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PLAYING POKER ON THE GO – 6 ISSUES YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PLAYING POKER ABROAD

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

If you are a poker lover and one of millions of people living or traveling far from your home country, this is an article for you. Here, we will offer some valuable advice on important issues related to the topic of playing poker abroad.

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BLACK FRIDAY AND THE NEED TO GO ABROAD - POKER PLAYER EXODUS

A little more than five years ago, on April 15th to be exact, the infamous “Black Friday” happened. Is was a monumental event for online poker in the U.S. and consequently for the entire world. On that day, the US Department of Justice acted on an indictment and over the course of a single night, left the millions of U.S. poker players without a place to play, and in many cases, without their poker money. As the news spread throughout the world poker community, the “Black Friday” event left many U.S. poker players wondering what they should do. Many of the affected players considered moving out and searching for their poker “safe heaven” - a place that might offer a more comfortable life that allows them to play their favorite game.

As a result of this, the world poker community started building a global view of poker policies in different places around the world. From sandy beaches in Asia to beautiful European cities with rich cultural history - it is no surprise there are so many players seriously considering moving and starting their poker business elsewhere. Whatever you preference, there are places that pander to your appetites.

Here are the important issues you need to consider when thinking about playing poker abroad.

SOCIOECONOMIC STANDARDS

For many international poker players, one of the most tempting aspects of moving and playing poker abroad are the different countries socioeconomic standards. What I mean to say by this is that, after Black Friday, many players from the U.S. (but also other countries with healthy economies) suddenly saw an opportunity to move and play in a much, much cheaper economy where their funds were being valued more than before. For example, an amount that could hardly be enough to live on in the U.S. would be enough for a much more pleasant existence in some other country like, for example, Thailand.

INSURANCE

Never travel outside your home country without proper insurance! While this might sound quite commonsensical to most of you, there is also a significant number of people that often misestimate the existing levels of safety in the countries other than theirs.

The truth is – many things we consider normal and presumed in our own home country might be handled completely differently somewhere else. For example, the level of personal safety in big cities in North and South America are radically different. Comparing Europe and Asia also shows considerable differences that would be foolish not to know and take into account.

If you think we are overblowing this problem, just try to consider the consequences and what would really happen if something were to occur to you or someone you know. For instance, in Thailand, most traffic is consisted of people on motor bikes without a helmet. Even taxis are on motorbikes and will not offer their customers a safety helmet. Most travel insurance policies would not cover an injury sustained by a fall from a motor bike while not wearing a helmet. An unfortunate injury like this could potentially cost the unfortunate person or their family tens of thousands of US dollars. In addition, the possible corruption and the ineffectiveness of some countries system could land you into even more trouble.  For example, being hit by a car or a motorbike in Thailand could be a tough case for you in an insurance dispute. The fact is, many roads don’t have pavements and the insurance company could deny service because you were basically walking on the road.

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Not preparing for these thing is the worst because it often comes with the element of surprise and it leaves you a stranger in a foreign country whose language you might not speak and whose system does not work as well as the one from home.

In summation, while a move to Thailand might at first seem like a dream come true - you must be careful to assess the situations you are getting yourself into. While doing this, you must never let yourself believe that the same rules you are used to in your home country are being enforced in your new location. This realization should make you more conscious and aware of your surroundings and it should help you learn to take care of yourself according to the rules regulating your chosen destination.

Insurance for your belongings might also be a good idea, but still, it is not a sure case scenario. If you can’t really afford to lose something, you might want to reconsider going in the first place.

IDENTITY VERIFICATION ISSUES

In many countries, the sheer legality of playing poker does not necessarily mean everything is organized in a slick working system. These are really things that don’t need to go together so curb your expectations. For example, identity verifications is a process some countries take very seriously and this is something you need to be prepared for. Many countries will allow you to freely deposit and play but will consequently make “problems” when trying to cash out. Suddenly, a myriad of different papers and documents are needed to confirm your identity. In this case, be prepared for a lot of hassle, coping and sending in documents. Again, while this process might be something that you are used to in your country, don’t expect it to be the same somewhere else. From far away (sometimes from the other side of the planet), the process of getting papers and documents might not be that easy. So, we advise getting all the registration processes, confirmations and verifications - before you leave.

In summary – sort everything in advance so you can easily deposit and withdraw your funds.

BANKING

When banking is concerned, there are three questions you need to answer yourself at the start of your planning process: how long are you planning to stay, what is your budget and what kind of bankroll do you need?

Often, the most convenient arrangement when it comes to banking seems to be to carry on using your usual bank account and withdrawing money using your ATM card. In reality, anyone who has tried it will tell you this tends to be quite expensive in the long run. Lousy exchange rates will make you lose up to 10% of your money while every ATM usage will also include a fee that could set you back a sizable sum in the long run.

So, if you were thinking this was going to go easy, it is a good thing you are reading this article. Apparently, as we have learned, the aforementioned arrangement is not really a good long term solution. The smartest and most economical way of dealing with your money in this situation is to open a local bank account and use international transfers to move funds when you need them. Depending on where you are, this in itself is also not necessarily an easy process. While not common, some places actually don’t allow non-citizens to open bank accounts. Still, if possible, this is certainly the best way to go. Don’t forget that, like in the case of ID verification, you will need to prepare by getting your hands on the legal documents you might need in the process.

One of the things to keep in mind during this process is the location address issue. When playing for a longer period of time, some poker platforms will insist on players having a correct location address. In case this happens, you will not be able to withdraw your funds until your bank account address does not match your location. Sorting this out can be quite a hassle depending on your location and the way that country handles its administrative issues. While this also does not happen too often, it is an important issue to have in mind and be prepared for in case it occurs.

So, here is a handful of advice when it comes to these and related issues.

Do a lot of research on the country you are planning to visit or move to. Ask around and find ways to seek and get to information concerning banking regulations, related laws and administrative issues.

After collecting all your info, make a detailed plan on how will you handle banking and related issues. Collect all the needed documents and take them with you. This might actually make an enormous impact, spare you a great amount of unnecessary stress and make your experience considerably more pleasurable.

Also, consider using some kind of online e-wallet service like Skrill as they will allow you to easily move your money abroad. Still, keep in mind that (just like with banks) you should register and verify everything before you leave. Also, some countries (like Thailand) do not allow Skrill and similar services to be used when depositing money to poker sites. These things change a lot so be sure to check everything before you go.

STAYING PERMITS AND VISA ISSUES

Oftentimes, taking a trip to a foreign country seems like a piece of cake, an easy task that does not require much more than packing your stuff. While this might be the case for people going on a short vacation, it does not hold true when it comes to longer stays. Checking the visa policies before you go could make a difference between a great adventure and a nightmare.

 

Every country in the world has its own regulations when it comes to dealing with foreigners and exploring these issues beforehand is vital. Most countries will require a visa for all stays extending to more than a month so don’t ever go somewhere before sorting this thing out. When doing so, you will often have multiple options. Depending on how long you are planning to stay, you will need to decide on what kind of visa best suits your goals. In most cases, the choice is between a regular tourist and a student visa.

 

If you don’t want to find yourself in an unpleasant deportation scenario, information on what you will need in order to sort this out is as essential as it gets. Most tourist visas allow a stay most often limited to a three months maximum and some countries don’t allow for extensions to be granted from within the country. This means that in order to try to extend your tourist visa, you will need to get out of the county first.

If you are eligible, a student visa might grant you some ease of mind. While these kinds of visas are often a bit more expensive, they might grant you more time and a more pleasant stay while also giving you an opportunity to educate yourself in the local language or some other interesting course you can incorporate around your busy poker schedule.

One of the best places to get all of this information are the expat forums. Almost every location on earth has some expats and they are usually connected to each other in many ways including online forums. Expat forums are one of the better ways to get all the valuable information directly to from the people actually living in the environment you are considering to visit or to move to. They are often very friendly, helpful and can’t wait to help you avoid the mistakes they made. So, use these resources the best you can and prepare yourself for a great adventure.

 

In conclusion, there are many, many things one has to seriously consider before making a good rational decision like the one we are writing about here. Choosing a picture perfect spot and hurrying to get there is often a wrong way to go. There is more to smart traveling than booking a ticket and packing your stuff. Being unprepared and uninformed gives you a fair chance of affecting your stay both in time and in quality while planning correctly makes the real difference between stress and pleasant security.

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Chances are the place of your choice might be radically different from your home and when you think about this in the context of safety (for an example) you realize that this is not an issue you can allow yourself to be casual about. Cultural differences can also be significant and it is always a good idea to get yourself familiar with these. At some places, upsetting the locals is an easy task, but if you know enough about their culture - you could reap the rewards of some authentic and exotic hospitality.  So, in order to enjoy – prepare a proper plan of action for the predictable situations that might set you back and then, knowing you are prepared - let yourself go to enjoyment.

 

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