Alternatives for U.S. Online Poker Players

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By now you’ve heard the news… the FBI has seized the three largest online poker sites: Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. You can read more about it here (or just Google for it):

The online poker universe is ablaze with chatter. The most popular discussion thread on Two Plus two is here:

So what does this mean for the average player? Well…

  1. Your money that you have deposited at any of these sites are probably frozen.
  2. Even non-US players may have a hard time withdrawing money if the sites cannot or process banking transactions.
  3. Any points you had in loyalty programs is likely gone as well.

But All Hope Is Not Loss — U.S. Players Can Still Play!

Many online sportsbooks that have been dealing with the U.S. restrictions on banking transactions related to gaming accept deposits from U.S. players. The online sportsbook industry is much larger and more distributed than the online poker sites, and it will be much harder for U.S. authorities to go after online sportsbooks sites as they have a much smaller U.S. footprint than the online poker sites.

My favorite site is sportsbook.com for not just sports betting, but also online poker, blackjack, video poker, slots, and other casino games. Sportsbook.com belongs to a network of sites so the online poker room and all of the progressive slots have the advantage of many players contributing.

Withdrawals have never been a problem with bankwire or check by DHL overnight carrier as common withdrawal options. They also have frequent deposit bonus promotions and during football season you can get bonuses for depositing mid-week. Even if you don’t wager on mid-week games but just want to plan ahead for the weekend games, you can get a deposit bonus. There are no onerous bonus clearing rules either.

Perhaps best of all, their WAP allows you to place sports bets from any mobile phone very easily. This is especially helpful if you want to take advantage of real-time information you hear about on the radio or live at a game before the line moves. I’ve used them for over 18 years along with just about every other online sportsbook, for my money, I use sportsbook.com — and now I can expect a surge in the soft poker tables!

BofA: Oil Could Hit $160

Bank of America today said that oil could hit $160 a barrel. The May ’11 front month contract for Brent crude closed at $122.88 today, April 13, 2011.

If all indicators point to oil prices going higher, with a floor of $125 this summer, a possible spike past $140, a 30% chance of hitting $160, and a yearly trend of always rising in the summer, isn’t this a buy signal? Everyone in the world has been long oil anyways, right? This is just the confirming analysis.

Pow!

We are going long oil, any oil stock, futures, or ETF such as the 2x leveraged ProShares UCO (closed at $57.24.)

We will exit when we win or lose 20% on UCO (10% for any non-leveraged trade), or we hit Labor Day 2011.  We believe odds are about 60% of winning, possible profit larger than loss.

Here is a chart of the seasonal increase in oil, typically bottoming in March and increasing through the end of summer:

Here is the CNBC quote on the Bank of America analysis:

“Commodity prices should move broadly higher in 2011 on robust economic growth in emerging markets, despite relatively weaker growth in developed markets,” said Sabine Schels, a commodity strategist at BoA Merrill Lynch in London in a research note.

“With oil demand expanding rapidly and Libya production down by at least 1 million barrels per day, we forecast (the) Brent crude oil price to average 122 dollars a barrel in the second quarter, and believe prices could briefly break through 140 dollars in the next 3 months,” she said.

Given the risks from the situation in the Middle-East and North Africa, Schels says there is a chance the price could go even higher over the next 2 months.

“Under our upside risk scenario, Brent prices could average this year between 125 dollars a barrel and 160 dollars a barrel,” Schels said.

Disclaimer: These are my own personal trading strategies documented here as a diary of my analysis methodology. This is in no way an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities. I am not an investment advisor and any trades you make are 100% at your own risk.

MRE’s vs. Freeze Dried Pouches or #10 Cans

Can’t decide between buying MRE’s, freeze dried pouches, or #10 cans? What works best really depends on your situation (like, duh obviously).


MRE vs Freeze Dried Can

I use all of these for my combination of emergency survival food storage, backpacking and camping needs. I’ve prepared, tasted, and carried these different products for many miles on my back, or in the case of #10 cans – have used serveral cases of Mountain House and AlpineAire off-the-grid.

What is right for you will depend on the combination of these 5 factors:

  • Weight

    An MRE weighs the most per serving compared to the other options, but they do not need water added to eat (only for heating). Twelve MRE’s with heaters weigh about 22 lbs on average.

  • Shelf-Life

    #10 freeze dried food cans last 25-30 years so you can store and forget about them.

  • Taste

    Most people agree MRE’s taste the best and eat them on hikes and camping trips. Some people do not like water reconstituted freeze dried food unless it is a real emergency.

  • Cost

    MRE’s actually cost about the same as Mountain House and AlpineAire freeze dried food options. They appear to cost more per serving because they come prepackaged with a side dish, dessert, drink mix and condiments. The real issue in deciding costs is cost-per-serving vs. packaging your own long-term freeze dried food such as rice, beans, grains, etc.

  • Preparation
    MRE’s, especially ones with heaters, are very simple to prepare and you can even use dirty water. In an emergency, you can eat an MRE straight out of the package (kind of like a Pop Tart). Mountain House and AlpineAire food require hot water, but nothing else. Do-it-yourself ingredients will require the most time to prepare.

Why I Love MRE’s

For my personally, I love MRE’s because they are, simply speaking, a “meal ready to eat”! They taste great compared to freeze dried food if you do not like the “watery taste”. Most importantly, I never have to worry about preparation, such as needing clean water and a fuel source when preparing Mountain House or AlpineAire freeze dried food. While the freeze dried food pouches are quite convenient, and in a survival situation you can get by with mixing cold water, I prefer MRE’s because I enjoy the taste. I can rotate MRE’s in and out of my normal eating routine — for example, twice a month we’ll take the family on a picnic to the local state park (5 miles from our house), enjoy MRE’s, and teach them some new outdoor survival skill.

I also love the portability of MRE’s. In a scenario such as a major earthquake, tsunami, or civil unrest where you have to bug out, I want something I can throw in the back of the car quickly. The food won’t last as long per weight, but it’s a lot easier to throw a case of MRE’s (12 meals) in the back of the truck and get out. My goal during a bug out scenario is to just make it to my next destination, not try and survival in the woods for a month.

(Update: Some have suggested you could prepare for a rapid bug out scenario with freeze dried food pouches or #10 cans too by having everything ready to go in bug out containers. This is all true. My general preference is to “not have to worry about food” during a crisis scenario, which includes preparation. I also think water will be scarce so I’d rather use whatever water I pack or obtain for drinking rather than cooking. Another thought: if I had to barter for transportation or shelter, MRE’s are a easier as a unit of trade than freeze dried food pouches or #10 cans.)

Why I Love Mountain House #10 Cans

Quite simply, security and peace of mind. I know I can buy a few cases of Mountain House #10 cans and leave them in my cool basement and I have food storage for many months. The cost per 1000 calorie serving will be more than if you packaged your own long-term freeze dried bags using mylar bags and 5-lb buckets, but the peace of mind and ease of preparation (just add hot water) is more important to me.

I do maintain my own bulk storage of freeze dried food (rice, beans, wheat, flour, sugar) but that is only for a SHTF or TEOTWAWI scenaro where I need to stretch my food supplies for 6+ months (okay, TEOTWAW will require more than 6+ months of food to survive, but the theory is 6-months of food helps you ride out the initial chaos and arrive at a plan).

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Why I Love Mountain House Food Pouches

These combine the best of portability and small serving with the benefits of longer shelf-life (7-years). I like them for backpacking trips where MRE’s are too heavy to pack more than 1-2 days worth of meals, and #10 cans are too bulky and don’t give you enough variety for a few days meals. For example, a #10 can usually has 10 servings so if you want to go backpacking for 7-days and want to have menu variety, you have to pack a lot of different cans. This may work for large groups, though the cans don’t fit very well in a backpack either.

The other great benefit of freeze dried food pouches is that you can test different ways of preparing your food and whether you enjoy the taste. Every now and then, there are some flavors that you just do not enjoy or your stomach may have an adverse reaction or even potential allergies, so with small pouches you can test first. This way, when a SHTF or longer term survival scenario does occur, you know exactly what you will be eating.

Mountain House vs. AlpineAire

I like AlpineAire too but I love the taste of Mountain House better. For variety, I have both in my long-term food storage including some Provident Pantry as well. For short backpacking trips I pack Mountain House unless I am rotating out out food then I will pack one of the other brands.

Mountain House Freeze Dried Alternatives

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Have you tried to buy Mountain House freeze dried food at your favorite online preparedness store lately?

Did you see something like this?

Order Page for Mountain House 10# Cans

Order Page for Mountain House #10 Cans

 

That’s Right — Mountain House #10 Cans Are Out of Stock Everywhere!

After recent world events in the Middle East, North Africa, and Japan, all combined with rising food inflation, the demand for freeze dried food for storage and security is at an all-time high.

Boom!

Demand for Freeze Dried Food Right Now is More Than During Y2K!

As Mountain House freeze dried food is the most popular brand amongst survival preppers and backpackers, all of the large freeze dried food distributors are completely out of stuck and orders to the manufacturers are on back order. In fact, Nitro-Pak, Mountain House’s largest distributor, currently has a 160-day backorder for all Mountain House products (except for storage units as described here – how to buy Mountain House even though it is out of stock.

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My favorite Mountain House alternative is AlpineAire — see #10 cans, pouches, and #2½ cans.  In a very close second place try Provident Pantry #10 cans and pouches.


But Have You Looked at Mountain House Alternatives?

There are alternatives to Mountain House freeze dried food that taste just as good. 10 years ago, Mountain House had the best taste of all the freeze dried food manufacturers, but today, freeze dried technology by the other manufactures have caught up and all the preppers and backpackers I have talked to agree they all taste equally good.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some differences. For example, I feel:

  • Mountain House has a slightly saltier taste with more flavor,
  • while AlpineAire has a slightly drier and stiffer taste (which makes wonderful pastas and cereals).
  • Provident Pantry has a more wholesome taste (some call it “plain”) but that also means it is more universal usable for creating other dishes. For example, the Provide Pantry beef and chicken can be used in just about anything whereas the Mountain House chickens I would only use in saltier menus like Mexican and some Asian dishes.

Summary of Mountain House Alternatives

AlpineAire

  • Very similar to Mountain House with many #10 can options, including different meal types such as entrees, breakfasts and desserts.
  • Large variety of freeze dried food pouches.
  • Unique only to AlpineAire are #2½ cans which have a 15-year shelf life.
  • Many options for base foods such as meats, fruits, vegetables, starches, etc.

Provident Pantry

  • Excellent value on #10 cans when you compare serving cost and calories per dollar spent.
  • Provident Pantry MRE’s are available – the other #10 can manufacturers do not produce MRE’s
  • Focus is on base foods rather than full meals. Great if you plan on preparing food (if you only want a “heat & eat” option, look for full meals from AlpineAire or find some Mountain House in stock somewhere).
  • Lots of unique options such as Italian Meatballs and Mango Slices

If you’ve read all the way to this point and still insist on buying Mountain House, read this article which discusses 3 ways of buying out-of-stock Mountain House.