7 Things You Might Need to Know if You Are a Credit Card Virgin Considering Using One to Register For a WSOP Event

TAGs: Credit Cards, world series of poker, WSOP

After the World Series of Poker announced plans to allow credit card use for buy-ins of $1,500 and below, Lee Davy points out seven things you might want to know if you are considering using a credit card for the first time.

What are the leading causes of debt?

Google reliably informs me that divorce, ill health, and gambling are right up there.

7 Things You Might Need to Know if You Are a Credit Card Virgin Considering Using One to Register For a WSOP EventHowever, I believe there is one culprit that drives more people down that puke ridden road than most – the habit of spending more than you earn. Levels of public debt rise each year, and I lay most of the blame at the feet of our flexible friends.

I was given my first credit card at the age of 16. It took me 20-years to recover from the debt I piled onto it, and the ensuing stress that it caused. So when the World Series of Poker (WSOP) announced plans to allow punters to register for side events carrying a price tag of $1,500 or lower I saw the hangman.

I wasn’t alone.

Jennifer Newell aired her concerns in an op-ed at Poker Update. It seemed she held the contrarian view. So much support for the use of credit cards spewed forth that Newell felt compelled to write a follow-up piece.

I believe the WSOP is doing the right thing by offering their customers a wider range of payment options. As a regular visit to the States, there is so much majesty about the place; so much growth, and technological advancement. Then I walk into Target; use my credit card to purchase some toilet roll and all they need from me is a signature. I feel like I’m stuck in the 90s.

Personal Responsibility

Credit cards are harmless until they fall into the wrong hands. I happen to have the wrong hands. Last year, I played in The Colossus. It was a single bullet decision. I lost. I felt compelled to re-enter. I withdrew the second shot from the ATM. It was irresponsible. I have a family. I won’t be alone.

Anyone who knows me would worry if I had a credit card and sat down to play in a multiple re-entry poker tournament. Organisers like them because they are very efficient. It’s tough to pull yourself away from the tables once the buzz enters your veins. Everyone knows that and it’s one of the primary reasons they exist.

I can hear myself now.

“It’s only $565.”

So yes Jennifer Newell I hear you.

It will be a slippery slope for some, but an incredible opportunity for others.

There are over 7 billion people on the planet and well over 2 billion credit cards in circulation. A 2014 survey run by Gallup showed that the average American has four credit cards, 9% have five or six, and 7% have more than seven.

Opportunity Knocks

If you can get your shit together and learn to stop spending more than you earn, you can use credit cards for personal gain, not just pain. Just be careful about it. The line is about as thin as a Scott Seiver check-raise.

Professional poker player’s rack up an impressive amount of air miles. A sensible use of credit cards can help reduce travel costs significantly either through racking up of air miles, or points to be used at accommodation behemoths such as Airbnb.

Take the Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian as an example. In 2014, the 569th richest man in the world bought a tea cup for $36.3 million on his American Express card (AMEX). Yiqian was the owner of an AMEX Centurion card with no limit on purchases, something he tested to the max when last year he bought the 1917 Amedeo Modigliani painting Nu Couche {Reclining Nude} for $170m. That investment now means that his family has first class travel, anywhere in the world, for life.

Also, how on earth can you be hip enough to fit into the poker community if you keep using your supermarket rewards card when playing credit card roulette?

All joking aside, the WSOP have given players an excellent opportunity to reduce the pain of registering for one of their events, but it needs to be respected.

So here are some tips for the very few people who don’t own one of those two billion credit cards.

1. Choose a Card With Rewards That Suit

Do your homework.

With billions of credit cards in circulation, the types of rewards are numerous. Don’t sign up for a credit card that gives you tremendous air mile privileges if you are B.A Baracus or Dennis Bergkamp.

Also, steer clear of novelty credit cards. A good example is signing up for a Manchester United credit card just because they’re your favourite team and you want one to go with your Manchester United underpants.

Also, keep an eye out for the credit cards that back a charity. There are more cost-effective ways to help people in need than through credit card expenditure.

2. Choose a Card That Retailers Love

When I decided to get credit card savvy, I got an AMEX as they offered great rewards connected to air miles. I figured I would place all of my expenditure on my AMEX to rack up air miles that could be used to travel around the world.

“Do you take AMEX?”


It’s a pain in the ass.

Nobody likes it because it gives the merchant a percentage kick back.

I am picturing the face of the owners of Sotheby’s when they realised Yiqian was paying for the Modigliani with his Amex. I bet that cost them a fortune.

3. Avoid Credit Card Annual Fees

Try and avoid purchasing a credit card that has an annual fee as it’s burning money. One tip I learned from Ramit Sethi, the author of I Will Teach You to be Rich, is to contact your credit card supplier and ask them to remove the annual fee or provide you with a suitable alternative.

Sethi believes human contact with credit card companies is underrated and that we should be banging on the door asking for reductions in APR and anything else we value as a customer.

4. Have a Payment Plan

There are credit card junkies who operate blogs that rack up incredible amounts of air miles. They have a lot of credit cards and it’s a full-time job to keep up with them. I found it tough with one.

If you are going to use your card to save you money in the long run then each time you spend, you should have a plan for putting the equivalent amount elsewhere for when payment time comes around. You don’t want to be paying high penalty fees. It defeats the purpose.

5. Use Your Rewards or Ditch The Card

I have never used any of my rewards.

That’s right; you heard me.

I find the whole process so complicated and time-consuming that I hired an assistant to figure it for me. She couldn’t either. It was at that point that I realised it was time to get the scissors out.

I also know I am a tad impatient and a little bit thick. Credit Card Hacking is a multi-million dollar business. Some people operate blogs full time explaining this shit to people so it does work.

If you sign for a credit card with the distinct purpose of gaining from the rewards, but don’t use them, then consider reevaluating your reasoning.

6. 0% Balance Transfer Deals

If it weren’t for credit cards, I would have never gotten into debt.

If it weren’t for credit cards, I would have never gotten out of debt.

I am always amazed when a conversation with friends turns to debt and they start talking about how much money they are paying in fees for loans, and credit cards and have never considered moving the debt onto a 0% credit card.

There are thousands of deals on the Internet offering 0%. They carry a % transfer fee, but if your debt is problematic and eating up a lot of APR each month, then it’s worth taking the hit to give you some breathing space to pay off the debt rather than the penalty fee each month.

7. Ice Age

After writing this article, I have decided to ditch my AMEX. I don’t use the rewards. I don’t manage it effectively. I consistently spend more than I earn. I believe the best way to get back into the pre-1950s swing of things is to forget that plastic exists and go back to good old fashioned cash only transactions. I will keep direct debits going electronically, and will keep some purchases such as food going online, but I won’t walk around with plastic in my wallet as it’s too easy to spend.

That said, I would like to have a credit card on hand should the brown stuff ever hit the fan. One piece of advice that someone once gave me was to place a credit card in a block of ice and leave it in the freezer. The thawing out process provides you with enough time to allow your idiotic self to chill out, enabling you to make a more rational decision.

So there you have it.

Seven reasons why using a credit card to buy-in to a WSOP event may work for you, and if you can’t get one, you can always break into my house and steal my freezer.


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