Former pre-Black Friday 2010 WCOOP Champ and current US "poker refugee", Anton 'Antoshka' Smolyanskiy finally got back to online poker abroad in Tamarindo, Costa Rica during 2014, and he seems to be having a good time.
Anton is one of our Poker Refugees clients who arrived to CR alone at first for his poker relocation. He tried getting set up for online poker on his own, then reached out for assistance after encountering some of the typical roadblocks with documents, banking, poker sites and so on.
We are happy to have met him and been able to help him start his journey back to online poker on PokerStars, Full Tilt and other sites from tropical Tamarindo.
Poker Name/types of games you play:
Antoshka@Pokerstars, Antoshka@Fulltilt. NLHE tournaments is my main game.
Poker Refugees: How did you make the decision to move to Costa Rica versus other destinations for online poker?
Anton: I chose Costa Rica due to the time zone, climate, cost of living and safety concerns. I visited here before quitting my job just to see what it’s like, and I liked what I saw.
PR: At what point during the relocation did you choose to hire Poker Refugees and why?
A: I considered Poker Refugees from the start, but upon arriving in Tamarindo decided to try to talk to local lawyers on my own. That didn’t lead anywhere, so I felt I had no credible options other than Refugees.
PR: How did you find the experience with Poker Refugees regarding getting set up in your new home of Tamarindo, with a bank account, e-wallets and back on Pokerstars versus trying things on your own?
A: Well… one worked and one didn’t. That’s a fairly major difference right there. Also, the speed with which things happened with the local lawyer – it wasn’t to my liking. Kristin was much more prompt with communications.
PR: We can certainly attest to that! People refer to this as "Tico Time" down there. We noticed that you have been very adventurous during your downtime; it seems like every time we talk you are learning Spanish or off to an island or a turtle preserve :) What are your favorite activities in Tamarindo outside of online poker?
A: I haven’t really been adventurous at all. Just visiting beaches, nothing interesting. Planning to get more active in 2015.
PR: Do you regret your decision to come abroad for any reason or has it been a positive life experience?
A: Ha, no regrets at all. I looooove not working. I enjoyed my time in the Spanish school and plan to go back. I met a lot of new people. The highlight perhaps was being crammed in an old taxi with 6 other people I met the day before, sitting on top of each other, going to some unknown beach.
PR: Has living abroad changed your perspective on “home” and if so, how?
A: No, not so much. I emigrated from Russia to New York when I was 16, so this isn’t really that much of a change in that regard. Just today I realized that Costa Rica isn’t some exotic place for me anymore – it’s just a place where I happen to live for a bit. It’s not that much different – you try to find some food, a place to live, some people to talk with and activities to do. And then…you live there.
PR: Awesome! That's what we are trying to promote - that anyone can live abroad and have a normal, pleasant life. What advice would you give to a poker player who’s thinking of moving out of his or her home country?
A: A couple of years ago I was chatting with a man at a poker table in Las Vegas, and mentioned that I was considering leaving my job and going abroad to play online poker. He said something that I believe to be true – most people overestimate the magnitude of possible “mistakes” they make in life. If a move abroad turns out to be a wrong decision for you – you most often can reverse it with little long-term harm done. I am yet to see how easily reversible my decision may be, but I think it’s something for everyone to keep in mind.
PR: We can't agree more. When I was first presented with the ability to move abroad in 2005, I asked my friends, family and parents' friends for advice. All of my 20-something friends told me to stay and get a corporate job, while all of the elders told me to go travel. I figured they knew more than us youngsters. 10 years later, I am still enjoying life abroad and traveling the world. You can always go back, but taking that first step is the hardest yet most rewarding part. - Poker Refugees Founder, Kristin Wilson
Thanks for sharing your story and tips, Anton, and glgl in the land of Pura Vida!
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