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Moving to Play Poker in Mexico – FAQ

Online Poker in Mexico Internet & Banking Moving to Mexico Playa Del Carmen Rosarito

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Q&A with an American expat who moved to Mexico to play online poker after Black Friday – focusing on two popular destinations for poker players, Playa Del Carmen (above) & Rosarito.

Online Poker in Mexico

– Why move to Mexico?

Well you will have obviously access to sites like PokerStars that are currently blocked in the US. There’s also the low cost of living compared to the States, delicious Mexican food, and of course, lots of beautiful Latinas!

Probably one of the top spots to play poker abroad, similar to Thailand in some respects but closer to home.

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– Is online poker legal in Mexico?

It’s currently legal – for how long is yet to be determined. The Mexican government passed a regulatory gambling bill last year, which is expected to pass by the end of this year.

PokerRefugees.com have helped over 500 poker players to move abroad.

Unfortunately, the language of the bill is rather ambiguous, so it’s hard to say what this means for the future of players in Mexico. It does appear that once the law takes effect, all online poker played in Mexico will have to run through Mexican-based servers. It’s unclear whether that will result in segregated player pools.

It’s important to note that the law can’t be enforced until June 2016 at the earliest. Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen after that, so players will need to stay updated on the latest news.

– Any problems accessing poker sites in Mexico?

Most of the main poker sites are accessible. Paddy Poker has been blocked off from Mexico for a while, but players can still play on the other iPoker skins.

Bovada has stopped accepting new Mexican accounts, and they will eventually lock your account if you play there. Everything else is open.

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

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There are several ways to deposit, but setting up a Mexican bank account is the best option if you’re planning on staying a while.

Most people have had good experiences with Santander, where you can open an account in either pesos or USD.

For cashouts from PokerStars, the best option is to cash out to Skrill, and then from Skrill to a Santander peso bank account.

There is a 300-350 peso fee that doesn’t change significantly based on the amount withdrawn.

– Best times to grind in Mexico?

It mostly depends on what games / sites you like to play on, but if you play across several sites there’s always action somewhere.

Mexico shares time zones with the US; Rosarito and Playa Del Carmen are in Pacific and Central time respectively.

– Are there taxes on poker winnings in Mexico?

If you’re a US resident and spend at least 330 out of 365 days outside of the country, you qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) from US taxes.

You will still be responsible for paying taxes to the Mexican government. In practice, many people do not pay their taxes in Mexico, but ultimately it’s a decision you have to make for yourself.

Internet & Banking

– How is internet speed in Mexico?

It can vary depending on where you’re staying and how your building and unit are wired.

It’s best to find a good realtor who will go around and speedtest different places for you before coming down.

Expect to pay about $40/month for 10 Mbps, and $75/month for 15-20 Mbps.

It’s important to make sure your connection has a Mexican IP address, and an aircard is highly recommended as well. Telnor is probably the best company to work with.

– Options for mobile internet in Mexico?

Telcel is the main mobile provider. If you only use it for texting and poker, it will probably cost around $10/month to recharge it; SIM cards cost around the same.

PokerRefugees video on moving to Mexico for online poker

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

Santander is the best Mexican branch to work with. You will need a passport and utility bill in your name to open an account, and there’s a $1,000 USD minimum deposit. Wires from Stars to the bank account charge a 5% fee.

Western Union is available at all Banamex banks.

Moving to Mexico

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

Poker is legal in Mexico, so you shouldn’t have any problems if you’re honest.

That said, it might make your life simpler to just give them your most recent occupation (other than poker), especially with gambling regulation being in a state of flux there. Similar advice as with entering Canada.

– What’s needed to enter Mexico? 

Just a passport for those coming from the US.

Stays of less than 72 hours in the “border zone” (area within 20-30 km of the border) used to be possible without a passport, but that has changed recently.

Poker in Playa Del Carmen

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Portal Maya, Playa Del Carmen

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

It’s common to see people concerned about safety when traveling anywhere in Mexico comes up, but Playa Del Carmen is actually quite safe and insulated from most of the drug gang activity people tend to worry about.

There’s lots of cool stuff to do – there’s great diving and snorkeling, especially in the Cenotes. It’s also easy to take a ferry over to Cozumel and go drift diving.

There’s plenty of great shopping, eating, drinking, etc. on 5th Avenue. In general, there’s lots of fun tourist-oriented things to do everywhere. Also a very walkable city.

Nightlife there is somewhat seasonal, with peak times being roughly November – February. Some people love the nightlife, others aren’t so crazy about it. There’s a lot of EDM clubs which can be fun, but also loud and crowded.

Lots of attractive girls, some may seem a bit superficial, but it depends on what you go for.

– What’s the cost of living in Playa Del Carmen?

Cost of living varies a lot depending on what you want. You can get by on $1,000 USD/month, but getting a nice furnished place in a prime area and enjoying the nightlife regularly can easily quadruple that.

The cost of electricity is kind of a unique issue here that needs to be explained. Basically, electricity in the cheapest places is partially subsidized by the higher-end rental areas.

That means that if you stay in a very nice condo for $2,500/month, and you leave the A/C on all the time, you can end up with a $700+ electric bill.

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Diving in Cenotes in Mexico

– Any advice for rentals in Playa Del Carmen?

5th Avenue is sort of the central hub for nightlife activity, and a good place to look for rentals. Sometimes places will pop up there with great-looking prices, but the reason ends up being that it’s near a noisy club with music throbbing all night.

So if you want a place that’s close to the action, make sure to do your due diligence.

– How are the options for live poker in Playa Del Carmen?

There’s not a whole lot to choose from, but there’s typically at least one 10/20 peso (roughly .5/1 USD) full ring game running at the local casino next to the Wal-Mart.

Basically low-stakes, high-rake options where it’s difficult to make any real money.

– How large is the poker community in Playa Del Carmen?

It’s pretty big; you won’t have much trouble finding other poker players to chill and hang with if you want.

In the 2+2 Playa Del Carmen thread, you can give same basic info about yourself and request to be added to the Skype group if you want; they have regular soccer matches and other activities.

Poker in Rosarito

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Rosarito Beach

– What’s life like out in Rosarito?

Rosarito is a small, laid back beach town that appeals to poker expats for a few reasons. It’s only a 1-hour drive from San Diego, and it’s more affordable than most other locations in Mexico.

It’s ideal for anyone who wants access to PokerStars and other US-blocked sites, while still remaining a short drive/flight from the US.

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

Someone can live here on a budget as low as $400-500/month if they want. You can live very comfortably for $2,000/month.

For something in-between, the costs might look something like: $500/month rent, $80/month internet, $150/month utilities, $100/month taxis, $300/month food. Of course, everyone is different with their personal preferences and so on. (note: all these prices are in USD).

– Tips for finding a place to stay in Rosarito?

A lot of players use Baja123 ( http://www.baja123.com/) if they want to secure a place before coming down, although it’s perfectly feasible to just come down first and start looking.

If you come down first you can probably shave 5-10% off your rent price, but for a lot of people it’s easier to just use a realtor instead of going through the hassle to save $50/month.

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Fresh tacos in Rosarito

– Much live poker in Rosarito?

There’s some live poker in Tijuana, which is about a 30-minute drive from Rosarito.

Caliente Casino has a 15/30 peso game that runs most of the time, a 25/50 peso (1,000 buy-in minimum) game that runs on busier nights, and once in a while a 50/100 peso game.

– Lastly, how about the poker community in Rosarito?

There’s a pretty solid online poker community in Rosarito due to its price and close proximity to the US.

Although Rosarito is rather small (pop. 60,000) and not particularly known for its nightlife, a lot of players enjoy the combination of calm scenic ocean views, with occasional partying.

It’s also a short ride over to Tijuana, where there’s plenty of debauchery.

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

Playa Del Carmen is a more upscale place, while Rosarito offers more affordable budget-midrange accommodations. Rosarito’s location makes it very convenient for anyone who wants to visit the US on a regular basis, and its cost of living puts it within the range of lower stakes grinders. It also has some of the best food you’ll find anywhere in Mexico.

Playa Del Carmen offers higher-end living for those with money to spend, and a bit more diverse range of activities, both for nightlife and the outdoors. Neither really has a lot going for live poker, although Rosarito probably has the edge here.

The key thing is how the gambling regulation reforms develop there. As of now, both locations are great for live poker, and will be until at least June of 2016. After that, it depends on how long it takes the government to start enforcing regulations, and how they go about doing that.

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