Thailand ‘Heaven on Earth’ for U.S. Online Grinder Westmorland

Jordan Westmorland
Jordan "JWPRODIGY" Westmorland

The majority of the elite U.S. online poker community seems to have fled to either Mexico or Vancouver but a growing contingent is making their home base in Southeast Asia.

Young online poker pro Jordan Westmorland and several other fellow grinders have been living for the last two years in Thailand and loving every minute of it.

“It’s like Heaven on Earth on some level,” said Westmorland while playing the WSOP APAC Main Event. “It’s almost unrealistic. It doesn’t feel like real life out there.”

The Seattle native, also known as JWPRODIGY on the Internet, had won hundreds of thousands of dollars playing online poker but when Full Tilt and PokerStars were ousted from the US in 2011, he was no longer able to play in the United States.

Westmorland, conferred with his poker friends, and realized he would have to move from his hometown. He wasn’t really interested in the two obvious options.

“We didn’t really want to do Canada, because it’s pretty cold there,” he said. “Mexico is kind of sketchy.”

Choosing Thailand Over Mexico or Canada

Jordan Westmorland
Jordan Westmorland

Westmorland sought advice from his family on where to go. His father, who travelled as a professional photographer, suggested Thailand.

There was a lot about Thailand that Westmorland found appealing including a beautiful landscape, warm climate and all the beaches you could ever want.

Westmorland and his group ended up setting up shop in popular coastal city Phucket.

Although the crew ended up going for upscale housing on a golf course, Thailand can be very cheap for online grinders. Especially if you have a decent win-rate.

“It’s as cheap as you want it to be,” he said. “You can make it REALLY cheap if you want. You can have $2 meals if you want, which is really cool. You can make Thailand the cheapest place on earth.”

Thailand is also a fantastic starting point for experiencing the rest of Asia. In the last few months Westmorland has been to Korea and Singapore.

Westmorland also feels the move has helped elevated his poker game. 

“[Black Friday] was a blessing in disguise,” he said.

“I think that a lot of my friends took poker for granted and didn’t really give it our all. Now that we are halfway around the world not with our families what else do we need to do? You just throw yourself into this game. I mean it’s your job, right? It was a great thing.”

Thailand Offers Bad Internet, Distance

Patrick Crivell
Patrick "PSCProdigy" Crivell lives with Westmorland in Thailand.

Of course there are some downsides to grinding in Thailand. The Internet in the developing nation is still spotty at best, according to Westmorland.

“You have to have numerous Internet back-ups,” he explained. “We have wireless sticks and broadband. It’s good to go basically.”

There’s also the immense isolation from friends and family back in the USA. In the last two years, Westmorland has only returned to North America twice.

“With Skype and technology it makes things easier,” he said. “Obviously I miss my family a lot. It makes going home that much more meaningful.”

Despite the cons, Westmorland doesn’t regret his decision to move to Thailand for a minute, even after talking to fellow grinders who went to Canada or Mexico.

“I hear mixed reviews,” he said.

“I hear a lot of people who move to Canada really enjoy it. We just can’t do the cold weather though. I like to be near the beach. If it was all done and said and poker was legal in the U.S. I would probably move to California.”

Despite his excellent situation in Thailand, Westmorland is actually considering a move in the near future.

“I kind of want to switch it up and move to Australia just to get that first world feeling,” he said. “It’s almost like life is too good [in Thailand].”

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John 2013-08-06 04:08:00

I have lived in Chiang Mai Thailand that last 3 of 4 years and its like living in Seattle except warm and much less rain and everything is cheap. All places have dangers but I never had one issue outside of the dangers of driving my motorbike. That call it "Amazing Thailand" for a reason!

HustleTuxedo 2013-07-05 05:49:19

How do you go about getting the visas to live there as a poker player?? I want to do this.

SJL99 2013-06-04 09:49:28

Robinmartin: what are you chatting about? I have been to Thailland 3 times, once for 3 months and it is fine if you are sensible. I have travelled the whole of Thailand and SE Asia and the people are amazing and the beaches, food everything. In my experience it is people who go looking for trouble that find it. Of course there are some bad areas but no worse than East London.

I'm thinking of going to live there for a year in a couple years, either there of Cambodia. Amazing places.

You chat crap Robin.

RobinMartin 2013-05-19 18:32:55

I have lived in Thailand for 21 years the author of the article doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground when he starts talking about Thailand. thailand is incredibly dangers that are everywhere in Thailand. so much Thailand is the worlds most dangerous country for travelers. the stats back it up to. some 1500 australains died in Thailand the last 5 years. some 300-400 English die every year in Thailand. actually more English people die in Thailand on a holiday than any other country in the world. oh and the stupid author ov the article has choosen the worst city in Thailand to live being Phuket a city notorious for crime, violence oh and did I mention the Russian mafia control the island. still don't believe go ahead and do a google search on Thailand and crime rates, etc it all can be found.

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