Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cashing out of Juicy Stakes, part 1

In January, when I knew I was going to be moving to North Carolina, I checked all of my online poker accounts to be sure I knew how to get into them, find out how much money I had left, get the software updated, etc. I wanted it all to be ship-shape before I had to start getting all my contact information changed. I wrote a blog post about this, here.

Here's what I said about one of them:
Cake/Juicy Stakes 
The Cake Poker network sort of merged with Lock Poker and became the Revolution Gaming Network last year. I had had a dormant account on Cake for a few years, and threw $100 onto it last summer to try out the new entity. I played one SNG and then never went back--not so much because it was terrible, but because I was concentrating all of my online play on BCP for a while.

Since then, Cake stopped doing business with U.S. players, and transferred their accounts over to a skin called Juicy Stakes Poker. See here for details. (Why doesn't anybody consult me on these names they pick? I could tell them how awful they are in advance and save them the embarrassment.)

I downloaded the new software, and my previous Cake log-in worked without a problem the first time, and my account was at $95, where it should have been. I played a $5 SNG to test things out, busted early.

Today somebody (I think it was KevMath) tweeted something about a new twist in the ongoing problems that Lock Poker is having with players getting their money out, pointing to this news story: That story contained a link to this site which publishes monthly grades on how well the sites do at processing withdrawal requests. I had not heard of it before.

I checked it, and saw that Juicy Stakes was getting F ratings just like Lock was. Ruh-roh. So I decided to see if I could get my remaining $90 out of there before the whole thing implodes.

When I went to request a withdrawal, however, the cashier page informed me that the only withdrawal option was a check (fine; that's my preferred method anyway), but (1) the minimum amount that could be withdrawn by check was $150, and (2) no, you can't deposit more just to get to $150 and then withdraw it.

So I wrote to customer service:

I would like to cash out my account, balance is $90.80. When I went to the cashier, the only option it offered me was check, which is fine. However, it then said that I don't have the minimum to use this method of withdrawal, yet it gave me no other alternative. So, how do I get my money out? 
Thank you.

The answer came admirably quickly, within just a few minutes:

Thank you for your email.  
 I'm afraid at present the only cashout option for US players is via check which has a minimum cashout of $150. (Please note that players are not permitted to deposit with the intent to reach $150 and cashout). We apologize for the hassle caused by the cashout limit but do hope to add new cashout options in the near future. Please let us know if you require any further assistance.  
 Kind Regards,  
 JuicyStakes Support 

Well, now, that simply won't do. When I made the deposit at Cake, there was no forewarning that I was depositing less than the minimal amount I would ever be able to cash out, so that I would have to win another $50 or kiss the deposit good-bye.

 I replied:

That makes no sense. You accepted a deposit of $100, with no warning given to me that the only way I would be able to retrieve that sum would be to win enough to push it up to $150. You need to provide another answer than the one below. It is not acceptable that I cannot get my money off of your site. 

 Again the response came very quickly:

Thank you for your email.  
If you wish to cashout your entire balance we can have the Cashier make an exception in this case. We understand the situation is far from ideal but these limitations have been forced upon us with the lask [sic] of cashout options available within the US.  
Can you please provide us with the following to activate your account for check cashouts ?  
Please scan or take clear digital photos of the following and send as color JPEG attachments in reply to this email: Required information: 
 - The front and back of the payment card used to deposit with us (for security purposes you may obscure the middle 8 digits and 3-digit CVV code as applicable).
 - A recent Utility Bill or Bank Statement, showing your name and mailing address as registered on your account (for purposes of privacy you may obscure account numbers, balances, etc...)
 - A government-issued photo ID (passport, Driver's License) in color
 Upon successful review of the above we will be able to proceed with a cash out. 

Another quick exchange told me the last four digits of the card used, since I didn't have that recorded anywhere. This presented another problem, however. The card I used was a Visa debit card tied to the checking account at the bank I used in Las Vegas. But that bank has no branches in North Carolina, so I closed that account soon after I got established with an Asheville bank. The card no longer exists.

Fortunately, I keep good records of my online poker transactions, so I was able to easily find the date on which I made the Cake deposit. Then, because I also kind of obsessively keep papers, including bank statements, after a few minutes of shuffling through file folders I was able to find the monthly statement on which the transaction appeared. I scanned that page along with the other documents requested. In my email, I explained the change of banks, and pointed out which item was the Cake deposit, complete with transaction number.

Frankly, I thought they would use this slight irregularity as an excuse to deny my withdrawal request, and I was mentally composing the jeremiad I would unleash on them. I was pleasantly surprised when, within an hour, I was told:
Thank you for your email. Now that we have verified the personal information on your account, I have approved your account's ability to cash out via check. You can now request a check from your Cashier screen. Please check that your address and phone number are up to date before requesting a cashout. You may need to restart your client to allow the changes made to take full effect. Please let us know if you require any further assistance. 
So despite Juicy Stakes Poker's "F" rating, I'd say so far they're doing all right by me. Yeah, I wish I could have just clicked "withdraw" and be done in one minute without the back-and-forth with customer service, but they turned out to be pretty reasonable in working with me.

Of course, important questions remain: Will there be some huge fee to withdraw? Will they actually send the check? If so, how long will it take? And will it clear when I deposit it? We shall see.

Bonus material: Gratuitous cat photo

I snapped this shot of Lucy a few days ago, while she was looking extra-cute, with her little paddy paw up on the window. Understand that by definition, any photo of Lucy is a good photo. But even given that reality, this is one of my favorites of her. Unless she's sleeping, she doesn't often hold still in good light long enough to catch her face well. So this shot is one of the few I have that really nicely shows her lovely green eyes, with direct afternoon sun highlighting her pretty orange stripes and patches. There is no need to enter her in cat shows, because it is already plain that she is the most beautifullest cat there ever was. It really wouldn't be fair to all the other entrants.