Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Player Interview: Matt Stout: Costa Rica & Amsterdam

Matt Stout was one of Poker Refugees' first clients in August 2011 after the company officially launched. We talked to him during his downtime at WSOP 2012 in Vegas about his adventurous life over the past 2 years.

Poker Refugees Blog Interview: Matt Stout - allinat420

Matt at a Final Table during WSOP 2013

(Q) Years playing online poker: 
(A) Since I was 19, so 9 years (8 for real money). After I turned 1,000 play chips into 1 Million to prove to myself that I could play for real money.

(Q) How many months after Black Friday did you decide to move? 
(A) The final decision was made about a week before we moved [in August 2011]; generally my plan was to see how WSOP 2011 went but either way pretty likely to move outside the country.

(Q) What are all the places have you lived since Black Friday? SantaAna and Jaco, Costa Rica; Amsterdam; Rosarito, Mexico. Also have traveled a lot through Europe for EPTs.

(Q) What is your favorite destination so far? 
(A) If you take away the whole earthquake factor I would say Costa Rica is the coolest.

Costa Rica - Ecotourism Capital of the World

(Q) How long did it take you to get set up the first time and how has your experience been in subsequent moves – do you feel more comfortable now living abroad? 
(A) About a week the first time, but that was when it was taking other people months. Yeah obviously much easier, after getting set up once [through Poker Refugees], I feel a lot more comfortable relocating myself to other places. 

(Q) You own a home in Vegas; at what point do you foresee being able to live there and support yourself online? 
(A) It seems like it’s going to be a long time still before that happens and there’s realistically enough action to make it worth it to the point where I don’t have to travel outside of the country for large portions of the year.

(Q) The main reason players tend to move is to get back on Pokerstars again. Do you play exclusively on Stars or which other sites do you play on? 
(A) FTP, Ongame, Microgaming, Lock, 888, iPoker and Party

(Q) What’s the weirdest experience you’ve had living abroad or craziest story you’ve heard about another player?  
(A) The weirdest experience I’ve heard of anyone having is Bryan Paris’s girlfriend getting robbed in front of a security guard. Also being on the 14th floor of a 16-story building for a 7.6 magnitude earthquake. That qualifies too. (Ed Note: We're glad you're all alive!)

(Q) Favorite food/meal/restaurant abroad:
(A) Gino’s Pizza in Santa Ana; impressively close to NY-style pizza.

(Q) Do you think your experience would have been different had you moved by yourself as opposed through with Poker Refugees? 
(A) I probably wouldn’t have gotten online by WCOOP 2011 due to the situation with documents and utility bills, as well as not speaking Spanish. Getting the bank account set up so fast made it easily worth it. A hell of a lot easier.

(Q) How has living abroad changed your life? 
(A) Well, let’s see, the fact that I met my fianc√© in Costa Rica changed my life a little bit (Matt is engaged to Kristin Wilson's (founder of Poker Refugees) sister, Shannon). 

Matt is one of many Poker Refugees clients who's found love abroad - 
maybe we should start a dating service!

Overall, I’ve done a lot of international travel but actually spending more time living in other countries has given me more perspective on the world. And it’s cool to adapt your daily lifestyle to the local culture.  It won’t be easy to run off to Europe or Costa Rica for a few months once I’m 35 and have kids.

I'm glad I have this opportunity to travel the world and play poker while I’m young and don’t have any kids or many responsibilities. I won’t feel like I’ll regret it when I’m older and settled down. 

(Q): Any last words of wisdom for players still in the US who may be thinking about it or who delayed their move due to school, work or other situations? 
(A): Yeah, if you can afford to and your life situation allows for it, definitely do it. It’s a great experience to live outside the country. You get to know yourself a lot better as well when you’re in experiences that aren’t the norm.  

Anyone who played poker before [Black Friday] and couldn't move must miss it. I feel bad for people who couldn’t afford to move before or have family obligations, but if you can, definitely do it. -Matt Stout

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Packing Up to Play Poker: Pokernews shares our opinion on top poker destinations

Our friends at Pokernews are some of the leaders in the, well, poker news industry and they have their proverbial thumb on the pulse of what's important and relevant to poker players.

Here is a list of destinations from their series: "Packing up to Play Poker". These are also destinations that Poker Refugees serves (how convenient!):

Poker Refugees takes care of all your needs in moving to one of these destinations, as Pokernews highlights - poker players' top priorities are:

Finding a Place to Stay

Getting Around

Visa Issues

Getting Good Internet

Sites to See and Places to Go



In addition, we would add: Banking + Food, drink and delivery options as poker player priorities.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Player Interview: Adam Ross: Costa Rica & Panama

Adam was one of our first clients to move in mid-late 2011 after the launch of Poker Refugees in August 2011. He came to us on his own and we found 2 poker roommates for him; they met up in the US, decided to live together and came down to grind for a year in the infamous Vista Las Palmas (VLP) building - the nicest oceanfront condo in Jaco, Costa Rica and filled with poker players.

View from Vista Las Palmas, Costa Rica, a haven for online poker players

He may not be a big name pro, but most of our clients at Poker Refugees are not - they are just normal poker players who grind behind the limelight and make a good enough living to continue their careers and free, independent lifestyles as online poker players. Our players play a range of stakes from low to high. Some are backed and some are backers. Some live on <$1,000/month while others live like high-rollers.

His experience goes to show that you don't have to be a well-known pro to play online poker abroad if you apply hard work and dedication to your craft (and maybe just a side of run-good).

"I look back on the past 18 months with fondness, a greater understanding of the world, and friends in cities around the globe. [Moving with] Poker Refugees is and has been the single greatest catalyst for all that I have gained in the past 18 months." 

"Truth be told I am not as good a poker player as a lot of [big name Poker Refugees] clients, but I found my niche and I made it work."

Poker Refugees Blog Interview: Adam Ross

(Q) How many years have you played online poker?   
(A) I played semi-professionally for 2 years before Black Friday; then 7 months without playing post Black Friday; and since October 2011 (when I was relocated by Kristin Wilson of Poker Refugees to Jaco Beach, Costa Rica)

(Q) Which sites do you play on the most? 
(A) I have had the most success on Party Poker. I also like 888 and Titan. These days I play less on Poker Stars and Full Tilt than I used to. 

(Q) Do you feel like the games have changed a lot since Black Friday and how so?
(A) I feel the games I play (mid-stakes MTT's) have gotten a little harder especially on Poker Stars. There are a lot of casual players from the United States that provide added value in the games I play that are not in the games anymore. 

(Q) You first moved to Costa Rica through Poker Refugees in 2011 where you lived in a beachfront condo with 2 roommates. How was your experience living abroad for the first time?

(A) When I was still in the United States awaiting my fight to Costa Rica in October 2011 I honestly was still a bit nervous about the move, I had traveled some when I was younger and had a small idea about the world outside of America, but to actually move to a foreign country seemed at the time, a big deal. 

What I found out promptly after I had landed in Costa Rica was that Poker Refugees had removed all the uncertainty and mysticism behind moving to a foreign country. They secured us a huge luxury condo on the 14th floor in the most prominent building on the beach in Jaco. My roommates that Poker Refugees introduced me to, were very cool and we got along great, we lived in that apartment together for a year. Soon after that PR set up an appointment with me and a local bi-lingual translator to set up my bank account (as my Spanish was pretty terrible at the time, since it has gotten substantially better). 

My experience in Central America besides grinding, has been one filled with travel, interesting and unique people, great weather, and a lower cost of living. 

Adam has resided in Jaco, Costa Rica and Boquete, Panama

(Q) Where are you currently living now?
(A) I have been living in Boquete Panama for the past 7 months, it is a pristine mountain town with perfect weather and an relatively large ex-pat community.

(Q) How was it moving a second time (or third time) once your poker “foundation” was set?
(A) It was not hard since my  Spanish was better and the mysticism around living in a foreign country had be removed from my previous year in Jaco, Costa Rica. Since my foreign bank account was set up and I was up and running on 6 different poker websites all I needed was a new place with an internet connection and I was good to go, and it also helped that I had some friends who were already living in Boquete, Panama.  

(Q) What are some of the highlights of living the life of a poker expatriate abroad?
(A) The dollar goes further, I get to travel a lot, weather is great, beachfront property, beach volleyball, $1 beer specials, cool local people. The list is long and that is only a few of the highlights from where I was living, Jaco, Costa Rica, but a person's experience is what they make of it.

(Q) Has your perspective on “home” changed or are you still waiting for poker to become legalized in the US to move back?
(A) My perspective on "home" has changed over the past year and a half, i no longer feel confined to live only in the U.S. The line between travel and living somewhere becomes somewhat blurred after living in Jaco for a year.

Whether  or not I will come back to the states to play poker online will largely depend on what the regulatory framework and scope of U.S. online poker market will be, I do not know what they are planning for legislation so I will wait it out and see what they come up with before deciding to move.   

(Q) What is the cost of living like in Panama?
(A) It is substantially less than in the U.S. and a little bit cheaper than Costa Rica. 

(Q) How is your internet connection?
(A) It was not perfect, there were occasional power outages that would last less than 5 min but with a battery back-up and mobile hot spot we were able to stay online if the internet goes down. It is recommended that grinders have a secondary source of internet. 

 (Q) What is a normal day-in-the-life like?
(A) Wake up to freshly brewed local coffee and the maid asking what I would like for breakfast, usually a ham and cheese omelette with banana pancakes. 

It's true - Maids cook in Costa Rica & Panama
Eat b-fast, work-out, quick swim and hot tub, walk along the beach and get a smoothie, practice my Spanish in town. Play 5 on 5 beach volleyball, Come home to a spotless house, clean and folded clothes, and a prepared meal on the stove. Eat. 

Start my poker session, make good decisions. Finish poker session. Go to friends apartment in my building for a drink before we go to dinner and then the bars/clubs. Bar/club-hop and party till whenever and go to the late night spot on weekends. Sleep. 

(Q) Any advice to players who are thinking of moving abroad? 
(A ) This is an opportunity that is not afforded to many Americans, most people do not even have the possibility of moving abroad. 

Living in foreign countries is one of the signature highlights of being a professional online poker player and Poker Refugees makes the transition super easy and completely demystifies living abroad. 

If you are considering moving abroad then you should probably do it because if you are one of the few who are lucky enough to have moving abroad as an option it would be a shame to not take advantage of it when you can. 

Adam & Friends in Playa Hermosa, Jacó, Costa Rica

We can't agree with you more, Adam! 

For more info on Poker Refugees and a free phone consultation, check out: www.pokerrefugees.com and subscribe to our blog or YouTube for more player interviews!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Destination Poker: Eight Things You Didn’t Know About Moving to Play Online Poker

Destination Poker: 8 Things you didn’t know about moving to play online poker

If you’ve ever considered leaving home to play online poker in a different country, you’re just like thousands of other players. The concept of moving can be overwhelming to think about, but luckily, a unique company exists that is built to handle all the logistics a poker player could ever need – from finding the best Internet to ordering a pizza.

Meet PokerRefugees, founded post-Black Friday to help online players move abroad to continue their careers. Despite having helped nearly 260 players move since 2011, they continue to relocate poker players and sports bettors throughout the world each month.

Poker Refugees was founded by Kristin Wilson, a Florida native and international real estate consultant who watched the online poker industry’s rise and fall from Costa Rica. A former pro surfer, she has lived in 4 different countries and once had an international travel schedule with more annual stops than the WPT itself. Empathizing with the players’ situation, she decided to help.

The most popular destinations or "outposts" for players include cities in Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico, although Refugees offers options to move to Malta, Panama, Ecuador and nearly any other country in the world. 

If you’ve ever considered moving but thought it would be too big of a commitment, too impossible or too much work, consider these facts about the process:

1) Time & Effort: Refugees does all the work ahead of time so you can start playing poker again within hours of arriving in your new home. Forget struggling with what to do, where you’ll live or what documents you need, Refugees takes care of everything so you can focus on what you do best and love the most – grinding.

2) Residency: You don’t have to give up your US citizenship or apply for legal residency in a foreign country just to play poker again. “Refugees” enter and exit most countries freely on tourist visas and can visit home as often as they’d like.

3) Online Tournaments: Once you’re up and running on your favorite sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt, you can take advantage of major tournaments with major prize pools such as WCOOP, SCOOP and FTOPS, which is just around the corner in December. You can even grind online while traveling for live tournaments such as EPT and LAPT.

4) Destinations: Every player is different, so the company can custom-design relocation packages to almost any country where poker is legal, even if it’s not listed on the website.

5) Traveling Solo or in Groups: Regardless of background, Refugees clients include individual players, groups of friends, couples and families. The company even helps match players up with roommates or set up poker houses.

6) International Community: Poker Refugees helps players from around the world, including France, Brazil, the UK and throughout Europe. You don’t have to be a US citizen to want to travel and enjoy playing online from a different country! Once you relocate, connect with other Poker Refugees in your new area code.

7) Sports Betting: Online poker rooms weren’t the only companies to get the shaft on Black Friday. The entire gaming industry took a beat, and now professional sports bettors make up a growing percentage of Refugees’ clientele.

8) All Ages: Poker Refugees has helped men and women from ages 18-65 continue their online poker careers in a new country. Clients include amateurs starting their careers, well-known seasoned pros, poker coaches, WSOP bracelet winners and PokerStars Team Online pros. Poker Refugees helps players of all levels make it happen.

For more information on making your own move, check out www.pokerrefugees.com.

Still questioning the concept? - Check out player testimonials, videos, articles and more buzz below and on poker forums such as PocketFives.com and 2+2:

You Choose the Country - We do the Work

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

What is Poker Refugees?

Poker Refugees is the world's first poker relocation company specifically for online poker players and gaming professionals. While the motivation for founding the concept came from the desire to help thousands of American online poker pros who lost their jobs post-Black Friday, the company now assists players from all over the world.

Launched in August 2011, Poker Refugees allied with PocketFives to bring this needed service to the public. Less than 2 years later, the company has already helped more than 250 online poker players and sports bettors move to destinations such as:

Poker Refugees has helped players of all games and stakes, including backed players and those trying poker as an online career for the first time, through well-known players such as tournament pros Matt Stout (Allinat420), Chris Hunichen (BigHuni) and Shannon Shorr, Pokerstars online pro Grayson Physioc (Spacegravy), Mazin Khoury (msauce on 2+2 and Twitter), 2012 WSOP Bracelet winner Will Jaffe and even poker coaches and backers.


Poker Refugees helps players save time, money and get set up quickly in new countries. The company offers services such as:
  • Finding a rental property
  • Setting up reliable internet connections
  • Info on how to open a bank account in various countries
  • Helping with documentation for poker sites & e-wallets
  • Getting VIP status on Neteller & Skrill Moneybookers
  • Budgeting your move
  • Finding poker roommates
  • Access to translators, accountants and attorneys
  • Concierge services
  • Maid services
  • Private drivers & English-speaking taxis
  • Info on tourist visas
  • Introduction to the local poker community
  • Orientation guides and documents on How-to do everything
  • Customs services: almost anything you need to relocate to a new country for poker
Learn more about our global team here: http://pokerrefugees.com/meet

Read buzz and testimonials from poker players who have moved abroad here: http://pokerrefugees.com/buzz

Watch videos about online poker players who have moved to play online poker on our YouTube page.

See photos and updates about poker refugees, poker relocation destinations, Pokerstars news, promotions from Neteller and Skrill Moneybookers and follow our players' progress in online tournaments such as WCOOP, SCOOP and live events such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP), Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) and European Poker Tour (EPT) on our Facebook and Twitter pages.