Sunday, 15 December 2013

Give to Refugees & Receive from Poker Refugees

Give Back to Real Refugees

The name Poker Refugees plays onto the concept of poker players who must leave their home. Luckily for many "Poker Refugees" out there hailing from the developed world, we have the means and ability to leave one country for another, maintaining the same standard of living while simultaneously having an adventure and life changing experience for the better. In essence, we are really expatriates.

The true definition of refugee is a person forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster. We know that the demonization or regulation of online gambling can hardly be compared to real persecution in truth. We have the luxury and freedom of speech to liken one to another, but it's hardly a matter to take lightly. 

True refugees struggle everyday, year-round in countries worldwide. Today, an estimated 42 million people have been forced to leave their homes due to conflict or natural disaster. These are normal people like you and I, simply born into a different situation. We can’t imagine what they are going through and want to do what we can to help. 

This year, Poker Refugees would like to start a campaign to encourage people to regularly donate to refugee organizations. We will do so each month and invite our clients and friends to do the same.

Donate whatever you can afford, but if you donate a minimum of $100 to any refugee-related cause this holiday season, send us your receipt and we will send you a free copy of the orientation guide of your choice to one of our destinations:

  • Canada: Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver
  • Costa Rica: Jaco Beaches or Central Valley
  • Malta
  • Mexico: Cabo, Playa or Rosarito
  • Panama

Send all requests to and attach your receipt of minimum $100 donation.

Here are some ideas of where to donate to:

Thank you for your donation and happy holidays to you and your families.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Player Interview: Tyler Phillips, Budapest, Hungary

Tyler & Poker Roommate Hayden

Tyler and his roommate, Hayden, were our first clients to relocate to Budapest, Hungary and turns out it's an awesome place to live (I'm part Hungarian so I'm biased, but really - it's great). Good internet "I rarely had any problems with our internet connection", low cost of living/rent compared to other EU destinations and a close-knit poker community check most of the boxes in our opinion. Also - pretty good food (did someone say apple strudel??). 

Just take your time with learning the language! For fun, because we're nerds, we take a peek at the longest word in Hungarian (with 44 letters) below. 

Poker Name/types of games you play:

I was introduced to poker back in 2009 and played MTTs almost exclusively up to Black Friday. When I first started living in Budapest I still played MTT's but that changed quickly when I met some really talented cash game players that also relocated to Budapest. They coached me and now I currently play mid-stakes cash games. 

You and your roommate decided to move to Budapest Hungary so he could study while playing poker; had you ever been to Europe before?

This was my first time going to Europe so naturally I was a bit nervous, especially since I'd be living there for an extended period.  

How did you find the experience with Poker Refugees regarding getting set up in your new home, with a bank account and back on Pokerstars?

From securing an apartment, to helping us with Stars document verification and setting up bank accounts, Poker Refugees was a huge help with virtually every facet of the relocation. About three weeks prior to the move, I communicated with Kristin almost daily and she answered all of my questions. In addition, she did heaps of research to ensure our relocation was as seamless as possible. 

Thanks Tyler! Happy to be of help! :) 

Was your roommate able to balance school with playing online poker?

Yeah I think he did a pretty good job with it. I know his program wasn't too rigorous so that afforded him a ton of time to play. 

How long did it take you to adjust to life in Budapest?

There was definitely some culture shock when we first arrived mainly because wherever you walk people are speaking a language that is impossible to understand for English speakers. In 99% of situations there wasn't a problem with the language barrier, as most everyone speaks English as their second language. But within a week, I was used to it. 

Enjoying the Scenery in Budapest

Has living abroad changed your perspective on “home” or do you miss the US?

I lived in Budapest for 6 months and as much as I enjoyed it, I did start to miss home, but that's natural I think. Within three weeks of coming back home to the US, I started to miss Budapest and my friends there. I wasn't much of a traveler prior to going to Europe, but after I visited several amazing places while abroad I've more or less caught the travel bug. 

What are the best poker hangouts in Budapest and how many players live there?

From my knowledge there are anywhere from 20-40 poker players living in Budapest that moved there from the US, UK, and various other European countries. I only met 7-10 of them and became close friends with a handful of them. Prior to when I arrived in Budapest, a relocated player from the US who I met on 2+2 invited me into a Facebook Group (aptly titled: "Budapest Meetup for Distinguished Gentlemen of Extraordinary Aptitude" we might add) that was solely for poker players living in Budapest. The Facebook group served as way for poker players to ask others questions or just to meet up and do things together.  As for the nightlife, there are a ton of awesome clubs and bars in Budapest, including one of my favorite places that had a open rooftop area with terrific views of the city.   

Grinding away - in the customary poker attire (hoodies!)

What makes Budapest such a great place for poker players to live?

Budapest is very unique in the fact that it is quite modernized, yet very affordable. Everything from rent to food is probably about half the cost of the US. In other words, more is less. I rarely had any problems with our internet connection which is obviously a very important factor when it comes to choosing a place to live. I've heard of some places like Thailand where connection issues are a regular occurrence. Besides nightlife, there are plenty of things to do in Budapest--they have movie theaters, bowling alleys, golf courses, etc. 

How did your friends and family react to your decision to move?

For the most part I think everyone was excited for us to go. My parents couldn't have been any more supportive. 

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of moving out of the US?

Go. As for where to go, I think that Europe is a terrific place to start. If you want to travel, the diversity of cultures within a small geographical area is simply unbeatable. 

What’s next in poker for you?  

That's tough to say. I'd like to play some more live poker in the near future. I think I'll go back to Europe in the near future so maybe I'll play in an EPT or something. But for the most part, continuously getting better is probably my biggest goal. 

Thanks for sharing your Europe experience with us, Tyler!

Now for a language lesson! Fun Fact: According to Wikipedia, 
Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért, with 44 letters is one example of a long word in the Hungarian language and means something like "for your [plural] continued behaviour as if you could not be desecrated". Below, a nice local helps some lowly English speakers pronounce it:

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Poker Refugees Announces Winner of the Free Relocation Giveaway

Congratulations to Brady 'BAustinMC' Austin from Mill Creek, Washington, the long-awaited winner of the FREE RELOCATION GIVEAWAY!

Since we notified Brady of his selection as the winner of the free giveaway, he has been on the road a lot traveling with family & friends and busy playing live poker. We finally got ahold of him to learn more about him, his plans for moving to play online and for him to officially accept the prize. 

Meet Brady:

He originally heard about the Free Relocation Giveaway through friends, and is looking to relocate with them to a place that's close to the border of the US - either Vancouver or Mexico. 

Since Black Friday, Brady has only been playing poker part-time, mostly live tournaments within the United States. He has many online poker friends who have been living in places like Thailand, Singapore, Mexico and Panama

He has been fortunate to visit his friends in other countries and travel to such places like: Phuket, Macau's live poker scene, Panama City for LAPT, and the Bahamas for PCA. 

Brady says, "...My most of all favorite was The Bahamas for the PCA where my lifelong friend and famous online grinder Joel "JMPRODIGY" Micka placed 2nd in the Main Event for 1.2 million dollars. We can been see in the TV episodes drinking and getting pretty rowdy on the rail!" 

Brady and Friends at PCA 2013

In his normal, day-to-day life he notes "When i'm not traveling or playing live poker I run a mattress company part time in the Seattle area where I have around 10 stores I operate at the moment."

"I played mid stakes 9man SNG's on FTP and RUSH POKER and it's good to hear I'll hopefully been getting the money I had in my account they owe me in the next couple months. I don't see myself getting back on FTP [rather] just sticking with Pokerstars where I'll play mid stakes MTT's and Sunday Majors, but mainly focus on ZOOM poker."

Brady says he's "definitely relocating" for online poker but doesn't know an exact time yet of when he'll be able to. 

"I'm waiting on my friends who are currently playing and living in abroad in Australia to see where they are trying to move next which is probably gonna be Canada but could also be Mexico or Costa Rica." 

Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico are all Poker Refugees Destinations so we look forward to helping him with his journey back to online poker when the time comes!

Player Interview: Mazin Khoury msauce

Poker Refugees Blog 
Player Interview: Mazin Khoury, Canada

Mazin Khoury, also known as @msauce_ on Twitter and msauce on 2+2 is now a veteran of the poker expatriate community. Mazin first moved offshore in July 2011 and currently calls downtown Vancouver home. He's known by his friends for bubbling a lot of final tables.

Hometown: Durham, North Carolina

Current location: Vancouver, Canada

Years playing online poker & how you started: About 4. I started with play chips on FTP in 2007

Types of games/stakes played: Mid-high stakes NL 6max + some tournaments

What are all the places have you lived since Black Friday? Toronto, CA; Escazu, Costa Rica; Vancouver, CA

What is your favorite destination so far and why? Vancouver; it's great

How many months after Black Friday did you decide to move? 1 month; I went to Vegas for WSOP then up to Toronto where I lived with a roommate [also a poker player]

What was the hardest part about your decision to move? Was an easy decision for me but everyone has a different situation

How many times has Poker Refugees helped you change locations? Twice

How long did it take you to get set up the first time and how has your experience been in subsequent moves – easier, do you feel more comfortable now? It took me about a week to get setup in Toronto, would've been a lot longer but my friend had already gone through the process with Stars and helped me with everything. Costa Rica and Vancouver were about the same; Poker Refugees helped with the rental property, bank accounts and getting my security deposits back from shady landlords. 

Do you play exclusively on Stars or which other sites do you like? Mostly Stars. Rarely FTP, 888, Party.

You’ve won a few seats and packages in satellites on Pokerstars; what was your favorite Pokerstars tournament event experience in the past few years? I’ve only been to EPT Barcelona and the PCA. Both were fun. I cashed the PCA so I guess that one.

On the way to Day 4 or 5 of PCA 2013

Snacking on fruit at WSOP 2013

Who has better food - Barcelona or Atlantis? 
Easily Barcelona 

What do you do when you're not playing poker? 
Web development

Any advice to players looking to move abroad? 
It's hard to say because everyone has a different situation and should make their own decision. 

Thanks Mazin and gl out there!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Player Interview: Katie Stone, Mexico

Poker Refugees Blog 
Player Interview: Katie Stone - Rosarito, Mexico

Katie Stone is a name to be reckoned with these days, both on and off the felt. Whether it's poker, chess, basketball or yoga, this chica does it all. 

Look out for this Stars avatar...

The active 'Grindette' (read about them here on Bluff Mag) may possibly be having more fun than just about anyone south of the border. She has a sweet ocean view pad, poker-playing and ultra-nice boyfriend by the name of Joey Cappuccio, a plethora of cute dogs & cats hanging around and of course, a close-knit community of friends and other grinders in the neighborhood. 

What more could a person need (besides perhaps her own reality TV show)!? Let's find out!

Katie & the Grindettes repping the female factor in Rosarito

Poker Name/types of games you play: Katie75013 on most sites. I play mtts, mostly $55's and under as well as the Sunday majors and bigger buyins during WCOOP, FTOPS etc.

How many years have you played online poker and how did you start? 

I dabbled a bit in 2005/06 on Party but was mostly playing live for the first few years, then got on Stars mid-2009 and went full time online January 2010.

Which sites do you play on the most? Stars & FTP.

Do you feel like the games have changed a lot since Black Friday and how so?  

I feel like in general people are better and it’s more difficult to be profitable while auto-piloting. I have had to reduce the number of tables I play now and I also have to study way more than I have ever had to in the past. 

Hahaha :)

You lived in Las Vegas for some time after Black Friday. What made you decide to choose moving to Rosarito from Vegas?   

I feel really lucky that Rosarito is so close and easily accessible from major poker cities LA and Vegas. It was a no-brainer for me when I finally decided to move. Being in Rosarito allows me to get back into the US quickly if necessary and also makes it easy to go play live tournaments every now and again.

You also drove your car down from Vegas; do most players have a car down there?   

I think it’s 50/50. A lot of poker players move around and are in one place for 6 months and then go to another city or country, so many don’t have cars simply because of the logistical challenges. But for me it’s great and works well with my living situation. 

Mexico has an inconsistent rep as being dangerous. How do you feel living there as a female poker player? 

Morning Yoga @ Katie's Deck
I feel safer walking around my residential complex at night in Rosarito than I did living in a nice, gated community in Vegas. 

Of course, there are unsafe parts in Mexico, but just like in the US, you avoid unsafe areas and stay in the safe ones! Same thing applies here. I have definitely found that in general people are nicer here than in the US, which also probably influences my feeling of being safe.

You guys have a really tight community in Rosa; what’s a normal day for local players like? 

¡Fiesta en Rosa!

What do you do after poker and where do you hang out? 

Typically play 4-5 days per week, play for 8 hours or so and then either make dinner at home or go down the street to get some amazing tacos or fish or some really amazing pizza from Ollie’s Pizza! We usually see other poker players at any restaurant we go to as well, so that’s always fun.

Dinner Party - Mexico Poker Frat Style

What are some of the highlights of living the life of a poker expatriate abroad? 

I love where I live and the culture and the people. I never would have experienced this otherwise, and so this is the silver lining of Black Friday for me. I am living in the most relaxing and beautiful place I have ever lived which also happens to be the cheapest place I have ever lived. 

Has your perspective on "home" changed since this experience or are you planning to move back to the US/Vegas anytime soon?

Honestly, I don’t feel like I have a “home” anymore, and that may be sad to some, but for me it’s ok. I have a leased villa in Rosarito and a storage unit with all my belongings in Vegas and that's it. Maybe my true home is Houston where my mom is? Or the Jersey Shore where the rest of my family is and is where I grew up? I don’t know. But I am comfortable with this transient lifestyle and try to focus on the positives.

I'm sure many players can relate to that feeling; but that's part of the fun too! 

What is the cost of living like in Rosa? You have a sick house with an ocean view that's amazing!

Cost of living is low. My villa costs a lot for Rosarito but with roommates, which is how most poker players live, it’s very affordable. My monthly expenses including food, rent, utilities living here in Rosarito are < $1k.

Wow that is cheap. How is your Internet connection?

Internet where I live is great. It’s why I chose to live here.  I definitely have a back-up internet connection and some poker players have 2 back-up connections, but in general I have found it to be good and the management at my complex has always been helpful and understanding when issues do arise.

Any words of wisdom or advice to players who are thinking of moving abroad?

My advice would be to have an open mind. People in general who have only lived inside the US and/or have not traveled extensively can be a little impatient with the differences they experience. But just give it a little time and try to adjust to the way of life and see the positives in new cultures. I can definitely say that I enjoy Rosarito life way more than United States life.

Safe to say even the puppies like living on Mexico's beaches...

Thanks for sharing your story, Katie! 

Best of luck to you and look forward to crossing paths again soon!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Are you a Foreigner in Costa Rica?

Tax firms and CPA plan seminar for U.S. citizens in Escazu, Costa Rica

A new, innovative Costa Rican legal services company, Essentials, has recently entered into a joint venture with a long-established United States tax and accounting firm, U.S. Tax and Accounting Services S.A., and a Costa Rican certified public accountant, Jorge Granados, to put together an informational seminar for U. S. citizens and permanent residents living in Costa Rica.

They will be presenting an informational seminar this Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the Hotel Wyndham Gardens in Escazú at 4 p.m.

Essentials was founded in 2010 by Costa Rican attorneys and a U. S. financial analyst to provide legal services specifically for U. S. citizens and green card holders residing in Costa Rica.

U.S. Tax and Accounting Services, S.A.,  was founded over 15 years ago in Rohrmoser by Enrolled Agent Randall Lindner to provide tax and accounting services to U. S. citizens living around the world.

The legal, accounting, and regulatory environment has become increasingly complex in Costa Rica and in the United States. U.S. citizens and green card holders have unique challenges complying with Costa Rican law and complying with their new U.S. tax obligations as expatriates.

These professionals are working to put together an informational seminar to help U.S. citizens with all of the various issues they may face. Scheduling individual meetings with a Costa Rican attorney, a Costa Rican CPA, and a U. S. tax accountant would cost several hundred dollars in consultation fees. However, this joint seminar will be priced at only $40 per person or $60 per couple for advanced registration, or $50 per person at the door, the firms said.

Essentials, U.S. Tax and Accounting, and Jorge Granados are presenting the informational seminar Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the Hotel Wyndham Gardens in Escazú at 4 p.m. For more information or for registration, those interested can contact Jimena Ramirez at 8370-0373 or