American Poker Exile Hot Spots
It's been 9 months since online poker was snatched away unexpectedly from Americans. In that time, a rather sizable number of grinders have relocated out of the U.S. to once again access the game they were profiting from. Here are a few of the popular destinations American online poker players have flocked to since Black Friday:
Located about two and a half hours south of Los Angeles, many west coast based poker pros have set up shop in Rosarito, Mexico. Among these include Marty Mathis and Shane Schleger, both of whom have blogged extensively about the lifestyle of being a Rosarito poker exile. An upside to this location seems to be ease of access to the U.S. Schleger, for instance, has been splitting his time at his Los Angeles home while heading to Rosarito to grind online a few days per week. He has tweeted tales of waiting up to two hours to cross the border.
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Estimated number of exiles: ~30
Perhaps the most popular destination for American exiles has been the largest city in British Columbia, Canada. Hoards of poker pros have headed to Vancouver, a stone's throw across the U.S. border from the state of Washington. Relocating to Canada is a bit less ideal of an exile site since Americans are only allowed to remain in the country for 180 days out of any given 365 days. So while American exiles in Canada are able to enjoy basically the same first world existence as they do in their home country, they are forced to look for an alternative residence after six months. Among the noted Americans currently grinding from Vancouver include Phil Galfond and Dan Cates, two of the top high stakes online cash game players on the planet.
Estimated number of exiles: ~125
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
About one hour south of Cancun, you will find a quieter beach community that is currently home to a couple dozen American refugees. Jon "pearljammer" Turner, Shaun Deeb, Jon Aguiar, and yours truly are among the numbers in Playa del Carmen. Those of us in this city have enjoyed white sandy beaches with crystal clear blue water just a short walk from world-class restaurants and nightclubs when not grinding from our makeshift homes. Some of the refugees in Playa have come to regard Black Friday as a good thing since relocating here.
Estimated number of exiles: ~25
Although mainstream media coverage of American online poker exiles has been virtually non-existent, one hot spot that got some attention was Costa Rica. Bloomberg did a story last fall on the lives of two Costa Rica exiles, Matt Stout and Joey Cappuccio. One major reason a number of players have made their way to the Central American country is thanks to Pocket Fives' poker relocation services. Kristen Wilson, an American realtor based in Costa Rica, has helped a number of poker pros relocate with ease. For a rather modest fee of $1,000, Wilson's relocation services will set their client up with a place of residence, information on how to open a foreign bank account, high speed and backup Internet, plus several other useful services like how to order a pizza from your new home. Players continue to trickle into Costa Rica every week.
Estimated number of exiles: ~70
Located at the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula is the resort town of Cabo. Unlike Rosarito, Cabo is fairly inaccessible by simply driving across the U.S. border. It takes nearly a full day to get there so most exiles here have opted to fly instead. The Cabo Crew seems fairly tight nit and consists and includes online pros Thayer Rasmussen and Ricky Fohrenbach. Players at this location are known for tweeting about beer pong meetups and other antics that suggest they're having a more enjoyable time than their brethren in Rosarito.
Estimated number of exiles: ~50