Friday, March 30, 2007
I won't bore you with the sordid details of my life right now, but suffice to say it's the complete opposite of playing poker for a living. Damnit, I miss that poker guy sometimes.
All my whining about wanting to be "challenged" and all that? Well hell, I got what I wished for. In spades.
Tis all good - I'm in a great place right now.
I was thinking about my stint at PokerWorks during a smokebreak this morning and realized my Mexico trip report was posted over there and not here. Which is weird, because I had promised to deliver exclusive poker content over there.
So I'm posting my damn Mexico trip here. Where it belongs.
"If you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think this is a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs.
To be a gringo in Mexico - ah, that is euthanasia."
I'm back from beautiful Mexico.
Upon my return, I'm not so sure what the hell is going on in the USA anymore.
Neteller announces they are going in the tank, Michael Craig is leaving PokerWorks and now Hillary is announcing a run for the presidency?
Cats and dogs living in peace?
Lord, I have no clue what's going to happen but these are frightening omens, to say the least. Truthfully, I was more stunned when Pinnacle dropped out of the US market than Neteller. I mean, at least the writing was on the wall with the latter.
So it's a mess right now, but damnit, I'm an optimist. So I decided to take a peek at PokerSiteScout and see some numbers, and I'll be damned if they don't have a nifty page with graphs showing the effects of the UIGEA and Neteller.
Effects of NETeller Leaving the U.S. Market on All Sites Accepting U.S. players
It will be interesting to keep on eye on that page - I sure hope they keep updating it.
Stay tuned - I'll catch up on my reading and post on this insanity soon enough.
For now, I wanna do a quick trip report on my vacation to Mexico. It was my first visit there (outside of Tijuana sojourns) and it was fantastic.
We flew into Cancun and were whisked off to our uber resort near Playa Del Carmen. We hung out for a day, drinking and eating, and basically chilling at the beach.
We decided to take a local city bus into the town of Playa Del Carmen. This is when I realized that buses didn't have numbers - the drivers just stuck their head out the doors and yelled where they were planning to go.
To say the bus was jammed is an understatement. I was smushed in with two other adults in a seat designed for two six year olds. Amazingly, two people stood in the aisle between each seat, and somehow more kept getting on. My wife was trapped between two people who had basically brought this years harvest on board. Did I mention that all the windows were jammed shut?
I did not fail to notice the ever present giant Jesus figurine on the dashboard - better known as the Mexican emergency brake.
My favorite part of the bus trip was when the driver yelled to the people standing in the aisle to duck the hell down as we drove past the police checkpoint because, apparently, the government has regulations about cramming four times the legal amount of passengers onto a bus. It was far too crowded to duck, so people just bent their heads a little. The police gave them credit for trying and let us pass.
I learned some new Spanish later that day in a restaurant bathroom. No papel de hygienetico en el servicio. (Don't put toilet paper in the toilet).
After two days of resort town hell, we decided to get the hell out. So we rented a car and drove into the heart of the Yucatan, nearly three hours inland. My sister had told us about this eco-lodge in a Mayan village 300 meters from the ruins of Ek Balam.
We ended up hanging out here most of the week, even though we had only planned on one day. The place was more international hostel or bed and breakfast than a lodge. There were 7 completely screened, Maya-stylized cabañas, complete with mosquito netting over the beds. The netting didn't help. To be fair, my wife never was bitten once. For some reason, I am a succulent gourmet meal to mosquitoes. Our first night there (without bug spray) - I put on some aloe vera in hopes that it would deter the bugs. Nope. Instead, it was like the icing on an Iggy cupcake.
We met the most interesting folks: Israeli's, Swedes, Greek couples were there. And a fascinating Aussie couple who were nine months into a round-the-world backpack trip. I'll dig up their site and link them up when I get the chance. The end of the day was usually spent in the main room, drinking a few beers and shooting the shit about a variety of fascinating topics.
At the lodge, I learned some more new Spanish: tenga cuidado (be careful). This was when I nearly electrocuted myself in the shower, thanks to live wires that made up the small electrical heater in the shower head. Apparently, you are supposed to wear rubber sandals when showering, but no one informed me.
After recovering from the morning's electroshock therapy, we took a fascinating personal tour of the Mayan village. As my Israeli friend remarked the first night, "The Mayans are everywhere. Who knew?"
These indigenous people were still living as their ancestors had for hundreds of years. And they all spoke Mayan, not Spanish.
A wonderfully sweet Mayan girl gave us and the Israeli's a personal tour of the village, allowing us to go inside and hang out with the folks. The locals were beyond gracious people.
We went to three different homes and they demonstrated what it's like to live outside of a cash-dependent society. I was astounded as I was shown how a family of ten thrives on their fruit, herb and medicinal gardens. They do every step of food production from planting by hand, to tending, to harvesting and cooking.
After hearing this, I tried to explain Bonus Code IGGY and why they should be playing online poker instead of this indigenous thing but it didn't get through the translation.
A few anecdotes: when Hurricane Emily crashed through in 2005, all of the western style buildings were crushed and mostly destroyed. Interestingly enough, all of the traditional Mayan huts survived intact. They are low to the ground, built with two openings for the wind to pass through and the thatched roof also allows air to move through. It's kind of a 'bend, don't break' construction mentality that obviously works.
None of them own beds, instead sleeping in hammocks as their ancestors did.
The village got power ten years ago but TV is rarely watched.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Lee, the woman who created this place in the jungle from scratch over four years ago. She was a writer for over 20 years in Calgary before selling everything she owned to move to the Yucatan. Quite an amazing story and woman.
And so, from here we went ruins hunting. Our first was the recently discovered (1997) ruins and pyramid at Ek Balam. And then over the next few days it was on to the massive ruins at Chichen Itza, and finally, to the coastal war ruins of Tulum.
I'm still trying to wrap my head head around this culture. It's surreal to think of this "lost" civilization - I spent lots of time pondering the fate of these ancient cities covered over by the jungle. What the hell happened? Everything written is purely conjecture.
How could the level of social and political organization needed to sustain this civilization be attained in areas of impossible jungle, rank vegetation and dangerous animals? But it was just in such places that Maya culture reached its highest level. In most areas, the ground is nothing more than porous limestone - the topsoil seldom more than a few inches deep.
Without the wheel, draft animals or metal cutting tools, Maya engineers and artisans build outrageously magnificent cities.
Hell, centuries before Christ was born the Maya were the first to develop a system of numeration by position involving the concept and use of zero. This is all the more striking when compared to the clumsy Roman numerical system used in Europe at the time when zero was unknown. Why should an agricultural people living in the jungle bother with a highly sophisticated mathematical system? Why invent it if they wouldn't have use for it? But what was the use? These supposedly primitive people measured time in units of 23,000,000,000 days. Why?
Then sometime around 300 A.D., while the barbarians were sacking Rome and the Dark Ages were spreading over Europe, the Maya entered their golden Classic period. Nineteen major cities - that we know of - were built at this time along with countless minor ones.
It's amazing how much has NOT been excavated. Because the Yucatan is a flat area, any place where you see a hill in the jungle is an overgrown ruin. There are apparently far more unknown ruins down in Belize which brings out my inner Indiana Jones. I won't bore you with the loot found in many of these places, but suffice to say, it's priceless.
The Maya were heavily into astronomy, building observatories at most of their cities. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief. Corbel arches, miles and miles of highways (sacbes) connecting all the cites to each other, solar observatories and water reservoirs are all indicative of an advanced society.
The pyramids cut of stone, majestic temples and palaces adorned with intricately carved facades and exquisite sculpture blew me away. I sure wish I had paid more attention in my Art History class in college.
My wife was purty good at finding the best hieroglyphics. It was too damn cool finding the carvings of a Maya King holding someone's head right next to the beheaded body showing blood gushing out the neck in huge fountains.
But anyway, I could go on and on and on here but it's getting late and I gotta format pictures.
Beyond the mystery of how the hell the Maya moved huge stone heads weighing 20 tons or more through miles of jungle is outweighed by the mystery of what happened to them. Again, it's all conjecture.
OK, picture time. Humour me.
FYI: The Maya calender ends on December 24th, 2012.
Here's a mix of Maya village and ruins shots.
Also, I know it's incorrect to say Mayan.
Guadalupe cooking homemade corn tortilla's fer us and the Israeli's in her cooking hut (one hut is for cooking - the other for sleeping). Click for a larger version. I looked everywhere for a P&G product to no avail.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
But allow me to post this column by Paul about the silliness that is the Cincinnati Bengals.
Too much isn't enough for Brown
BY PAUL DAUGHERTY
Here is something you might not have known: It is difficult to be one of 32 monopolists in the most successful, highly profitable league in the history of American sports. It is hard making ends meet in a free stadium that is absolutely filled every time it opens for an NFL game. You think it's easy, scraping by on the proceeds from $8 bottles of beer?
While owners of 30 of the NFL's 32 teams on Monday agreed to share even more money among themselves, Bengals owner Mike Brown voted against it. (The other no vote came from Jacksonville's Wayne Weaver.) It isn't that the Bengals aren't profiting from revenue-sharing; it's that they aren't profiting enough.
The Cincinnati Bengals' logo should not be a tiger; it should be an outstretched hand, palm upturned.
Understand: This was a "supplemental" plan for revenue-sharing. This was sharing on top of sharing. Karl Marx's league just became more generous.
The Bengals don't even know yet how much extra money they'll get on top of the money they already get. All they know is, it's not enough. With the Bengals, it never is.
Because I am not an economist, a capologist or an expert on socialist corporations, maybe I'm not qualified to comment on the Bengals' ongoing cries of poverty. But here's what I do know about our starving little football team:
They sell every seat for every game.
They sell every luxury box, and they keep all the money.
They sell lots of $8 beers, and they keep most of the money.
They're the proud possessors of a Manhattan-for-beads lease that makes them lords of Cincinnati's central riverfront.
The public built them a $600 million stadium our children will be paying for.
And, oh yeah, they've had one winning season in 17 years.
Imagine another business in the free world complaining about this arrangement.
The Bengals' argument boils down to this:
The salary cap is based on a fixed percentage of what the NFL calls gross designated revenues. They come from the national TV contract, ticket and merchandise sales and local sources such as stadium naming rights and advertising. Because the Bengals are in the bottom third of revenues in the league, every time a Washington, New England or New York increases its revenues, the cap rises and the Bengals have to spend a greater portion of their revenues on salaries.
No one should fault Brown for getting the best deal he can. He has to answer to shareholders, even if most of them are related to him. He also feels he has legitimate issues about the long-term financial health of his team.
But consider this:
The Bengals are privately owned. They don't show us their books. They say they're lagging financially and we have to take their word for it.
The list of people sharing in their "poverty" is very short.
If you choose to own a team in a place like Cincinnati, don't expect to make the kind of cash you would in New York. Some owners aren't as wealthy as others, if only because they're located in smaller places and/or they don't work as hard.
So it is that Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, whose team plays in a relatively new stadium that was not publicly funded, gives some of his revenues to an owner like Mike Brown, who has a free stadium. So it is that Jerry Jones, who worked hard to revive the Dallas Cowboys brand, shares equally his merchandise revenues with Brown, who works not at all selling his.
So it is that on Monday, the 15 biggest revenue producers voted to give even more money to the 17 smallest revenue producers. Everyone but Brown and Weaver was fine with that. Again: Fifteen owners agreed to write checks, and two owners said the checks won't be big enough.
Even if I agreed with the Bengals' position that they're heading toward the financial rocks, their constant more-more-more-ing after so much public generosity, faith and good will - and in an industry subsidized like few others, even if you stink - makes me want to lie down in a cool place.
The Reds don't receive nearly the shared revenues the Bengals do. I don't hear Bob Castellini complaining.
Monday, March 26, 2007
"Betting is pretty much like liquor: you can make it illegal, but you can't make it unpopular."
Dear Lord, I truly want to uber it up but the latest Neteller news coupled with Lee Jones resignation from Poker Stars has taken me aback.
But before I address these troubling times, let's get back to the mystery of the monster dogfish in a can that sells like veritable hotcakes in Russia.
I'm enclosing a shot of the label for any readers who may speak Russian or know someone who does who can help with the translation. My kingdom for a Russian poker player right now!
Someone emailed me and said it was eel, but I'm looking for some confirmation to put this matter to rest.
Moving quickly back to poker.....
Neteller now freezing Canadian funds? The venerable and uber ambassador of online poker, Lee Jones, no longer working at the #1 online poker site? Who on earth is going to replace Lee?
I sure as hell wouldn't wanna be the guy (or girl - HAH!) following up Mr. Jones legendary stint - it would be like following Hendrix on stage. Why bother?
I mean, this isn't a big surprise but I don't think it bodes well.
From Lee Jones - cash in my chips, please
Hi all –
It is with great delight and profound regret that I announce that, effective April 1st, 2007, I will no longer be the poker room manager at PokerStars. 
The good news is that I am still going to be part of the PokerStars family. I will be working for John Duthie in the EPT, doing organization, hosting, and TV commentary. Furthermore, I will still be working as a consultant for PokerStars, helping with some PokerStars events, such as the PCA at the Atlantis and the World Cup of Poker. And I will show up sometimes at Sunday Million and WCOOP final tables.
Why the change? Well, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to expand my horizons and stretch some new muscles. I will be at all the EPT events, doing final table announcing, and commentary on the TV shows and webcasts.  I love meeting and hanging out with the players so this will be great fun for me. And it will give me time to do some other projects, including actually playing a little poker!
Of course, the regret comes from leaving a job that I’ve had, and loved, for three and a half years. I’ve gotten to watch PokerStars go from a promising enterprise in third place on the online poker ladder to the clear market leader. And working hard daily to stay there. The people at PokerStars are an extraordinary bunch and I’ve been honored to be part of that team. I’m not going to start naming names for two reasons: (1) I’d be sure to leave out a really important name, and (2) there are simply too many of them. But from the senior management to the customer service representatives, these people have become not only colleagues but friends. I will miss acutely the day-to-day interaction with them.
I will also miss the day-to-day contact with the thousands of PokerStars players that I’ve come to know via email. The support you’ve given me these past years has been overwhelming and I am quite humbled by it. Furthermore, you’ve been quick to provide constructive criticism when I’ve made a wrong turn, and that’s just as important. I trust that you will provide my successor  with the same support and constructive criticism that you’ve given me.
But as I said, I’ll still be around. I’ll be at plenty of live events (particularly in Europe), and I’ll be occasionally posting here. Most of my posts will be signed “Regards, Lee”, indicating it’s my personal opinion. If I have cause to post representing the EPT, I’ll be sure to note that.
But for now, I’ll sign off as I have since October of 2003, proud to say…
PokerStars Poker Room Manager
 No, this is not an April Fool’s joke.
 The first webcast, from the Dortmund, Gernany EPT, was the nuts – people loved it. We’re going to do it from Monte Carlo too and it will be bigger and better.
 That person is yet to be named, but we’ve got a few really good candidates.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this. It's possible - it's a Monday night and I'm getting seriously toasted despite the early hour. Damn day job.
Or perhaps it's the press releases from today about Neteller and Canada.
NETELLER Announces Service Changes to Canadian and Turkish Market
Did NETELLER stop allowing Canadian members to make fund transfers with online gambling sites?
With a recent review of its service to Canadian members, NETELLER announced that members who reside in Canada will no longer be able to transfer funds to and from online gambling sites. Read the most recent press release.
When is the last day that I can transfer funds with an online gambling site?
On April 9, 2007 all transfers to and from online gambling sites will be disabled for Canadian members.
Why did NETELLER make this decision?
NETELLER decided to cease online gambling transactions for Canadian members due to increased uncertainty about the status of certain activities related to online gambling in Canada.
"certain activities related to online gambling in Canada."
wtf - I think I need a translator on this shit, too.
I've picked out two 2+2 threads debating this strangeness.
Neteller and the Monroe Doctrine: Get out of North America or else
So just why *are* all the e-wallets pulling out of Canada???
I suppose this is just a blip in the grand scheme of things.
But I'd be remiss if I didn't document poker author, Bob Ciaffone, suddenly appearing on 2+2 to give us a Neteller update last week.
The March 16, 2007 hearing of case of two former Neteller Board members, Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebre, was postponed for 30 days, rescheduled by the judge hearing the case to April 16, according to an announcement by the Information Office of the United States Attorney, Southern District of New York. According to Information Officer Rebekah Carmichael, this postponement would not have been possible without the agreement of both the prosecutor and the defendants.
Lawrence and Lefebre were arrested on January 15, 2007, and charged with conspiring to transfer funds with the intent to promote illegal gambling. Both men had resigned from the Neteller Board of Directors by October 13, 2006, the date where the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act became law. According to reports issued by Neteller, about 95 percent of the company’s money transfers involved internet gambling companies. The charge is made that 85 percent of that business was North American, with three-quarters of that with US customers.
All Neteller money belonging to US customers is now frozen. Barred are payments by any mode from US accounts.
This means no transfers to the Neteller debit card, peer to peer transfers, or purchases from merchants.
Neteller claims that the total number of frozen assets belonging to US poker players and other US gamblers are about 55 million dollars. Money already in the Neteller debit card, which is handled by a Louisiana bank, appears to still be accessible at this time.
This postponement comes as a disappointment to poker players hoping to have their Neteller money made retrievable sooner rather than later.
I'm out of gas here. I just hit an awful link. Complete and utter buzz kill. Just be thankful I'm not sharing it. Trust me.
And now that I failed you in my uber, go take solace in Hoy's massive post about winning a WSOP seat. Can You Say W-S-O-P?
Link of the Day:
Winning Souls to Christ in The World of Warcraft
Christian gamers are also excited that they are able to live out their faith in the same way the early True Christians™ did, before their religion was sissified by liberalism, science, and political correctness. "It is such a rush to kill other players who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as Lord," says one gamer. "I feel like I can really practice my faith the way God intended it. It is like I'm fighting alongside Christians of old, instead of the pansies and sissies from my Sunday school class."
Bonus Code IGGY On Party Poker, damnit!
"The problem with love and our generation is that we have abandoned the lost art of settling."
It's official, Spring has arrived - my Dairy Queen opened this weekend.
I fully intended to have a monster uber post up for all my faithful readers, but alas, this weekend's weather kept me away from the computer (although I did go to the boat to play some poker).
But for now, I just want to thank Jason (People magazine's top 50 bachlelors - go get him ladies!) for linking me up and sending me three billion visitors from his outstanding blog. I mean, I've had some fine links pointing to this here humble poker blog over the years but Jason's was a tsunami of traffic.
It's so rare to find a blog that I instantly get hooked on, in fact, I ended up going back thru his archives and reading his entire damn blog, savoring it like a fine book.
I'd recommend starting off at his Choice Cuts page and reading from there.
Allow Jason's tales to destroy some Workplace Productivity in my stead. I'll be back ASAP with what I do best. Ubering it the hell up.
All Content Copyright Iggy 2003-2007
Information on this site is intended for news and entertainment purposes only.
100% Signup Bonus at PokerStars.com up to $50