WSOP 2018

Poker and Crypto in Puerto Rico: Kalas Takes Talents to the Tropics

San Juan, Puerto Rico, has a lot to offer. Tropical Caribbean breezes. Friendly people. The Spanish colonial architecture and sandy beaches. And as the birthplace of the piña colada, there are plenty of bars ready to serve up some liquid goodness.

It’s a place poker player Kane "Nascar_1949" Kalas knows well. But he’s not here for a major poker tour stop or a simple vacation to get some sand between his toes. He’s here to make some money and invest – not in poker but in cryptocurrency.

More Crypto than Cards

No stranger to success on the poker felt, Kalas has more than $1.25 million in live tournament winnings and even more online, including numerous final tables and a runner-up finish in 2014 at the WPT Borgata Open for $500,000. The move to Puerto Rico has him looking for a score of a different kind.

Kane Kalas
Kane Kalas on the felt.

Kalas relocated to Puerto Rico this year to qualify for the favorable tax status offered by the island’s Act 22, which offers incentives for citizens, including no capital gains taxes for investors. For Kalas, it seemed like an easy decision because a large percentage of his income is derived from investments.

“I have become increasingly involved in the cryptocurrency community the past couple of years, and there are many people in the cryptocurrency community who have relocated to Puerto Rico,” he said.

So far, the investing is going well. He purchased his first bitcoin in 2013 when the price was about $100, and he’s continued purchasing through the years.

“Although my average buy price is significantly higher than that, I have done very well overall on the investment,” he said.

Despite success in the sector, Kalas is pessimistic about the short-term price of cryptocurrency (see more in Side Action below for his detailed thoughts and advice).

“I believe there are presently a lot of weak hands in the market, so, for the time being, I am largely sitting on the sidelines awaiting a future buying opportunity,” he said.

Kalas is involved in other types of investing and highly recommends American citizens whose primary source of income is capital gains make the move to Puerto Rico.

“Since moving to Puerto Rico, a lot of my time has been dedicated to tinkering my investing portfolio.”

Beyond the tax-exempt capital gains status from Act 22, he believes the island is an attractive destination for those who run businesses that could export services to the U.S. mainland. Under Act 20, these business owners could qualify for attractive tax benefits as well.

“Many hedge fund managers such as Henry Paulson and Peter Schiff have relocated to Puerto Rico for this reason,” he said. “Cryptocurrency is a highly volatile investment, and it is difficult to predict what will happen with the price of bitcoin or altcoins in the future.”

While he may have a little gamble in him at the poker table, Kalas hopes his educated investments in the markets keep paying off.

“I have always been interested in finance and economics,” he says. “Since moving to Puerto Rico, a lot of my time has been dedicated to tinkering my investing portfolio, not only in cryptocurrency but also in global stock markets.”

Island Time

While the investment life has been good, Kalas couldn’t have asked for a better island to make his new home. He moved last December – just in time to transition from winter to perfect tropical weather.

“The things I love most about Puerto Rico are the weather and food,” he said. “The average daily temperature is between 72 and 80 degrees (22 - 27°C), depending on the time of the year. The Mexican and Cuban food here is very good as well as the local Puerto Rican food.”

Kane Kalas
Kane Kalas works out in his tropical surroundings.

The move to the island has also been a good place to practice his Spanish, which he says needs a lot of work. Kalas shares a house with his girlfriend, and roommate Josh Tieman, another successful online player.

He’s also recently gotten into the resource allocation board game Splendor and has been playing a lot online. And with the wonderful Puerto Rico weather, Kalas is spending more time playing golf and tennis.

While it may not be his main income anymore, Kalas still plays poker. Puerto Rico has some casinos, but opportunities to play live are limited. That means he will hit the road, spending several months in the coming years traveling for poker.

In January, Kalas played the Borgata Winter Poker Open and finished 14th in the Main Event for $ 41,632. He also plans to be in Las Vegas for five weeks during the World Series of Poker. He's looking at a schedule of about ten events. Maybe those cool tropical vibes will carry over to the Rio.

Striking a Note

Kalas is a bit of renaissance man – poker player, traveler, investor, and… singer. The son of famed Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, he has sung the national anthem at Phillies games on occasion since 2003. That includes several regular season games, playoffs, and the last three home openers, including before the first pitch this season.

Growing up with Harry as his father, broadcasting and performing were in the family. While he never sang in a band, Kalas has been in a number of amateur, semi-professional, and professional musicals and operas. In 2016, he appeared in a production of the concert version of “Les Miserables” playing the role of Javert.

“I don't get to sing as much as I'd like anymore,” Kalas said. “I originally got into singing because my middle school had a mandatory annual musical. I decided, for the musical, to get private voice lessons. I happened to select a voice teacher who taught classical voice, and I continued to receive classical voice training through college.”

"I am still very passionate about poker."

A nice set of pipes helps in singing as well as in media. Kalas’s brother Todd is a broadcaster for the Houston Astros. Kane has been an occasional broadcaster through the years, lending his insight to PokerGO’s coverage of the WSOP. In May, he’ll be back behind the mic at the Triton Poker High Roller series in Montenegro and hopes for more work in the future.

He also plans to remain a fixture on the felt himself. While crypto and his new island life might cut into his time with the game, he's not planning on fading into the sunset just yet. It will require balance, but Kalas is a man of many talents.

“I remain passionate about singing and broadcasting, and I’m looking forward to future opportunities to do both of these things,” he said. “I am still very passionate about poker and intend to continue to stay immersed in the poker community.”


SIDE ACTION – Kane on Crypto

Looking for some advice on crypto investing? Kane Kalas spoke with PokerNews about some of his general strategies.

There are a few basic beliefs I have about bitcoin and cryptocurrency that could be of use to potential investors. But please bear in mind I am not a registered investment adviser, and it is entirely possible that an individual following the below advice could lose money. Here they are:

I think Bitcoin is a better value than all altcoins. I believe the network effect of Bitcoin is presently undervalued in the marketplace because a lot of weak hands are simply speculating on coins with less adoption and fewer users hoping to hit it big. I believe the Lightning Network is a game changer for the blockchain, specifically in its ability to handle a large number of transactions cheaply, including micro-transactions. I believe we will continue to see Bitcoin regain market share versus alts in the next few years. I believe the most viable alternatives to Bitcoin are the privacy coins such as Monero.

I believe we are presently in the bear market. I think it's likely this bear market will last through 2018 and likely some time into 2019. I believe at the end of this bear market the price of Bitcoin will be significantly lower than it is right now and the price of alts will be even lower, fractions of their current price than Bitcoin.

I believe the end-value (i.e. the value 20, 40, or 60 years from now) for Bitcoin will be zero, or some number near zero, a decent percentage of the time. There are a number of factors that could lead to Bitcoin eventually being nearly worthless. A superior altcoin could take over Bitcoin's market share. Governments could band together in an effort to thwart Bitcoin and decentralized cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency market could continue to become more fragmented between different altcoins such that there is no clear leader (no one coin is used as money) and thus, there is a theoretically infinite supply of indistinguishable crypto, none of which the marketplace views as money. Quantum computing could pose a threat to the stability and security of the Blockchain.

While it is possible, and perhaps even likely (above 50 percent perhaps), that the "end-price" of Bitcoin could be zero or near zero, it is still a +EV (positive expected value) investment long term. Yes, Bitcoin is presently in the bear market and will continue to trend lower for some time. Yes, it is very possible, maybe even likely, that the end value of bitcoin is zero or near zero.

In the event that Bitcoin doesn’t fall to zero or near zero, though, after this bear market is over, it is possible that the future price of Bitcoin is many multiples of what it is today. If Bitcoin becomes viewed as a store of value globally, similar to gold, it is possible that the dollar price per 1 bitcoin could be as high as $400,000 or $500,000 per coin one day. If Bitcoin is seen as an effective medium of exchange and challenges the dollar or other fiat currencies in this way, the dollar value per coin could, one day, be much higher.

Conclusion: Any money you invest in Bitcoin, prepare to either lose entirely or to make many multiples on it. Therefore, do not invest more than you can afford to lose. And if you are investing large amounts, do not invest more than you need (based on the utility of money) if Bitcoin was to go up 50x from here, for example. Bitcoin is likely to continue to trend downward in the short-term. If you are interested in buying, put buy orders in at a range of prices lower than the current market price. Do not buy alts. If you must buy alts, buy Monero.


Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions. He is also the host of the True Gambling Stories podcast, available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, PokerNews.com, and HoldemRadio.com.

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