Austerity — What Austerity?


Fancy a game of high stakes poker, the holiday of a lifetime, or a nearly new Rolex watch? If you can only dream of such things, others live the dream.

There is an old joke that the Ritz is open to everyone. So is Claridge’s! It has been said that around one in ten UK households are now virtual millionaires. Earlier this year it was reported that there were around 9 million households in the USA that could make a similar boast.

As usual though, things are not that simple. How many of those 9 million US households could sign a cheque for $1 million, or even a hundred thousand?

Big corporations control massive wealth; the Tesco supermarket chain made nearly £4 billion last year. That doesn’t sound quite so massive when you take into account tax, a staff of over half a million, and all that floor space to be maintained.

Nevertheless, there are still people with money to spend. If you’re not quite a millionaire, how do you fancy one of these pre-owned Rolex watches from Beckertime, a company that claims to be eBay’s largest provider of high end timepieces?

Alternatively, if you are of a more practical bent, how about a 3-D printer? One UK company is currently offering one for the bargain basement price of £699.99. That is still quite expensive, but expect prices to plummet further in the next year or so. You can find several videos of this machine in action on YouTube; it’s called the Velleman K8200. You can use these futuristic devices to save money or even to make money. (Best not print your own though!)

If you want simply to spend, how about the holiday of a lifetime? That’s what Andy Garth is planning, but he did win a million on the lottery last year, and the big-hearted fellow is planning to take his entire family to Australia with him.

What though if you don’t simply have money to invest or money to spend but money to burn?

The screengrab below is from a cash game played on PokerStars this afternoon (UK time). This guy AAtaraxia has just won a $357 pot. The small blind bring in is $10, and as you can see, the smallest stack has over $600 in front of him. Not only that, there are no fewer than seven players in line.

This may be an age of austerity, but not for the high rollers on PokerStars. This cash game played on December 30, 2013 saw plenty of people queuing up to try their luck.

Poker may be a high stakes game, but it is far from the only one; sometimes though, people who play for really high stakes risk losing more than mere money. Earlier this year, snooker player Stephen Lee threw away his career, and for what? While in England’s green and not-so-pleasant land, there are signs that the not-so-beautiful game will soon be rocked by a massive scandal. Already, at the very least, one high profile professional has some serious explaining to do. If and when the axe does fall on Sam Sodje, few if any of those living in austerity will have any sympathy for him. Here was a man with not only a ball but the world at his feet. Alas, it is far from only James Bond for whom the world is not enough.

[The above article was first published December 30, 2013; the original wasn’t archived, but see bibliography entry for this date.]

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