You know things are serious when people are willing to give up their country before they'll give up their game. With Americans looking at a horizon devoid of online poker some are considering taking matters into their own hands and finding a home more hospitable to their chosen profession. Here are our picks for realistic locations where players can legally enjoy online poker.
The biggest question facing prospective e-mmigrants is whether to seek residency in a new country. For the vast majority of people this is not the case.
The future of online poker in the U.S. is far from clear and for the most part people are looking for ways to continue earning money playing online in the short term.
Luckily every country on this list is easily accessible if you're just looking for something quick. Even better, if you want to stay you usually just have to leave for a few days every three months.
As an added bonus since you're playing poker on the internet and not working for someone in that country you won't have to worry about those pesky work visas.
Canada – Where Every Deck is a Cold Deck
It’s close to the US, it’s easy to get into and you can play as much online poker as you want.
For American online grinders looking for a quick way to continue earning, Canada is our number one pick. If you do decide to relocate to the Great White North, there are three main cities to choose from.
It’s just like their latest tourism posters, “Canada: Now with Three Cities!”
Vancouver is the ultimate place to live if you’re an online grinder. It’s a forward-thinking city where people won’t bat an eye when you announce you play poker professionally.
It’s true that the weather is rainy, but since online poker players rarely go outside that shouldn’t be a problem.
The attitude towards online poker isn’t the only progressive thing about Vancouver. It’s also known for the quality of a certain green-colored plant material that’s rumored to be a favorite among online pros ;)
Toronto is arguably the only true city in the entire country. It’s got that metropolis feeling that many Americans take for granted.
The live poker scene leaves something to be desired but its location is ideal for players currently based on the Eastern seaboard.
Gambling is a beloved pastime of the Quebecois people and they had no trouble jumping on the poker bandwagon. Drinking is another of the most common pastimes which should help make online poker players feel comfortable.
It’s where the current world champion is so poker is only getting bigger in the city of Montreal.
Canada at a Glance
Location: Close to home for US players. See family and friends on a semi-regular basis while you earn in Canada.
Tax Laws (For Residents): Gambling winnings are not taxed in Canada but if you make your primary living from poker, and want to follow the law 100%, you are expected to pay income tax.
Live Poker: Vancouver has a strong live poker culture, less so for Toronto and Montreal.
Other cities in Canada to consider: Halifax, Ottawa, Victoria.
Click here for the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website.
Australia – Land of the Backwards Flowing Toilets
Australia’s a lot like Canada, except instead of beavers they have kangaroos. What they do have in common is a love of poker, and playing it legally on the internet.
Another commonality between Australia and Canada is that despite being extremely large, there are only a few main centers well-suited to the online poker player.
Melbourne is home to the biggest casino in the southern hemisphere, the Crown, making it an obvious choice for poker players.
The live poker is good, the weather is better, and Americans won’t suffer too much culture shock making the switch from their North American way of life.
The cost of living is high, even for Americans, so you’ll have to earn a few more BBs per hour to continue living the baller lifestyle.
Home to the second-biggest casino in Australia, Star City, Sydney is an extremely habitable place for online poker pros.
Just like Melbourne, Sydney isn’t a cheap place to live so you’re going to have to work on that win-rate.
Australia at a Glance
Location: Really, really far away. (Really) You won’t be popping back and forth to see friends and family more than once or twice a year.
Tax Laws (For Residents): Similar to Canada, gambling winnings including poker are not taxed as income.
Live Poker: The Crown Casino Poker Room is one of the best in the world. Tournaments and cash games are bountiful. The Star City room is smaller but hosts cash games and weekly tournaments, as well as a stop on the PokerStars APPT.
Other cities in Australia to consider: Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay.
Check out the Australian Immigration and Citizenship website for more information.
Thailand – Like The Beach except with Online Poker
The truth is, young online poker players have been moving to Thailand long before their ability to play in the US was jeopardized, and for good reason.
With a cost of living so low that successful micro-stakes grinders can live like kings, and a culture radically different from North America, Thailand is an appealing option.
Visa and residency issues are known to be a pain but there are plenty of resources online explaining the situation.
Since online poker is the goal, a strong internet connection is the only deal-breaker as far as locations. That said, there are a few obvious choices for places to set up a headquarters.
The capital and largest city in the country, Bangkok’s the place if you like the madness of the third-world metropolis.
In case you were wondering, the full ceremonial name of the city is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit
You should probably start memorizing that now.
Chiang Mai is by no means a rural backwater. With close to 1 million residents and over 5 million visitors annually, it’s definitely got a lot on Bangkok.
It’s a much more livable and progressive city. In fact, there’s a movement in Chiang Mai to apply for Creative City status with UNESCO
Thailand at a Glance
Location: 18 hours by plane, far enough that monthly visits home will be difficult.
Tax Laws: What the Thai government doesn’t know won’t hurt them.
Live Poker: Only weird Thai casinos where they try to get you to play Russian Roulette in the basement.
Other cities in Thailand to consider: Ko-Samui, Phuket.
More Great Places to Move to Play Online Poker
It’s a great big world out there and the possibilities for relocation are endless.
Here are a few more great places to consider.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague currently has the lead for PokerListings.com’s favorite city in Europe. We’ve gone there a bunch of times for the EPT events and it’s blown us away every time.
The city has character that just doesn’t exist in North America, and despite being on the pricey side for Eastern Europe it’s pretty cheap by our standards. Also, if you end up getting a work visa and earning money while you’re there, everything up to $75,000 is tax free.
Be sure to check out the Chapeau Rouge near the Old Town Square. That bar is PokerListings' headquarters when we’re in town.
Budapest is a lot like Prague, at least to uneducated, boorish North Americans like us. We attended the one-time EPT event there and just one look at the city will tell you it’s a place worth considering.
As long as you stay out of the tourist districts Budapest is cheap.
When we were there poker pros Brandon Schaefer and Dani Stern were living there in an apartment close to the casino, which they said was affordable.
For us Spain is basically the Mexico of Western Europe. It’s cheap, they're Spanish and there are plenty of great beach cities up and down the coast.
Barcelona is the prime Spanish candidate for an online poker headquarters. There’s even a casino in the Port Olimpic that hosts major European poker events like the EPT.
These days Colombia isn’t all Pablo Escobars and roving bands of machine-gun wielding drug dealers, we think. People have amazing things to say about Bogotá and it’s gaining serious ground as both a tourist destination and a place to live.
The weather is fair, the women are gorgeous and you can play as much online poker as you like. Plus, you won’t be completely cut off from the rest of the poker world as the PokerStars.com Latin American Poker Tour has a stop there every season.