Relocating for Poker in the Philippines

After the US shut down PokerStars and the main online poker sites on Black Friday I found myself playing live everyday in casinos and it was awful.  No chicks looked like this.

Asian Poker Tour - Poker in the Philippines

Via the Asian Poker Tour, which visits Cebu and Manila every year

I didn’t have the bankroll for it and the swings were to much.  Not to mention that live poker is super boring after you have been multitabling online for years.

I had a few life choices, I could either continue hating life grinding live, get a job, or move abroad.  I settled on moving abroad and was deciding between Canada, Mexico, and the Philippines.  After doing research on the Philippines and finding out they spoke good English, the cost of living was so low, and that the ladies liked foreigners it was quite an easy decision for me. So after a brief stint in Cambodia I ended up there.

There was also enough live poker in the Philippines that I could fall back on it if the online games were too tough, or if there was another site shut down similar to Black Friday.  I really had no plans for playing live, but it was nice to have it as an option.

 

Getting Prepared

I researched every forum and website I could find for 7 months, asking tons of questions to get myself as prepared as I could possibly be.  I had a huge wordpad file with all sorts of tips about hotels, apartments, restaurants, doctors, dentists…. every useful bit of info I could find I saved.

Sadly most of this info was for Manila and I have now been in Asia for 3 years and never lived long term in Manila.  It’s overcrowded and more expensive, I don’t like paying more money to waste time sitting in traffic.  I still had a lot of info on some of the other places I have stayed, and the research has definitely paid off overall.

Poker in Manila

Most poker players that move to the Philippines do end up staying in Manila at first.  It has the most casinos and is definitely the best for live poker.  If you want to play 100-200 (lil smaller than 2-5) no limit or 200-400 (lil smaller then 5-10) then it really is your only option.  There is also some PLO around.

It seems like everyone wants to stay in Makati when they first arrive as that’s the nicest area of the city.  Gramercy is a 70 floor condo with a nice pool and gym, lots of poker players end up staying there. Use Craigslist Manila to check out rentals.

Poker in the Philippines

Gramercy condominium infinity pool

The worst part about the Philippines is that the condo/hotel costs are way out of whack with the costs of the rest of the country.  To get any decent condo in Manila you will need to spend like $500-600 a month.  That is crazy in a city where the average person makes $200 a month.

Of course you can find cheaper, but it will be cheaper for reasons that you won’t want to deal with, at least not when you are first arriving in a third world country.  At Gramercy you can get month to month which is nice but it is pretty overpriced, I believe the cheapest studio you can get is around $700 a month.

Solemare is another option.  It is not in Makati but it is located closer to the main casinos which will save you a lot of time if you want to play live.  It is a nice new building and you can get a room there in the $600 a month range.

There are also quite a few month to month options in the area around Burgos Street.  Some for $500ish which are definitely liveable.  If I ever lived in Manila that is probably where I would stay.  It’s in a pretty safe area of Makati.

apt cebu coming up

A photo posted by Dante (@kick2dante) on

Live Poker in the Philippines

Playing live poker in Manila you have quite a few options.  The main casinos are Resorts World, Solaire, Metro Card Club, and the PokerStars Live room in City of Dreams.

They always have 25-50 games running, 50-100 most of the time, and then 100-200 and 200-400 some of the time on weekends.

In Resorts, the 50-100 and higher games typically run from around dinner time to a few hours after midnight. The same case for PokerStars Live.

The rake is quite high anywhere you play in Asia but since Manila does have multiple options it isn’t quite as bad here as some other places.  Still it is way worse then what you would pay in Vegas.  Also the dealers can be pretty slow or bad.

The casinos also aren’t all packed together like you will find on the strip in Vegas so if you go to Resorts World and the games aren’t any good hopping to another casino will take some time.  Another thing to be prepared for is that Asians love to slowroll so have fun with that.

In Angeles City there two main poker rooms and both are very close to each other.  They are called Wild Aces and Double Aces.  One is located on Walking Street right across from High Society disco, the other is on Santos Street across from the Penthouse Suites.  Don’t expect to find anything higher than 50-100 here, and its mostly 25-50.

In Cebu there are a few options but the main one is Waterfront Casino.  Again don’t expect 100-200 here but 50-100 runs pretty often.  It’s in a nice area of the city, I’d suggest trying to rent a room around IT Park if you want to play a lot at Waterfront.

Shaky Internet

This is one of the problems with the Philippines for online poker, but eventually you will get set up fine.  In Thailand you can pretty much rely on mobile data for all of your poker needs.  I stayed in Pattaya for one month and the only internet I needed to grind on 888 was a $30 3g stick.

Mobile data in the Philippines can’t be relied upon.  It may be great in one area and awful the next.  It also is generally worse in the day when everyone is awake and better at night.  That is ok because if you want to grind online in Asia you will likely need to be on a night schedule.

You will be best off either renting a place that has wifi already that you can test before you sign, or getting your own land line put in, e.g. from the company PLDT.  The problem with that is that I like to move around and don’t like signing their year (or longer) contracts.

Eventually you will be able to get internet set up, but there will be some trial and error at first, and there may be some nights where your normally steady land line acts up and you just can’t play.  At that point you can go to an internet cafe, try and rely on mobile data, or just give up.

Edit: I asked on PokerManila.com and they recommended getting mobile internet from two providers, Globe plus Smart or Sun (not Smart and Sun together as they’re co-owned). Then at home a 5mps connection or fibre line, at around $60/month. They also suggested the Pasig area of Manila if you’re mostly here for live poker.

Outside of Poker

Outside of poker the Philippines is a great option for western men.  The women are very open to making new friends and like westerners in general.  All you have to do is smile and be polite and you will have problems finding a girlfriend or something more casual.

The people speak reasonably good English and you should always be able to communicate anything you need to.  You can find most things that you will want or need here so you don’t need to bring a lot of stuff with you.  The food isn’t that great but every city has enough good restaurants you will be alright.

The cost of living is really low, I never spend more than $1k  in a month but I don’t party.  Manila is the most expensive city but there are other cheaper options around.  Overall living in the Philippines is great and making the move was the best decision I ever made.

I wrote more info on poker in the Philippines for Rakeback.com.

Dante

Moving to SEA in 2011, Dante is the author of ‘Get More Bang for Your Buck in Asia’, ‘Filipina Girls 101’, ‘Your First Trip to Angeles City’, and more Amazon ebooks.

16 Responses

  1. jspilljspill says:

    everyone’s solid

  2. harry555 says:

    $500 is too much for a modern condo. go home an get a real job fella!

  3. kick2dantekick2dante says:

    ok harry i guess you’re right ill start packing my bags now, thanks for the advice

  4. Allan says:

    Which website is best to use for online poker? Which HUD do you use?

  5. kick2dantekick2dante says:

    i think i smell a trap!

  6. Allan says:

    How so? I am trying to become location independent, with thinking about moving to the Philippines so your site interests me.

  7. kick2dantekick2dante says:

    sorry man some guys on a forum i post on make fun of me for not using a HUD 🙂 Thought you were one of them. I don’t use one yet but most say Holdem Manager 2 is the best, might try that soon. PokerTracker 4 runs faster on slower PCs.

    http://nomadphilippines.com/holdemmanager
    http://nomadphilippines.com/pokertracker

    If you’re in the US (?) the best option is Americas Cardroom as other sites aren’t available – http://nomadphilippines.com/americas-cardroom

    If not, I play on 888 as it’s the fishiest site – http://nomadphilippines.com/888-poker

    i’m going to have some more posts about poker coming up soon

  8. Michael says:

    What’s ur personal favourite for cash games?
    Good article.
    I played solaire last time. Very few pinoys mostly Korean & Chinese playing loose. Rake is high compared to uk

  9. kick2dantekick2dante says:

    i have only played live once in the philippines, i would much rather play 500 hands an hour than 20

    live is tough because if you go up to the casino and the game sucks your stuck with no good options, and even if the game is good when the house is taking 10% out of every pot that makes it a lot harder to win

  10. Brockstar says:

    I remember you mentioned you use an ASIAN bank account to fund your 888 Poker account. I was wondering from which country? As far as I know foreigners cannot get a Philippines bank account unless they are a permanent resident, correct?

    I have a Thai bank account and TWO Chinese bank accounts. I have not tried the Thai bank account, but neither Chinese account works and unless you speak Chinese there really isn’t any help for a foreigner. Also China uses Union Pay, not Visa/Mastercard just to make things even more difficult.

  11. Brockstar says:

    Oh, and the other reason I ask is because I’m also American and it is a complete bitch to open an account in a foreign country UNLESS we have a resident permit. I can’t even fund my poker account with EntroPay because I used my US debit card to do so. So yeah, if you have any suggestions I’m all ears.

  12. kick2dantekick2dante says:

    where do you live? i have been able to get sites going using both phils and cambodian banks

    you almost certainly will have to pay for an ACR card in Phils to get it so Cambodia will be much easier, but i dont think you should have any problems with thailand (paging jspill)

    • jspilljspill says:

      Neteller works in Thailand, most people here use that. With Thai banks you can apply for a virtual online shopping card that works like a separate debit card, and deposit onto Entropay/Neteller with that if the Thai debit card doesn’t work. Or on TwoPlusTwo forum there’s a transfer thread, to swap poker funds for bank transfer.

  13. Brockstar says:

    I live in Shenzhen (China). I work here so I have most of my money (in Asia) in that account. Yeah I do have a Bangkok Bank Visa debit card, but I’d less than a 1000 baht in it. I’m going to PP and then Thailand for Winter break so I guess I’ll try it then. Sucks that I have to wait another month tho.

  14. kick2dantekick2dante says:

    i dont know about from china, if i were you i would sign up to 888 through one of the links on this site (so i get a small commission haha) then contact them and ask them what documents you need to show them you are in china, then after you are fully set up and they say everything is ok deposit using the thai bank with neteller

    if all that fails try again when you are in PP, good luck

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