As a result of my last article, I’ve had a few conversations with people regarding what the best checking account for poker players is. As is the case with most questions in poker: “It depends”. This is a highly individualistic decision to make and while I cannot recommend any particular bank, I can offer a few guidelines to keep in mind while shopping around.
For those of you who read the last article, this may seem a little redundant. However, I feel it is worth reiteration. We should strongly consider accounts the bear interest. Quite frankly, the banking market is way too competitive for us to give our money to people who don’t appreciate it. Unfortunately, interest rates are pretty damn low so we won’t yield much, but something is always better than nothing.
Occasionally we go cash poor while at the casino. This is a disaster if there is a massive whale punting mortgage payments left and right. I have found that in this situation it is usually optimal to try to borrow money from a close friend or other professional and pay them back using PayPal, Chase QuickPay, or another transfer service to get back into action. Sometimes this is not an option. Because of this, we may look to our bank to help mitigate some of the costs we will incur when we make an ATM withdrawal. A lot of banks offer ATM fee reimbursements or even have deals worked out with certain ATM companies that will allow you to withdraw cash for little or no fees. In a similar vein, we may decide to choose a bank that gives us the capability to make a withdrawal within close proximity to the casino. Most casinos are in developed areas so there is probably some sort of bank or compatible ATM nearby. Where I am at - Maryland - there is legislation that restricts the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from a casino ATM in a single day. If you’re in the same predicament it may be worth investigating what banks have operations nearby.
Fees and minimum balances are also something we should consider. I personally keep a separate checking account for poker and personal matters. This can make tax time go a little more smoothly. My poker account is usually pretty lean in comparison to my personal account since I have very few bills or debits coming out. Because of this, I want an account that has either a low or no minimum account balance and no fees. If we incur a fee because we did not maintain a sufficient balance our accumulated interest is easily wiped away. This reminds me of a friend of mine who kept a bank account with a two digit balance solely for the fact that they let him use a machine that converted coins into cash without a fee. He paid no attention to his statements. Little did he know that he was required to maintain a certain amount of cash to waive a monthly fee. He got a nice little surprise one day when the bank notified him he had overdrawn his account and got slapped with an overdraft fee as well as the negative balance. Don’t be this guy. Educate yourself on your bank’s policies.
There are a few miscellaneous benefits certain banks offer outside of those already mentioned that may help us make a decision. I mentioned my friend whose bank account allowed him convert coins into cash for no fee. While we are unlikely to accumulate a lot of change in our career as a poker player, perhaps we pay for a lot of goods and services in cash. If so, this may appeal to us. If we segregate our finances we may find that transferring funds from one account to another can be useful and convenient. See if there are some accounts that offer no fees for outgoing transfers to outside institutions. Many banks also have brokerage counterparts. Some of these offer instant fund transfers into their respective brokerage account. This can be pretty useful. There was a time where Capital360 would allow instant transfers into a sharebuilder (now capital one investing) brokerage account. This was pretty appealing to me because I knew if I wanted to take advantage of volatility in the market I could do so instantly instead of waiting two or three days for a transfer to clear. Other perks such as free certified checks, safety deposit boxes, or discounted lending rates are also floating around.
Important: Before you rush out and open a new account be sure to see if there are any signup or referral bonuses. The best place to find this is the page Doctor of Credit updates on a monthly basis. They will literally pay you to open an account or receive/give a referral. This can sometimes be a few hundred dollars! This is not an exhaustive list on how to choose a bank. Other considerations such as proximity to your residence will be important. The benefits from the greatest account in history can quickly become a wash or worse if you have to travel 45 miles to conduct business, so keep practicality in mind. Now that we are armed with some guidelines on how to evaluate our bank, we are one step closer to maximizing our EV outside of the casino.