It seems like an odd proposition: move to Thailand and play poker for a living in a country that doesn’t have any land-based casinos or poker tournaments in it. But that hasn’t stopped the rise in expats moving to Thailand to do exactly this.
Thailand is a country that loves to gamble. However, betting on Muay Thai (and horse racing) is currently the only legal form of gambling, which makes moving to Thailand to play poker an interesting decision. However, it has become the destination of choice for US poker players to down tools and move to Thailand to play.
US laws have forced pro poker players to move elsewhere
As it stands, the US still only has three states with legalized online poker (Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware). Legislation regarding online poker is a contentious subject.
Much of the legal argument surrounds whether poker should be included in sports betting or not. At the moment, the general view is that it should not be, which makes playing online poker in the US subject to laws that neither allow nor prohibit it. What’s more, the ones that have made it legal also take tax from each poker table, making every pot played for less profitable.
There are a number of other US states which are proposing to legalize online poker including Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan, while California has repeatedly tried and failed to pass it through the legislative stage.
While the legal situation remains relatively static for online poker in America, it has encouraged a number of expats to find somewhere else to play their professional online poker. One such destination has been Thailand.
For most professional poker players, making a living is a full-time job, and it means ‘grinding’ (playing) tens, if not hundreds of thousands of hands a month, often using multiple tables at once, so internet speed is important.
Thailand has the second best internet download speeds, after Singapore, in the whole of Southeast Asia. What’s more, it’s a lot cheaper to live in than Singapore, a key factor in the arrival of expats to Thailand.
The legal side of online poker in Thailand is much more difficult to quantify. Most Thai laws prohibit deposits to online gambling using Thai Baht but, generally, the laws are designed to stop or limit the extent to which Thais can spend and lose Baht.