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Old 05-01-2019, 02:51 AM
SenorBeef is online now
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What's worthwhile in the gig economy?


I haven't had a real, full time job in quite a long time, and I'm not looking forward to doing that again. I've mostly supported myself through playing poker for over a decade, and for various reasons, that era is ending for me.

The Gig Economy is being sold to us as a win for worker freedom and a positive thing, but I'm pretty sure that's bullshit. It's a further erosion of worker rights and status - workers become even more disposable, companies have even less obligations to them, "independent contractors" don't cost them anything and can trivially be replaced. The pay sucks when you're realistic about it, and no one gives a shit about you.

But I'm in a transitional period in my life. I may need a baby steps job, and a gig job may fit. Rushing right into a full time job right now would not be good for my mental health. And part time jobs are almost all low paying and miserable. So a gig job for a while, while I try either try to retrain myself to be able to work a real job, or for some extra money while I go through school may be a fit for me.

And I know the numbers that gig jobs try to sell you on are bullshit. A lot of people buy into the bullshit for a while and way overestimate their own pay. They want to convince themselves it's working for them, so they ignore uncompensated downtime as part of their work, and underestimate things like depreciation and maintenance costs for something like driving uber or lyft. They don't count all the time they spent driving around doing nothing as part of their hourly, and they're not factoring in replacing their brakes every year instead of every 3 years as part of the costs of doing business. As well as taxes, lack of benefits, etc. Very often people working gig jobs are working for under minimum wage, or even losing money. They may not understand it right away, but eventually they do, and they give up on it, but there are people to replace them so no one (but themselves) care.

Edit: Crap, I submitted this OP by accident. I'm going to have to finish in my second post.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 05-01-2019 at 02:52 AM.
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Old 05-01-2019, 03:10 AM
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So I'm trying to be realistic about it. If you take the right job, in the right city, with the right strategy, it can potentially give you okay pay. Better than most part time jobs. And choosing your own hours, not having some boss making your life miserable really is a benefit.

I'm looking into car-based gig jobs now, because I really don't mind driving around. Unfortunately, my car right now is a 16 year old car, which disqualifies me for rideshare. It's been a very reliable and nice car for me, so I've had no compelling reason to replace it, but it won't do for rideshare, which is probably the best of the gig jobs. I can do delivery jobs with it - grubhub, postmates, doordash, Amazon flex, that sort of thing. But from my research it seems that those jobs pay even worse than rideshare. And with more downtime that's out of your control.

Restaurant doesn't start making your order on time, so you show up and then they start making it and you have to wait another 15 minutes? You, the driver, eats that time, uncompensated. You're delivering to someone, but they fail to give you the gate code for their apartment complex. You call them, but they don't answer. They get back to you 10 minutes later. You just eat that time. The amount of pay you get is lower than you get in rideshare in the first place, and there are a lot more problems that aren't under your control that you have to eat the cost/downtime for.

The jobs themselves don't pay that much, and you're reliant on tips to make any sort of income, but the tips are wildly variable. Almost everyone will tip a pizza delivery guy, but that's not true of gig food delivery. Grubhub has the highest tipping rate with around 50-60% of customers giving some kind of tip, but UberEats on the other end with 10% at most giving a tip.

Grubhub is apparently the best of the companies to work for, but it's not a true gig job - you can't just drop in and drop out when you feel like working. Instead, you have to reserve scheduled blocks at the beginning of the scheduling week. At some point you get a text saying that the next week is open, and then it's a mad dash where everyone tries to log into the scheduling website at the same time and hope you can snatch up some of the premium shifts before everyone else does. Which significantly affects your pay - your hourly rate working the friday night dinner shift may be way better than getting stuck with the tuesday morning shift.

UberEATs is pretty much garbage, everyone I've seen says to stay away from them. Their reimbursement rates are the worst of any of them, hardly anyone that uses ubereats tips, and ubereats won't show you where you're delivering to, so you can't even make good strategic decisions about what jobs are profitable to take and what aren't. It's more of a scam than a gig job.

Doordash and postmates are somewhere in between, and there are smaller services like caviar and instacart I haven't really looked into much yet.

Rideshare is more appealing, but I'd have to get a new car for it. I actually have almost no credit - I lived my life thinking that the responsible thing to do was to save up for things and then buy them in cash, but I realize now that this leaves me with no credit history, which is in some ways a bigger problem than having bad credit. People that got credit cards out and were irresponsible with them are probably in a better place than me, credit wise, because I saved and bought everything.

But it doesn't have to be a fancy, expensive car. Car choice is super important for Uber though. Picking a car that's low maintenance, cheap to repair, and gets good gas milage can be the difference between making $4 an hour and $14. I figure something like a used Japanese hybrid is the ideal uber car. Something like a 2012 Prius or Camry Hybrid or something along those lines can be had for under $10,000, and that seems like the way to go. Hybrids aren't that much more expensive than non-hybrid cars these days, and they easily make up the difference for this sort of thing.

But, like I said, I have a perfectly good, reliable car now, so if I'm going to get a new car (which is actually a bit difficult for me now as I don't have the credit or the spare $10,000 right now) I'd want to make sure this is something that would end up being worthwhile for a while, and that I wouldn't give up on it pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, I live in Las Vegas, which seems to be uniquely bad for gig jobs. There are too many people here who are underemployed or for whatever reason do gig jobs - so the number of gig job drivers to population is very unfavorable to drivers. That leads to very few surge prices for rideshare, extreme competition for grubhub shifts, etc. I've heard other people coming from better cities say that their real earn rate halved when they moved to Vegas, so maybe this is a really shitty place to even try this sort of thing.

Amazon flex isn't a bad deal - you go pick up a bunch of packages and deliver them, and you make somewhere like $15/hr if you're efficient. Unfortunately, it's already 100 in Vegas and it's just going to climb - there's no way I'm going to be out delivering packages in the Vegas summer. It's something I'd think about when it cools down later in the year.

And of course there are non-car gig jobs. I really haven't looked into them very much yet. But I'm open to other ideas. The keys are that I can set my own schedule to a large degree, particularly appealing if I can decide to work and stop at arbitrary points, and that I don't have to work under a boss. I'd give some consideration to anything like that.

So I guess I'm curious to see what you guys think of the whole idea, and what your experiences are trying various forms of gigs, and what you've learned, what your recommendations might be.
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Old 05-01-2019, 03:45 AM
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If I wasn't in the US and in that position I'd take delivery cycling ahead of driving. Same bullshit pay but at least you'll be fit and not suffer slow-murder-by-chair each day. Most US cities don't understand cycling, though, so it might not be a safe work environment if you were new to it. Don't know what Las Vegas is like in that regard, it's probably too sprawled out I guess.

Is there anything to be learnt from your poker colleagues / enemies, who might be in similar situations? You must share a common analytical mindset, and similar commitment to sitting on your arse all day, so perhaps there is inspiration to be found there.
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Old 05-01-2019, 03:49 AM
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A lot of them got into some kind of trading, actually. Day trading, arbitrage trading, financial stuff. I'm not sure if that's a viable path for me, I don't really have a sense for that sort of stuff, but it seems like a lot of the same skill set transfers over. Of course I've also read that because our use of algorithms and models to understand how the markets work, there's very little room for random independent traders to make any money doing it. I've actually lost contact with most of the guys that went that route - they did it a few years ago when online poker was banned and the whole scene started drying up and getting a lot tougher.
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Old 05-01-2019, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
A lot of them got into some kind of trading, actually. Day trading, arbitrage trading, financial stuff. I'm not sure if that's a viable path for me, I don't really have a sense for that sort of stuff, but it seems like a lot of the same skill set transfers over. Of course I've also read that because our use of algorithms and models to understand how the markets work, there's very little room for random independent traders to make any money doing it. I've actually lost contact with most of the guys that went that route - they did it a few years ago when online poker was banned and the whole scene started drying up and getting a lot tougher.
Arbitrage sports betting perhaps - patient, methodical, systems approach that you can do on your own? This would be a completely ludicrous suggestion as a career move for 99.99999% of people, but you do seem to have a singular sort of background for it (and location). The few people who actually make a living at this seem to have a semi-comfortable life framework in place already so have some emotional distance, ie they're not betting the rent money.

Although that perhaps more of the same, or at least along the same lines of what you have been doing. Maybe a change is needed.

Last edited by Busy Scissors; 05-01-2019 at 04:30 AM.
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Old 05-01-2019, 04:51 AM
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I’ve read about some Uber/Lyft drivers actually hiring a car for a week or more at a time to do their driving. Not sure if that would work economically speaking. I would imagine being Vegas you could get some good deals on hire cars. Removes the issue of no credit history, and having to find a cash sum upfront.

You might want to check out fiverr as well, (or perhaps a local equivalent) it’s a gig economy website, with people offering an amazing variety of services. If you can think about what skills/knowledge/abilities you have that could be sought be other people. I’ve occasionally looked through that site and asked myself “People pay money for that?” Apparently they do.
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Old 05-01-2019, 04:56 AM
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Arbitrage sports betting perhaps - patient, methodical, systems approach that you can do on your own? This would be a completely ludicrous suggestion as a career move for 99.99999% of people, but you do seem to have a singular sort of background for it (and location). The few people who actually make a living at this seem to have a semi-comfortable life framework in place already so have some emotional distance, ie they're not betting the rent money.

I appreciate the ideas, but I'm trying to steer away from any sort of gambling stuff. It's funny - I hate gambling. I've never enjoyed the randomness that came with playing poker. If I could've ground out $30-35/hr exactly playing poker (roughly my overall career earn rate), rather than winning $1000 one night then losing $800 then winning $600 the next day, I totally would have. But of course you need that short term randomness - bad players need to win sometimes and convince themselves that they're really winning players that got unlucky. I never had a losing year, but I've had losing months, or several months, before. There are very few jobs where you can do your best, do everything well, and still come home on a really bad day having lost your last month's of earnings in a few hours. Overall it worked out for me, but the gut-punch of the swings of it made it very difficult. If you let that affect you, then it turns into an even bigger loss, and it can spiral out of control. I've had that happen a few times. It's a challenging job - you have to be perfect no matter what you're feeling or what you're dealing with.

I ended up going the boring, almost cowardly route because of that. Back when I started with poker and I had some success with it, I wanted to strive to be among the best. Climb stakes, beat better players, keep going up, live the baller lifestyle. But as I tried to do that, I realized that it became hard as fuck, that the skill edge you had on other incredibly smart people were small, and yet the stakes were higher (and other players playing more aggressively) so the swings were bigger, in both relative and absolute terms. The higher you go, you're chasing a smaller edge and eating bigger swings, which is a recipe for stress.

I ended up settling on small to medium stakes games I knew I could beat reliably, where I almost never encountered people who were better or smarter than me, where my potential earn rate wasn't as high but the edge was bigger and the swings were smaller. I'm not proud of that, but it allowed it to become a more sustainable job. I ended up going the direction of living frugally and minimizing my hours, because even at games I could beat the discipline and focus and emotional costs were still pretty high.

In any case, to be a big sports bettor you need a bankroll in the hundreds of thousands of range and unfortunately I'm nowhere near that now. I don't think it would be a financially viable choice and probably not a mentally/emotional one either. If I was going to go that route, I'd probably go back into poker, since that's something I know I'm capable of doing. But I don't think it's something I can do anymore in terms of mental health.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 05-01-2019 at 04:59 AM.
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Old 05-01-2019, 07:46 AM
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Consider looking into taskrabbit.com. They allow you to take on odd jobs and set your own rates and hours. You'd be able to use your own car for jobs that require it. Some people move furniture or assemble Ikea furniture. If you have any real skills, like plumbing or carpentry, you can command higher rates. You probably won't make anywhere near $35/hour after Task Rabbit takes their cut and you account for down time but it might get you started on working in the gig economy. I haven't used Task Rabbit myself but my friends who have been customers like the service. You can supplement Task Rabbit earnings with posts on Craigslist offering to do odd jobs.
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Old 05-01-2019, 08:35 AM
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Is the "gig economy" actually a real, unitary thing? Isn't it just a lazy meme of public discourse to describe a hodgepodge of attempts to use online communications as a way to repackage and disguise some of the same old services?

I think the term itself is kind of vapid and self-delusional.
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Old 05-01-2019, 09:36 AM
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Do you have a college degree? I work occasionally scoring standardized test essays from home. It’s very hit or miss though, this is the busy time of the year and then again in late fall/early winter.

It helps pay for an annual European trip and it is enjoyable. Driving Uber sounds awful, at least in Chicago.
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Old 05-01-2019, 03:20 PM
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Is the "gig economy" actually a real, unitary thing? Isn't it just a lazy meme of public discourse to describe a hodgepodge of attempts to use online communications as a way to repackage and disguise some of the same old services?

I think the term itself is kind of vapid and self-delusional.
This is such a bizarre thing to be elitist and sneer over.

Is working for Uber the same thing as being a cab driver? You don't work shifts, you choose when and where and how much to work. There are mutual rating systems which filter out bad players out of the system. You own your own vehicle.

If you say yes, it's the exact same thing, it's ridiculous. If you say no, it's different, then why shouldn't someone be able to go online and ask about other people's experience with a new type of job?

What did you want me to do, title this "so, those of you who work for companies that are trying to use the internet to change traditional business models and as a result
created new ways for workers to interact with their work, what's your experience?"

Vapid and self delusional. Ha.
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Old 05-01-2019, 04:21 PM
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This is such a bizarre thing to be elitist and sneer over.

Is working for Uber the same thing as being a cab driver? You don't work shifts, you choose when and where and how much to work. There are mutual rating systems which filter out bad players out of the system. You own your own vehicle.

If you say yes, it's the exact same thing, it's ridiculous. If you say no, it's different, then why shouldn't someone be able to go online and ask about other people's experience with a new type of job?

What did you want me to do, title this "so, those of you who work for companies that are trying to use the internet to change traditional business models and as a result
created new ways for workers to interact with their work, what's your experience?"

Vapid and self delusional. Ha.
Not in the slightest. I was essentially agreeing with everything you said in your OP--specifically, to quote you, that "the numbers that gig jobs try to sell you on are bullshit." And of course I realize you don't have much choice but to use that term; it's the term everyone uses.

My point is that for all practical purposes, it's not a new "economy" per se. (And that's why you're right--the numbers are "bullshit.") Many cab drivers own their own cab, so they theoretically choose their own shifts, and they often are Uber drivers at the same time, in fact. But the fact that people order a ride with their smart phone doesn't change the global economics of paid car service. People aren't going to spend more now, or use the service more now, just because they can order it with a special app. When I drove I cab I had a weekly lease--so in theory I could pick and choose my hours, yada yada yada. In the end, I still had to put in the same total hours, and work the same shifts (when rides were in demand), as any other driver, if I was going to make it pay off and make a living. That's what I mean. It doesn't make it a different "economy," in the true sense of that word, just because you can order it by typing on your phone instead of speaking into it. That's all.

I wasn't referencing you at all, (except to agree with your opening premise), and more was referring to people in the media who talk about these different services as though it were fundamentally a different economy. It's not. True, using an app to get clients is different, but in terms of economics, it's a superficial difference. Unfortunately, I think that superficial difference makes some people think there's more money to be made than actually is out there. I've worked with newly arrived refugees who thought that they could get rich with Uber, and pooled all the cash they could gather from extended family to buy a new car, but it wasn't the kind of earnings they thought it would be. They get stuck with payments on a highly depreciated car, and not any more then they could have earned from another job--specially one that they had training for in their country. The vapid ones are the media who have created this term; the delusional ones are those who think the technology itself is going to make them rich. In the end, we're providing the same services as before, whether its by app or not, so the potential earnings are going to be the same.
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Old 05-01-2019, 06:39 PM
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Is the "gig economy" actually a real, unitary thing? Isn't it just a lazy meme of public discourse to describe a hodgepodge of attempts to use online communications as a way to repackage and disguise some of the same old services?

I think the term itself is kind of vapid and self-delusional.
Well, yes and no.

As SenorBeef pointed out, while taxis and car services have been around forever, Uber and Lyft are a similar, but slightly different business model.

I'm not sure how I feel about the "gig economy". Keep in mind it includes more than just Uber drivers. While temping and contract work has been around forever, there does seem to be a fundamental shift towards businesses outsourcing any tasks or services that can be commoditized. And the idea that you are "CEO of your own career" is bullshit. It's generally not scalable. That is to say you can only work so many hours a day at whatever the rate is for your service. It also tends to commoditize people. I feel like early on in my career, companies hired smart people with diverse backgrounds who they could then "wear many hats". Now it seems like everyone has to fit a very specific profile.
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Old 05-01-2019, 07:54 PM
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If driving is what you want to do, maybe consider getting a passenger van and advertise a shuttle service. Las Vegas has a ton of non-gambler visitors who want to get out of town for a day trip to Red Rock, Hoover dam, etc. You could advertise on something like Tripadvisor and offer a morning shuttle to Red Rock Canyon for a 1/2 day trip, drop off your customers, and then pick up at noon. You might offer an afternoon trip so you can take customers out at noon on your way to pick up your morning customers. That way you would be limited to three trips from the Strip to Red Rock and back, with a set schedule, and pricing that you set. You might know of other trips that may be better, but I'm just throwing out Red Rock Canyon as an idea. Maybe Mt Charleston, Hoover dam, Death Valley?

I've used Tripadvisor for walking tours in some cities, and they are fun. People who bring non-gambling family members to Vegas would probably be happy to find something for them to do. You know the area, you could probably design a shuttle or day tour that would be appealing to them.

Or get a gig playing Jeopardy! There is some dude currently doing pretty well with that gig.
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Old 05-01-2019, 08:05 PM
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Well, yes and no.

I'm not sure how I feel about the "gig economy". Keep in mind it includes more than just Uber drivers. While temping and contract work has been around forever, there does seem to be a fundamental shift towards businesses outsourcing any tasks or services that can be commoditized. And the idea that you are "CEO of your own career" is bullshit. It's generally not scalable. That is to say you can only work so many hours a day at whatever the rate is for your service. It also tends to commoditize people. I feel like early on in my career, companies hired smart people with diverse backgrounds who they could then "wear many hats". Now it seems like everyone has to fit a very specific profile.
While outsourcing has been around for a while, the model has been to outsource to a company which deals with employees you don't want to hire, for instance to clean your building. The gig economy is more like finding some poor person with a mop and hiring her.

The two closest things to the gig economy in the past were acting (which is a mess without strong unions) and freelance writing. Lots of people don't make money in those areas, but at least that was known.

There was an article in the NY Times not long ago analyzing how screwed an Uber driver in New York was, in terms of doing lots of driving but not making much money for it.
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Old 05-01-2019, 08:13 PM
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Is the "gig economy" actually a real, unitary thing? Isn't it just a lazy meme of public discourse to describe a hodgepodge of attempts to use online communications as a way to repackage and disguise some of the same old services?

I think the term itself is kind of vapid and self-delusional.
Its a polite way of saying that due to lack of job stability and increased income inequality people are forced to perform a wide range of odd jobs where they have no benefits, no job security and a higher tax rate.
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Old 05-01-2019, 09:05 PM
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Is the "gig economy" actually a real, unitary thing? Isn't it just a lazy meme of public discourse to describe a hodgepodge of attempts to use online communications as a way to repackage and disguise some of the same old services?

I think the term itself is kind of vapid and self-delusional.
It certainly is a real thing and it has served to get me through some tough times.

You can also find the term "crowdsourcing" for some of this. News teams crowdsource video of events like floods or fires that they can use for their coverage. Directors also crowdsource background images for videos and films. As a writer, I can go to Craigslist, fiverr, or another source to try to find business writing for small companies.

These companies can't afford to pay someone full time, but they want their stuff to look professional so they hire someone like me to buff up website content or edit their company policies. When the work is done and paid, I'm off to find another project.

People really do make a living this way. It's not enough to retire on, but if it helps pay bills when the chips are down.
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Old 05-02-2019, 12:57 AM
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It certainly is a real thing and it has served to get me through some tough times.
Sure, but that wasn't the question. The question was: "Is it a real, unitary thing?" In a later post I clarified. (See post 12.)
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People really do make a living this way.
Of course. Again, I never questioned that. I'm questioning whether there really is some kind of new "economy" that would merit this new title. (See post 12.) People have been providing these services in this way for a long time. It's called "freelancing," "independent contracting," etc. It's not a new "economy," but the way the media use this term I think promulgates that idea, and misleads people. It's an attention-grabbing phrase which focuses on the use of online communication as something different, but that's just superficial and doesn't change the fundamental economics. As mentioned above, it may be a slightly different business model for the big players, but for the workers themselves, it's nothing really new.

And to be clear, this point doesn't question what the OP is asking, either, which is a valid and interesting question.
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The gig economy is more like finding some poor person with a mop and hiring her.
In many countries this is--and has always been--the way a large portion of the population gets by.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:59 AM
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While outsourcing has been around for a while, the model has been to outsource to a company which deals with employees you don't want to hire, for instance to clean your building. The gig economy is more like finding some poor person with a mop and hiring her.
The second has been in place for a lot longer than the first, for that particular type of service.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:12 AM
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Also, if you're concerned about mental health issues - I'm not saying you are but you mentioned something similar - there are real concerns about the effect of the growing gig economy on mental health outcomes.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:22 AM
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While outsourcing has been around for a while, the model has been to outsource to a company which deals with employees you don't want to hire, for instance to clean your building. The gig economy is more like finding some poor person with a mop and hiring her.
Some of the gig economy is like letting people know that your floor needs mopping and allowing random people to come in off the street, check in with a cell phone app, and mop your floor without ever interacting with them. It amazes me that the business model for some of the electric scooter outfits (Bird) is to have random people pick up their scooters, charge them using their home outlets, and put the scooters back out on the streets, getting paid for each one completed. I still have a difficult time wrapping my brain around crowdsourcing work like this.

https://www.ridester.com/bird-scooter-charger/
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:58 AM
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Understanding that you want to get away from gambling, but would something gambling-adjacent be a reasonable option in the short term? I think that it's impressive that you made a living playing poker, and you clearly communicate well and have an understanding of different levels of play. Perhaps you could provide private poker lessons aimed at folks who are kind of entry level, going to be in Vegas for a few days, and want to improve their odds a little at the low stakes tables?
You could spend a morning with a group of maybe 5 students to teach them some low-hanging fruit strategies, and then take them to a casino in the afternoon to try out their new skills. Throw in a lunch with some local color and charge two hundred bucks for the package.
I don't know how you'd handle the hassle of booking, marketing, dealing with no-shows, etc. But it seems like there might be some money there that leverages off of your unique experience and location. Maybe push it as a thing for bachelor parties?
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
The gig economy is more like finding some poor person with a mop and hiring her.
More like finding a new poor person with a mop each night, and paying them as little as possible, since you know you can.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:15 AM
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I was in a similar situation last fall, and investigated all the gig options. I decided to deliver pizzas for a national chain, and it was the best fit no question.

The pay is good enough ($17ish an hour by me with tips), the kids who work there are super fun to just hang with as an “old lady” and the best part - I have to be there when I have to be there. I knew I just wouldn’t make myself work as much as I needed to if I was gigging it. And the best best part - I don’t have to spend any time looking for clients or calculating what areas are the best at what time, etc.

Think about going to your local Pizza Hut/Dominos/whatever and applying as a driver. No worries about the age of your car, no battling competition, and it gets you off the Strip with it’s traffic and gambling. Pick a middle to upper class neighborhood away from UNLV and Fremont and just start driving.
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Old 05-02-2019, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
The second has been in place for a lot longer than the first, for that particular type of service.
True. For example, the singer in "King of the Road" gets two hours of pushing brooms. Perfect example. Though in the US not something people competed for, unlike freelancing.
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Old 05-02-2019, 12:36 PM
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Some of the gig economy is like letting people know that your floor needs mopping and allowing random people to come in off the street, check in with a cell phone app, and mop your floor without ever interacting with them. It amazes me that the business model for some of the electric scooter outfits (Bird) is to have random people pick up their scooters, charge them using their home outlets, and put the scooters back out on the streets, getting paid for each one completed. I still have a difficult time wrapping my brain around crowdsourcing work like this.

https://www.ridester.com/bird-scooter-charger/
Interesting. I've seen the scooters whizzing around San Francisco, and wondered how they got charged.

BTW, in a Times column about the Uber IPO it is stated that the average Uber driver makes $10 an hour, after subtracting vehicle cost from the fare. I don't know what the denominator is for number of hours.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:13 PM
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Understanding that you want to get away from gambling, but would something gambling-adjacent be a reasonable option in the short term? I think that it's impressive that you made a living playing poker, and you clearly communicate well and have an understanding of different levels of play. Perhaps you could provide private poker lessons aimed at folks who are kind of entry level, going to be in Vegas for a few days, and want to improve their odds a little at the low stakes tables?
You could spend a morning with a group of maybe 5 students to teach them some low-hanging fruit strategies, and then take them to a casino in the afternoon to try out their new skills. Throw in a lunch with some local color and charge two hundred bucks for the package.
I don't know how you'd handle the hassle of booking, marketing, dealing with no-shows, etc. But it seems like there might be some money there that leverages off of your unique experience and location. Maybe push it as a thing for bachelor parties?
This is likely the best suggestion which will, in the long-term, optimize your earning potential. To emphasize ebb's point: You have a decade of making a living playing poker. Seriously - people will pay you big bucks to "learn your secret".
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Sateryn76 View Post
I was in a similar situation last fall, and investigated all the gig options. I decided to deliver pizzas for a national chain, and it was the best fit no question.

The pay is good enough ($17ish an hour by me with tips), the kids who work there are super fun to just hang with as an “old lady” and the best part - I have to be there when I have to be there. I knew I just wouldn’t make myself work as much as I needed to if I was gigging it. And the best best part - I don’t have to spend any time looking for clients or calculating what areas are the best at what time, etc.

Think about going to your local Pizza Hut/Dominos/whatever and applying as a driver. No worries about the age of your car, no battling competition, and it gets you off the Strip with it’s traffic and gambling. Pick a middle to upper class neighborhood away from UNLV and Fremont and just start driving.
How many pizzas did you deliver per hour to earn that $17/hr? What was your base rate of pay before tips?

My understanding is that Uber eats drivers and grub hub drivers make far less than 17/hr after factoring in car depreciation.

How well did people tip in the good neighborhoods?
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:25 PM
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I did Uber Eats. Made crazy money - once got paid $17 to deliver some college kid a large Sprite from McD's - he lived 4 minutes away. But then Uber stopped paying multiples, so I stopped doing it.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:57 PM
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I think ebb's idea is brilliant. Top notch.

JohnT, what are "multiples"?
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Old 05-02-2019, 04:03 PM
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Sorry, surges. For that Sprite, Uber was charging like 5X delivery rates. I guess the guy really wanted it.
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Old 05-02-2019, 04:30 PM
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This isn't really a "gig" job, but I would suggest you consider being a security officer (guard). In the SE US, it's not unusual to make $11 to $16 an hour. The companies frequently have unusual shifts (e.g., two 12-hour shifts on weekends) they need to fill, so you might actually end up working only two or three days a week. The work is not hard and doesn't require much experience, BUUUUT you need to have a clean criminal record. A lot of the companies have room for advancement and some actually offer benefits if you work enough hours.

It's not like it's a long-term commitment or anything. I know a woman who works for a few months a year, quits, and the uses the money for a big vacation. (Her husband has a FT job and covers other expenses for the family.) You can stop thinking about it as soon as you leave your assigned location.
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:11 PM
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I did Uber Eats. Made crazy money - once got paid $17 to deliver some college kid a large Sprite from McD's - he lived 4 minutes away. But then Uber stopped paying multiples, so I stopped doing it.
I've heard some people make decent money by traveling to nearby cities and doing uber when there is a major event in town (sporting event, etc). They can get surge pricing.

I didn't know uber eats did surge pricing.
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:35 PM
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I think it was a "we really need more San Antonio Uber Eats drivers" thing which led to the surges. But it wasn't really a surge as you were told ahead of time when and where these multiples would occur.
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:47 PM
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Not on the topic of ride share, but as a mid-to-long term suggestion from somebody who played poker as a sole source of income for a number of years and then changed careers: you probably have the mindset to code.

The analytical rigor and head for numbers needed for poker translates pretty well to coding in my experience, and coding is one of the few fields where you can go to a bootcamp and then get a job without a degree in the field. There are a number of bootcamps that are "free," even (they make money from the spread between what they charge the company they staff you with and what they pay you). You can make as much as you were making playing poker, with none of the volatility, and corporate benefits to boot.

I know, I know - you lose the "be your own boss" thing. But only for a while, after you have a few years experience under your belt it's pretty easy to go freelance and do contract gigs wherever you can. And that's a "gig economy" that actually isn't screwing you, because you should be easily clearing six figures as a gig coder. Something to mull over.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:40 PM
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Before deciding to deliver pizza for Domino's or Pizza Hut, remember that your personal auto insurance doesn't cover commercial use of your car. And either does Domino's'. So if you're in an accident, you're screwed royally.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:04 PM
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The JP Morgan Chase Institute did a serious study of this and found average platform earnings of $800 or so/month--which is $10,000/year.
https://www.jpmorganchase.com/corpor...e-ope-2018.pdf
  #38  
Old 05-02-2019, 10:23 PM
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Question: How the heck do you support yourselves playing poker? There are not 1, but 2 posters in here claiming to have accomplished this. I was under the impression that poker is a negative sum game, where over an infinite number of poker hands the house will always win all your stake. I know that someone could make very slightly "smarter" gambling decisions, and/or see through other gambler's "poker faces", but I wouldn't assume this would equate to enough of an edge to make money doing it.

As for driving gigs, given the low barrier to entry and the fact that many drivers may be accepting wages so low they are actually making under minimum wage, this is an awful way to make money. I mean you wouldn't expect to make even as much as a garbageman driving for uber or lyft - there's a barrier to entry for collecting garbage! This kind of job is best suited for someone who just got laid off and owns a car new enough to drive for the service. It might earn enough to keep up with some of your bills while looking for another real job.

Last edited by SamuelA; 05-02-2019 at 10:28 PM.
  #39  
Old 05-02-2019, 10:37 PM
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You make money playing poker by being significantly better than the people you play against. You're correct that it's a negative sum game - the house takes a small cut of every pot. It depends somewhat on location, game, stakes, and your style, but a rough number is going to be something like paying $20/hr to the casino to play. So... you need to be able to beat other players by more than $20 an hour, and you profit. There are relatively few people who can make a living doing poker - there are a lot of people who would be winners in a rakeless world, but few people that can beat the rake. I think the numbers are in the 6% range, depending on venue, rake, online vs live, etc.

I think you just underestimate the skill level involved. It's a surprisingly complex game, way more than anyone understands unless they try to study it seriously. There are actually quite a lot of tiers of skill. Player B is good enough to reliably beat player A. Player C is good enough to reliably beat player B... you could probably go all the way up through 20 tiers that way. The mental game that players O and N are playing aren't even concepts that players D and C would understand.

Edit: Appreciate the suggestions, I'll write more later.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 05-02-2019 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:41 PM
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The mental game that players O and N are playing aren't even concepts that players D and C would understand.
Can you elaborate a bit? If I get lucky and get the right cards, I can beat the best poker player in the world. Statistically, on 50% on the hands, if that player and I are playing 1 on 1, I will get a better hand.

How does he beat me?
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:51 PM
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Oh sure, whoever wins any particular hand is mostly random and of little consequence. But you don't just play one hand. If you and I sat down to play 1 on 1, with a reasonable structure (that is to say that the average amount we'll be playing for isn't a significant fraction of the amount of money we both have), and we agreed to play 500 hands, the chances of you being up at the end of the night against me is low. If we played 5000 hands, almost zero.

Now that's a contrived scenario - and that's why I don't have a winning record against everyone who ever sat down at my table - but it means that over the long term if I'm better than the people I play against by a margin enough to cover the rake I'll take a profit. As I said above, I've had losing days, weeks, months, even 3 or 4 months (bad times), but never a losing year. The more hands I play, the less the randomness affects my results, the greater it'll tend to approach the expected rates.

On average, I'd when I had the advantage over you and how to go about making those pots bigger. Or when I was behind, and when to make those pots small or when to give up on them. I will do a much better job of figuring out what you think the strength of your hand is, and what you think the strength of my hand is, and your resulting strategies. I'll notice patterns in your play, understand the sort of mistakes you make, and be able to adjust my strategy to account for that. I'll understand the math involved - from the easy stuff like pot odds to more advanced things like semi-bluffs or implied odds, to way more complex stuff that even I have to slow down and think about sometimes.

Really, I wouldn't have to pull out anything fancy, since you're a novice level player. But against another good or even expert player, they know most or all of the concepts that I know, they know the math, they can observe my strategy - playing against them becomes a much trickier game. That game would involve a lot more meta-strategy based around what I thought he thought I was thinking, and what he thought I thought he thought I thought he thought I was thinking. It can actually go really deep with several different levels of thinking that you'd use based on the depth of knowledge you assessed your opponent to have. High level decisions can get really complicated and involve a lot of game theory derived strategy that wouldn't be apparent at all to someone who had a much more basic understanding of the game.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 05-02-2019 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:56 PM
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Really, I wouldn't have to pull out anything fancy, since you're a novice level player. But against another good or even expert player, they know most or all of the concepts that I know, they know the math, they can observe my strategy - playing against them becomes a much trickier game. That game would involve a lot more meta-strategy based around what I thought he thought I was thinking, and what he thought I thought he thought I thought he thought I was thinking. It can actually go really deep with several different levels of thinking that you'd use based on the depth of knowledge you assessed your opponent to have. High level decisions can get really complicated and involve a lot of game theory derived strategy that wouldn't be apparent at all to someone who had a much more basic understanding of the game.
Ok. Fair enough. I recall from looking at Nash equilibria and numerical solvers for simpler games than poker, that the optimal strategy often ends up being to choose randomly, with a particular probability weight assigned to each choice, from several choices.

So one method to hide information in poker would be to make your decision with some randomness - in situation A, 10% action 1, 30% action 2, 60% action 3, while in situation B, 20% action 1, 40% 2, 40% 3.

I think you should try to become an AI developer. (machine learning engineer, etc) Why not shoot for the ceiling? Don't just become a regular programmer, become one with a top tier valuation to future employers.
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:04 PM
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That's actually correct. It actually reminds me of one of my favorite poker jokes - "I fold pocket aces 12% of the time preflop for range balancing"

That sort of stuff comes into play in very high level play, when the players are so close in their knowledge of the game and strategy that they have to start thinking about game theory optimal strategies to gain any sort of edge (or lessen their weaknesses). You start assessing your options, and then assigning bayesian probability matrices to weight your action, even randomizing your actions as to prevent any sort of exploitable tendencies. The Theory of Poker even has some suggestions as to how to randomize your play, like glancing at your watch and using the seconds to be a random number generator. That's the book I'd recommend, by the way, if you want to understand more about the various elements that go into poker strategy. It's not completely comprehensive, and it's a bit outdated (and you'd be surprised how much the thinking about poker strategy has advanced since then) but it's a good general purpose guide to understanding the sort of things that give poker depth.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 05-02-2019 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:11 PM
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That's actually correct. It actually reminds me of one of my favorite poker jokes - "I fold pocket aces 12% of the time preflop for range balancing"

That sort of stuff comes into play in very high level play, when the players are so close in their knowledge of the game and strategy that they have to start thinking about game theory optimal strategies to gain any sort of edge (or lessen their weaknesses). You start assessing your options, and then assigning bayesian probability matrices to weight your action, even randomizing your actions as to prevent any sort of exploitable tendencies. The Theory of Poker even has some suggestions as to how to randomize your play, like glancing at your watch and using the seconds to be a random number generator. That's the book I'd recommend, by the way, if you want to understand more about the various elements that go into poker strategy. It's not completely comprehensive, and it's a bit outdated (and you'd be surprised how much the thinking about poker strategy has advanced since then) but it's a good general purpose guide to understanding the sort of things that give poker depth.
Sure, though I'm not really all that interested in the arbitrary names of the states. From my perspective, as a programmer who has done some machine learning, to me this is just a game with some inputs representing a particular location on a finite state table of possible poker game states. I suspect that one of the more recently published openAI algorithms could solve poker without any game-specific information required. (you need a gym environment where you do have to score each hand and generate possible poker hands, however)

It is rather unfortunate that human players must use their limited and inaccurate grey matter to solve this game instead of being able to just look up the correct move to make off a Q-table or other automatically generated solution.
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:22 PM
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I suspect that one of the more recently published openAI algorithms could solve poker without any game-specific information required. (you need a gym environment where you do have to score each hand and generate possible poker hands, however)
Meet Libratus.
  #46  
Old 05-03-2019, 01:00 AM
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I think you just underestimate the skill level involved.
I don't. To make a living playing poker requires a particular expertise and unique skills, as you have described. I suspect that there surely are other ways to apply them doing freelance work, though I would have to think about it more to give you a specific suggestion, (and you've probably considered a lot of them already, I imagine). I suppose for that kind of freelance work--that is, one that truly draws upon your unique skills--you would have to invest some time to get established in whatever job it is, and it probably won't be one of the things that typically gets labeled as the "gig economy." And maybe you're not in the mood to put in such an investment.

In any case, it sounds to me like successful poker playing is something akin to "playing" the stock market successfully, in that you have to be able to see how things play out in the long-term, and apply well-founded principles consistently, despite temptations to do otherwise.
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Old 05-03-2019, 05:59 AM
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nm

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  #48  
Old 05-03-2019, 08:58 AM
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How many pizzas did you deliver per hour to earn that $17/hr? What was your base rate of pay before tips?

My understanding is that Uber eats drivers and grub hub drivers make far less than 17/hr after factoring in car depreciation.

How well did people tip in the good neighborhoods?
I deliver anywhere from 8-22 pizzas per 6 hour shift. Base pay for me in Indiana is 7.25 in house, $4.25 when out on delivery. Plus I get a .40 a mile reimbursement at the end of the shift for my miles driven.

My average tip in this very blue collar average town is about $4.50.
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Old 05-03-2019, 09:03 AM
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Before deciding to deliver pizza for Domino's or Pizza Hut, remember that your personal auto insurance doesn't cover commercial use of your car. And either does Domino's'. So if you're in an accident, you're screwed royally.
It doesn’t for Uber, Grub Hub, etc., either. You have a get a rider for your personal policy for those as well.
  #50  
Old 05-03-2019, 01:22 PM
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Can you elaborate a bit? If I get lucky and get the right cards, I can beat the best poker player in the world. Statistically, on 50% on the hands, if that player and I are playing 1 on 1, I will get a better hand.

How does he beat me?
My brother played poker quite well. Not for a living, but he did make money at it.
How does he beat you? By convincing you that he has a better hand, among other methods. Being good at math helps, but you are not playing against a computer, so other factors are more important.
My brother used to go to Vegas for tournaments. He never played in the tournaments, he played the people who were early losers in the tournaments. This was quite profitable.
In poker, while the house takes a cut you are not playing a game where the house has odds in its favor.
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