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U.S. Players Look North to Relocate for Legal Online Poker
U.S. Poker players who depend on PokerStars and Full Tilt to make a living are faced with a decision: either find a new line of work or relocate to somewhere more hospitable to online poker.
Many players are looking north and Canada could soon become a hotbed for transplanted online poker pros.
Matt Stout is a professional poker player who relied heavily on the two biggest online poker rooms to make a living. Splitting his time to this point between his native New Jersey and his home in Las Vegas, Stout is considering drastic measures to make sure his poker career stays profitable.
“It's definitely going to be devastating to a lot of players who rely on online poker only as an income and can't transition to live for any of several reasons,” Stout said of the impact Black Friday will have.
“I want to be somewhere that's not too far from home, so Vancouver becomes a natural choice over Europe. It'd also be far less expensive.”
Stout echoes the sentiments of thousands of online poker pros who are in a similar situation.
Canada Offers Proximity, Balance
Canada is a good candidate for poker players for more reasons than just proximity and affordability, however.
Terrence Chan has been immensely profitable in his online poker career and was sponsored at one time by PokerStars. He’s also a native of Vancouver.
Chan points to more than just its location when he suggests his home town as a great place to live for online poker pros.
“One of the most difficult things for online pros to do is to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle,” Chan told PokerListings.
“Vancouver is a very outdoorsy city and an active place and culturally places a lot of value on health and fitness,” he continued.
As for American pros relocating part-time to somewhere like Vancouver, Chan is quick to point out that it won't be viable for everyone.
“I think it'll be tough for someone who is a small-stakes grinder, to pay rent on a full-time place in Vancouver as well as maintain one in the US. But for the elite poker players who make big coin online, sure.”
Well known online pros Justin Bonomo and Isaac Haxton told TIME magazine they are also planning to relocate to continue playing poker, although not necessarily to Vancouver.
Many questions still remain unanswered, the most important of which being whether Americans will ever have a safe, legal way to play online poker.
In the short term one thing is clear: If Americans want to play on the three biggest online poker sites, they won't be doing it from the U.S.