite at the hook if it was dangled and they didn't"
Slasher says NA team owners are really in favor of franchised leagues because they want to make more money. "Most of the powerful team owners right now are on board with ditching this third party organization structure, or they are trying to play this power politics with all the TOs, and that is contributing to a lot of the problems there"
RL says that Riot has proved they can run a franchised league (LCS) and will be profitable in 2021 which is what a lot of team owners care about and says the competition will only serve to snatch people away from CS.
RL continues to say, "I am so sick and tired of what we have done to this scene, I am just exhausted with it." "I think we have legitimately fucked it, I really think we have. I think we're staring into almost like a CGS (Championship Gaming Series) wasteland in NA." "Counter-Strike esports is a fucking joke."
"TO's have treated CS talent like absolute human garbage for years now."
RL says that people like Sean Gares and ddk switching over to Valorant isn't for financial reasons because they are making less over there.
He points out that TO's can't even give talent a 3 month in advance calendar.
Because of the pandemic TO's won't hire certain people and some people are working more hours for the same money.
He says we as a community don't respect journalists enough which is why we don't have good journalists.
He also says DeKay is leaving the scene soon and that Thorin is close to leaving also
He says he had to talk a caster down from quitting and was struggling to find reasons.
He says that DreamHack told Vince they would hire him but not if he wants to stick with dusT and says that this is the norm in esports. "Constant leveraging of people against each other." and says this is why we don't have a talent union.
New gen casters are getting put into shit situations and the community's reaction to them is adding fuel to the fire
He says the reason Moses left was because of the terrible conditions
He says that Anders had to constantly leave his family and kid because someone fucked up or broke promises and had to constantly tell his kid to their face that "daddy can't be home this weekend."
He says that esports has always been a lie to sell you this dream, "Meanwhile there's about 2% of the cunts getting all the checks."
"Anything that Riot does, is better than Valve's inaction"
Slasher says that the larger aspect of esports as a whole compared to other entertainment mediums and Valve's lack of inattention are the bigger problems. He continues saying that the fact that Valve let their game be ran as an esport, they need to take on the responsibilities of it.
Both Slasher and RL wants Valve to take control but not on the level of Riot Games, there needs to be a balance.
In case it was ever a question: Gabe Newell has been to 0 CSGO Majors.
RL calls Valve out saying they could have done something during the gambling era.
He says Valve used to come to the majors, but doesn't think they do anymore.
RL had met with Valve at the Cluj-Napoca Major and had tried to appeal iBP's indefinite punishment and had also gave Brax's life story:
A recent family member passed away, they had lost a lot of income, they had to live in trailer, iBuyPower did not pay any salaries, and was pressured by family to make money who didn't support his career.
RL said that Valve told him, "How dare you try and make us feel guilty." "We shouldn't feel bad about enforcing the only thing that matters that we need to make players afraid of: cheating and match fixing"
RL also tried to share other info about match fixing and nothing came of it
RL points out that Source 2 or a new engine is not something you will want based on the experience of transitioning from CS 1.6 to CS:S. "Valve's track record with brand new engines being launched, not fucking great from what I remember."
Slasher says "If there is anything the community should do, is pressure Valve to hire a community manager."
They say that we need a commissioner, a community manager (not the person who runs the Twitter who posts memes all day), then we need to have a circuit
RL reiterates that Valve doesn't care about CS esports and says they need to change the culture at Valve to make them care about CS esports
Slasher says a systemic problem is making it so working on CSGO would be a bad decision for you as an employee for Valve
He also hasn't talked to Valve in ages and have sent over bugs and cheats and doesn't get emails back anymore
Slasher says we should be directing attention at the developer leads, pointing out Ido Magal, if he even is still the project lead
RL thinks that Ido and Brian are the only people that "vaguely even give a fuck about CS" and were the only people that RL recalled that actually read Reddit and paid attention from time to time
"It is really fucking precarious. Somebody has got to step the fuck up and start giving a shit"
Slasher suggests org owners, with CSPPA, with ESIC, with TOs have a concerted effort against Valve
"Riot Games are doing better things than Valve in the esports space" which is something RL didn't think he'd say.
"People who used to be talent, working with unions, arguing with other talent, when the unions fucked them over, can't understand their perspective, TOs fucking over broadcast talent, broadcast talent wanting to leave and go and work for orgs, orgs having no money, Valve might take coaches away because all the coaches are cheating, ESIC has about 4 people in a fucking call doing the investigations, everyone thinks they're spies for ESL, ESL are just the evil fucking overlords wanting to rule the scene and will just somehow, like cockroaches outliving a nuclear bomb, and Valve are in a fucking holiday in Hawaii thinking about the next Dota character because they don't give a fuck about us."
"We've peaked. If we want to sustain and exist, now is the time to figure it out. No esports lasts as long as this, we've already done 8 years. We've already broke the records. We have got to figure out a way to coexist and drive the negative forces out and we need to do it as a collective and we're not doing that."
RL compared the Counter-Strike scene to the people on the Titanic who ran around with guns robbing people while the boat was sinking.
"We have given up on being a respectable esports scene." "We are now a conduit to make money for those who want to just milk it, just have one last ride, one last roll of the dice. It's done." "What a fucking mess. What have we done to our fucking scene?"
"There's just too much self-interest driving all of this." "I don't see a way we stop the dominoes." "When it's that bad, when there's that many dishonest people that ESIC have to come out and say that if we punish them all there's no one left. What does that tell you?"
"How many opportunities have we had to clean house? How many times have we said, 'this must never happen again', and another scandal." "The entire skins betting operations was the biggest criminal conspiracy in esports ever executed and no one has been punished for it." "The people who could be driving that don't want to."
"Right now people are fans of those organizations because the scene has value. It is worth being a fan of Astralis because they are excellent at Counter-Strike. It is worth being a fan of s1mple because he is the best player in Counter-Strike, maybe the exception of ZywOo. If the scene is devalued, if the scene loses its meaning, those things lose its meaning too, and people will leave, people will stop tuning into the games. I have seen it happen in multiple esports, this is not my first time at the rodeo. I am getting big Brood War vibes right now and I don't like it."
"The role you play in all of this as fans, as viewers, as listeners, as consumers of esports content, it's absolutely imperative that you know who the good guys are. It's absolutely imperative that you use your voice. It's absolutely imperative that when things are bad, you know who, at least, is trying to make them good, and you have to apply your criticism to the right targets."
He continues saying it's no good in continuing to attack ESIC and saying how they are bad, ESIC have it hard
He says CSPPA are on the right side of the argument on BLAST but have been on the wrong side of many arguments many times.
"If you are not willing to stand along side the weakest member of the union, with the least amount of influence, and the least amount of power, then it is not a union at all and you shouldn't pose as one." "You wanna serve a bunch of special interest do it, everyone else in esports fucking does, but do not pose as something you are not." "We love the players. I've been fighting for players rights for as long as I've been able to, but the CSPPA is not what we needed."
"They are not applying the pressure to the right people, they are not fighting the right battles, they are not helping their weaker members."
He says what orgs have done by keeping or hiring coaches is bad. "When you give up on holding an appreciable standard, you've lost the scene" "Competition matters, rules matter, punishments matter, achievements matter, excellence matters" "If you start stripping that away, you have nothing" "You guys need to take that knowledge and apply it sensibly."
"Valve has sold you all down the river, they sold everyone in the esports scene down the river, tournament organizers are selling their talent down the river. Don't hate on them for sounding tired after a 16 hour day. Don't hate on them because the hype for a matchup they've seen for the 20th time in the past 3 months, they can't be as excited or it sounds contrived. Support your guys, they're there for you, these are your people."
"This community has got to start acting like one for the first fucking time. Just put the petty shit away, let's try and fix this fucking scene while we still have one to save."
"You can't rely on Valve, you can't rely on ESL, you can't rely on the CSPPA, you can't rely on anyone." "Once again, it's gonna be the likes of us, the amateurs, the people who give a fuck, rolling up our sleeves and grafting." "I'm old and tired and I don't want to have to do it again. People need to pick up the torch and do it."
"Like Michal did, like Dudenhoeffer did. You see something wrong, fix it. You see somebody doing something wrong, call it out. If you think something could be better, let people know."
"Vote with your wallets if you're not happy with the direction Valve goes in. If when we do get to the Major, they serve up another subpar, same old bullshit stickers and signatures package again, do not buy it."
"You're a powerful block and if you use it correctly we can fucking avert this disaster."
"I'm not doing another year in this broken, bust-up fucking scene, where everyone is miserable, everyone is broke, everyone is tired, and everyone is trying to fucking rob everyone else, blind, while the fucking people who are meant to be protecting you, are just fucking enhancing it and lining their own pockets."
"I'm not doing it anymore and you shouldn't want to do it either."
"I stand by every fucking thing I said. I mean it, because this game fucking matters to me, this scene fucking matters to me. I put my life into this, my adult life, and to see it in this state is fucking sad."
Any other urban planners/policy folks play this game? I’m an urban planning student who has spent too many quarantine hours playing SDV and at the risk of deeply questioning how I spend my time, I’ve been thinking about it from a planning perspective. Please tell me someone else has thought about this. Pelican Town (pop. ~35) is a small, rural town within a few hours of the nearest big metropolitan area. The town appears to have had an industrial past, with all the decayed mining infrastructure. Like many rural towns that were once anchored by industry, Pelican Town has struggled to rebuild its post-industrial economy and identity. The Mayor’s strategy is to look towards tourism, culture, and recreation for the town’s future. He holds an abundance of traditional festivals to preserve the town’s cultural identity and market its quaint, rural character to visitors from neighboring areas. He hopes the farmer’s high-quality local produce and artisan products will contribute to Pelican Town’s renewal. He also thinks the arts could drive the town's revitalization (Leah's art show). The town also has an abundance of natural assets, although I'd worry about point source pollution from the sewer pipe and the quarry is totally a brownfield site. Encouraging tourism is a sound strategy in Pelican Town, but it’s not a panacea - it won’t necessarily increase the tax base to help the town’s financial problems, and the jobs created will mostly be in the service sector. The neighboring town, Calico Desert, is another post-mining economy that is looking to tourism and has opened a casino. Economy: No matter how you calculate it (does the wizard have a job?) the unemployment rate is high. The jobs are not well-paying (the town was chosen for a discount Jojamart, like many rural towns attract dollar stores). Without good jobs for young people and lacking educational opportunities, the town is at risk of losing the younger population to other towns/the city. There’s potential for more small businesses if tourism increases, or for more remote work (though it doesn’t seem like Pelican Town has good internet infrastructure and computer ownership is low.) Transit: The town also suffers from a lack of transportation. Vehicle ownership is low (just the Mayor and Sebastian’s motorcycle, I think), the town is looking for private investment to restart bus service (should really form a regional transit authority with Calico Desert and get government funding), and though the train with the platform hints that there may have once been commuter rail, it’s currently only used for freight. Population: Pelican Town’s population, as it stands, will decline. There are only 2 children (Vincent and Jas) but close to 20 residents who are 40+. There are 12 residents in the 20-40 age group (the bacheloettes), who need to stay in Pelican Town and start families to reverse the decline. As in many rural areas, substance abuse is a problem in Pelican Town. There are a few alcoholics and I’m not gonna get on Sebastian’s case for smoking a little weed and who knows what’s in Pierre’s stash, but there’s clearly little else to do in town besides hang out at the Saloon. Housing: If young people choose to marry and stay in Pelican Town, where will they live? The vacancy rate is 0 and most bacheloettes live with their families. New housing will need to be built to retain them, but most probably cannot afford to build a house. The town will also need to carefully choose areas for development to maintain the natural assets that draw tourists. The town seems to use a form-based code in the town center (two-story mixed-use buildings). Solutions: The town is relying on the goodwill and prosperity of a private citizen (the farmer) to revitalize the Community Center, build houses, etc. - Mayor Lewis should rely less on one-time private investments and focus on more reliable funding sources and economic growth that will increase the tax base. The town is facing a housing crisis and should consider mixed-use development/apartments in the Community Center neighborhood to prevent sprawl. The town needs to invest in transportation and communication infrastructure to improve access to jobs and education. The vacant land near the train station is a great spot for a TOD and some denser development if the Valley could start commuter rail service, but I bet Robin & Demetrius would be NIMBYs who don’t want development near their mountain home. TL;DR: Mayor Lewis is making you do the flower dance to stimulate the economy.
Alright Degenerates- I posted a small little snippet a day or so ago about BFT. I wanted to do a bit of DD on BFT but also wanted to highlight something that was brought to my attention by a degenerate gambler. Lastly, I wanted to compile some good little snippets that have been put together by some other members as well as from the investor presentation. Before reading further please understand the major Risks.
This is SPAC with ~10.00 NAV, if the deal falls through it could drop to 10.00 USD
The warrants could be very lucrative but they can be called and if a deal fails to materialize, these can become worthless.
If you're ok with the above risks, continue reading.
Keep in mind that this merger is not complete, but the terms of the deal have been provided to investors and we will be able to either vote yes for the deal or vote no and redeem our shares in BFT for 10.00 cash. So there is downside to this play should the vote not go through or should the two entities terminate the agreement. Right now the downside is ~3 dollars per share according to the close price from today.
Deep Customer Base with deep ties to gambling/betting industry with Deep penetration in Europe and growing customer bases around the world. Gambling is a tricky business and regulated differently than other industries. Many big players have avoided the industry and Paysafe has a great reputation and has become one of the early movers in the industry. The following are some notable customers.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I actually know Paysafe and the usage quite well. PayPal has many restrictions in Europe regarding iGaming , so does Square. This is a big play on iGaming for those that aren’t aware. I was a mid- high stakes online poker player through the 2010-2018. Played a variety of sites. : iPoker; PokerStars, Paddy, MicroGaming, 888, Party. Why so many sites? Because I was always on lookout for where the action was, if a big whale sat down at one online casino; you bet your sweet ass I’m there. So let me give you my take as a consumer that’s probably spent over $100,000 in transaction fees personally on Paysafe. This was one of the cheapest and fastest ways to move money around online. Unlike Stripe this which is against risky business such as CBD and gambling, paysafe is actually one of the leading payment providers in both UK/AUS / Ireland for iGaming. Big example is William Hill, Bet365, Bwin. Now why would you want to move money online around as a gambler ? Well, Visa/MC charge close to 50%->75% more, online casinos = the merchant. They don’t wanna pay that, and in fact put limits on this type of payment processor. (Your visa’s credit cards etc). If a punter deposits / withdraws frequently, the online casino could literally be on the hook for like 20-30% of the turnover throughout the gambler’s period. (This assumes the gambler doesn’t lose all his money per deposit. Imagine you’re a professional sportsbettor, you’re not loyal to one site. Different spreads / odds are offered on every site, you want to be able to move your money from one to another quickly and cheaply. Arbitrage opportunities do exist in sports betting as bookmakers hedge their books to minimize risk, diff frequencies of bets occur on each sports book; you get the idea. For recreational punters, it’s simple: some sporting events that are smaller simply don’t exist on one site that exist on another. Eg. Perhaps you using Pinnacle / 10dimes for low spreads on high volume events, but perhaps you want to gamble on live events on bet365 on another day, and bet ponies on Hill. What if you only have $5000 ? Giant pain in ass to deposit money to each site, paysafe lets you move it around easily. Should you use visa, you may get blocked from depositing on various sites; Bodog, WHill, Bet365 just to name a few. Withdrawals and clearing deposits with bank transfers or checks takes days-> weeks and gamblers ain’t gonna wait for that shit. You can also buy prepaid paysafe cards from stores if you don’t wish to use your real credit card; and load that shit up. One of the biggest markets this is prominent in is South east Asia, they are some of the biggest punters and fucking loving gambling. Looking at you pinoys, Indonesians, Malays. Not everyone wants to fly to Macau to get their rocks off. As much as this is a play on FinTech, please understand this company has more or less the best Payment service on online gambling globally. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Hound of Hounslow (How an Autist Broke the Market)
On May 6, 2010, Jim Cramer’s brain broke. “That is not a real price,” he yelled to his monitor. “OK? That is not a real price.” Proctor & Gamble had just fallen 25% in a manner of minutes, then 29%, then 31%. Cramer had never seen such a shiny knife, such a beautiful buy, and he searched frantically for the right camera to beg his followers to add PG to their portfolio. There weren’t enough buttons on Cramer’s soundboard to fully capture how he felt about the quickest drop in Dow Jones history. In what would later be dubbed “The Crash of 2:45” or simply “The Flash Crash,” over a trillion dollars was wiped from the stock market in a manner of 15 minutes. The odd thing was, despite dropping more than 9% at one point, the market would rapidly recover a bit after 3 PM and would close only 3% lower for the day. In the ensuing days and weeks, journalists and financial commentators and United States Congressmen would try and determine where this volatility had come from. Something weird had just happened. # In the investigations that followed, regulators would consider a couple of theories. Was this a “fat-finger trade” where a trader inadvertently placed a large sell order, triggering a domino effect of sorts where algos would in turn sell? Was this a well-coordinated cyberattack, aimed to cripple American institutions? Was it simply a dip exacerbated by high-frequency traders? Had Janet Yellen forgotten to change the printer toner? Nobody knew. But five months after the flash crash, the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) released a joint report that on May 6, 2010 the market was “so fragmented and fragile that a single large trade could send stocks into a sudden spiral.” They stated that a group called Waddell & Reed Financial Inc. had inadvertently played a role in the crash by initiating a sale of 75,000 E-Mini S&P contracts ($4.1 billion total) as a hedge to an existing position. This, the report said, coupled with the high-frequency traders trying to sell the long futures contracts they had just picked up from Waddell & Reed, led to a game of “hot potato” where the contracts were resold to other HFTs. The report though was leaving out a crucial player. # In 2005, Navinder Sarao was living the dream. At 27 years old, he still lived with his parents in Hounslow, a working-class suburb outside of London, demanding tendies to be delivered to his bedroom by his sweet emigrant mother. To the people who knew him, Navinder, or Nav, was known to be quick-witted and quick to anger. He was dominant at Halo and FIFA, and he had a proclivity to focus on one task for hours and hours on end until he mastered it. He was almost obsessive in his interests. Despite still living with his parents, young Nav had aspirations. In 2006, he responded to an ad in the Evening Standard that read, “Wanted: futures traders. Must work well under pressure.” That’s it. That was the ad. And Nav, with no experience and a honey mustard-stained tie, went to the FutexLive headquarters—a drab office situated above a supermarket 45 minutes outside London—and successfully hid his Asperger’s and got the job. He was now a professional trader. Nav picked things up quickly. Realizing that he was surrounded by day-trading retards, he moved his desk to the corner of the shabby trading floor and bought a pair of noise-canceling headphones. He’d found success trading E-mini S&P Futures, which is the primary futures trading vehicle for the S&P 500. And with his noise-canceling headphones, Nav would follow the orders that would enter and leave the markets. His coworkers would marvel at the autist in the corner and the returns he was regularly pulling in. Then 2008 happened. By the time the financial crisis was in full swing, Nav was almost thirty and had decided to leave Futex. He had accumulated $2 million from his trades the last couple of years, and he figured the most prudent move as a budding millionaire was to set up his command center in his bedroom. He still lived with his parents. # Nav realized something early on in the mortgage crisis that not everyone else did. He realized that governments would be forced to step in and save these retarded institutions, and he knew the banks wouldn’t be allowed to fall. And he bet $2 million—his whole net worth at the time—that he would be right. He made this bet on a Friday, and the following Monday, George Bush announced the TARP plan. Prices proceeded to recover 19% over the next couple of weeks, and Nav rode the wave and turned his $2 million into $15 million. Did he rest on his laurels? Fuck no, this kid’s retarded! Nav didn’t want a wife and a home with a couple of kids running around. He wanted GLORY. # Around 2010, the markets were seeing an influx in high-frequency trading, and Nav took personal insult to these robots. People were getting scalped by these algos, and those scalps belonged to Nav. Those profits were rightfully his. In order to beat the robots, Nav decided to build his own robot. And unsurprisingly, fueled by Code Red and autism, Nav’s algo worked magnificently. Pretty soon, he was regularly pulling in half a million a day. All the while living in a cramped bedroom of his parents’ home that cost $300,000. # May 6, 2010, started out as a regular day for Nav. The markets were sliding a bit, and Jim Cramer was flailing about his studio as though he were fighting a cloud of bats, but this was roughly on par for the time. Nav’s algo was pumping E-mini sell orders into the market—$200 million worth of orders to be exact—which ultimately resulted in a loss of liquidity (don’t ask me how this worked, I’m still confused why my PLTR 12/11 40C aren’t printing). At around 1:40 EST, or 6:40 in Hounslow, his mother called from the bottom of the steps to inform Nav that din-din was ready and would he please come down. So Nav logged off. And exactly one minute after that, the market began to fall at a rate that had never seen before. Nav had no idea though; he was in an argument with his father about why he needed to chew with his mouth open in order to let the scalding tendy fumes out. A trillion dollars had been wiped from American markets, and the instigator of it all was too retarded to know what he’d done. The tendies were good though. # The trillion-dollar loss turned out to be not that big of a deal. The DOW snapped back from the 9% freefall like a rubber band, like any stock that Andrew Left has deemed to be a casino. But the NYSE and NASDAQ officials proceeded to meet over the next couple of months to try and determine what caused the nosedive and rapid recovery. In the reports that they would write, regulators made no reference to manipulation and no reference to Nav. In fact, he wasn’t even aware there was an investigation going on. He wasn’t aware he did anything wrong. But regulators eventually began to notice that Nav was canceling a lot of orders. The CFTC sent him an email and asked if he could explain what he’d been up to. What was the reason for his canceling an obscene number of orders? That’s what big banks did. And that’d usually be fine and all, but Nav was a singular trader and that made it suspicious. Nav wrote back to the CFTC explaining in careful terms that he had nothing to apologize for and that the CFTC could kiss his ass. He actually sent that. He told the CFTC to kiss his ass. Which, in hindsight, might’ve been a bad idea but the regulators were still too stupid and boomery to charge him with anything at the time. Nav would’ve gotten away with it too if it weren’t for a blabbermouth desk trader in Chicago who months later reported a different block of Nav’s trades to the CFTC, rekindling the case against Nav. The investigation and case were dragged out over months and years, and I know 99% of you were too impatient to get this far, so I’ll give the cliff notes for the rest. Basically, Nav would eventually be charged with “spoofing,” which is the purchase of a large block of orders with the intent to cancel them. Spoofing artificially drives prices higher or lower. So the FBI and other concerned parties showed up on the doorstep of Nav’s Hounslow townhome in 2015, and he was extradited to the U.S. The judge learned he was worth $50 million, so he set bail to $7.5 million. Curiously enough though, Nav couldn’t access the $50 million or pay bail, and it was later determined that he’d somehow lost the fortune, seemingly to various shady investment advisors who promised to keep his money safe. (I personally like to think he’s stashed his earnings into a Caribbean account and that he’ll return to his private island once things blow over) Over the next couple of months, Nav worked with investigators and taught them how market abuse happens. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s by a prison doctor, and the judge, sensing the moral dilemma of incarcerating an autist, and sensing Nav had received punishment enough from being scammed out of his $50 million, recommended a year of house arrest. So Nav is currently serving his year of house arrest in the same bedroom where he amassed $50 million. But now he’s penniless at 41. TLDR: Some autist beats the system, but the casino is angry and creates new rules to retroactively punish him for his winnings.
Eli5: How can a casino slot machine have a 99% payout but leave me with nothing?
For example: I can put a $20 bill into a slot machine and it gives me a crappy $1 or a few cents a spin, eventually leaving me with nothing. How is that a 99% payout? Or even at some casinos it shows how much people won that day & it’s always some crazy number in the low millions. How??
I was asked to make a post about some stories within the Casino grounds so I thought I'd share. I have many so I'll do my best to pick the better ones. Some back information: I've been a Casino Dealer for 11 years, I've been a supervisor for five years, and I've been a Surveillance Operator for one year. I've worked at three properties, none of which are connected or owned by the same company. I've worked on : Government/Private/Native American owned casinos.
From Hero to Zero.
At my first Casino, I was one of the first group of people who were trained to deal Roulette . After 4 weeks of working 6PM-3AM then doing roulette training from 3AM-8AM (Not paid) , I actually really enjoyed the game and after about six months I became extremely quick at the number game and the pace of the action was steady with very low margin of errors. Young man walks in, cashes in for $500. He buys in for $2 chips and just loads the board. After a few spins and pretty decent hits, he then changes his chips from $2 to 5$ then to $10 and racks his winnings up to $10,000. It was then, five spins in a row, he loaded the board with some pretty gross bets, and every spin I would hit the ONE number with either NO CHIPS on it, or maybe 1 chip , He lost all $10,000 in a matter of minutes. He leaves , and I go on break. After my break I was going back to the same table and wouldn't you know it, the same young man walks in and cashes in another $500. He tells me he just sold his car outside and this is all that he had left. So we do the same deal, buys in for $2 chips, then slowly starts betting $5 chips, $10, $25...and he makes $10,000 AGAIN. Within the next 25 minutes it was straight agony. Every spin, same thing, he would bet $2500 in chips, and win only $250, $400, and after about a half hour he lost it all . Never saw the guy again. 2) Man down At this property, we are 24 hours for table games. It's currently 5AM , and I'm dealing some $25 Blackjack to this guy. He's probably early thirties , heavy guy. He's sober as can be, but right away I can tell he's been losing. We know how much you've bought in for, how much your down, or up, and I could see he was down $2000+. After about twenty minutes of pure losing, his temper starts to flare.At this point I now have two other guests at my table. Drinking coffee, not saying a word, just losing their money. After losing hand, after hand, this guy looks me straight in the eye, seized up, starts shaking, he can't move. He tries to punch towards me and smashes his stack of chips all over the place and falls backwards to the floor. I call for security, we cannot touch him due to liability . I can't move from my table because, well, liability / casino cash property, all I can do is try to talk to him. As I'm doing so, these other two woman who are sitting at my table just look at me and one says "OK, dealer, cmon lets go " as she taps the table telling me to start dealing and forget about the guy having a stroke on the floor. As security takes him to the ambulance out front, I had to stay behind for a couple minutes and give a statement. I go on break. I come back, and 45 minutes later, he comes right back in with a oxygen tank and keeps gambling for the remainder of the morning. 3) You get a dildo, and YOU get a dildo! On a late summer Saturday night, we had a large event for these massive muscle guys/strongman competition type thing. After their show, I'm at the roulette table , and five of these boys come over to play. They were absolutely hilarious. They were feeling pretty good, cashed in somewhat large amounts and I could tell this was going to be a fun time. After about a hour of dealing to these guys, it's almost midnight, everybody is pretty hammered , I spin the ball, and all five of these guys take out these god damn (what I can only tell was) two feet purple dildos from inside their pants, and wiping them around in the air. The ladies were just loving it, one of the dildos landed in the roulette wheel and we had to shut the table down to re-calibrate the wheel to make sure nothing had been changed. I just remember that night was so much damn fun, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I would never forget it. 4) Full Moon On this day, I was actually training dealers / supervising them on small games like Three Card poker. We opened the table at 10AM, and this older man came and sat down . He played all day. The jackpot was $21,000 and that was pretty high for this table. He played, and played and played. He's one of the players where you know he's wearing a diaper because he's been drinking coffee/pop all day and hasn't moved in eight hours. As the day went on, this man never moved from his chair. Getting closer to midnight, he was aggravated and said "I need to go have a smoke, I'm getting killed in here". He left, and the very next hand, the lady beside him was dealt the jackpot . He didn't say much, but you could just tell he just hated life at that very moment because had he not gotten up, it would of been his hand. The man calmly took his cane , his hat, jacket, coffee, and left. The next morning I found out when he did leave he drove his car straight through his bank and was arrested. 5) Slick Robber I actually give props to people who can actually pull this off. This story may confuse you so I'll try and explain things as best as possible. A lot of casinos have machines as soon as you walk through the front doors. A man walks up to one of these machines and sticks in HIS $100 bill. He doesn't gamble it, instead he hits the cash out button and gets a $100 TITO ticket where he then takes the ticket to the ATM machine to get his $100. Now remember, his Original $100 is in the slot machine. He then takes the $100 from the ATM and goes back to the same machine, and repeats this process over a hundred times. Essentially he's taking money from the ATM, and loading up the Slot Machine . Now he knows he can't do it too much because if the slot machine gets full of money, the machine will shut down and the slow attendant will have to take all the cash out. So he deposits over $10,000 , then has a small crowbar, he cracks the machine open and makes a run out the front door. To my knowledge he was never caught . But damn, that was pretty smart . EDIT: 6) Mental Health is a thing. 10PM man walks in to play some high limit BlackJack. This guy knows the game and played well. Dressed nice, drank juice/tea , a little bit of a attitude, cashed in over $10,000. When this man was half way down his buy in, he said something a long the lines of "If I don't win here tonight, I'm going to go set myself on fire." I wasn't sure if he was serious because when people are down, they tend to say a lot of nonsense. I actually left early that night, and from a third party was told he did exactly that in the parking lot. The next day it was clear something terrible had gone wrong in the parking lot . EDIT: 7) Nothing good happens after midnight After a busy Saturday night, I was dealing a mix of games, and during this story I was in the middle of Blackjack. I had one young kid (probably 19) sitting in the middle, one older male probably in his later 40's sitting beside him on his right, and I had a really nice couple in their 20's sitting together at the other side. This young kid wasn't playing just sort of watching, and ever time the old man won he would give this young guy some of his winnings. The older man, was a wine drinker, and he had black between all of his teeth, I'll never forget. He's a little drunk but nothing terrible. As the night goes on, the older man goes and uses the washroom, at which point the couple asked the young guy "Oh was that your dad?" and the young guy says "Hah, no I wish!". The couple and I just looked at each other. This old guy, was in complete control over this kid. Absolutely disgusting. The night ends, and I find out the couple called a few of their friends, and they all waited outside by this old mans truck and beat the living hell out of him. 40 years old, sleeping with a 19 year old, completely brain washed . Very weird. 8) That one co-worker where you just wish they would quit. One of our co-workers, nice guy but had a very big ego and we as employees just sorta left him alone. One day he had enough of the atmosphere and quit. Now usually when you quit, you cannot come back until you paperwork is finalized. How ever, HR was in that day, and he was given the paperwork the very next day. He came in, cashed in $1000, and made $50,000 in about a hour at the Baccarat table. My manager, was extremely annoyed, because now this guy is just mocking the casino and having the time of his life (Thanks for the big tip by the way :) ) and so he decides to call it quits. He wants to ban himself and he wants $50,000 in cash. The casino says Nope, we are going to give you a cheque. Now here's the thing, most business people will take the cheque, how ever you CANT CASH the cheque until the following monday because it's on that day where the funds are available. The casino on the other hand will cash their own check in anytime , because they want you to play. So this guy pretty much said go to hell I want my cash, and he called the police. Police show up, and management promptly gave him the cash.I though it was absolutely hilarious . 9) No good deed goes un punished I was dealing Three Card Poker, and the jackpot was around $17,000. This old man (a regular) was sitting there all day grinding it out. Super nice guy, always a pleasure to deal to. Well, after hours of playing, he stands up and says "Hey john!, can you come here for a minute?" so his buddy John comes over. He says to John "I need to go take a piss real quick, can you play my card until I get back?" John agrees . John takes the chips and I stop him and explain he can't play his friends chips, he needs to cash in and play his own. And he does. Welp, second hand out and bam, doesn't he win it. The old man comes back and is so happy, he can't believe it. John, took his $17,000, didn't say a word to his "buddy" and walked away. I never felt so much hatred in all my life. Didn't give him a dollar, not a thank you, nothing. The old man sits back down again, the progressive resets to $2500, and he sat there grinding away again. 10) The Top Knot I had this player , young guy, who was born into a fortune. One of his relatives passed away and left him a pretty big sizable amount of money, so he played poker every single day for the rest of his days. I will add, he IS a good player. I did not enjoy his company just because of the "Know-it-All" attitude, but he was good. We'll call him John. John is 5'10, and well build, with muscle. John also decided today was the day to show off his Top Knot. (google top knot if you're not sure what I mean) So he sits down, and he's absolutely KILLING the table. Every hand, after hand, after hand. And because he's in such a good mood, he's playing any two cards, calling any $500 bet, and he's just dominating. This one guy at the table decided he had enough. He got up, without saying a word and left. A moment later, he comes back in, walks behind John, and takes a pair of scissors , and cuts off his Top Knot. I for one couldn't believe it, dying laughing inside, and it just turned into one big brawl. That was a good day. 11) That one bad seed One of my best friends who I haven't seen in YEARS ended up being part of the crew. Was kind of nice to catch up. We never really got along as we grew up because he has a very high picture of himself . He wanted that 10/10 woman. A mansion, and a new Corvette. So every month or so we would all go up to the other casino to play. I myself would bring no more than $500, but I couldn't understand how this guy (we'll call him Kyle) was spending THOUSANDS of dollars at the tables. So this wen on for a few months. Well, one day, as we're closing the casino, he and I are in the High Limit room and we're getting ready to close the tables. We are told to take the chips out, count them, put them back, sign this piece of paper and that's it. Well as the supervisor was locking the tray, the piece of paper fell to the floor, so she asked Kyle to grab the piece of paper. As he bends over, a great big $500 chip falls right out of his sock. Kyle was fired immediately , but it all made sense. They offered Kyle a deal where if he replaced all the stolen chips they would not make it public. Not sure how that turned out. 12) If I ever decide to write a book, this will be the last chapter: <3 After working at my first Casino for five years, I met a Indian woman who was visiting from another part of the country. During this time I was explaining a game to her, which honestly I don't think she even cared. She explained she was visiting and sight seeing , and that was that.Well, two years later I ended up moving to the other side of the country and transferred casinos, and low and behold she worked there as a Dealer. We got married , and it's been 5 years. 13) The Tip One of our tables that we've had for a couple years had a progressive jackpot that had reached $100,000. The dealer at the table was sitting pretty lonely. Nobody really played the game because people knew it was extremely difficult to win the jackpot. My memory is a tad foggy, but you somehow needed to flop the royal flush. This young guy sits down and says to the dealer, we'll call him John. "John, if you pay me that jackpot, I will tip you $10,000" Well John started dealing, and about a half hour into his shift, he F*cking did it. He dealt him the royal. And you know something?This young lad, kept his word, and he made sure there was a audience, and he tipped exactly $10,000. That was a moment right there. That pay cheque was real nice. I think we all got about $500 more than usual. The moment that jackpot was awarded they got rid of the table because the money it was making was not near what the casino wanted. I'm sure there have been bigger tips at other casinos, but that was something special . 14) The Lawsuit Now this story I'm going to have to beat around the bush a bit due to the nature of what happened. I can't won't answer any questions that you may have on this topic other than what I have to say because it had a lot of publicity . The waitresses at this casino had to wear very thin sexy clothes. Not borderline legal, but it was noticed. One day they called all the waitresses to come in and explained they were changing their outfit to something even more sexier. Now these new dresses were very very borderline legal . The staff said No way. We're not wearing that.So , friday night comes, and the staff work their whole shift, then at the end of their shift were called into a meeting and were all fired. Welp, one of those ladies father was a pretty big time lawyer. Brough the casino to court and won. They won big. Good for them. We had no waitresses for a couple days haha. Thanks for reading along, I have many more I can add as the day goes on, those were just some off the top of my head. Feel free to ask any questions of the Casino industry. I don't really have many stories about the surveillance department because that's the one area where I can't really say a whole lot due to its privacy and contracts I was and still am under.
Ended my gambling career (for now) on a high note - jackpot handpay to end 2020. My thoughts and ramblings as a now-retired gambler.
Warning: long rambling stories ahead. I am bored and waiting to get through my first day back at work since before Christmas. You've been warned! I've been going to the casino pretty regularly for the past few years. Before that, I played occasionally. I exclusively play slots. I view it as a night out - first with friends back when I brought $50 and played penny denom minimum bet spins and prayed to win $20, and then eventually shifting my mindset to playing higher bets and denominations. I hit my first jackpot handpay a couple of years ago. I hit $3700 on a $27 bet on a Geisha machine. I've hit a few other jackpots here and there, culminating with my biggest jackpot ever this past summer. I hit $12K on a $50 bet on a Pompeii slot machine. Well, the long story short is that I have fallen out of love with gambling. I have somehow managed to have a positive ROI on gambling. I track my withdrawls and win on a spreadsheet. To put it bluntly: I have been extremely lucky over the past few years. I know that slots are not a viable way to win money in the long run, so I made a decision a few months ago to "retire" from gambling at the end of 2020. I went to my local casino last Wednesday. It just so happens when I hit a jackpot that I usually do it within the first half hour or so I'm at the casino. Well, it happened again. After going up $600 or so on another slot machine (I don't remember the name), I went to one of my most hated/favorite old school slots - Zeus dollar denomination. One of my worst moments in all of gambling was a few years ago. I got a bonus round on the Zeus dollar denomination on max bet of $45 a spin. I was BEYOND excited. I've seen Youtube videos where people have won tens of thousands of dollars in that exact scenario. Much to my shock, I won nothing. In that game, you don't win anything for triggering the bonus. So I actually *lost* $45 on getting the bonus. I cashed out and left immediately. Anyway, last week I hit a modest $4500. It was exciting...but not as exciting as I thought it should be. I was cool, calm, and...detached. The wins didn't mean much to me, and the losses mean absolutely nothing. My wife and I are in the EXTREMELY fortunate position that losing $500 or so every week or two at the casino is affordable. I'm not ignorant to how lucky we are to be in this position. After getting paid out, I played a bit longer. But that hand pay drove home the realization that I had a few months ago: it was time to stop gambling. If I can't get pumped about a big win like that, and if I'm not even phased a little bit by losing, it's just not worth gambling any more. I used to go for entertainment, but even now gambling doesn't provide that much. As I sit now, I am up roughly $18K over three years of slots. Not bad, but not life changing. Enough that I bought my wife a Burberry and Louis Vuitton handbag on separate occasions. The rest if stashed in savings or in an investment account somewhere. But I am 100% committed to being done. At least for 2021, and probably longer. If anyone is interested in hearing my thoughts on how to win...I don't have any insight to share. It's luck. I got lucky. I know I got lucky. The usual tropes about setting win and loss thresholds is good advice. Sometimes I chased payouts and hit them. Sometimes I chased and lost. But I managed to hit more than miss, and for that I'm lucky. And thankful. Anyway. I don't have a major takeaway or anything. I don't have many people I can talk about this with in my personal life, so I figured I'd share a bit of my story here. If you do gamble, please do so responsibly. Good luck, and try to have fun. If you're not having fun, it's probably not the right way to spend your time or money. EDIT: I just wanted to say to anyone who reads this in the future that I appreciate the nice responses and PMs from people. It's nice to share a positive experience with others! I sincerely hope that if any of you choose to play in the future, you choose to do so responsibly. Gambling can be a hugely problematic lifestyle for some people. Stay safe. (end of preaching here). I also want to take a second to address some comments from some people about slots being skill based. This is 100% false. The concept of slots being skill based in any way is demonstrably untrue with three seconds of reasonable thinking. If we accept that there is a hypothetical slot game which is based on skill and not pure luck, what are the consequences of that? First of all, this information would leak out. There would be no way to contain it. If one person can solve the system, another an as well. Subsequently, someone would write a book on the subject. Think about all the poker and blackjack strategy books out there. These are games where skillful play can increase your odds of winning. Last I checked, there aren't any books or Supersytem-level analyses from prominent individuals willing to stake their names and reputations on publishing a "slot technique" book. There's a reason for this. And also - think about this: casinos still carry blackjack tables for a reason: they still have an edge to win. If there is a surefire way for individuals to win when playing slots, casinos would 100% for sure take these games out of circulation. Casinos are not in the business of giving away money. Any claim there is a foolproof way to win money playing slots does not make sense when critical thinking is applied to the circumstances. Slots are not like card games. Finding and playing only games where there is a "must win by" progressive is not the same thing as skillful play. That's more akin to something like card counting in blackjack. Many people who design slot machines and engineer the software behind the scenes have posted on Reddit and elsewhere that wins are based on random number generators running behind every spin. There is literally no skill involved - you win or lose each spin based on pure random luck. I am saying this because there are a number of people who come to this subreddit to look for ways to cheat the system and get easy money. I see posts like this fairly often, and I'm only browsing this subreddit occasionally. Gambling is not, and should not, be a way for anyone looking to make a quick buck. If you're looking to get an edge playing slots because you need to pay bills or make a quick buck, you are already in serious trouble. Do not buy into the delusion that you can get an edge or guarantee a win. People saying this are snake oil salesmen who do not care for you or your well-being. Anyway. I'm going to stop monitoring this post. I'm still open to receiving PMs or messages, but I've had my fun with this so far. I could do with fewer trolls, but this is the internet. I knew what to expect. Bon chance, everyone!
to keep on pushing. Many people visit this sub and post after a bad loss. I’ve been there ... we all have. What’s going to happen is after 5-10-20-50 days of not gambling you’re going to feel so accomplished that you’ll have the urge to reward yourself by playing a few hands or betting a couple bucks (or thousands) on the Super Bowl. You need to remind yourself why you are here. Take control of your future and your finances. When you are gambling the difference between $1 and $1000 means nothing as you are so numb to monetary value. “What’s another $1000 bet considering I have already lost 40 times that?” is something I would say to myself before unloading on another game. I am not a financial advisor, but I have experience in economics, finance, and life and feel I can provide some insight as a recovering addict. My situation is a bit different so I will give some insight and feel it’s best to explain my situation. I’m 25 years old and live at home (COVID). I have lived on my own in the Big Apple and have seen both sides of life. One where your parents cover everything and one where you have daily and monthly expenses like rent, utilities, and food. Currently I’m lucky enough where I don’t have expenses, but being the dumbass I was, my expense was paying the bookie. I know many people don’t have the same luxury as I, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still save. I’ve given up the last 2 years of saving and instead gave into this disease. 1) first thing first, personal ban yourself from casinos or online sites. My vice was sports and I had a chat with my bookie and let him know I was struggling. We were able to settle the debt for about half of what I owed. Just ask, it can’t hurt. 2) before you can save you need to pay off whatever outstanding debt you have. Credit cards and fees will continue to build. Once these are at or near $0 you can begin the rebuild. I have (thankfully) never been in debt, but this is certainly where I would start if I was. 3) create a budget. A tight one, to the dollar. Mortgage? Phone? Car? Food? High level looking at the entire month, decide what you can spend and what you can save. 4) CONGRATS!!!! You are debt free. For whats it worth, I will consider phone bills and car payments for what they are, monthly expenses. Factor these into a budget. For some, this step might take 1 month or 10 years. Patience is key. 5) the first exciting part of this whole thing is quitting, the next is clearing of any debts, and now for the grand finale. You can now start to build wealth and add to your future. Depending on your financial security you can decide to add to your savings or opening an investing account (I use Fidelity). Investing in low risk ETFs will continue to gain and gain and gain. 6) if your company offers 401k and match, DO IT. I can’t stress this enough, it’s free money that you can’t touch. Over 3 years of working my 401k has absolutely ballooned. My company matches as well and I can’t withdraw, only add. It’s the perfect scenario for someone still learning how to control their financial future. 7) sit back and watch your money grow. Once you see gains in your investing accounts, you will become invested in learning about different ETFs that it will become a low risk way to “gamble”. Hope this helps. Be patient. The damage is done and the recovery will take some time. Use your new time wisely, you’ll have a lot of it. As someone who constantly bet on sports, I’d sometimes spend 6-7 hours a day watching college basketball games I normally wouldn’t care about or sweating doing research on how to make back the money I lost. Spend this time to learn new things, pick up a new hobby, and apply to new jobs/opportunities to advance your career and increase your salary. Most of all, be excited. Be excited about a life without lying to loved ones, chasing loses, owing people or institutions money. Be excited for a life of stability, even if it takes years to arrive at that point. Don’t let the past you define your future. It is never too late to recover. There will be a point where you’ve made so much progress you think you can go back as a changed person. You can’t. Use whatever you can to remind yourself. One thing I want to add. The most difficult part for me is dealing with the constant regret of losing money. My parents certainly think I’m better off than I am and my bank account could look far better. What helps me is thinking about how fast time flies and how fast you can rebuild if you set your mind to it. Another thing is not comparing myself to others. I always think about how far ahead my friends and classmates are, but in reality everyone deals with different vices. I’m not big into buying material things or smoking, but many people do. These cost money. A lot of it. You really don’t know what other things people are dealing with. I look at gambling as an investment gone wrong.
Las Vegas Craps stories (forgot to post from my Dec trip)
Story one - This story happens at South Point Casino, just a few miles south of Mandalay Bay. Locals place. $5 tables (almost always). They had 4 tables open, 3 were 5 and 1 was 10. I was on the 5 dollar tables, left of stick. The dice were straight out on the other side of the table. Old guy, 70s or later was in the middle of a decent roll. An older Asian guy walks up beside him, drops 5 $100 bills before they could send the dice to the shooter. Guy says "All of it on the field". The table kinda glares at the guy. The dealer across from me says "Just look straight forward, don't look around. Everything will be fine". They put 5 black chips in the field. Shooter rolls a 3. Nobody gets hurt since a point is established (I feel likt the point was 9, but I don't remember). Field guy picks up $500 and leaves $500. Says to the shooter "Do it again". Shooter rolls a 4. Asian guy throws a black in, asks for change. Dealer gives the guy 4 green chips. The field guy tosses the shooter a green chip and leaves with $1475 and doesn't tip the dealers. Dealers grumble, we all look around and continue with the point. That's a lot of action for a $5 table. I just shrugged. Story two - Bally's. $10 table. Their tables has the repeater bets. There are 3 of us on the table, mostly playing 3 numbers or a few come bets. Guy buys in for 2K, just wants green. Puts $50 on the line, $25 on the 6 repeater and $5 on the 6 repeater for the dealers. He also put $25 on the 3 and 11 repeater. I get the dice. I'm having a pretty decent roll. I hit 5 6's, so I need one more 6 to hit that repeater bet. All of the sudden everyone is betting the hard six, pressing their six etc. Money is all over the place. I had my 6 at $60 if I remember correctly. I hit the 6 on the next roll. The dude jumped up and down, came down to me and I thought he was going to hug me during the pandemic. Instead I get an elbow dab. He makes (if I did the math right 25*90) $2250 and the dealers got $450 (to which they thanks the shooter and myself). I think I hit a few more numbers and 7ed out. I was down pretty low on my $200 buyin before the roll and left with $350 or so. That was fun, crazy and scary all at the same time. Story three - Jerry's Nugget (N. Las Vegas, just a few miles north of El Cortez). $3 table. It's full. At the far end is a dude (with face tattoos) and his friend. Things were going smoothly. Table was luke warm. Shooter would hit 1 point and 7 out. No really good rolls. Guy beside me is shooting and hits a point. The face tattoo guy quickly makes a passline bet with odds (which he didn't have) as the dealer is paying people. The dealer notices and starts yelling at the guy "We don't pull that shit here. You do that again and you will be on your ass outside. Don't cheat at our casino". Box guy comes over, warns the guy. EVERYONE decides it's time to color up. The face guy's friend tells him to knock it off. Don't be an asshole. I got to Jerry's a few times each trip and haven't seen this before. Story four (and final story). - Binions, downtown. $5 table. Nothing too special to talk about. The girls aren't in their cowboy outfits, instead have referee jerseys on. Still they look pretty good. Guy walks in and starts chatting with the stick girl. Decides to buy in beside her for 4K. $4000 on a $5 table. Playing all greens, being a big tough guy and flirting with the stick girl. I'm always nervous seeing that much money out on a $5 table, glad I wasn't rolling. A few bad rolls wipes him out and he leaves. He was power pressing and trying to make a big score. No dice!
Grips. Let's talk about 'em. If you've spent any amount of time on this subreddit, you've likely seen at least one post about a Grip case that has fallen apart. Most of you have seen several. We know this because we've seen every single one. We’d like to see less of them. Ideally, none. Over the past 18 months, we’ve been on an odyssey to fix the underlying problem. What follows is a chronicle of that journey. Our objectives in writing this post are three-fold. There will be a tl;dr version at the end of this post, summarizing each of the three:
Offer an in-depth technical explanation as to why Grip cases fall apart.
Outline the improvements we've made to the Grip case to mitigate and eventually solve the issue.
Provide some much-needed context as to how widespread the issue truly is, and what our next steps are for affected Grip SKUs.
Since you're still here, you must be in it for the long haul. Assuming an average reading speed of 250 words per minute, this is going to take you nearly 24 minutes to get through. We'll try to make it the most informative 24 minutes of your life. Let's get started.
Why Do Grips Fall Apart? Most phone cases are made out of a single material. The material itself varies from case to case, though the most common is Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU). The Grip case, as a point of comparison, is made of two different materials: an elastomer and a polycarbonate. The word elastomer is a combination of the words elastic and polymer. That's because it describes polymers that have elastic properties - like the one that forms the outer rim of your Grip case. The elastomer that we use is responsible for two critical properties of the Grip case: impact protection and grip. If you fell off of a rooftop, would you rather land on a hard plastic surface, or a rubber surface? If you value your life at all, you'd choose the rubber - its elastic properties would absorb much more force from the impact. Guess what rubber is? First one to answer "an elastomer" wins a prize! Next, imagine you’re a pervert, gently running your finger across every surface of a No. 2 Pencil. Which part of the pencil do you think would provide the most resistance to the tracing of your finger? If you guessed "the eraser," congratulations: you possess a basic understanding of coefficients of friction. Erasers are made of rubber. Rubber has a high coefficient of friction because of its elastic properties. The Grip case's elastomer isn't rubber - it's our own specially-formulated compound. It's still a useful comparison, as all elastomers share similar properties - provided they have the same degree of Shore Hardness. One person reading this is asking: “Shore Hardness?” The next section is their fault. A Beginner's Guide to Material Science The Shore Hardness scale gauges the hardness of various elastomers. It can be measured with a device called a durometer. You probably don't have one.
Low Shore Hardness = softer, more malleable, less dense, more rubber-like.
High Shore Hardness = harder, less malleable, more dense, more plastic-like.
If you fell out of a building and landed on a rubber surface with a high Shore Hardness, injury or death would be much more likely. If you used an eraser with a high Shore Hardness, you'd find it wouldn't actually do much erasing. Now, what if you made a phone case out of an elastomer with a high Shore Hardness? It wouldn't offer much grip or impact protection. The Grip's outer rim is made from an elastomer with a low Shore Hardness. As a result, the material is grippy and impact-resistant, but much more malleable and thus more likely to deform. That's why we bond the elastomer to a polycarbonate skeleton. Polycarbonates don't require as much explanation as elastomers: they're a category of plastic. On your Grip case, the back plate is made of polycarbonate. The elastomer rim is bonded to the polycarbonate plate on all sides of the Grip, providing structural rigidity to the elastomer, fighting to keep it from deforming. At least, that's the idea. As we've all seen, it hasn't worked out that way. Bonding two distinct materials together is much more complicated than gluing them together. Instead, we rely on a thermal bonding process. Basically, that means we heat both of our polymers to a degree which would turn you from “rare” to “well done” in moments. This heat melts the polymers, which we then inject at a pressure which would turn you from “solid” to “paste” even faster. Once injected, these two materials get fused together along the seams. To further reinforce the bonds, we use a series of interlocking "teeth" to provide a greater surface area on which the bonding process can occur. Consider these teeth the mechanical bond, which exists to strengthen the thermal bond. Pictured: Bonding mechanic between the elastomer and polycarbonate. With that out of the way: why do Grips fall apart? The elastomer rim around the edge of the Grip case is naturally inclined to deform and stretch. The bonding mechanisms we described above are designed to keep that from happening, but it often isn’t strong enough. As soon as the bond fails at any point, it's only a matter of time until a total structural failure occurs.
How Are We Stopping Grips From Falling Apart? Philosophically, there are two approaches to take:
We can investigate why, exactly, the bond between the elastomer and the polycarbonate is failing.
We can tweak and iterate the thermal and mechanical bond - strengthening it to the point where it's statistically improbable that your case will fall apart.
We tried the first approach - it's the road to madness. The number of variables is irrationally large. What's the temperature like where you live? The altitude? The humidity? Do you bring your phone into environments that deviate from the ambient temperature of your location? Does your school or workplace have extremely dry air? Do you bring your phone into a sauna? What sort of soap do you wash your hands with? Do you have oily hands? What sort of food do you cook? Do you smoke? How hard do you press on the buttons? What's your angle of approach when you actuate a button? How big are your hands? How often do you take your phone out of the case? Do you remove it from the top, the bottom, the sides? We could follow all of these roads, find out exactly which factors are causing the bond to fail, then implement preventative measures to keep it from happening - but that would take a decade. We don't have that long. Much like you, we want this fixed yesterday. So, from the moment we received our first complaint about a Grip deforming around the buttons, we've been making structural, thermal, and mechanical improvements to the design and production process of the Grip case - some visible, some not. Every new phone release has brought a new iteration on the core Grip design, with each one reducing the failure rate, incrementally. We'll bring the receipts in the next chapter. For now, let's highlight the most noteworthy improvements. The Most Noteworthy Improvements The first signs of trouble were the buttons. Months before we'd received our first report of a Grip case de-bonding, we saw the first examples of buttons that had bent out of shape. Pictured: Button deformation. Why the buttons? Because you press down on them. The force from button actuation puts strain on the elastomer, causing displacement of the material in the surrounding area. Through a combination of time, repeated button actuations and the above-mentioned force, the case would permanently deform around the buttons. This concept is called the "compression set" of the elastomer - Google it. The solution to this problem was two-fold:
First, we increased the compression set of the elastomer. Essentially, we made it as dense as we could, without compromising on the elastic properties of the material.
Second, we added relief slits surrounding the buttons - they're plainly visible on any newer Grip case model. These relief slits are an escape route for the force generated by button actuation. They also had the positive effect of making button actuation significantly more satisfying (read: clicky).
Pictured: Relief slits to improve button tactility and durability. Another early issue, pre-dating the first reports of total de-bonding, was a deformation of the elastomer along the bottom of the case - where the charging port and speakers are. Since we've covered the basics on how the interlock between the elastomer and the polycarbonate creates a bond, this is how the interlocking teeth along the top edge of the polycarbonate skeleton of the Grip used to look. Pictured: First-gen interlocking teeth on the top of the Grip. ...and here's the bottom of that very same Grip case. Pictured: First-gen interlocking teeth on the bottom of the Grip. Notice anything? Around the charging port, there is absolutely nothing keeping the elastomer in place. No teeth, no structural reinforcements... it's no coincidence that an overwhelming majority of early Grip deformations happened along the bottom. Since then, we’ve added a reinforced polycarbonate structure around the bottom of the Grip case. You'll see what that looks like in a bit. So, why didn't the launch portfolio of Grip cases have mechanical interlocks or a polycarbonate support structure along the bottom? The answer may or may not be complicated, depending on how much you know about plastic injection molding. We'll assume the worst and explain the concept of "undercut" to you with a ridiculous metaphor. The Ridiculous Metaphor Imagine you had a tube full of melted cheese. Next, imagine you emptied that entire tube into your mouth. Rather than swallowing the cheese, you decide to let it sit in your mouth and harden. Why are you doing this? We don't know. Let's just say you want a brick of cheese that's perfectly molded to the contours of your mouth - a very normal thing to want. So, your mouth is completely filled with cheese. It hardens. You reach into your mouth to remove the brick of cheese. As you're removing it, you encounter a problem: your teeth are in the way. This wasn't a problem when you were putting the cheese into your mouth, but that was because the cheese was melted and could flow around your teeth. Now that the cheese has hardened, this is no longer the case. In the world of plastic injection molding, this is an undercut. Our concern was that, by molding a structurally rigid piece of polycarbonate around the charging port and speaker holes, we'd find ourselves unable to remove the Grip Case from the mold once hardened. Imagine spending $30,000 on industrial tooling only to get a $30 phone case stuck inside of it. Once we saw Grip cases deforming along the bottom cutouts, we knew we'd need to find a way to remove the cheese from your mouth without breaking your teeth. To make a long story short: we did it. The cheese is out of your mouth, and you get to keep your teeth. Congratulations! Now, keep reading. On newer models of the Grip case, the result is a polycarbonate bridge extending around the bottom cutouts, adding both structural reinforcement and interlock mechanisms to promote mechanical bond, much like the ones which line the perimeter of the rest of the Grip case. Pictured: Newest-gen structural reinforcement on the bottom of the Grip. On the subject of structural reinforcements, this design revision was around the time we flanked the buttons with some fins, working in tandem with the heightened compression set and button relief slits, detailed above, to further guarantee that button actuation would have no impact on the overall durability of the Grip case. Pictured: Lack of button fins on the first-gen Grip. Pictured: Button fins on the newest-gen Grip. As an aside: Unrelated to the de-bonding issues, we've also made a number of smaller improvements to the Grip case with each new iteration. For instance, we chamfered the front lip of the case to make edge-swiping more pleasant and reduce dust accumulation along the rim. Those raised parallelogram shapes along the sides of your Grip case that create its distinctive handfeel? We made those way bigger for a better in-hand experience. In short: product development is a complex and multifaceted process. Each new iteration of the Grip case is better than the one that came before, and that applies to more than just failure rates. Speaking of failure rates: all of these improvements were in place by the time we launched iPhone 11-series Grip cases. The failure rate for these cases decreased exponentially... but didn't disappear entirely. The Even More Ridiculous Metaphor With these improvements, we achieved our desired outcome: the case was no longer deforming around the buttons or the charging port. Instead, the structure of the case began to fail literally anywhere else around the perimeter of the phone. Think of it this way… you’re a roof carpenter. The greatest roof carpenter of all time. Like the son of God, but if he was a carpenter. Unfortunately, you’ve been paired with the Donald Trump of wall-builders. You're tasked with building a house. You spend all of your time and energy perfecting your roofcraft. You've designed a roof that's so durable, it may as well have been made of Nokia 3310s. Nothing's getting through that bad boy. The wall guy? Instead of building that wall he said Mexico would pay for, he's been tweeting about the miraculous medicinal properties of bleach while a plague kills hundreds of thousands of Americans. The point here is that you can build the greatest roof of all time, but the walls need to be strong enough to match. To strengthen the Grip case's metaphorical walls, we needed to re-design the inside of the Grip case from scratch. More specifically, the mechanical interlock between the springy elastomer and rigid polycarbonate skeleton. We took every tooth at the bonding point between the two materials and made them as large as we possibly could. Then, we added more teeth. Pictured: Polycarbonate teeth on the newest-gen Grip. To jog your memory: this is how the teeth used to look... Pictured: Polycarbonate teeth on the first-gen Grip. If time proves that these changes aren’t enough, our engineers still have a number of ideas on how to improve the bond between the elastomer and polycarbonate. Will we ever need to implement those ideas? Again - that’s a question only time can answer. Each change might be the silver bullet that puts this problem to bed for good... but there's only one way to find out: it involves real-world testing and, with each iteration, months of careful observation.
So, Where Are We Now? Have the improvements we've made to the Grip case been successful? You bet. For the sake of comparison: we began shipping iPhone 11 series Grips on September 30th, 2019. Within six months of that date, we had received 52 reports of structural failures - a big improvement over the early days, but still not good enough. Fast forward two months. We began shipping Note 10 Plus Grip cases on November 21st, 2019. In the first six months of availability, we received exactly eight reports of Note 10 Plus Grips falling apart. Again, a major improvement over the iPhone series in the same stretch of time. If we'd launched the first Grip cases with a failure rate that low, we wouldn't be writing this post right now and you’d have nothing to read while pretending to do work. How about the Galaxy S20 series, which began shipping on February 10th, 2020? They're the most recent and improved set of SKUs we’ve made to date, leveraging everything we've learned and making further improvements over the Note 10 Plus. No reports so far. Same goes for the iPhone SE and OnePlus 8 series - these SKUs share all the improvements we've made to the underlying design of the Grip case thus far. Does that mean these numbers will hold forever? Who knows. That's the thing: every improvement we make, we need to wait several months to see how effective it's been. No amount of internal testing can replace the real-world data of shipping cases to hundreds of thousands of users across nearly 200 countries. We could always just throw in the towel, make the entire case out of rigid plastic, and call it a solved issue... but that would be the easy way out. The Grip case and its unique design properties can't reach their full potential unless we make incremental improvements - then wait and see how they pan out in the real world. All of which is to say: it's far too early to say the newest set of improvements have officially solved the problem. While the failure rate is still zero, we need to keep watching. We've made a ton of progress, but we're not going to rest until we've killed this issue for good - without sacrificing the unique properties that make the Grip case stand out in a sea of derivative hard plastic and TPU phone cases. That's probably enough to inspire confidence in someone who's on the fence about buying an S20 Ultra Grip, an iPhone SE Grip, or any Grip we release in the future. But what if you're one of the people who bought an older Grip model? "I'm One Of The People Who Bought An Older Grip Model!" We won't sugarcoat it. The failure rates for older Grip models is way higher than we deem acceptable. Why has it taken us this long to publicly address the issue, then? Easy: it's not as widespread as you might think. Some humans reading this might be looking at their iPhone X Grip, purchased in 2019 and still intact, wondering what all the fuss is about. That's an important consideration: most people who have functioning, still-bonded Grip cases aren't posting on /dbrand about how unbroken it is. The people who've had issues around total product failure are in the minority. We're not using the word "minority" as a get-out-of-jail-free card here. It's still a way larger number than we'd ever be comfortable with. We simply don't want our transparency and candor in writing this to be misinterpreted as an admission that every single Grip case we've made for older devices is going to fall apart. Statistically speaking, this is an issue for a minority of Grip owners. Our philosophy at first was that, while it was unfortunate and frustrating that Grip cases were falling apart, dramatic PR action wasn't necessary. Instead, we resolved to:
Quietly and diligently work in the background to improve the underlying design of the Grip case.
Ship free replacements to anyone whose Grip case had failed.
To date, we've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on shipping fees alone for replacement Grips. As you can imagine, that number gets a lot higher once you add in the cost of actually making the thing. We've been fine with writing these costs off as sort of an R&D expense, since every example of a deformed or de-bonded Grip provides invaluable data on how to improve the product. Where our strategy backfired was in the narrative that began to take root as Grip cases continued to fall apart. Look at it this way: the failure rate of older Grip case SKUs is anywhere between 1% and 20%, depending on how early we released the SKU. Since the improvements we've already made to the underlying design were rolled out incrementally with each new phone release, that number has been on a steady downward trend. For the purpose of this thought experiment, we'll go with the earliest, shittiest Grip cases - putting us at a long-term failure rate of 20%. So, 20% of customers for this device have a Grip case fall apart at some point in the product's lifespan. Every single one of those people writes in to our Customer Experience team about the issue. They all receive a replacement, free of charge. Since this replacement is identical to the first Grip case they'd received, it also has a 20% failure rate. We're now dealing with percentages of percentages. Stop panicking, we'll do the math for you: that means 4% of these hypothetical Grip owners will have a second Grip case fail on them in the long run. Four percent is a lot better than twenty… but it's also a lot of people who've been burned twice. These people are going to be extra vocal about how shitty the Grip case is. To be fair, they've got every right. So, we've got four groups of customers for this SKU:
Group A: Has had two or more Grip cases fail (4%).
Group B: Has had exactly one Grip case fail (16%).
Group C: Bought a Grip which has not failed (80%).
Group D: Has not purchased a Grip case (NA%).
Group A is livid about the repeated issues they've had - rightfully so. Group B, having been burned before, reads about Group A's experience. They take it to mean their replacement will inevitably fail on them as well, and they'll one day get the dubious honor of joining Group A. Group C, despite not having had any issues yet, reads the experiences of Groups A and B. Then, a significant portion of this group begins to operate under the assumption that it's only a matter of time before their Grip falls apart as well. Group D reads all of the above and decides they don't have enough confidence in the Grip case to ever purchase one. A narrative begins to form that this hypothetical failure rate is close to 100%. Worse yet: people with newer phones, unaware that each new iteration of the Grip case has a dramatically reduced failure rate over the last, start to assume their case also has a 100% failure rate. That's where our original strategy - the one where we quietly improved the product in the background while offering replacements for defective units - backfired on us. This narrative only exists because we've continued to leverage existing stock with too high a failure rate, which, in hindsight, was like pouring gasoline on a gender reveal forest fire of disappointment and regret. This brings us to our next chapter. Mass Destruction At this point, you're probably aware that a number of Grip SKUs for older phones have been listed as "Sold Out" on our website, and haven't been restocked since. We stopped production on these cases because we knew they'd have all the same issues as the original production runs. See, it's not as simple as pushing a "make the Grip not fall apart" button at the factory - we'd need to redesign the case from scratch, implementing all of the design improvements we've made up to this point, then re-tool our existing machinery to produce this new version. We'll have more to say about re-tooling a bit later - for now, focus on the fact that some Grips have been listed as "Sold Out". If someone's Grip case falls apart while listed as "Sold Out", we don't have any replacements to send them. Instead, dbrand's Customer Experience team has been issuing refunds wherever possible, and store credit otherwise. Just in case you're wondering what we mean by "where possible": PayPal doesn't allow refunds on transactions that are more than six months old. Store credit, on the other hand, can be offered indefinitely. What we've come to realize is that we're never going to be able to escape this downward spiral until we rip the band-aid off and stop stocking these old, flawed SKUs. Today, we're ripping the bandaid off. As you're reading this, we're disposing of all of our old stock. All of the flawed Grip SKUs are now listed as "Sold Out". Head over to our Grip listing and take a look at what's available. Everything that you can currently buy is up to spec with the improvements we've made over the past year - meeting or exceeding the standard of quality set by the Galaxy S20 series, the iPhone SE, and the OnePlus 8 series. In some cases - take, for instance, the iPhone 11 series - this means we've already re-tooled our production lines to meet that quality benchmark. If a Grip case is listed on "Backorder", it means we've begun the process of re-tooling the SKU to match the improved quality standard you've spent the last five hours reading about. However, if a Grip case is now listed as "Sold Out", that means no more reshipments. If you own a sold out Grip case that hasn't fallen apart yet: that's great! Don't assume that your Grip is doomed to fail just because we devoted 5661 words to explaining why it might fall apart. You've still got better odds than you would at a casino. As always, if you run into any issues with your case, sold out or not, shoot an email to one of our Robots. They'll still take care of you - it just won't be with a replacement case… for now. Mass Production Remember when we said we'd talk more about re-tooling a bit later? That's right now. So, why are so many Grip models not being fixed? Why haven't we re-tooled these old SKUs with all of the quality improvements made to the case's build quality? It's a little complicated. Taking the improvements we've made to the most recent suite of Grip models and retroactively applying those changes to older SKUs isn't a simple task - it would require us to throw out our existing production tools and create new ones, from scratch. Suffice it to say that doing so is a wildly expensive endeavor. To recoup that cost, we'd need to produce more Grips than we're likely to ever sell for aging, irrelevant hardware. Let's use the Pixel 3 as an example. If we replaced every single de-bonded Pixel 3 Grip, that would account for about 3% of the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) on a re-tooled Pixel 3 Grip case. Now we're sitting on 97% of that MOQ as overstock. Pixel 3 owners have had their phone for nearly two years now. If they want a phone case, they already have one. They're not looking for new Pixel 3 cases, they're getting ready to buy a new phone. Simply put, it’s no longer a viable market. Now, say the Pixel 3 was a significantly more popular phone - enough that we'd be shipping out, say, 50% of the MOQ as replacements on day one. Now, that's a lot more tempting to us - we'd still lose boatloads of money, but at least it would go towards some consumer goodwill. To figure out how much money we'd lose on re-tooling, we gave our bean-counting Robots a giant jar of beans and told them to get to work. They emerged three days later. When asked how many beans were in the jar, they gave us a blank stare. When asked if it was possible to re-tool any of our production lines for old Grip SKUs without losing obscene amounts of money, they said: "Absolutely not." Still, we're no strangers to throwing away obscene amounts of money to make the internet happy. Remember Amazon gift cards? Those were the days. The only question that remains is "How much money are we willing to set on fire?" We can't tell you yet. Why? Because we're currently running a detailed cost-benefit analysis on the subject of re-tooling old production lines, on a SKU-by-SKU basis. That's business talk for "the bean-counting Robots have been given more beans to count." The objective is to determine the viability of producing new-and-improved Grip stock for older phones: how many units would be tied up in replacements for that model, how many we could reasonably expect to sell to new customers, and how much overstock would be left from the MOQ. From there, we can determine what the financial impact of re-tooling would be and make the final decision on how much cash we're dumping into the ocean somewhere off the coast of the Seychelles. We'll have our results by early next week. These re-tooled models, if produced, would feature every improvement we’ve made thus far to the Grip case line, plus a few that have yet to be released. Remember how the S20s, the iPhone SE and the OnePlus 8s haven't had any reported failures yet? Picture that, but for the phone you've got. If we go ahead with re-tooling production lines for your phone, a few things will happen:
The Grip case for your phone will go from "Sold Out" to "Backorder".
Our Customer Experience Robots will shift their communication strategy from "we no longer support your phone," to "we'll get you a replacement once we've got improved units in stock."
None of these things will happen until we've run the simulations on which phones are getting restocked. Why are we posting this today, then? We could have waited a week and had concrete answers to offer about the future of our out-of-stock Grip cases. Well… Take Our Survey This is it: your chance to have some say in how much money we set on fire as a goodwill exercise for this whole R&D clusterfuck. Those simulations we're running? They'll be great for telling us how much money we'regoingto lose on each Grip SKU, but it won't tell us anything about how much money our customerswantus to lose on each Grip SKU. To that end, we've prepared a survey for people who have purchased a Grip case. We'll be taking your feedback into consideration during our decision-making process. We have only one request: don't be a jackass. Answer the questions honestly. Click here to take the survey. In Closing... We're sharing a special moment right now. We're all seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. For us, that light is "we're almost done with a year-long R&D effort to stop the Grip case from falling apart." For you, the light is "the end of a 5661-word marathon of a Reddit post." We just want to take a minute to recognize that we couldn't have gotten this far without your collective support. At any point in the past year, we might have pulled the plug on the Grip project entirely if we'd reached a critical mass of negative sentiment from our customers. Instead, we've got an army of devotees who have no problem paying us for the privilege of being our guinea pigs. Product development isn't a one-and-done process. It's easy to forget, but our skins weren't always to the world-class, record-setting, Michael-Jordan-in-his-prime standard you expect from us today. If you happen to have an iPhone 4 skin lying around, apply it and let us know how it goes. You'll immediately appreciate how many process improvements we've made. We weren’t born as the greatest skin manufacturer in history. We got there through a process of methodical improvement. Each jump in quality was driven by a bottomless well of user feedback, sourced from millions upon millions of customers. That, and the competition was comically inept. It's the same story for the Grip case. Your continued support has enabled us to make huge strides in developing a product that's on the cusp of blowing everyone else out of the water. We're going to keep working until it gets there.
Please note that by reading this tl;dr, you’re missing out on several outlandish metaphors, including classics such as:
Plastic injection molding melted cheese into your face hole.
What if Jesus and Donald Trump built a house?
How to turn yourself from “rare to well done” and “solid to paste”.
WHY DOES THE GRIP FALL APART?
The Grip case is made from two materials: a polycarbonate skeleton and an elastomer frame.
The elastomer frame provides the majority of the case's impact protection and grip, but is prone to deformation.
We prevent deformation by bonding the material to a polycarbonate skeleton (i.e. the rigid back plate on the Grip case).
The bond between the two materials was not as strong as we'd originally anticipated, causing the elastomer to de-bond from the polycarbonate skeleton and the case to sometimes fall apart.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO FIX IT?
Through a series of design revisions, we've made countless improvements to promote a stronger bond between the two materials.
These changes have incrementally reduced the failure rate of Grip cases. Our most recent SKUs are yielding extremely promising results.
Each time we improve the Grip case, we need to play a months-long waiting game to observe the real-world effects.
HOW ABOUT THE GRIPS YOU'VE ALREADY SOLD?
Since we're using you as guinea pigs for the purposes of product development, we've been uncharacteristically generous with our warranty policy.
However, that warranty policy only lasts as long as we have stock. Once we're out of Grips, we're out of replacements.
We've finally reached the point where we need to rip off the bandaid and dispose of all of our Grip stock produced during 2019.
If your Grip for any of these older phones falls apart, you can no longer get a replacement.
You should still write in to our Customer Experience team if it happens to you - we'll work something out.
On the bright side, our Grip SKUs from 2020 onwards have dramatically reduced, if not outright eliminated, the failure rate of previous models. We have no reported cases to date.
It's not economically viable to re-tool production lines to apply our improved industrial designs to any of the Grip cases that are currently marked as "Sold Out".
We're probably going to do it anyways.
We're running the simulations right now to determine which older devices will be re-tooled.
Take our survey to help determine which devices we'll be re-tooling.
The SPAC FEAC and mobile gaming company Skillz announced a merger agreement on Sep. 1, 2020. Merger date is slated for end of this quarter, so should be coming up soon. I expect FEAC will be 2021's DKNG. Here's why... What do we know about FEAC? They're the same team that brought Draftkings public (via DEAC), which you may recognize as the single most successful post-merger company of the last 30 SPACs. What do we know about Skillz? From the company website:
Skillz is the leading mobile games platform that connects players in fair, fun, and meaningful competition. The Skillz platform helps developers build multi-million dollar franchises by enabling social competition in their games. Leveraging its patented technology, Skillz hosts billions of casual esports tournaments for millions of mobile players worldwide, and distributes millions in prizes each month. Skillz has earned recognition as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, CNBC’s Disruptor 50, Forbes’ Next Billion-Dollar Startups, and the #1 fastest-growing company in America on the Inc. 5000.
Basically, they host approx. 30 games on their mobile platform, users pay ~$0.60 to enter and winners collect prize money. Revenue for Skillz comes in the form of a "take rate" (i.e. rake in casino terms), but basically just a percentage of the prize money. Currently their take rate is 14%, increasing to 15% in 2020, and planning on increasing to 20% by 2024. Some valuation numbers: The merges implies a valuation for Skillz of$3.6 billion, or 6.3x projected 2022 revenue. Total PIPE is $159 million, representing just 4.3% of the company valuation. Share terms: "Paradise, Chafkin, substantially all of the existing Skillz stockholders as well as Flying Eagle’s sponsor have agreed to a 24-month lock-up, subject to quarterly releases of 1.5 million shares per holder commencing 180 days following the closing". Theinvestor presentationprovides some truly mindboggling numbers, summarized here:
80% YOY Revenue Growth
2020E Revenue = $225 million (confirmed in Nov.)
2021E Revenue = $366 million
2022E Revenue = $555 million
2020E-2022E CAGR = 57%!! Compare this to DKNG (45%), SHOP (40%), MELI (38%), SNAP (35%), ROKU (35%).
Under expected revenue assumptions, Skillz trades at a Enterprise Value/2022E Revenue multiple of just 6.2x. Compare this to SHOP (27.9x), DKNG (12.4x), SNAP (9.5x), MELI (8.9x). Assuming the market prices in a Skillz EV/2022ER multiple comparable to DKNG, this would amount to a valuation of closer to $6.9 billion, ~2x the current valuation of $3.6 billion
Skillz revenue growth in 2021E is expected to be 63%, almost double the expected revenue growth of 33% of comparable companies (calculated as the median).
GROSS MARGIN: 96%! "Close competitors" are WIX (72%), PINS (68%), and ETSY (67%). Even DKNG only yields 49%.
Ok, so the games are stupid, right? Of course they are, they're mobile games. But you know what else is stupid? Candy Crush and that crap averages 37 minutes of user interaction per day. What does Skillz get? 62 MINUTES. The games are like crack. Even the Chinese superhack TikTok only gets 52 min/day, democracy-destroying Facebook gets 41 min/day, compilation fails/ASMdiy tutorial/pseudo-porn website Youtube gets 30 min/day. Mobile gaming accounts for ~45% of the entire gaming industry (in 2019) and is estimated to be $68 billion, with a CAGR of 20%. Why I like FEAC/Skillz: With interest rates at all time lows (and not expected to change until at least 2023), cash is cheap and companies can borrow basically unlimited money to fuel exponential growth (and then probably just inflate away debt). Combine this with a complete paradigm shift in international business and industry driven by the tech sector, we are in the golden age (also probably bubble) of hypergrowth companies. IMO, Skillz is an incredibly rare opportunity in terms of early entry into a potentially explosive stock that is already in YOY hypergrowth. Many SPACs are incredibly speculative, dependent on highly theoretical FY2021 and FY2022 revenue growth. With Skillz, although definitely still speculative, you have the opportunity to invest in a relatively overlooked SPAC that is already in hypergrowth with EV/R multiples well below similar peers. IMO, FEAC/Skillz is the white whale of the current SPAC crop. Skillz games have a crack-like addiction, they're in hypergrowth NOW, have absolutely insane margins (96%), and don't require a massive shift in an entire industry. How to play it: This could be a little tricky. I'm not sure if there will actually be a significant pump riding up to the ticker change given retail's focus on EV/cloud/SaaS these days. Plus, mobile gaming doesn't have the same allure that sports betting does. Everyone and their mom has heard of DraftKings and Fan Duel, helped out by the Last Week Tonight segment and tons of Youtube ads. However, the growth numbers + revenue margins should be extremely enticing to fund managers, so I hope that large-block buying will increase heading towards the merger. That being said, it might take until the merger or even early 2021 to get some traction. In any case, I don't think FEAC is a good place to just park cash in hopes of a pop. For that, probably just better to either flip other SPACs on announcement or buy into growth companies. For FEAC, I think it's best to buy in with the plan of holding until at least the first ER, and then decide where to go from there. I'm not going to tell you "THis Is deFInitLey thE NexxT apPLE" *rocketemojirocketemoji*. However, I think that FEAC/Skillz will either have a strong multi-year run after merger, or it will flounder in the sub-$20 range in which case I'll move on. The major catalyst for determining what we can expect from the stock is what happens when the merger date is announced (supposed to be in the next few weeks). If there's a BIG pop (like, +25%), then I'll be very confident the post-merger stock will go on a tear. If reaction is more muted, then we'll have to wait until after the ticker change to see if the market prices in expected revenue growth. If any significant negative press comes out similar to NKLA, I'll trim my position by ~80% immediately. My positions:
Units (FEAC/U) - 568; Commons (FEAC) - 2,500; MV ~ $42k. Will buy in another 1000-2000 shares if momentum begins to pick up when the merger date is announced.
Will add some options if the price drops a bit, but they're pretty expensive right now due to recent high volatility in both FEAC price and SPACs overall. Debating getting some deep OTM Feb calls as lotto tickets.
Will plan on trimming the position by at least ~50% if the stock price stagnates around the first ER.
Disclaimer: Do your own DD. Skillz numbers look amazing, but at the end of the day they're still just a mobile game company so investing in FEAC definitely has the potential to backfire. Ok, roast away. Edit: u/iamgettingbuckets noted in a comment here that he had a sketchy experience applying for a job with Skillz that required actually playing on their app before being able to submit an application. He later deleted the comment and then sent me a DM because his story was anecdotal and u/ImBloom09 didn't find the same thing. However, I still think this is a good first-hand experience story for people to know and consider prior to investing, so I'm including it here as an edit. The FEAC team is the same management that took DKNG public via DEAC, so I'm assuming (hoping) that their reputation from that deal implies they've done the appropriate vetting of Skillz prior to announcing the merger. Edit 2: S-4/A filed right before market close the day I made this post. Merger vote set for Dec. 16. Commons +20% on news.
Stopped by Wheeling island tonight after visiting my parents. We got a free room so we figured we would give it a shot. The room is pretty nice. Got a room on the 4th floor at the end of the hall. King bed, refrigerator. It’s good enough for me. Casino was busy for a Sunday afternoon/evening. I found out this is because PA casinos are still closed. So the casino in Pittsburgh and Washington are closed. They are getting more business. 1 craps table open, 10 dollars (which is odd for Wheeling). All their table games were 10 or higher. I bought in for 200. Place the 5/6/8, collect twice, place the 9 on the third hot and press one unit each hit. Unless I’m shopping then min pass line 1x odds and place 2 numbers. They have the fire bet here. Spoiler, never saw a 4 pointer or higher. My first 200 when ok, played for an hour and fifteen before it was gone. Full table of 6 so I only shot a few times and when I did it was terrible. Nothing to write about the first time. The second 200 was much more interesting. A guy and his wife each bought in for 500 but shared the money in a single rack. The crew tries to stop them, but let it go. When the guy shot he hoped the hard 6 for 35 and the easy 6s for 10 each. Every roll. I think he hit it once and his wife told him to stop. They were playing mostly center action. They did not fair well. When they left two other people showed up. This is where it gets interesting. Guy buys in for 300. The. He throws some money in the center thinking they had ATS. They didn’t. He asked how he could bet his 300 on all the numbers. I believe he ended up with like 30 on each number. I was the shooter and it made me nervous. The point was 8. I rolled for quite a while hitting lots of box numbers and finally hitting the 8. I didn’t hit a second point. That guy made bank. When he shot he put 50 on the line (max) and 500 in odds (max). He had 100 on the 4 and 10. Don’t remember what he had inside. He hit a few points and left with his pockets stuffed with green chips. The other person that bought in was a last. She bought in for 600 and made so much center action each turn it was crazy. 20 dollar horn, 5 big red and 1 dollar on each hard way hoping. Sometimes she would add a 15 dollar three way craps or press her horn. She did ok, but that center action drains you. I hit a 2 and then a 12 for her while I was shooting but she was losing it all as I walked away. Every payout was a math equation to figure out what she got paid and how to keep everything up. She would press those center bets and call bets to her dealer to press if she got the urge. She was very nice but it slowed the game down. I walked away with my original 200. I was hoping to play in the morning but the pit doesn’t open until 3pm on Mondays.
[WARNING, LONG POST] I thought I'd share my story and a concrete solution to handling your gambling and the problems that come with it; the emotion, the debt, anything that would give you the same (temporary) relief it gave me
Hi, so my story is very similar if not worse than most of the people who post on this sub. I wanted to share because I want to be able to tell others, that you're not alone, youre not unworthy, you need to be more forgiving of yourself and the steps I personally took to get to a better place in my life. So here it goes: I was an occasional gambler, played with maybe 100 dollars a month on the blackjack table and didnt think I had a problem until one day I decided to play with a bigger bank roll. Went in with 1000 and by the end of 2 days, I was up 15K. But I wouldn't be here if I had a happy ending. Saw that I could turn 1000 into 15K so easily, why not turning 15K into 150k? It's pretty much the same thing! WRONG. TOTALLY WRONG. Started making bigger bets, putting down 1K on BJ hands, doubling down and splitting it like it was nothing. Turns out, the Casino always wins. I lost that 15K and to make it worse, I thought I could go back in with another 1K, maybe make 5K and call it. I wanted it back. BADLY. So I started playing big hands as if I still had that 15K. Lost that 1K in a span of 10 minutes. Went back in with the attitude, I won't be dumb and play like that again. Played it small, 50 dollar hands at most. Guess what? WRONG AGAIN. Lost another 1K in 6 hours. I was so pissed and so determined that I could win it back again because I've done it before. It was not a question of if, it was a question of when. And lo and behold, I actually managed to get to 10K. But the devil never rests. I wanted more. So I played more. And even after been given a lifeline, I STILL BLEW IT. I lost ANOTHER 10K. I was shell shocked but my go to attitude was that I was not going to lose. That risk taking part you love about yourself? Where you throw all caution to the wind? It spoke so loudly in my body, I drained all my savings of 5K to win that money back. And guess what? I lost that too AND IT STILL DIDNT COMPUTE. But it doesn't end there. I did the one thing I said I wouldn't never do and started pulling money out of my credit card. 10K limit. You can already see how this one goes. Lost that 10K. And to be honest, I can't even recall how long it took but when I tried to make another deposit and the screen told me I had been declined, I finally looked at my bank statement and realized I had literally maxed out my 0 debt credit card at the casino. Plus money advance. In a span of a few days, I spent 3 years of saving to pay down my debt and have some actual cash on hand all because of one decision fueled by greed and illogical emotion. I hated myself. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I even thought about killing myself because I couldnt even look at myself in the mirror and see that the person in the mirror could be THAT stupid. I remember going into work thinking, "I could have quit this job, I don't have to work 60 hours a week anymore" but now, it was "I'm gonna have to find 3 jobs and work 80 hours a week, fuck that, I will go off myself; that's way easier than this torture". I was living paycheque to paycheque, could barely afford rent, barely afford food, stopped paying the minimum on my credit card and wallowed in despair. I can speak about it in hindsight with less heaviness but at the time, it was without a doubt the most serious I had ever been about really hurting myself. Luckily, I had enough. I knew that wasnt the answer. But I still didn't know how to handle how I felt and how to deal with all my negative emotions and thoughts. So I reached out. I reached out to my kid brother and told him everything. I was ashamed. My kid brother doesn't look up to me but between him and I, I am the one who is responsible, sensible, doesn't put my problems on others. My kid brother was the one who dropped out of high school, did some unsavory things for money, got tattoos and rebelled against our parents. But he was the only one I could speak to earnestly to and I'm lucky I could, because without him, I wouldn't be here. I told him, and tho I recommend finding someone who would cast no judgement, my brother is the exception. After some choice words, he laughed, said I was stupid and told me something I will never forget. "It's just money, whats done is done" And that was it. It's just money and I can't relive the past and change it. He gave me an answer so succinct and without question that I felt this relief. It wasn't the end of the world. But life moves on and all you can do is push forward instead of looking back. And I know maybe I shouldn't speak about money so causally but the reality was that money comes and goes. Sometimes you have alot and sometimes you have a little. But the most important thing is that you're alive and well. As long as you have that, money problems aren't impossible problems because there are real solutions. And it may feel impossible but the key word, is MAY. It is possible and I am here to help you see that. There is hope. It's always there. You just have to believe in it and reach for it. After telling my brother, I had a better sense of where I was and what I needed to tackle next. Which was the financial consequences of my actions. Living paycheque to paycheque with this 10K (and climbing) credit card with an interest rate with a minimum payment that was going to outpace my earnings no matter what was daunting. I could already see that either I find a bag of drug money behind my apartment to pay it off or I was gonna go bankrupt within a few months. The first thing I did was EXCLUDE MYSELF FROM EVERY SINGLE GAMBLING WEBSITE AND CASINO. YOU CAN ALSO CALL YOUR BANK TO BAN YOUR CARDS FROM BEING ABLE TO DEPOSIT INTO THESE PLACES. The solution was work more hours, finding another job, sell my kidney or start robbing people. (I know you might think of this as a joke, but I do vividly remember seeing someone walking past me on the sidewalk with a TV and thought, what if I stole that, sold it, and it could help pay my debt. I was never serious but its already an issue when you would consider actually doing it, even if you thinking you're "joking"). I stopped going out to eat, I started cooking more at home (tho I am still eating as if I was in university again eating rice, ramen and noodles to survive but that was the price of gambling) and picked up more shifts at work while still maintaining a healthier balance (you still need to sleep). But I needed to deal with the credit card right away. And I found one. Another credit card. Now, it sounds crazy and it sounds really reckless, but this solution hinges on the fact that you are NOT GOING TO GAMBLE AGAIN. There were promotional credit cards that offered very LOW INTEREST RATES for a few months if you BALANCE TRANSFER. I was lucky and when I applied, I had good enough credit score to qualify (most of them were 0 income credit cards) and I received in total, 15K Credit limit with 0% APR (Annual Interest for 1 Year) to balance transfer for a balance transfer fee. So I transferred over 10K onto 2 cards, paid the balance fees (which is normally 3-5% of the balance being transferred, which amounted to 1 (240 dollar) minimum balance payment) to receive 0 interest for one year. And the moment I did it, that drowning feeling went away and I finally had time to breath. Because of that decision, it gave me more time to focus on finding more work or another job and not always be awake at night, counting my pennies to see if I had enough food for the week. That alone was worth the application. I could budget, save money and start lowering the principle amounts so when the promotional APR ended, I could actually manage the minimum payments. Currently, I put down roughly 35-40% of my monthly earnings into my credit card debt and live off of the rest. At this rate, I am on track to pay off that 10K debt by the end of the next year. And if you are wondering, my take home is just under 2500 a month 40hours a week excluding any extra shifts or overtime that I may be able to work (which is put 100% into my debt). Now I don't know if any of you guys are in the same position where you could apply for a credit card, get a good balance and stick to the plan but without it, I wouldn't be able to live my life not feeling enslaved to this 16 digit square in my wallet. And to be honest, I am going to continually apply to more credit cards that offer a promotional balance transfer interest because again, its just money and without leveraging this opportunity, I would not be able to actually pay off the principle and be forced to only make interest payments while the banks keeps laughing. If you've made it this far, you read this post because you felt a kindred spirit with me. That you're in the same position as me but don't know where to start. And thats ok. You aren't alone. You're still here and you're only human. We all make mistakes and live with the consequences of our actions. But without forgiving yourself, you will never be able to move on and you will be trapped in the purgatory of reliving this whirlpool of negativity. I wanted to share how I dealt with my emotional and financial problem because anything helps. This post may not speak to some of you but if it reaches only one of you, this was well worth the time. If you ever need to speak to someone with no judgement (unlike my brother) please feel free to PM me and I will give you my ear. TLDR: Forgive yourself for the mistakes you've made. Reach out to a loved one to unburden yourself. Come up with a solid solution to your financial problem (BALANCE TRANSFERS) and you will give yourself hope that there is an end to this madness. And there is. It just takes time.
Hello all, I am a graduate student in finance with a bachelor's degree in Accounting. I wrote my thesis on how macroeconomic policy affects US equity markets (equity markets = stock market). I've spent the last 3 years studying this stuff and I'd say that I am not qualified in any sense to give sound investment advice. What that should tell you is that the stock market is an extremely complex landscape and takes years to understand. Even the best of the best lose money. With that being said, this comment is for informational purposes and not to be taken as investment advice or direction. I originally wrote this post as a comment to another user, but thought that it may be beneficial for others to use. It's very surface level, but I think it does a good job of answering some more abstract questions that people may have about equity markets. I also think it does a good job of establishing a solid, albeit basic idea of value investing and financial analysis. --- Understand that the last ten years does not accurately represent equity markets historically. From 1925 to 1941, if you invested in the S&P 500 index, you would have seen an average annual return of less than 5% with several of those years being negative- over the next ten years. Same goes for 1960 to 1975. (Disclaimer: Before people tear me apart saying you can't invest in the S&P 500 directly, I know. I'm using it as an example.) We've experienced a remarkably strong bull market over the last ten years, with 20% annual returns on the S&P 500 index; however, just because we've had a strong market the last ten years does not mean it will stay that way. Consider Japan in the early 1990s. Their bull market turned into a bubble (google: financial bubble) and for the next 10 years they saw no long term growth in their equity markets. They call the 1990s in Japan, "the lost decade". So this begs the question: if there are 10, sometimes 15 year long periods where we have almost no growth, or perhaps negative returns, when, where, and why should I park my money in equities? The first thing I think we should understand is risk. Risk is at the heart of almost all things "investing". If you go to the casino, and place $5,000 straight at the roulette table, your payout is a massive 35:1. If your bet hits, you walk away with $180,000. But statistically, your chances of winning are less than 3%. The risk is massive. Alternatively, if you buy a 3-month US treasury bill, the payout is around .1%. Meaning you would made $5 on a $5,000 investment. Why? The risk is so low. Also, what is a 3-month US treasury bill? Let me explain. A US Treasury bill is a short-term government debt security. Here's how it works. You give the US government $5,000. They now owe you $5,000 PLUS interest at a future date. In this example, it's 3 months. The US government says, "Thank you! We will give you $5,005 back in three months!" In three months, they give you the money back. Ask yourself, if you had to guess the percentage likelihood of the US government collapsing in the next three months, what would it be? Pretty low, right? That's why the return is so low. The United States government has the power, means, right, and infrastructure to tax the wealthiest population on the planet. Also, they aren't going out of business anytime soon. Therefore, that $5 return on a $5,000 investment is essentially guaranteed. Check out this chart. All stocks sit somewhere on this line of risk and return. But, how do we know the risk and return? Great question. How do we assess the value of an asset? An asset's worth is the sum of its future cash flows discounted to today's dollars. Read that again. An asset's worth is the sum of its future cash flows discounted to today's dollars. This is what we call "Net Present Value". Here's a video over it.Here's the NPV formula. Let's say we have a machine that spits out one dollar every year for 5 years. What is the value of that machine assuming a 2% inflation rate every year? Let's find out! Remember our NPV formula? Let's do the math. [$1 / (1+ .02)1] + [$1 / (1+ .02)2]+ ... + [$1 / (1+ .02)5] = $4.71. In this example, inflation rate is the discount rate; however, the discount rate can be many other things. We won't go into that right now though. So what does this mean to you? It gives you perspective. All those price movements in the stock market are the product of huge investment banks, mutual funds, and hedge funds moving money in and out of equities in massive quantities, with those decisions backed by hundreds, if not thousands of hours of research with private data that you can't access even if you had the money too. One of the big ways they (big banks) make these decisions is by using the NPV formula with Net Income in the numerator to determine the value of the asset and a rate to discount the cash flows at (there are ways to do this, again, we won't go into it). Then they use more complex methods to assess risk. Other methods of valuation may be used, but again, this is one of the big ones. So far, we've learned that risk and reward are positively correlated and companies are valued by their earnings. But, if companies are valued by their earnings, then why do bubbles happen? Why does the market tank sometimes? Shouldn't the market accurately reflect all companies at any given time? In theory, yes. But humans are irrational creatures, and often wrong. Therefore, stock prices are not always appropriately valued. I am going to introduce you to two financial ratios: earnings per share (EPS) and price to earnings (P/E) ratio. NOTE: EARNINGS = NET INCOME. Earnings per share is the net income of a company divided by it's number of outstanding shares. EPS = Net Income / Shares Outstanding. So let's say my company has a net income of $100 for the 2020 year and there are 100 shares outstanding. That would mean that my company's EPS is $1. Let's look at a real example: Apple. Click on this link. In the top left hand corner, click on sections>financial statements>consolidated statements of operations. Find EPS. Apple's EPS is 3.31. That's pretty solid. EPS puts a companies earnings in perspective with respect to the number of shareholders it has, which allows you to compare a companies earnings to its competitors, whether they be smaller or larger. Next, the price to earnings ratio. This is easy to calculate. It is just the share price divided by the EPS. PE = Price / EPS. What this does is puts the price of the stock in perspective with respect to its earnings. Consider the example where my company had an EPS of $1. Let's say the price of my stock is $30 per share. That would mean my PE ratio is 30 (PE raio of 30 = $30/$1 EPS). For some perspective on the PE ratio- the average P/E ratio in the S&P 500 is 25-30. But they can be as high as 1,000 (like Tesla) or as low 4 or 5. What the PE ratio does is says, "Hey man, here's a metric to determine how justifiable the price of this stock is considering how much the company makes." Generally speaking, investing in companies that have low PE ratios tend to show higher returns. Why? Because there is more of an acceptable margin (historically) for the price to increase with respect to earnings. For example: Five years ago, Apple's PE ratio was around 10. Now it's 40. This means the price went up, the earnings went down, or both. Over the last 5 years, Apple's EPS has increased. Therefore, because it's PE ratio is increasing as well, this means that it's price of the stock is increasing faster than it's earnings. Reference this chart. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means that the big boys like Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, etc. think that Apple is going to do really well over the coming years as of right now. But let's say that tomorrow Apple was outed as a front for a money laundering scheme and they were going to be audited by the SEC and FBI. The price would tank. Why? Because people would be questioning if Apple would even exist as a company in the following years. They (the big boys, the government, me and you) would doubt their earnings. Rightfully so, I should add. What I (and many others) do is look at companies and determine:
Are their earnings sound? (Is it positive? If not, will it be positive? Will the company grow? Will another company come in and do whatever this company is doing, better?) This will help you determine if the return will be solid.
What is the current price of the equity in relation to the earnings? (What's the PE? Is it going up? Is it going down? Why?) This will help you determine how risky is your investment.
A solid company is generally one that has a high EPS, a low PE ratio, and is expected to grow. The reason Tesla has a PE ratio of >1,000 is because people expect it to grow. Like, they expect it to be the largest electric vehicle company by net income in the next 10-20 years AND expand into other markets like solar energy and batteries. Will they be right? I guess we'll see! This is the tip of the ice berg when it comes to investing. If you truly want to learn how to capture returns without exposing your investment to a large amount of risk, you are going to have to spend time learning how to do this. Here are some resources:
The Intelligent Investor (with Commentary) by Benjamin Graham. Read it entirely, the commentary first, then the chapters (Commentary, chapter, commentary, chapter, ...). Then read the commentary again and make notes.
Learn how to read three financial statements: The balance sheet, the income statement, the statement of cash flows.
Watch Martin Shkreli's investing lessons on Youtube. Specifically the first 5 or 6. Yes, he's done some bad stuff. But he really is an excellent teacher and extremely smart.
In my opinion, experience is a great teacher. Play with a small amount of money. Throw $100 at a stock you like and see what happens to it. If it drops 10% in a day, figure out why. If it goes up 10% in a day, figure out why. If it goes up steadily over the next six months, figure out why. If it doesn't do anything- figure out why. I'd like to note again that these opinions do not constitute investment advice. They are my personal opinions and do not guarantee any sort of returns. This is how I personally approach the stock market. Investing in any asset carries risk and all investors should conduct their own due diligence and analysis before investing. "Be fearful when others are greedy; be greedy when others are fearful." -Warren Buffett Cheers
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