Saturday, August 17, 2013

Online Poker Players Living in Thailand

Online poker players living in thailand
In recent years there has been a growing number of online poker players relocating to different places around the planet. One of the biggest benefits of playing online poker for a living is that you are location independent.

All you need is a laptop and an internet connection. Black Friday accelerated this trend in a big way as thousands of American professional players faced difficulties playing in their own country.

This post was last updated in March 2018.

Thailand has undoubtedly been the number one destination of choice for online poker players. The Thailand thread in the 2+2 travel forum is the most popular of all time with over 5 times as many replies as the 2nd most popular country. The 2nd and 3rd most popular countries are actually both in this region as well (The Philippines and Cambodia). Southeast Asia is far and away the #1 destination of choice for migrant online poker players.

Anyways, since I have lived in Thailand for a few years now and have met many people from the online poker community I figured that I could speak a little bit about what it is like to relocate here.

One Way Ticket to Bangkok!

Before I begin, I want to be clear that I am in no way advising anyone to just pick up and move halfway around the world on a whim. That would be silly. Even though I did in fact end up booking the proverbial one way ticket to Bangkok (from Vancouver) I thought about it thoroughly for 6 months in advance before deciding that it was the right thing for me to do.

For many people, doing something like this is simply too crazy of an idea to even consider. That is fine. I am not here to change your mind. I will say this though, being on the other side now, what seems crazy to me is the idea of living your entire life in the same little bubble and missing the boat completely on what this world has to offer.

And no, your vacations to Hawaii or your plan to finally go out and experience life when you are old and well past your physical prime don't count. This article is for that small subset of adventurous people who would consider expanding their horizons. It is also for anyone who is curious in general.

poker players thailand

What Type of People Move to a Place like Thailand?

It should be mentioned also that just because you "move" to a different country does not mean that there is anything permanent about it. Many people go back to their home countries after a certain amount of time or travel somewhere else. I certainly did not come here with any intentions beyond staying for a few months. And like most of the poker players I know here I do not have any long term plans at this point.

The profile of the standard online grinder who lives here is overwhelmingly in their 20's or 30's and almost always unattached at least before they come here. And obviously in most cases they belong to the relatively small amount of online poker players who are consistent long term winners.

However, it is important to note that their is an enormous expat population all over Thailand and online poker players make up a very small percentage of that. There are many more English teachers, small business owners, non-poker online professionals and retirees, both single and attached, kids and no kids, and in many cases north of 40 years old.

So you do not have to fit the profile of the 23 year old SNG whiz kid if you choose to check out this country or any other one for that matter. If you want to make it happen, you will.

Lastly, this post is just about Thailand. I definitely don't want to make it sound like this is the only place to go. There are many other great destinations all around the world for anyone looking for a change of pace. The most popular are almost always in Southeast Asia and Central and South America due to the low cost of living and great weather.

In this post I am going to try and provide as much information as I can on all of the day to day details of living in Thailand. If I forget anything (which I surely will) just ask me in the comments. Also, this post will be geared towards online poker players relocating here as this is a poker blog. I will try my best to answer any questions related to non-poker business here as well though. 

Benefits for Online Poker Players Moving to Thailand

  • The ability to play online poker (Americans especially)
  • The weather
  • The low cost of living
  • The food
  • The beaches
  • The people
I will discuss some negatives about living in Thailand at the end. I don't want to paint this country as some magical wonderland. There are many great benefits to living here but it is still a developing country and has some of the problems associated with that. Also, any time you are living in a foreign country there are additional issues for you to deal with such as cultural/language differences and visa hoops to jump through.

Playing Online Poker in Thailand

Playing online poker in Thailand is relatively easy. I do need to mention first though that gambling of any sort (except on Muay Thai) is technically illegal in this country. But there have been no cases ever as far as I know where an online poker player has been even harassed in any way. While it may be technically illegal to play online poker here the authorities do not care at all. It would not be the #1 destination in the world for migrant online poker players if there were any problems with that. 

As usual though, when in a foreign country, or even in your own country, just keep it on the down low. Nobody needs to know what you do for a living besides the other online grinders who you know. As we all know the vast majority of non-poker people won't understand it anyways so it is largely just a waste of time. Just say that you work on the internet. If they press further say you build websites, do affiliate marketing etc. and the conversation will usually end there. 

Live poker is a different story. You will not find a casino anywhere in this country. There are plenty of underground games of course which are often organized by some of the online poker players who live here. I would avoid these though. There have been some cases of these games getting raided by the police. Macau, China (the gambling capital of the world) is a short flight from Thailand. And there are many other SE Asian nations such as Cambodia where you can find live games in casinos as well.  

I have never had any issues connecting to any online poker room here. You do not need a VPN. For Americans, simply change your address on Pokerstars and at every other poker site to your new Thai residence. Submit some sort of proof of residence if they ask for it. Say goodbye to Black Friday!

The Weather

The weather in Thailand is very different than what you are probably used to if you come from North America or Europe. It is a tropical humid climate with high temperatures year round. There is a rainy season between the months of June-October (this varies a bit depending on where you live in the country).

The rain here is generally extremely heavy when it comes down. Life (which is already at a very slow pace in Thailand) sort of stops for 30 minutes or so. The rain then subsides and dries up quickly due to the heat and people go on with their day.

You can expect this to happen once or twice a day in the rainy season. This is the way it typically is in the north anyways. In the southern islands you can expect to have days during the rainy season where it pours like crazy all day as well. Bangkok will be somewhere in the middle of these two.

The rest of the year is hot and mostly dry. From November to May you will see much less rain. Again, this varies a bit depending on where you are. Rainy season lasts longer in the southern islands. During the peak tourist months of November to February there will likely be no rain at all and the temperatures are a little bit more moderate although still fairly hot.

For me, coming from the cold and rainy west coast of Canada the weather is so much better here it's ridiculous.

The Food

food in thailand

That is ข้าวผัดสับปะรดไก่ (Fried Rice Chicken with Pineapple) on the right. I ordered it while sitting in a beachside restaurant watching the kite surfers in the beautiful resort town of Hua Hin.

I think everyone knows about Thai food already. It is one of the best cuisines in the world. I don't know anyone who comes here and doesn't like it. It is often very spicy though. Say "mai pet khrap" (not spicy please) when ordering if this is not your thing. Most of us eat Thai for most meals.

A noodle soup, Pad Thai or rice based dish can be had for as little as one dollar in the ever present markets and street side food stalls here. You can get a bigger portion and a more skillfully prepared Thai meal in the wide range of restaurants here usually for a few dollars at most. People eat out far more often in Thailand than in western countries. In fact many are surprised to learn that most apartments here don't come with a kitchen at all, just a small fridge.

Western food will cost more. It is everywhere though and will still cost quite a bit less than in your home country. The fast food joints are everywhere here also, McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks etc. I don't go to these places very often but the prices are a little bit lower on average than what they are in the West. 

The Cost of Living

This is a huge thing for many poker players, especially those grinding the micros. One of the best things about living in Thailand and many other countries in this region is that it will cost you far less than in your home country. You can effectively double or even triple your quality of life over night.

Using the power of geo-arbitrage we make money in a currency (USD or EUR) that is worth far more than the currency (Thai Baht) in the place that we live. At the time of this writing you will get about 30 Thai Baht for 1 American/Canadian/Australian dollar. You will get about 42 Baht for 1 Euro.

[2018 Edit: The USD sits at about 31 Thai Baht for 1 USD in early 2018].

Where I live in the northern city of Chiang Mai a small but modern centrally located furnished studio with air con, tv, wifi, bathroom, balcony and in some cases pool and/or fitness room access can be had for as little as $150 a month. This is unheard of in any Western city.

Of course many of us pay much more (like $300 lol) and get a much larger nicer place. If you are ballin' out of control and have $600 a month to spend on accommodation then you will get a luxury 1 bedroom condo on the top floor with all of the amenities in the most popular part of the city (Nimmanhaemin road). It is pretty much impossible to pay more than this.

Keep in mind that Chiang Mai is the cheapest major city to live in in Thailand. Prices will be 25-50% higher in Bangkok and between 50-300% higher in Phuket depending on the season and proximity to the beach.

Travel Everywhere When You First Arrive

This country gets an astounding 25 million tourists a year and many of them come back again and again. My advice is to just be a complete tourist here for the first month after you arrive and spend time in Bangkok, the southern islands and up north in Chiang Mai.

These places are all vastly different from each other and you need to figure out which one is right for you. Cost of living is just one factor. And it is absolutely possible to live insanely cheap in Bangkok and Phuket if you look around anyways.

As long as you are not blasting the aircon 24/7 then electricity and water anywhere in Thailand is pretty cheap and largely not even worth mentioning ($50 a month perhaps). Food as mentioned before is also cheap as long as you don't mind eating mostly Thai. Other costs will be a motorbike (Read scooter: Honda Click or Wave etc) if you want one. Motorbikes represent at least 50% of the vehicles on the roads here.

In Chiang Mai you can rent one for 80-100 dollars a month. A better choice might be to just buy one for about $700 used or $1500 new if you plan on living here for awhile. Since you can affordably just live right in the city though often there is no need for one.

Prices for clothes are very cheap here in the markets and reasonable at the malls. But since you don't need much more than flip flops, shorts and t-shirts here year round you won't need a huge clothing collection anyways. 

Expect to pay about the same price for electronics as you would in your home country. So don't come here thinking you are going to get a great deal on a new laptop, tablet or phone. If you need a new phone I would probably buy it in Thailand though just to avoid any issues that you might have with unlocking when you get here.

Mobile data and calling plans are very cheap. Use Skype when you want to phone home. I have 400 minutes a month to any mobile or landline in Canada for 5 dollars a month. Of course Skype to Skype calls are always free. is a great site for comparing the costs of living in cities anywhere in the world. Plug in where you live and compare it to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket.

Online poker players in Thailand

The Beaches

beaches in thailand
There are lots of them here and many of them are stunning. You can just live at the beach here if you want as well. You will pay a premium though because often they are located on islands where they need to ship goods in. Also, the property values are a lot higher of course.

But there are many places in this country in non-touristy beach locales where you can live for very little. I spent a month in a beach town in an 11th floor fully modern condo with a beach view for $233 a month a couple of months ago. It is a spot dominated by Thais and not foreign tourists so the prices are much lower. Places like this (no I will not say where, I have to keep some secrets!) can be found if you look around a bit and stay clear of the popular backpacker/tourist spots.

Many of us choose to live in a major city like Bangkok or Chiang Mai though for the modern amenities and better social scene. We can just go on frequent vacations anyways. Domestic flights are very cheap and of course it takes no time at all to arrive in a world class beach resort such as Phuket or Koh Samui. 

The People and the Language

Thailand is often nicknamed LOS "The land of smiles." This is a country which is 95% Buddhist. The pace of life for most Thais is far slower than what you are probably used to. Family is huge to them. Having "sanook" (fun) at whatever they do in life is a top priority. They are quite a bit happier and more hospitable than people in most western countries. The smile is not fake. They are often genuinely happy to see you and talk to you (there are exceptions in the heavy tourist areas). This is a breath of fresh air for me. 

The Thai language is very different than any of the Western languages and difficult to learn. The good thing is that you don't actually have to learn it to live here. Most Thais, at least in the big cities, speak a reasonable amount of English. At least enough so that you can order your food, apartment etc. in English and have no problem. Also since there are so many expats here from places like England, America, Canada and Australia you could literally just surround yourself with people who are native English speakers all the time anyways. 

However, you will probably want to learn the language if you plan on staying here for a long time. It will enrich your experience so much more if you can have conversations with Thais that go beyond "Hi, how are you?" They will generally be happy to help you out with words that you don't know and will be honored that you are even trying to learn. 


living in thailand playing poker
For people from any Western country, if you arrive in Thailand on a plane you will be able to stay here for 30 days without a visa. If you arrive by land, 15 days.

But your best bet if you plan on staying here for awhile is to get a visa. I would suggest getting a tourist visa from the Thai embassy in your home country before coming here. If they offer a triple entry, get it. Most will offer a double though.

Each entry will effectively give you 3 months in Thailand after you extend it at a local immigration office. You will have to step over the border in a surrounding country to activate each new entry.

Once all of the entries on your visa are finished then you will have to visit a Thai embassy in a foreign country if you wish to apply for a new one. All surrounding countries have at least one Thai embassy. For the actual price of the visa, the cost was $40 per entry for me at the Vancouver Thai consulate in late 2014. In Vientiane, Laos each entry is 1k baht which is just over $30. 

The visa process is a bit confusing and annoying at times but this is just part of living in a foreign country. Just jump through the hoops every few months and do what you have to do.

Another option that many long term grinders here use though is to get a 1 year education visa. You pay up front for the year and the cost is pretty similar to doing the whole tourist visa thing. The benefit is that you only have to report to the local immigration office once every 3 months and no visits to other countries either.

Also, you have paid for Thai language classes for a year. You don't actually have to go if you don't want to in many cases. But it is a good way to learn the language and make new friends.

[2018 Edit: There have been changes to tourist visas since this article was written. You can only get a multiple entry tourist visa now from a Thai embassy in the country you are from. You will only be able to get a single entry tourist visa (works out to 90 days total after extending it) if you apply at a Thai embassy outside the country you are from].

Hospital Care, Insurance and Transportation

This is a big area of concern for many people. There is a whole range of medical care here from small shady clinics to top notch hospitals with western educated doctors that would rival anything in your home country. The prices, like with nearly everything else, are also far cheaper.

Many people (especially Americans) come here specifically to get big treatments done at a fraction of the cost of back home. That said, it is still a good idea to get some sort of insurance if you plan on living here. A couple of stitches or a checkup won't cost you anything but if you break your leg or something which requires some inpatient care it could add up in a big way.

Insurance is cheap and can be found very easily through a quick google search. Be aware though that most insurance plans DO NOT cover motorbike accidents. Read the fine print or ask questions. The reason why is that by far the biggest reason that foreigners will require medical treatment here is due to a motorbike accident.

Despite the dangers (getting out of bed is technically dangerous) I do think it is a good idea to eventually get used to a bike. It will enhance your experience so much more. I would recommend learning how to drive in a quiet location first and not a big city. Also, be very careful on the southern islands. These places are notorious for bad windy roads and tons of tourists who have no clue how to ride a scooter screw themselves up all the time.

Lastly, if you plan to go out for a night on the town, leave the bike at home. It is not worth it at all. And always wear a helmet even though many Thais and foreigners do not bother with them. Rental shops will give you a ridiculous little plastic lid to wear. I would highly suggest going to a Honda dealership and buying a proper big bike helmet for $50. Your life is easily worth $50.
poker players living in thailand
Typical scooter rental bike and the proper helmet that I bought.

But you could also easily just live in the city and you won't even need a bike. I did this for the first year that I was here. This is especially the case in Bangkok. Bangkok has an outstanding skytrain and subway system (and dirt cheap aircon taxis everywhere as well). I don't know why on earth anyone would want to drive there anyways. Worst traffic that I have ever seen anywhere in the world!

It is very easy to get around Chiang Mai with the local taxis called "songthaews" for very cheap ($1 to cross the city). However, one of the perks of this city is the amazing amount of mountains, lakes, rivers and waterfalls just minutes outside of town in many cases. You can easily make due without a bike here but the experience is much richer with one.

Phuket is a little bit more of an adventure and the taxi prices are much, much higher. If you want to take a taxi there to another beach I would accost some tourists who are also looking for a ride and try to split the fare with them. The natural scenery around the island of Phuket though as you can imagine is stunning. Just be careful on those roads if you choose to hire a scooter as mentioned.

I should mention that you could also just get a car or a truck anywhere in Thailand of course but they are a lot more expensive than a bike or public transportation. I don't know any poker players who bother with that. 

Meeting People

As I mentioned before there is a very large expat population here already. And also the number of tourists from Western countries is extremely high as well. So meeting people who speak your language (or are even from your own country) is not difficult at all.

The major poker communities are in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. There are Skype groups for all three of them. Get yourself invited to one of them and you can easily become friends with and meet up with all the grinders there. There are tons of regular sports events, meetups and the like in all three communities.

Many grinders here choose to live in big mansions "poker houses" with 4 or 5 of them and live the baller life. Make friends online and offline with the poker community and you should be able to get into one of these houses or set one up yourself no problem. Many people choose to live on their own though as well especially if they have a Thai girlfriend.

Negatives of Living in Thailand

  • The visa leash
  • Language
  • Internet in some situations
  • Ability to degen hard
  • Political atmosphere/Police corruption
I have touched on a few of these issues a little bit already but I will say a bit more. With regards to visas and the hoops that you have to jump through yes it can be a bit annoying but this is just part of being a foreigner. As of this writing it is extremely difficult to impossible to ever become a citizen in this country (this is the case in most Asian countries).

You can get a retirement visa if you are over the age of 50 which makes things way, way easier. However, this does not apply to the vast majority of people reading this article. And as mentioned an education or a business visa might be a good option for some as well.

However, many poker players simply rely on tourist visas for years. This means trips to a foreign country a couple times a year either just to step over the border to get stamped in and out or to apply for a new visa at a Thai embassy in the region. It also means getting extensions at the local immigration office a few times a year as well. I personally have grown to enjoy the trips to Laos and Burma and a few early mornings at immigration. No big deal for me.

As with most things in life though, if you are willing to pay up, you can skip the line. The "Elite Card" was introduced a few years ago which basically gives you a 5 year free pass in the country (come and go whenever you please, no visa runs) and a few other perks such as airport pickup service. It is not cheap though at 500k Thai Baht and the total amount must be paid up front.

The cost for the Elite Card works out to over 3 times as much as doing the regular tourist visa runs. However, if you are loaded and want no hassles at all, then this is an option for you.

The language is very different and very hard for most Westerners to pick up. It is a tonal language and the same word can have 5 different meanings depending on how you pronounce it. There are sounds which are not used in the English language and the sentence structure can be very weird at times.

poker thailand
I rented this entire house last year. 3bdrm, 3bath, 4aircon, gated community, satellite TV, ADSL internet, 10 minutes outside Chiang Mai, $400 per month.
In the rural areas of Thailand there will be very little English spoken. As long as you stick to the main big cities though you will be fine. However, most foreigners living here tend to have very few Thai friends besides their girlfriend due to language issues. Many expats have made the commitment though and learned it. It is not impossible.

With the internet do not expect the blazing speeds that you are used to on a broadband connection in America, Canada or Europe. However, Thailand is not a third world country and you can certainly get decent broadband connections in nearly any city. Definitely enough to play poker on.

Many grinders choose to have a backup connection though just in case. Wifi connections can of course be a little more unstable. But most people coming here to grind will want to set up a plan with a local ISP and get a dedicated connection anyways.

I do need to mention this. As most people know the partying/girls/hooker scene here is pretty crazy. If you don't keep your life in order it can be very easy to get consumed with that. There are tons of old expats here wasting away especially in towns like Pattaya, the most degen place on the planet. Most of the younger guys, which includes almost all online poker players, keep it in check though.

It is fine to go a bit crazy when you first get here, most people do. And you should travel around anyways to see where you want to live. But after that have a plan to settle into normal life. Get a place, a grinding routine, a gym membership etc. and keep the nightlife at a minimum.

Thailand is a relatively stable but young democracy. However, if you look at the history of this country you will notice numerous military coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932. These coups are pretty much always non-violent and the power is handed back to a civilian government in due time. It is important that you understand that this is simply the way that they do politics here.

In fact I am updating this section right now in early 2018 and Thailand has been governed by a military junta for almost 4 years now. However, it hasn't affected my life on any level. Honestly, nobody really cares about it, including many Thais.

It should also be noted that there is still a lot of corruption here across many levels of society. The bribery system is common here especially in dealings with the police. However as long as you keep yourself out of trouble, as you probably already do in your home country, none of this stuff should affect you on any level.

Just a couple final notes. The monarchy is extremely important in Thailand. The king of Thailand is like a living god to many Thais. Don't ever say anything disrespectful. Also, be aware that Thailand (and this entire region) have some of the harshest drug laws in the world.

Final Thoughts

Relocating abroad is definitely not for everybody. But for me and many of the other grinders and expats here it was a great decision. Living in Thailand is very much like a dream at times. It doesn't even seem real. There is stuff that I didn't even mention, since this article is already long enough, such as $5 an hour Thai massage and the incredible Buddhist architecture all over the country.

I think the pros far outweigh any cons. And seeing how the "other side" lives will also broaden your perspective immensely. This doesn't mean that I am here permanently though and I still love my home country of Canada. I can travel back whenever I want.

This leads me to a fairly big "con" of living abroad though that I did not mention because it applies to any foreign country and not just Thailand; missing your family and friends. Obviously this is something that everyone who relocates abroad must deal with and it IS difficult.

Although the power of technology these days (Skype, Facebook calls) does make it a little bit easier, Thailand is a long, long way from home if you are from North America or Europe.

I will lastly say this. All of the reasons that people list for why they cannot live abroad for awhile (or even travel abroad which is equally as fascinating and life changing in my opinion) usually aren't anywhere near as difficult to overcome as they think.

You only live once and you have far more to gain than you have to lose. The hardest part really is just getting on the plane.

If you want to know more about my life here in Thailand and my travels as well make sure you follow me on Instagram.

And lastly, if you want to know how I fund this lifestyle, make sure you pick up a copy of my free poker ebook.

As mentioned, if anyone has any questions about Thailand please feel free to leave them below. I will do my best to answer them.

If you enjoyed this article please "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

blackrain79 - micro stakes strategy


  1. No problem. Didn't expect for it to be so long lol. Hope it helps some people though.

  2. Go to Thailand is a possibility for me now, the post explains a lot, nice work.

  3. Glad I could help. If you make it out here let me know and we will meet up!

  4. Great post! It helped me with the things I am going to have to face & consider, aswell as the things I will enjoy and not enjoy.

    Good luck at the tables & Best of luck with your new book.

    1. Thanks SCOOOOOP, hope everything goes well when you decide to head over this way. Send me an email if you have any pressing questions!

  5. n1. livin on phuket and its indeed too expensive, but i love the beach here and dont know what to do in chiang mai. been there last week the second time, went to pai and so on. love the north but what are u guys doing there when not grinding? i saw there are cheap houses as well, less than half the price of phuket. maybe i give it a try to live there if u tell me some nice things to do

    1. Can't speak for everyone but I live in a big house now just outside the city in a gated community for very cheap. There is a pool (a few of them actually), fitness, basketball, sauna and a driving range. So there is plenty to do without even leaving the neighborhood.

      There are tons of outdoor activities around here, probably the most of anywhere in Thailand with the biggest mountains in the country, rivers, lakes and waterfalls everywhere. If the nightlife is your thing (I spent about a year going crazy) you can just live in the city. It isn't BKK nightlife and it isn't Patong beach either but there is plenty going on for most people.

      No, there is no beach. But I can just take frequent trips down to Phuket or elsewhere and enjoy that when I want without paying 3 times as much for the cost of living as I do here. I was in Phuket just over a month ago on vacation. It is perfect for that. Hope this helps!

  6. funny u went to phuket for holiday and me to CM. how much u pay for ur house and how big is it? no i dont need the party thing anymore, maybe every couple of weeks is enough for me. thx for answer

    1. It is a 2 storey 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 4 aircon for 14k per month.

    2. 14 k baht per month correct ? silly question but just in case

    3. Yes 14k baht per month. 6 month contract.

  7. Nathan,
    I had not been around in a while & had no Idea you were in Thailand.
    I thought you were in Vancouver! None of my business, but I'll ask anyway -
    a) how long have you been there
    b) why did you go when there's no problem playing online in Canada?

    was it for the lower cost of living & "adventure" or is there some problem playing in Canada that I am unaware of?


    1. I have been living in Thailand for about a year and a half now. My decision to come here had nothing to do with playing poker. As you stated, I can do that no problem in Canada. I came here for the adventure and for something new.

  8. Hello Black Rain! How long have you been playing online poker here in Bkk? I am a Filipino by the way.. I had a Pokerstars account way back when I was in Philippines but I forgot the username and need to make another one here.. Is it okay to make a new one with the same name? 2nd question, which is better NETELLER or ENTROPAY for my cash account?? Please help me.. Thanks! P.S. I'd be glad to go out and have beer with you guys..

    1. Hi Mauricio,

      I don't live in BKK. I live up north in CM. I would just email Stars and get the username and password of your old account to avoid any problems. I can't really comment on NT or ENTRO as I don't use either of them.

  9. Hello, I have lived in Udon, been to CM. Going to be In Udon for 4 months In DEC. I want to play ONLINE POKER. I have a bank account in Thailand. Well it is Visa debt card account. Tried to use it for a deposit at pokerstars. It never would work. How do you do it if I may ask. Like to set everything up before I come in DEC . Thanks JOHN B.

    1. Hi John,

      I think it would be better if you sent an email to the poker site about this instead. I don't do much depositing myself and just use Moneybookers (Skrill) when I do.

  10. Nathan, don't forget about another negative! Getting involved with Thai women!! Well not all Thai women just the bar girls or ex bar girls!! Riddled with STD's etc, fleecing you for all your winnings so that they can take care of their kids which they never mentioned or their other boyfriends. Not to mention their drug habit!! Hahaha........

    1. No question. Many of the poker players who come here are young and forget that you can't make a prostitute your gf or wife and expect anything good to happen. Thai women are a very complicated subject overall though, even the regulars ones. I didn't want to get into it too much in this post though. The internet is literally full of the stories and tips from all the "experts' on Thai women who live here haha.

  11. Hi JOHN B

    Any other poker players living in Udon Thani?

    I've been living here for 3 years, and I have yet to meet a poker player., but I'm fine with hanging out with the other expats though.


  12. hey blackrain are there any pokerhouses in Thailand where you are or a few guys who need a roommate? Im looking to pursue my poker dream but am currently in the USA :(. if you could add me on Skype I would appreciate it Skype name is shanediesel18 thanks

    1. Hi Anon,

      Can't help you regarding poker houses, never lived in one. I would ask around especially in the travel forum on 2p2.

  13. Nathan, refreshing post, poker isn´t the end, just the means for a better life for smart guys like yourself, congrats to you and your adult approach. You made me remember my trips to that extreme land, in those days I guess I was more tilted towards the easy partying, was in my 20´s. Now being 47 with wife and kid, I would enjoy the other side of Thailand, no doubt. Don´t lose your focus and you´ll do just fine man!! Regards from Argentina.

    1. Hi Guillermo,

      I know exactly what you mean. I am 34 so I have sort of seen it from both sides. I have definitely done my fair share of partying especially when I first got here but I have more life experience than all these 23 year olds and don't let it suck me in as much. The whole place can definitely be a little bit overwhelming at first though regardless of age. As you state it is important to keep your head screwed on straight especially if you plan to live here. If you are just here for vacation, go nuts.

  14. Hi Nathan,

    My name is Luis, I'm a 32-year-old Brazilian former professional chess player turned poker pro, and I make a living at the $1/$2, $2/$4 and $3/$6 NLHE FR tables on PokerStars as "Shakhmaty".

    I do love my country and have lived here all my life, but as of late I've developed a growing interest in moving to Thailand (Brazilian women are beautiful, but the goddamn neighbor's grass is always greener, isn't it? If they feed you filet mignon for three decades straight, you'll find yourself longing for some pork chops!).

    I wanted to leave you a message to let you know that, of all the material I found online on the subject, this article in your blog was one of the most useful. Thank you for sharing all of these golden pieces of info.

    As a fellow pro, I give you my congratulations on your career, your book and all of your professional progress. Hell, I know first hand ours isn't an easy business to be in. I commend you as well on the balls it undoubtedly took for you to make the move to Southeast Asia! That took heart and commitment ;)

    I have one question to ask you: do you plan on staying in Chiang Mai (or in Thailand in general) for the long haul? My current plan is to make my first visit to Thailand this year (I'll travel with a group of poker-playing Brazilian friends from São Paulo) and later on to make the move (to either Chiang Mai or Bangkok, haven't decided which yet) solo within 1 or 2 years.

    Having said all that, if you'd be at all interested in helping a brother out by answering the occasional e-mail or two, it would be very much appreciated. My e-mail is

    1. Hi Luis,

      I know what you mean with the grass is always greener. I certainly have nothing bad to say at all about the country I come from, Canada. In fact I think it is a great country and I am very lucky to have been born there. With that said, I simply like living in Thailand quite a bit more. So yes it was worth it although it was very scary at first especially since most of us come here alone initially.

      I definitely do plan on doing some more traveling but I think I will be spending a lot of time in this country in the future. It sounds like your plan is good to come visit for awhile with some friends, see a lot of places, and then make the move later. I would be happy to answer some questions that you may have. Just email me at

      Also, the first reply to the comments here "Willian Mates" is a good friend of mine who is Brazilian, a professional poker player, and moving to Chiang Mai very soon. I could put you in touch with him as well. All the best.

  15. Hey BlackRain! awesome blog, Very informative.. I'm planning a trip to Thailand and was curious about the state of online poker there.. I'm actually just interested in playing a little bit for leisure while I'm there. Not pretending to be a pro.

    My question: As an American, how would i deposit, and potentially withdrawl if i open an account while I'm visiting? Would this be to complicated a process if i was only looking to mess around in a few smaller Sundays?

    Thanks again for the blog!

    1. Thanks, glad you like the blog. I am not American so I am not an expert on this by any means. However, as far as I know if you don't actually plan on living here then nothing is different. Americans who live here have things like a proof of residence to supply to the poker sites and a Thai bank account to withdraw from.

  16. You good man !! Hope to meet you one day ! I 'm French and I'm living in Hungary for the moment...But I was tinking about thailand for the reason you known already...Thank you for your infos...peace

  17. do u think 25 nl zoom is enough to live there?

  18. that was a bit vague. was just testing to see if it worked. first blog. I live in Australia and i make $10 per hour which obviously not enough to make living here. It almost seems with alot of hard work my hourly rate may just be enough to live there or at least give it a shot. would 3 or 4 hundred US a week be enough to live comfortably there?

    1. If you plan to live a quiet life grinding in a typical apartment in the city then 1k a month is easily enough in Chiang Mai and probably Bangkok as well. Really depends on your lifestyle. Some people can get by for less than this. Some people spend 5 times this per month.

  19. Nice post I would like to know around how much money you need for leaving in Thailand because i have a friend from Thailand and he told me that with $10,000 per year you can have a good life is it true ? now im thinking in a good place for live as a poker player I haven been thinking Colombia mexico or Italy also Thailand but I know that yet I can go because I'm not a professional yet. but Im working hard and I l know that one day i will be a pro.

    1. Thanks. Like I said above in the comments it all really depends on your lifestyle. Some people are able to live off of as little as $500 a month here. Some people spend 5K or more.

  20. What is the best online site to play while in Thailand concerning deposits/payouts and rakeback options? What are wait times like for tourist visas and education visits to be approved?

    1. It says at the top your a coach as well; do you specialize in any aspect more then others such as 6-max or high stakes tournaments? Do you have coaching expertise in tracking software and what is your rate per lesson? Your post above relates to me in many ways and very interested in possibly seeking coaching from you.

    2. Hi Chris,

      People living in Thailand play on many different sites just like in any other country in the world. So you would need to find the site that works best for you. I don't have any experience with education visas but tourist visas are typically processed in a day or two.

      I do coach but right now I am inactive and not accepting any new students. I specialize in small stakes 9max and 6max cash games. I do not coach any other formats. I can send you an email if you like when/if I do start coaching again later this year. You can feel free to email it to me at

  21. Thank$ Man Really help me 2 remind My Self 2 Think OuTside The B0x . . . .Many Thank$


  22. This is fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    Not planning to move but it broadens my horizons on other lifestyles.

    Does pique my interest in a possible vacation spot though.

    Also, you write well!!

  23. Thanks dude... Was very helpful and a fun read too... In Bangkok right now... Taking the first step of opening my bank account here... Hoping to start playing today!

    1. No problem and welcome to Thailand. Great time of year right now :)

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Great article. If anyone is unsure of how easy it can be to survive here playing micros, I've played nothing but 5nl FR Zoom for the best part of 3 years and make enough to pay for a simple life. Ok my condo isn't baller, but it's better than being in cold wet miserable England working 12 hours a day in a factory.

    1. Thanks and that is amazing! Although I am really not that surprised. I have spent as little as like $600 a month with visas and everything included many times living a simple but still comfortable life.

    2. Turlock Tx 4 sharing the 5nlrz part was very helpful to me cheers

  26. Hello Blackrain79,

    Its an amazing post with a deep insight ! you are just awesome. But i have bit of confusio regarding the tourist visa part. How long we could tay there on tourist visa ? after 6 months what we need to do ? Basically how the visa part works.

    Also since i have a good winrate on a local poker site in my country im willing to improve my game further with the help of your coaching. Please do help me up in this regard. I wish i would start living that pro life in a short while. But definately i need coaching.

    Thank You.

    1. Hi GB,

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post. I am sorry but I am not doing any coaching at the moment.

      With tourist visas you can get either 1, 2 or 3 entries and they have to be applied for at a Thai embassy or consulate outside of Thailand. How many entries you can get depends on which embassy you go to. Each entry will basically get you about 90 days in the country. After your visa has expired you can go apply for another one just like before outside of Thailand. People who live here often go to a neighboring country such as Laos for instance. The Thai embassy in Vientiane will issue 2 entries. You should double check all of this information though before heading here because it may be different depending on what country you are from.

  27. Do you still check your dragthebar email?

    1. Yes, I just got back to you. I am in Koh Phi Phi on holiday at the moment and the internet is also sketchy here.

  28. Hey BlackRain, got round to making a Thailand FAQ out of some of my 2+2 posts, maybe interesting to readers here -

    Also linked your article on there as a shoutout.

    - jspill

    1. Wow, brilliant article jspill! I always appreciate your posts on 2+2 as well. I will give a shout out to this article on Twitter and probably link to it a lot when somebody asks me a question that my article does not cover as well. Great stuff!

  29. Hey Nathan, are you playing online poker in a particular place in Thailand for most of the year or are you traveling around Thailand and playing online poker? Recently Pokerstars did retract their business from some countries, can you still play on Pokerstars in Thailand?

    1. I usually spend at least half of the year in the northern city of Chiang Mai. There are no problems playing online poker in Thailand. This includes Pokerstars.

  30. Hey BlackRain,I'm in Bangkok right now.Can you tell me the cheapest way to cash out from pokerstars?


  31. Gr8 post the fact that u keep ur older posts updated shows me how committed u and how reliable ur materials r gr8 respect (am located in bkk btw would be great to meet n hangout if u around n interested, either way keep it up)

    1. Thanks Voicee,

      I appreciate the kind words. I try to keep this post in particular updated. Because as you probably know things like the visa rules are always changing. A lot of poker players find this post through google and they might be already considering making the move here. I want them to have the correct information.

  32. i was planning to set up a poker house in the philippines if your interested please reply to my skype

  33. for visa, thailand now issue, tourist 60 days visa, info can be check here

  34. Wow! Awesome article! Thank you very much. I too have read a lot of related articles, but I find yours to be the most informative and interesting of all!

    I live in America, and plan on retiring shortly. Was thinking of going to Playa Del Carmen, as many Americans have, to play poker online, but your article reminded me that a few years ago, Chang Mai was one of the top spots I had in mind for retiring to.

    You said above that you are renting a nice place for what seems like about $350 USD per month. Are fairly nice places still available in Chang Mai around this price? Also, could you tell me more about the Elite visa as opposed to the Retirement visa?

    You are a very insightful, intelligent man, and I am impressed with your poker information and general outlook on life. I hope if I come to Chang Mai that I will have the honor of meeting you and some of the other poker players living in the area.

    Thank you!

    Paul of The World Famous Platters.

    1. Hey Paul, thanks for the kind words. Playa Del Carmen is a hotspot for poker players as well. I hope to visit one day.

      For Chiang Mai, $350 will get you a decent place in the city for sure. If you are 50 years of age or over just get the retirement visa and don't even bother with anything else. The Elite visa is for people who are younger than 50, have money (because it is not cheap) and want no hassles.

    2. Not sure if you still check this, but just wanted to say thank you very much for such an awesome detailed article. Along, with the RB article, it covers pretty much everything one would need to know. I am seriously considering moving to Thailand for 6 months or so to grind MTT's on PS and FT (I'm an American) along with enjoying the fun life of Thailand. My sister taught English in BKK and has nothing but good things to say and is her favorite place shes every lived and shes been all over. Although, she was teaching English so her job took care of pretty much everything.

      A few questions I have is
      Is it difficult to open a Thai Bank account?
      How about transferring funds in Thai Bank to North America Bank account?(I imagine Canadian and American banks are very similar like most everything else.) Obviously I don't wanna go there and make 50k and not be able to get it out of Thailand.
      I grew up in Alaska so I love mountains, rivers and lakes so Chiang Mai sounds like best option for me, although I really want to spend some times at the beaches to. Preferbly the lesser touristy ones. Is it a long trip to some decent beaches? My sister said its about 1-2hrs from BKK to beaches, but CM is way up north?
      I have a few other questions but don't want to overload.

      I guess cliffs would be

      Easy or difficult to get Thai Bank account?
      " "" "" to xfer funds from Thai Bank to NA Bank
      Tourist visas come in two entries @ 60days each for 120 days total per visa reup?
      5k+Bankroll enough to make the trip? I don't plan on spending a shit load of money, just going out a couple nights/week and spending time in mountains, beaches and some waterfall pools and of course finding a non hooker cool and fun Thai GirlFriend.

      Thank you,

    3. Hey Mike,

      Glad this article helped. From what I have heard opening a Thai bank account is sort of hit or miss. Some might say yes, some might say no. Don't know about setting up transfers.

      Chiang Mai is a 2 hour flight to Phuket or Koh Samui. 1 hour flight to BKK. You can only get a multiple entry tourist visa in your home country now (I just edited the article a few days ago). If you apply for a tourist visa anywhere else you will only get 1 entry (90 days after extension).

      I would try to budget at least 1k per month to live here plus the funds for a ticket home.

      Hope this helps.

  35. Great info. I'm a poker player but also like to bet sports on the betfair exchange. Do you know if you can access betfair in Thailand? I've heard mixed things.


    1. Thanks! I don't know to be honest with sports betting.

  36. I love articles like this. Also, thanks for making it longer than you expected, as it covers a lot of ground, and is nicely laid out, and therefore we can read the sections that we want in the order we want!

    As for me, I've been living in mainland China for about 18 months and JUST NOW realized online poker is available - Pokerstars support confirmed China can play.

    I'm married, so my visa situation is much simpler. Flying from Orlando to Hong Kong was "crazy". As I was boarding the plane in Newark, I kept thinking "what the hell am I doing?!" since I'd never been outside of North America, and I was MOVING - not visiting.

    Anyway, I loved the article and am going to get back to microstakes with your videos and ebook combo. I haven't played real money since Black Friday, so I'm way out of practice. Lol.

    1. Thanks Gabriel, glad you enjoyed this article! I had the exact same experience when I left Vancouver for the first time to go overseas. That "what the hell did I just do!" feeling haha. But it quickly passed. It was a great decision for me to explore the world. All the best there in China. I will make it up there one day.

  37. hi blackrain79,

    if you go and restart the visa thing every few months, arent they gonna reject my entry eventually? cause they'll think im trying to work there illegally or something? they'll ask what Im doing there and if I say Im just a tourist, they'll ask what I do for money..etc and I cant say poker cause its illegal, then what?

    and as for renting a place, a lot of places I checked on craigslist have a 12 month lease. what do you recommend? just go with the lease or find one without? cause Im thinking of moving to thailand for a year or so to try living there playing poker, and Im trying to figure things out.

    and also when you first move there, how long does it take to set everything up before you can even start grinding? (have to rent a place, set up bank account, proof of address which you need cellphone bills examples) all of that take time. so could I possibly do this all within 1 month?

    1. Hi Fatlee,

      They are pretty relaxed with the back to back to back visas as long as you keep jumping through the hoops. Most people go to Laos, it takes a few days to do the whole process.

      Or you can just get a multiple entry visa in your home country before coming to Thailand and get close to 9 months instead of the 3 months from Laos.

      If you are really concerned you can also just use this as an excuse to go spend a little bit of time in a neighbouring country.

      As for leases, up in Chiang Mai there are loads of places that offer month to month. Bangkok is a bit more stringent on lease signing but there are still plenty that don't require one.

      It might be best to use an apartment rental service and let them know this. They will find the place that you want and even drive you around town.

      As for everything else, Thailand is super easy. It doesn't take long. People come here precisely to get away from all the silly red tape and rules of many western countries :)

      If you have any specific questions it is better to email me. Contact button at the button of this page.

  38. Hi nathan
    Would someone be able to grind in thailand without moving there, but rather vacation there for months at a time? Im canadian. So residential address on pokerstars would be my canadian address. I would let stars know im vacationing in thailand for 6 months. I go there to grind and come back to canada in 6 months.then do it again over and over. The reason is because i want to test out the lifestyle without having to go thru all the steps of changing address and bank info etc it'd be easier if i could just pack some stuff and hop on a plane..get to thailand get a hotel with wifi and just start right then and in hotels and if i sont like it i could just come back a few weeks later. But are there any problems with doing it loke this?

    1. Hi snowman,

      Ya this is totally fine. I am Canadian too. Pretty sure I still just have my Canadian address and bank in Stars and I live in Thailand for most of the year. Doing a half and half thing is a great idea also. I know tons of people who spend half the year in Thailand, half in England, US, Canada etc.

  39. hi i am mark from holland and living in the Philippines for olmost a year now im a real poker fan. i love playing poker im playing now since 2007 ive been playing alot and thats where i get my experience. mostly i played mtt and looking for full staking and full time backer is olso welcome so if your interested or want more info feel free to contact me on Skype babajoe76

  40. Hey Nathan,

    Great article, quick question on real estate though. Where would you suggest a full time grinder to stay (Preferably some place that has malls/banks/etc nearby)? Could you also recommend me a site to survey real estate in Chiang Mai?


    1. Glad you liked this article! I can't really suggest where to live because it depends too much on you and what you want. There are malls, banks etc. everywhere. This is why you should travel to places like Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket first and then decide. I don't know much about buying real estate in this country so I can't comment there.

    2. Oh my apologies I phrased my sentence wrongly, I meant where would you suggest a full time grinder to stay in Chiang Mai?

      I'm not planning to buy real estate but just trying to figure out the most GTO town to rent a place in CM. Heard Su Thep is the place to be but I couldn't really find any places for rent online.

      Do you have an agent you already deal with when you're looking for a new place?

    3. There are tons of great areas in CM to stay with expats living all over the city. You need to go see for yourself and then decide, I can't decide for you. I would suggest just booking an Airbnb or a cheap guesthouse in advance and then looking around for long term places. You really don't need an agent in CM. You just walk into apartment buildings, ask to see the room, and often move in same day if you want.

  41. Nice article. I am from Vancouver as well but have been living in Japan the last 17 years. I have been to Thailand 2 or 3 times and Kuala Lumpur 4 times. Love both those places for the food and price. After I retire I want to travel around those places for months straight and maybe live there for years. Is it safe enough to do this? I never felt any danger while there on my vacations but I've heard so many stories and many tourists have bit the dust while being there over the last few years. Some family and friends dont want me to do it...but it is so awesome there compared to anywhere else especially Vancouver. In Vancouver you may die of boredom or cost of living. :P I don't plan on ever going back and would rather spend my life in these awesome Asian tropical destinations, but of course I don't want to bite the dust LOL.

    1. I have lived in Thailand for the past 5 years and it is probably the safest place I have ever been to. I have never been to Malaysia but from everything I know it is a very safe country as well. You do hear about tourist deaths in places like these from time to time but it is usually their own doing, alcohol + motorbike for example.

    2. Excellent, that's what I was thinking about people just doing stupid things. Too much exaggeration as well. Coming from Van I was used to a certain way, then I visited the States and felt less safe, but then I moved to Japan and found exactly what I like safety-wise. Japan is the safest place on the planet, other than earthquakes of course LOL. But on my visits to Malaysia/Thailand, I never ever felt threatened as I have in Van or the States. I just feel that 'edgy big truck gas guzzling my dick is bigger than your dick' attitude much too often in North America. Then I moved to Japan and found out it doesnt have to be that way lol and have never felt like that in 17 years here and I never felt that in Thailand or Malaysia either :) I respect countries where I visit as a guest and all I expect is the same back. My plan is to base in Japan and visit long term to Thailand in the good seasons, so I'm glad you think like I do and aren't negative or exaggerate like many lol. Also Vancouver is way over priced for everything lol. What area are you from? Meet any big poker names? Wonder if any other poker players moved to Thailand. Any live games there?

    3. Ya Japan is probably the safest place you can find on earth. SE Asia as a whole is pretty low though as well compared to the rest of the world.

      Vancouver is indeed very over-priced these days. As much as I would love to spend a bit more time there, it is hard to justify paying 4 times the price for the same apartment etc. I grew up in the valley, Maple Ridge and Poco.

      I have met a few big names in poker here in Asia and there as well. Nobody super famous though. They tend to live in places like Vegas. No live games in Thailand, against the law. You can hop over the border into Cambodia though. The action is also really good in Manila these days from what I hear. And lastly of course, Macau is also just a short flight away.

  42. Hi Nathan

    My Wife and I will be in your city next week! Got a holiday booked....Maybe it will convince me to make the jump next year ;)

    1. There from the 11th to the 15th April if you fancy a beer. Loved your book btw

    2. I prob should give you a little info about myself. I'm a British 31 yr old Doctor but I have a real love of poker and have finally started getting back into it. My email is The wife and are on our honeymoon and looking forward to Song Kram festival!

    3. Hi Mike, glad my book helped and I hope you enjoy your time in Thailand!

  43. I have a wife and 2 yrs old daughter. We would like (maybe) try 100% poker career (I am pediatric surgeon). Do you have some tips for places in Thailand for rent? Ideal situation: good internet connection, beach not so far away (easy to get there by walk with a baby), shops (basic food ingredients for cooking, hygiene, diapers, etc.) not far a away. Thx for any info in advance !

    1. Hi MSN,

      There are are tons of beach options for living in Thailand. The best plan though is to come here on vacation first and visit them all. Because every single one of them is different.

    2. Hey and r u still living there BR ?

    3. Oh and one more thing. In the article u write: "I spent a month in a beach town in an 11th floor fully modern condo with a beach view for $233 a month a couple of months ago.". Where was it ? Thx !

    4. Yes, I still live in Thailand. I don't give away the details of that. Some places need to remain a secret :)