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Moving to Canada to Play Poker – FAQ

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Moving to Canada to Play Poker

We interviewed Dubnjoy000 on PokerStars for advice on moving to Canada to play poker. He writes a popular TwoPlusTwo blog on grinding in the Yukon and around the world under the same name.

Online Poker in Canada

– Could you tell us a little about your poker history?

I play low stakes, mainly 1-2 and 2-5 live and some tournament events, 2k buy-ins. Online I grind 50-100nl 6max speed games on PokerStars and PartyPoker, and some midstakes MTTs.

Traveling has been an integral part of my life since the age of 19, so 2 decades. I had the pleasure of both playing poker in Canada and internationally (mainly Vegas, Florida, Paris, Cambodia and the Philippines).

– Is online poker legal in Canada?

Everything poker wise is legal. Even provincial governments have opened some poker sites, e.g. Espacejeux in Quebec and PlayNow in British Colombia.

Lucky Block casino

– Any problems accessing poker sites in Canada?

No problems. iPoker did close most of its doors to Canadians, and there was some rumors of Loto Quebec blocking out PokerStars legally after the Amaya purchase, but nothing ever came out of it.

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Canada remains a great choice for post Black Friday grinders, pretty much all the online poker sites are open.

– How do you deposit onto / cash out from poker sites in Canada?

Many options, but the I prefer to do bank transfers. They have no fees (except 888), are fast and convenient.

There are some Canadian banks that are more online gambling-friendly then others (notably CIBC). This will also prevent third party fees.

– Best times of day to play online poker in Canada?

If grinding on multiple sites and table selecting on each one, there are always enough good games running. That said, the ideal hours are afternoon (1-7pm) and the wee hours of the morning (1-6am).

– Do Canadians pay taxes on poker winnings?

As a foreigner, you will not have to. As a Canadian pro, yes.

In my case I last paid my taxes in 2012 and then applied for a non-residency status (which waives me from all taxes), as I spent the majority of the years ongoing in Asia.

WPT Canada Poker

The World Poker Tour visits Canada for WPT Montreal and the Canadian Spring Championship

Internet & Banking

– How is internet speed in Canada?

Good for the vast majority of the country (especially urban areas).

That said I have had the unfortunate experience of having to quit my online sessions on rare occasions in northern Canada, due to speed fluctuating from 0.1Mbs – 0.6Mbs. I wouldn’t worry about that though.

– Options for mobile internet in Canada?

Rogers and Bell are the 2 main competitors.

– Any advice on opening a Canadian bank account / banking in general?

It seems to be an easy enough process for non-Canadians.

That said, if you were to move to Canada to play poker, I would try opening beforehand an account in an international bank that has a branch in Vancouver (HSBC, for instance).

Kevin ‘WizardOfAhhs’ Thurman made a number of video blogs after relocating to Canada for online poker

Moving to Canada

– What to say to border agents if you’re moving for poker? Be honest?

There are different testimonies on this issue, some people say honesty is the best bet. Personally, whenever I travel to a foreign country, I present myself as being a chef (my previous trade).

I think that if you can get away with a small lie, then avoid the complications.

Nonetheless, it is not illegal to play poker for a living, so whenever I get pulled aside by Canadian customs, I do not lie about my livelihood.

– What’s needed to enter Canada? On forums some had no issues at all with just their passport, others e.g. Daniel Cates were refused entry.

A passport is all you need, especially coming from the USA.

But I guess it might depend on how long you plan on staying…

Poker in Vancouver

Poker in Vancouver Quality of Life

I snapped this pic dancing on the street in downtown Vancouver

– How would you rate the quality of life in Vancouver, things to do, safety etc.?

As far as North American cities go, Vancouver has a great quality of life, especially when pertaining to safety, cleanliness and cultural diversity.

While your budget will influence somewhat the extent of your entertainment, there is an ample selection of outdoor activities (the Rocky Mountains and the coast are close by), nightlife or art events (movie festivals, music scene etc.) to choose from.

Furthermore, the mayor of Vancouver plans on having the greenest city by 2020.

– What’s the cost of living in Vancouver?

The city can be very pricey, especially the downtown core area.

For your typical 20s-30s poker player planning on dipping into the social scene/nightlife, I would budget in the vicinity of 3-4k/month (all figures in CAD).

Edgewater Vancouver Casino

Edgewater Casino, Vancouver

– Any advice for rentals in Vancouver?

I would recommend Gastown and Commercial Drive area.

A shared room starts at $400/month for a student type of household, but expect 600-1200 CAD for a 1 bedroom apartment (depending on comfort level).

– How are the options for live poker in Vancouver?

There is a good selection of casinos in Vancouver like EdgeWater, River Rock, and many other venues extending out into the different suburbs.

The action can at times be nittier than one would like, yet you can still find good action games, especially during the tournament series.

– How large is the poker community in Vancouver? I understand a number of pros moved there, Brian Hastings and others.

The poker community in Vancouver is fairly big.

That said, I suspect that the majority of the highstakes online grinders (especially the big names like Galfond or Ben Tollerene) rarely – if ever – go to the local casinos, as even a game like 25-50-100 PLO (that runs during tournament series) would barely justify their presence from a win/rate perspective.

You do see the likes of Greg Mueller, Maria Ho, Jason Koon etc. show up for the tournaments/cash games.

Poker in the Yukon

Poker in the Yukon - Countryside in Winter

The Yukon countryside in Winter

– What’s life like out in the Yukon?

The Yukon offers quite a unique experience: if you are looking for outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, camping, fishing, hunting etc., you name it, and the Yukon will deliver!

For anyone that wants a break from the mayhem of civilization, this remains one of the last frontiers where a 19th century way of living is not rare nor frowned upon.

– What would someone’s living costs out in the Yukon be?

This really depends on your lifestyle of choice: you could live like the famous Caveman Bill, and spend little to no money – he was featured in the news here.

But I comfortably live off 2k/month, which includes eating out everyday.

– Tips for finding a place to stay in the Yukon?

If you were to spend a summer grinding the live games in Dawson City, you could try camping out in a van at a minimal cost, rent a log cabin or a room at about $600/month.

Winter would be a different story all together, as you would have to immerse yourself into a completely different lifestyle in one of the coldest and darkest places in the world (casino is only opened on weekends in the wintertime).

Poutine Poker Food

Poutine, perfect poker food, probably worth leaving the US for

– Much live poker in the Yukon?

The sole Yukon casino is located in Dawson City, in a small town of 1500 habitants. We are therefore lucky to even have 3 poker tables, let alone a casino.

Nevertheless, there are lots of resources (mainly gold) and money in the Yukon, so the action is definitely not lacking at the tables.

– Lastly, how about the poker community in the Yukon?

A few hundred souls. We all know each other up in northern Canada, and even the Alaskans or our neighbors from the Northwest Territories remain familiar faces.

Brad Booth has been the most notable one to rise to fame (even though he is originally from Vancouver…). Both places have a rake capped at $5 (like the USA, yet 25% cheaper because of the exchange rate).

– Anything else you’d like to mention in general on relocating to Canada for poker?

If I was strictly going to play online poker (and the WPT), I would also recommend Montreal, which is a vibrant city with a very intriguing cultural life and cheaper apartment rentals ($500 will get you a comfortable bachelor pad, more basic rooms start at $300).

If live poker is equally important then Vancouver would be my suggestion as the rake in Montreal is higher.

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