When's the last time you closed a bank account? Unless you've made a major move in the last few years, I'll bet it's been a while. I was forced to close one a few months ago - and it had nothing to do with my recent move from New York to Las Vegas.
It all started in early 2012. My bank, JP Morgan Chase, sent me a notice. It said, "Your account is being closed." My response was basically a very confused, "What the hell?"
I figured I'd take it up with my branch. We have a long-standing relationship that goes back six or seven years. Maybe more. Everything had always been great and there were never any issues. They really liked me and knew I was a poker player with lots of poker-related transactions and wires. The branch manager was even a poker fan of mine, which was kind of cool.
I called up my banker to find out what was going on. She told me, "The back office people don't like it when any account makes too many international wire transfers. They feel it's a high-risk account."
I was floored. It's not like I have unknown wire transfers. It's me sending money out to casinos for tournaments and me sending money back if I cash in anything. It's all well-documented.
My banker said, "We're going to fight for you. We're going to explain to them that you're a semi-public person. You're not some drug dealer or something." She said it probably wouldn't work but she'd try her best.
And she did. She tried her hardest and told me it worked. Great!
Everything was OK for 6 or 7 months. Then towards the end of the year I received the same letter all over again, a new one. I was disgusted, to say the least. I called up my banker, who said, "Wow. Now we don't know what to do."
She tried fighting for me again but this time it was to no avail. The back office people basically wound up saying to me, "We don't want your business anymore." The weirdest part is that I wasn't sending that many wires. It was maybe a couple of wires per month. Some months it wasn't even that many. The bank knows what I do for a living. I've told them.
A friend who works for Chase's corporate side recommended I take it up on Twitter and hashtag it #Chase because they pay attention to bad news. So I tweeted about it. A lot of people got back to me. Jason Somerville had the same exact thing happen to him. Some other people also had problems.
In the end, my tweeting didn't change anything. I had to close the account and open a new one with Citibank. I explained to them from the get-go that I'm going to have some international wires, back and forth, and just to expect it. We'll see how it goes.
If Citibank shuts me down, I may just have to open my own bank.
Eugene Katchalov is a member of Team PokerStars Pro