How Phil Galfond Moved to Canada for Online Poker

April 15, 2011 is a day that has been branded into the minds of countless poker pros. On the date infamously dubbed 'Black Friday', the US Department of Justice seized the domain names of the three largest online poker sites.

This sent the online poker world into a frenzy, with many pros having to make the tough choice between moving abroad to continue playing poker or finding a new career path.

That was the choice Phil Galfond – online cash games phenomenon and video training site founder – had to make.

The Decision

One of the most famous poker pros to relocate abroad

Ultimately Galfond, a self-described 'homebody', realized the opportunity cost that was at stake and made the move to Vancouver, Canada.

Vancouver was a logical choice for Galfond. It's a beautiful city of around 600,000 people (2.3 million in the greater metro area) and conveniently close to the US border.

Canada is a popular choice for many Poker Refugees clients, as our services for finding properties, opening bank accounts, and handling other logistics help make for a smooth and hassle-free transition.

It's also a very international city, boasting one of the most ethnically diverse metro areas in the world.

Galfond’s Upswing

For the poker pro who goes by the aliases 'OMGClayAiken' and 'MrSweets28' online, the change of venue turned out to be just what was needed.

Earlier that year, Galfond had struggled through one of the worst downswings of his career. After arriving in Vancouver, however, he went on a $600,000 upswing – not a bad welcoming gift.

He also surely enjoyed Canada's flexible tax laws on gambling winnings. Our Canadian team can fill you in on details about how to best approach the tax situation as a poker player.

Stress-Free Poker Abroad

Relocating to a new place can be fun and exciting. But sometimes, it also comes with a dose of stress. Getting used to a different culture, rules, and regulations can be a challenge, especially for those with limited experience living abroad.
At Poker Refugees, we go out of our way to make relocation easy and convenient for our customers. With custom orientation packages, referrals to local expat communities, and property searches from a team with 10 years of real estate experience, we simply make your life easier.

We do what we're good at, so our customers have more time to focus on what they're good at – playing poker. Once you take out the stress of relocating, the change of environment can really be invigorating.

After leaving the US, Galfond was finally able to put all the turmoil and stress of US poker laws behind him. He was able to clear his mind, get out of his slump, and focus his attention on poker, resulting in that $600,000 upswing.

Other players have been finding similar effects from moving abroad to play poker – realizing that a change of location can really help to re-sharpen their focus.

Why Move to Vancouver

Canada is often characterized as being a barren, frozen tundra of sorts, and for some parts that may be accurate. But being located near the ocean, Vancouver has one of the mildest climates in Canada.

Many find it quite nice, especially if you're not the type of person who needs 90+ degree (32+ Celsius) tropical weather year-round.

One aspect that Vancouver does share with the rest of Canada is its low crime rate. Compared to any major US city, safety issues in Vancouver are basically unheard of.

There's also a strong poker presence in the local expat community. For players who want access to live games as well, there is plenty of action to be found – both cash games and tournaments.

Although housing and apartment prices are generally pretty reasonable in Canada, it's important to remember that Vancouver is one of the more desirable cities to live in the world right now, and finding a nice apartment in the city center won't be super cheap.

However, Poker Refugees' team has over 10 years of real estate experience. In addition to helping you find the right property for you, they can assist you in negotiating prices.

If you're interested in making the move to Vancouver, you might want to learn more about Canada and the wide variety of services we offer. If you have further questions, don't hesitate to
contact us at

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