The crash that would cost $1,400

By virtue of its economic uniqueness, this island seems to have appeal for an interesting type of person: the young, unattached entrepreneur with some successes behind him and a desire to do more from an environment that doesn't hinder him. Immediately upon arrival, I bumped into A, a neighbor who's also waiting for his unit to be built and has an interesting story behind him. At 24, and originally from Tampa, Florida, he is a professional poker player who apparently earned significant sums playing poker on the net. Forget Chris Moneymaker: A makes his lunch out of players like him. I saw A talk to me fluidly while playing 4 poker games simultaneously, on tables where pots climb to US$1,000 and beyond. He says he has downsized his gaming - he used to play tables with still bigger bets, even 15 at a time; he would be $50,000 up or down at the end of a day. He's been at it for some 5 years; it took him the first 2 years to start earning serious money.

Three months ago, he moved to St. Kitts after receiving local citizenship. His reasons for doing so are multiple:
  • The United States have recently moved to aggressively ban online gaming for US citizens - apparently in a bid to protect the good, free Americans from the perils of their own liberty. It makes sense for A to move to a country that allows him to continue to play.
  • St. Kitts has no personal income tax, an obvious advantage.
  • A is fed up with where the United States are heading politically. He dislikes the current situation with Bush and he detests how the U.S. political system, originally a glorious achievement, has become bastardized over two centuries of democracy. (A sentiment I agree with.)
A has renounced his American citizenship, and they wrote him back to say that even though he's not any more an American citizen, he still owes them taxes for the next 10 years, and they might draft him into the army. Needless to say - he doesn't plan going back to the States.

As we were in the same room and I did some work while he played, there was a point where his system blue screened. For the first time. Ever. In the middle of several open games. For a few moments he looked, perplexed; then he unplugged his laptop and reset it. He came back online within 15 seconds of forfeiting his positions in the game. If he were so much as another 15 seconds late, he would have lost $1,400, through no fault of his own. Imagine he was playing 15 tables with even more money in them. That crash, right then and there, would have cost him the equivalent of 10 laptops.

I briefly examined the blue screen, and it turned out to be an IRQL problem in portcls.sys, a Microsoft MiniPort driver. I figure it could be a hardware problem: the laptop has been exposed to this island's electricity without a UPS or a surge protector. The local electricity is known to have surges and spikes that make equipment go awry. But imagine that it was a software problem. Usually, bugs don't have such a striking economic impact; this is one situation, in addition to hospitals, wars and aerospace craft, where they do.

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