Poker and Travel Part 2

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Authors Note: This is part II of an II part series on traveling and poker. The previous article can be found here.

The previous article in this series discussed some of the benefits and advantages to traveling abroad as a professional poker player. This article will discuss the process of moving abroad and some of the things one should think about before doing so.


Before you move abroad, there are many things to consider:

  1. Bankroll- As a professional poker player, one must have many more than the standard 20-30 buy ins per limit. The standard advice for most poker professionals is that the player have 30+ buy ins to play with (generally more is better) as well as 3 months+ worth of living expenses saved in the bank. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule and bankroll rules vary person to person. That being said, one will need more than the standard amount when moving abroad.

    When moving abroad, other expenses must be taken into consideration:
    a) Plane ticket(s) – International flights can be expensive; sometimes thousands of dollars. Furthermore, extra flights might be needed for VISA or recreational reasons.
    b) Transportation- Typically, you will not have your own car when abroad. Taxis, buses, boat rides, and others can add up. On an alternate note, cheaper transportation IS available in places such as Phuket, Thailand, where you can rent mopeds for cheaper prices. It just depends.
    c) More recreation- Oftentimes, the popular destinations for poker expats have much to offer recreationally- this could mean excellent night life, hobbies such as scuba diving, or something else. Poker players frequently take advantage of this, resulting in spending more than intended.

    Note– This should go without saying, but it is very important to be fairly liquid in terms of cash when moving abroad. Having 80% of one’s net worth on poker sites is unwise in general and even sillier when moving abroad.

    Note 2– Though a destination may be cheaper than your current location, it is still advisable to keep more than the standard savings amount- travelers almost always spend more than intended.

  2. Legislation-The United States is not the only country to put restrictions on various online gambling sites. Some poker sites such as PokerStars have France and Spain only serving their respective countries. Other countries such as Australia have been on the fence for online poker as well (but as of now, still legal and fine). Though most countries are fairly lax with regards to online poker restrictions, it is something to keep in mind.

First Steps

So you have decided that you would like to go abroad for a bit and have picked a place- what is the next step? Research:

  1. Online Poker Communities- Most poker players are already well connected with each other. There are obvious exceptions to this, but the vast majority of poker professionals knows each other; be it through playing against one another or talking with mutual friends. Online poker communities offer a wealth of information for potential travelers- good destinations, what to do/not do, what one should expect, and more. Travel websites, while helpful in a general sense, may not necessarily be the best due to the unique standards and mentalities that poker players hold. Furthermore, some poker sites, such as, offer a sort of poker-craigslist in that players can find other potential roommates world wide.

    Some online poker communities include: (Travel and Marketplace section)

  2. Location and Housing- So you know where you want to go and you have some general research done- what is next? Budget/recreation/future timeline must all be considered when deciding on the living situation abroad- some questions to ask yourself:
    – Do you want to live with other players?
    – Do you want to live in a house or an apartment?
    – How important is night life to you?
    – Transportation/location?

Online communities can help with regards to local real estate agents or people to contact for potential housing. There are also openings every month in poker houses abroad that can be found as well. Another option for a housing search is to travel to the desired location, stay in a hotel for a few days, and look around locally. There will be many unlisted possibilities offline and locals can be of service in this regard.

Recently, there have been poker travel agent sites opening up as well. These sites will help settle a player in to a country (taking care of all real estate findings, banking, and others) for a fee. Two such sites are:

Destination Reached

You are at said destination- What are some things to think about?

  1. Dangers: While traveling and moving abroad is generally safe, there is an inherent danger in doing so. Before moving, players need to be aware of some of the bigger dangers for poker players abroad:
  2. a) Poker playing Scammers- The poker world is a shady place- every month, there are new stories of players getting scammed- be it through hacking, false stakes, and many others. Oftentimes, players will live in poker houses when abroad, sometimes having multiple roommates at any given time. With so many different people with unknown backgrounds, leaving a computer with saved passwords in the open can be devastating. Key loggers and other hacking methods are always a possibility, and it is important to be very careful when dealing with some people.

    b) Local Scams- This will mainly be referencing the housing section. Occasionally, local businessmen will attempt the scam foreigners- meaning there will be disputes with regards to rent and other things. Be careful with who you deal with and, if possible, try to make some local friends who can offer their opinion.

    c) Overall Decision Making- When going out, it’s important to make good decisions as often as possible. This statement may be obvious, but there are many hidden dangers abroad- one such example being scooters in Thailand. It is very easy to get hurt using one, especially when drunk at night. This is just one tiny example of a seemingly harmless activity that can be fatal.

  3. Visa Stay/Restrictions- It is important for one to understand the visa rules before entering and leaving a country. Many countries restrict the duration of stay for foreigners. Some only require that you leave for a day or two before you can return; others are a bit stricter. Some countries, such as Brazil, require a visa application before entering the country, while others, such as Thailand, require no such visa (for up to one month stay). It is important to do adequate research with regards to Visa restrictions in order to avoid monetary penalties or worse.
  4. Banking- It is generally very hard to get a local bank account abroad. Typically, a person must be working in said country in order to get a bank account. Canada is one exception, however, and very attainable.
  5. Exit Strategy- Some poker players move to a country and hate it after a week, moving away hastily. Others like to stay in one place for years. Take this into consideration before you sign a year long lease. Visa restrictions, legislations, taxes, and others are all things to be considered when deciding on duration of stay.

Popular Poker Destination Spots

There are many popular poker community spots worldwide. Some of these include:
Vancouver, Canada

Thailand (all parts- Phuket and Bangkok are two of the more popular). (South East Asia as a whole is a good option).
Beunos Aires, Argentina
Costa Rica
Northern Mexico (Rosarito)

There are also many emerging communities such as Brazil and South Korea. These are cities and countries where there are many like minded poker players.


Traveling abroad is a fantastic opportunity and experience for poker players world wide. However, there are many things to consider and think about and I hope this article has helped you in that regard. As stated in the previous article, this is the ideal time for you to go abroad- so try it and see what you think!