Poker and Travel

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Authors Note: This is part I of an II part series on traveling and poker. The next article will discuss the process of moving abroad and things to think about when doing so.

Authors Note 2.0: This article is primarily focused from an American perspective, but can apply to any nationality.

Being a professional poker player is an incredibly unique job; one that has many advantages and disadvantages. Few jobs include losing hundreds or thousands of dollars of personal money in a given situation. On the flip side, few jobs offer as much freedom and flexibility that poker has to offer. Traveling as a poker player has many benefits, many of which will improve your quality of life, your future, and your poker game. This article discusses the benefits to moving abroad and seeing other places.

Favorable Situations

Since the Department of Justice shut down many of the major U.S. sites, many Americans have been forced to move abroad to play poker. For those who have not and are still playing online via VPN in a serious fashion- What are you waiting for? This is the ideal time in your life to leave the U.S. and travel abroad.

The average professional/semi-professional online poker player is probably in his mid 20s with few commitments (I realize there are obvious exceptions to this list):

    • No wife or kids (obviously many exceptions).
    • No financial commitments such as a house or partner in a business.
    • No work commitments other than poker- No boss to answer to and no projects to complete. My friends in corporate America cannot take more than 3 weeks off at any one time. Obviously this may vary, but the point stands- poker offers ultimate freedom for however long you can stay a winner.

In other words, this may be the only time in your life in which you have few (or none) of the above. The responsibility in your life is minimal and there are many ways to take advantage of this (traveling is one such way).

Multiple Ways to Travel

There are multiple ways to travel. Some poker players like to invest in a solid laptop and travel around the world. Others enjoy renting an apartment or house (oftentimes with other poker players- more on this later) and staying in one place for months on end. There are multiple ways to travel and enjoy the freedom that poker has to offer. The fantastic thing about poker is that all you need is a computer and an internet connection to work.

For those Americans thinking about taking their first big (3 weeks+) trip outside of the U.S., the author recommends Western Europe- It is safe, (fairly) English friendly, not too different from home, and very diverse culturally (in that you can travel a few hours and be in another country).

Costs and Standard of Living

There are many countries to choose from that offer a cheap cost of living. Though traveling from country to country can be expensive at times, settling down in a place such as Thailand can be much cheaper than the U.S. (in some places). This is, of course, situational, and baller poker houses can be very expensive. That being said, cheaper options are definitely available and a bigger “bang for your buck” is possible when living abroad.


As with all things, new cultures and places offer a new learning experience. When living abroad, you will have the opportunity to experience new hobbies. Balance is essential in a healthy life and hobbies are an excellent way to do new things. You can scuba dive, learn Muay Thai, and get cheap massages (among other things :) ) in Thailand. You can eat steak all day and learn Spanish in Argentina. Europe has museums, great food, and a multitude of cultures. Australia has surfing, scuba diving, hiking, and rock climbing. There are endless possibilities of things you can do while abroad. Generally, there will be at least a few things that you can do abroad that you cannot do anywhere else.

Learning New Things

Poker, in all probability, will not last forever. Players move on, and the number of true grinders falls annually. Traveling abroad is a fantastic way to learn new skills. Language is the most obvious one-in non-English speaking countries and language tutors are often cheap. Mastering a language can be highly beneficial and will increase one’s enjoyment abroad. Networking outside of the U.S. can also be helpful for those hoping to eventually get into the gaming industry- there are many poker communities in areas that have gaming operations (Malta, Costa Rica, Vancouver, and Asia). Other potential skills may stem from recreation- some poker players find a new obsession and focus energy on other hobbies. Photography, cooking, and physical activity are just a few that could stem from one’s experiences abroad.

Poker Community

If you are one of those who are unsure about taking the first step out of the U.S., there are multiple communities where you can find other groups of poker players. Living with other poker players can help ease the transition of being away from home. Thailand, Buenos Aires, Malta, Western Europe, Costa Rica, Canada, and other parts of Asia are all popular spots for poker expats. Living with other poker players helps immensely with regards to learning and studying the game. There are many other benefits to living with poker players that will be stated in the next article on this topic.

Different Perspective

It is often said that you will learn a great deal about yourself when traveling abroad. Whether or not that is true, you will no doubt experience a great amount of change as you travel. Seeing how other cultures interact may give you a different perspective on life. It may allow you to appreciate or depreciate some things more than before. Some players have enjoyed living in other places for so long that they have taken semi-primary residences in their respective countries. A friend of mine even recently got married to his foreign girlfriend. You never know what could happen…


Traveling is not necessarily for everyone. It can be very difficult, strenuous, expensive, and stress-ridden at times. But the overall enjoyment is generally worth it. Most all of the poker players the author has talked to have enjoyed their travel experience immensely. This is the prime time in your life to go if you are a young professional- there is no excuse not to try it! Read more on Poker and Travel in Part 2 of this guide.