Monday, November 21, 2016

Wheeling and Dealing (and Two Hands of Poker)

I've been driving a G37x for the past 5 years.  I bought it in March 2011.  Before that, I had another G37, sans AWD.  I really loved Infiniti.  Fun to drive; and no issues in nearly a decade.  The maintenance costs sort of sucked, but that's a whole different issue . . .  While I loved the car, due in large part to frequent trips to Atlantic City and Jets games during NFL season, the G37x had just shy of 100,000 miles on it.  Although the note had just been paid off in April, and I was enjoying the absence of a monthly car payment, I figured it was time to look into a new ride.
I had several requirements in purchasing a new car.  First, I did not want to finance it.  I had been saving up loose change for some time, and just wanted to drop a sack of quarters and nickels off at the dealership and be done with it.  This had me leaning towards something far less costly than another Infiniti.  Hell, I wasn't even sure if the Infiniti dealer would even accept change as a form of payment.  My other two requirements were (a) some power; and (b) all wheel drive.  I had gotten use to 300 HP+ and wasn't sure I could deal with a lack of torque.  And, living in D.C., which gets a fair amount of snow, AWD was important. 
I spent several months reading on-line reviews and watching YouTube videos, trying to narrow down my choices.  I considered a Ford Mustang Ecoboost; but the lack of AWD was bothersome.  I considered a Mazda 6; but besides looking cool, it offered neither power nor AWD.  I considered a Honda Accord V6 and a Ford Fusion Sport; but the reviews were not up to snuff.  Eventually, I started focusing in on the Audi A4 and the Acura TLX.  Both checked all the boxes; but were above my target price range, although the Acura only slightly so.  I weighed both for several weeks, and got estimates.  The A4 was clearly the better reviewed car, and had a ton of technology options the Acura did not have.  Eventually, I reached the point of: " . . . what's another $xxxx.xx . . ."  So, I made an appointment to test drive the Audi Saturday, with the intention of dropping off my sack of change if things went well and the price was reasonable.    
In preparation, I left work early Friday and made a trip to the DMV to turn in the lien release on my G37 to get clear title to trade in the car.  To my chagrin, they took my title and promised to send me a "clear" one in the mail within 6 days.  So, despite trying to make sure I had all necessary documentation to pull of a clean transaction over the weekend, I found myself in a worse spot than if I had done nothing.  The 2.5 hours I spent at the DMV waiting was just an added kick to the balls.  Friday evening, with no title in hand, I decided to at least get an appraisal at the local CarMax and see whether they would buy without a title in hand.  The process was easy.  CarMax lived up to its no-hassle billing.  Within 40 minutes, I had an offer in hand, good for 7 days.  And it was at the high end of KBB's estimate for the car.  Unfortunately, they would not buy without the title.  I left, but fully expected to return in a week to (get a new appraisal and) sell.
Saturday morning, I left the Mansion at 8:50 for the appointment at Audi.   I chose the location in Frederick, Maryland over Rockville (which is closer to D.C.).  I figured I might get a better price further out from D.C.; also, the roads in Frederick would provide a better opportunity to open the car up than the congested street's of Rockville.  I hate the car buying process, and was not looking forward to the morning.  I was also anxious to get out to Charles Town to play some poker in the evening.  Nevertheless, everything went smooth, despite the salesman's reluctance, for whatever reason, to actually offer me a price.  He kept quoting the MRSP on the various cars with various options, and would not directly respond with an actual number to my question - "well, how much off MSRP can you offer."  I had done the best due diligence I could.  Unfortunately, there were no Audi dealerships participating on Truecar.com, so I could not get a price evaluation from the site.  And Edmunds "fair price" was only marginally helpful.  The only reasonable piece of information I had was a "sonic, no haggle" price on a similar car from the Rockville Audi Dealership which I was using as a base.  But, since options vary so much car to car on this type of vehicle, even that was only of so much use.
When we got back from the test drive, the manager came over to give me an actual price.  I had a number in mind.  He came back EXACTLY on my number.  I have no feel for how much wiggle room a dealer like Audi actually has; and how much they will really negotiate.  I have a friend in Chicago who has owned two Q5's, and, in his experience, the dealer offered a take-it-or-leave-it offer both times he bought.  So, I countered $500 less; and the offered was quickly accepted.  I said, "damn, you agreed too quickly . . . I left money on the table, huh?"; to which he replied, "well, you offered a fair price, so I accepted . . ."  Who knows.  I'm sure I could have done better; but by how much?  I lacked the inclination to haggle over a few hundred dollars; but, if it were a few thousand, that would suck.  I'll never know...
And that left the matter of my G37.  I figured I'd have to drive it home 30 miles, Uber back to the dealer, and deal with selling it to CarMax after the holidays.  But, to my surprise, the manager said he's take it without title so long as I agreed to mail it in once received.  And, while I was expecting a low-ball offer, Audi came in only $500 less than CarMax - an amount I was not going to spend time worrying about.         
The paperwork was easy since there was no financing, and, after a 40 minute tutorial about the car's features, I was out the door and heading to play some poker.

As for poker . . . Yuk.  It was my first session in about a month.  I started out by chipping up to $330 or so, when the following hand happened:
I call $5 with 75x on the button, and we go 4 to the flop.  Everyone has about $300+ behind.  Flop is 4(c)  6(c)  8(h).  First to act makes it $15.  Second to act raises to like $75.  Third to act tanks, complains, and then calls.  I shove.  Call.  Call.  Call.  $1,200+ pot.  I figure 3rd to act is on a draw, given his tank-call.  Turn is a club.  Sure enough, he hits his flush.  The other two were set over set, bemoaning their misfortune.  I silently rebought, and moved on.
About 30 minutes later, I flopped another straight with 98 against a short stack ($120 or so).  He tables K(c) K(s) . . . flop brings two spades . . . turn is a spade . . . river is a spade.  Flush takes it.  I add on another $100.
Ultimately, I played 6.5 hours until 4:00 am.  At one point, I was in for $800 and felt like The Trooper.... I ended up taking a $230 hit to the roll when I cashed out.  Not the result I was looking for, but I felt I played well, and just got hit by the wrong side of variance.  The poker gods owe me next time out.
Happy Holidays,



  1. Well done, we've had an A4 A6 and two Q5s. You'll love your Audi!

    1. Thanks Tom. Good to hear. Part of me wanted an S5, of course . . . but . . . gotta be somewhat reasonable ;)

  2. Congrats on being Smart and saving your couch change to buy the vehicle.
    Too many people I know have payments they can't afford and constantly bitch about it

  3. Congrats P3 and welcome to the A4 club! Alas, mine is 8 years older.

  4. I dunno what's worse--the whole car buying experience or flopping the nuts and getting sucked out on. And you experienced both in one day.

    Glad the dealer was able to take your trade in, they are pretty eager to make a deal.

    As for the poker, that first hand was an amazing hand, two sets, a flopped straight and a flush draw (which got there). It sucks that you were on the wrong side of it. If you survived that without throwing a couple of staplers, you're better than most.

  5. Congrats PPP, well played on the no payment plan.

    17 years I plugged along in Toyota Tacoma truck...put two kids through school,they get several autos, wife got a new card every 4 or 5 years. Finally get my last truck, top of line Tacoma 4 door extended cab, every option you could want. Drives like a dream, happy as a clam driving it..Friday night driving home stop at red light. Car behind me decides they want to beat the light in their 1989 beater. Practically drive under my beautiful truck. They have no insurance.. FML.

    1. Ugh. That's brutal, sir. Why does it always seem that the idiots with the least to lose are the ones tailgating and otherwise driving like asshats?

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