For those of you who live on top of kodok99 Everest who don’t know there’s a ‘credit crunch’ out there. Just at the moment the target of the financial vultures is American International Group (hey, if that doesn’t get me some Google hits nothing will!).
Apparently AIG have 24 hours to secure significant funding before they hit the buffers. This is a company which was the biggest insurer in America and a global presence who not many people know of in the UK save for their sponsorship of a football club around 40 miles from where I sit lovingly known by we Leeds fans as ‘Scum’. For the rest of you that’s Manchester United, a club which itself is sitting on approaching £1bn of debt.
If AIG go down then the shock waves will be massive. Anyway, enough of the Wall Street Journal stuff, the other reason I’m interested in AIG is that they happen to underwrite much of the business that my company works on. If they go belly up I quite honestly don’t know what the ramifications would be for me and my company.
I admit openly that I’m rather scared.
But anyway, this is a poker blog, largely, so what’s the link? In fact it’s quite tenuous. As I was playing tonight I had the CNN Share page in the background showing AIG’s shares. It was a massacre. The share price changed every second falling to around $1.80 a share and then rising as computer programmes decided to buy at a perceived low point. Then it rose, and rose and rose. It got to a point above where it started ($4.76) and then eventually settled down at $3.75 at the close, still a quarter down. Now, in after hours trading, it’s down to $1.83.
I guess my mind might have been somewhat distracted, though if it was I didn’t particularly realise it. However 600 hands later I’ve endured the most frustrating, most annoying and utterly jaw dropping session ever. No matter that I couldn’t hit a thing. No matter that, once again, with the money in the middle I had a full house cracked by quads – the ninth time in just over a month. What really got me was the utter disorder of those who came and went on the tables.
I like to think of Stars as a bit of an institution, where on the whole the cash play is as sensible as you can get at the various micro-limits. In fact I make a lot of my money on that basis. Tonight we had all ins flying around like the playesr were buying and selling AIG shares. There was no rhyme nor reason to it. Pocket 5s would clash with straight draws for $20 pots (at NL5, by the way). A limped table would react to a button raise by re-re-re-re-raising until we had yet more all in shenanigans. $8 pots with three players would see two of them fold to a 10c bet on the end! Just craaaazzzzy! It was like someone had actually paid people to make a mockery of the game.
There was such a parallel between what I was seeing and the rollercoaster ride on the AIG shares. No real rhyme nor reason to it all. Gut instincts, a lack of discipline and, given that AIG is the custodian of phenomenal amounts of funds but not in a position to realise them at short notice, an evident problem with pot odds and bankroll management.
I avoided most of the fall out apart from a $12 pot, but I still ended up losing at a rate of about 35BB/100 hands. In a poker sense I feel shell shocked. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It’s not how it was yesterday and it’s nothing like it will be tomorrow.
I can only hope for my sake, and for everyone’s sake, including the 100,000+ employees that AIG have, that a certain order is restored in the worlds that drew together for me this evening.
The poker donkeys and the city traders have one thing in common. They’re like headless chickens who get caught up in hysteria. And through their idiocy most of them lose money and drag down those who want to ‘play it straight’. Like the Traders, some walked out of the session much richer without quite knowing how they got there while for others like me it was a case of right time, wrong place – if I’d had decent hands I’d probably not be moaning now :)))
Since the last update the after hours price has gone up to $2.30 from $1.83. Is the company worth 26% more now that twenty minutes ago? Is it really worth nearly 40% less than it was this morning? Of course not, but when people leave rational decison making behind finance, as poker, becomes little more than a lottery.