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Playing Online Poker in Costa Rica – FAQ

Why Costa Rica Poker Gambling Internet Costs Where to Live Visas / Banking Lifestyle

Volcano Nature Costa Rica

We interviewed a Rakeback VIP player who left the US after Black Friday to play online poker in Costa Rica.

Why Poker in Costa Rica

– Why move to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is pretty cool. Generally life is good and you will find everything you want. 85 degrees and sunny everyday, almost no rain. Gorgeous beaches, ocean, friendly people, really fun cities e.g. Jaco for nightlife. Hot Latina chicks of course.

Playa Del Carmen Mexico is a bit more popular for poker expats to live long term but still a decent amount of expats playing online poker in Costa Rica, some on vacation some for longer.

If you like nature (rainforests, hot springs, mountains, jungles white water rafting, etc.) you’ll love CR. Arenal Volcano (pictured) is a must see.

– How would you rate safety in Costa Rica?

Less safe than the US, pickpocketing and petty theft being the main warnings on Travel Gov websites. Just use common sense though as far as not walking alone late at night especially on the beach, being aware of your surroundings etc. and you can minimize any risk.

Swimming or surfing in the wet season can be a bit dangerous.

http://www.therealcostarica.com/ is helpful for expat focused info.

PokerStars reg Spacegravy made a popular video on online poker in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Poker

– Any problems accessing poker sites in Costa Rica?

No issues at all, PokerStars and all the major online poker rooms are accessible. Don’t need a VPN or anything.

– How to get set up on PokerStars as a relocating US grinder?

For me support were helpful with everything, replying within a few hours. They wanted to see:

  • Lease agreement – I sent a utility bill though
  • Phone number – sent in a Costa Rica mobile number, they said this was ok
  • Govt issued ID – sent in passport and drivers license
  • A Non American bank account – opened one and sent in the deposit receipts and printouts they gave us
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Costa Rica Gambling Laws

– Is online poker illegal in Costa Rica?

No, a lot of poker sites run their operations from here. The gaming industry is open and legal.

Probably wouldn’t tell a border agent you’re moving to Costa Rica for poker, just say vacation. You don’t have to give any reason though. Overall very easy to enter Costa Rica, didn’t need a return flight or any documentation.

– Live poker / casinos in Costa Rica?

Check out Hotel Del Rey, Mona Lisa, Grand Casino Escazu, Fiesta Casino Alajuela, Casino Europa, ‘White House’ cardroom. Downtown San Jose hotels have action too, there’s a lot of variance with locations though.

Soft $1/$2 games should be easy to find.

Heard good things about Crocs casino in Jaco, Borgata quality dealers, good Wifi and security. Built in 2015.

The PokerStars LAPT has a stop in Costa Rica.

Poker in Costa Rica Crocs Casino

Crocs Casino & Hotel Resort, by the beach in Jaco

Costa Rica Internet

– How is internet speed in Costa Rica?

Not 100% reliable, you would be wise to have a backup source (air card, two or more connections, hot spot, etc).

Both internet and power are not perfect and there are outages for both periodically, this is indicative of how things work in Central America, the systems in CA are good, they work, but not perfectly, so if you do move to to a CA country, expect things to take longer and be a little more trouble to get done.

– Options for mobile internet in Costa Rica?

3G service is generally good.

Data cards, if you have 2 is a reliable way to stay connected. If one goes down it takes 5 mins to reset.

Living in Costa Rica

– How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica?

Prices are pretty much the same in CR as in the US.

You can get a full tipico lunch with drink for $4-$5 (meat, veg, rice, plantains). groceries are priced the same as they are in the states. Costa Rica is one of the more expensive countries to live in central america. Farmers markets are good places to shop (e.g. every friday morning in Jaco by the soccer field).

Some people live basically on $1k/month, or $2k to be more comfortable. The dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to a few years back. Use Numbeo to compare costs to wherever you live.

There is a very good and cheap bus system with trips costing about $5-10 to and from pretty much anywhere in the country. Hostels will be $15-20/night.

Maybe $350 a month on groceries, $30 on internet.

Poker cribs in Costa Rica, via PokerRefugees

– How much are Costa Rica apartments?

Can get a nice place for $500/month. Two bedroom place on the beach might set you back $700.

Nice 2 bedroom condo in the city for around $700-1000/mo. Sharing a sick poker house $300-400 /mo per person. Some pics of a Costa Rica poker pad in this thread.

Link for Jaco apartments – http://www.jacorealty.com/ or use Craigslist.

Housing in general is cheaper than in the States (not by a whole lot though depending on where you look) and the property taxes are much lower (something like 1% or 0.5% of total value iirc). Don’t expect to find anything cheap on the beaches but if you look around San Jose and Heredia you can find affordable places.

– Any poker houses in Costa Rica?

Some, check out Costa Rica Poker on Facebook or the seeking poker house thread on TwoPlusTwo.

Where to live in Costa Rica

I would say that if you wanted westernized and night life gym, internet etc. the San Jose area would be good. A lot of people see it as a bit of a dump though compared to places off the tourist track.

Most people that do stay in San Jose stay in Escazu. It’s the upscale rich area of Costa Rica, but things seemed pretty expensive there as far as dining out, drinking, and groceries in some places.

Escazu, Jaco, and Tamarindo are good places to start. The farther outside the main tourist areas the more Spanish is required.

If you like surf, beers, degen things and chicks Jaco is a good option.

$1 beers, $1 pizza slices, $2 burgers, girls in bikinis on the street, lots of bars and restaurants, cheap taxis in town, everything is walking distance, farmers market, loose prescription laws, shorts t-shirt and flip-flops are standard clothing 24hrs a day even in the fanciest restaurants in town, lots of expats and backpackers.

I don’t think Jaco is a place to live for a long time period (multiple years) and if you live there for a little while you will understand what I mean (party town). Some would prefer other places like Playa Del Coco / Tamarindo.

Beaches in Costa Rica

Corcovado beach Costa Rica, with a nearby national park

Best beach in Costa Rica debatably Avellanas, Corcovado or Manuel Antonio an hour south of Jaco.

Costa Rica Visas / Banking

– Possible to stay long term on Costa Rica visas?

You get 90 days on arrival. When your 90 is up, you just leave the country for a few days, come back, and you get another 90 days (perpetual tourism).

– How to open a Costa Rica bank account?

Bank managers are fairly skeptical of outsiders for money washing/drug money. A bank account at e.g. Banco Nacional will require quite a few documents:

  • A translator potentially if you don’t speak Spanish
  • Reference letter from American Bank
  • Reference from a customer of the Bank
  • A Costa Rican utility bill or leasing agreement with your name on it
  • Passport/ID

Used to be a lot easier to move money around but it is not as easy as it once was. You can get a Neteller account if you can provide the right documents which helps but can still can be costly to move money from your account to the debit card.

A lot of people used PokerRefugees to help them set up a bank account, as it can be quite hard. The Bank of Costa Rica for example requires having a corporation.

Citibank requires utility bill, proof of income and passport, and they speak English, a lot of grinders used them.

Getting back on PokerStars is no difficulty at all once you have a bank account.

Playing online poker in Costa Rica - girls

Poker Pro Paola Martin hails from Costa Rica, has an 11th place WPT finish at the Bellagio in 2011

Lifestyle in Costa Rica

– How big is the Costa Rica poker community?

That Costa Rica Poker expats group on Facebook has a few hundred people.

Not a huge number of poker players in Costa Rica, as mentioned Mexico is a bit more popular for long term living, as are Medellin Colombia and Panama City.

– Do you need to speak Spanish?

Spanish is not completely needed but always helps. Although, taking taxis will require you to know your destination. Always make sure the meter is running to when you get in the car.

The better you know the language the more the country opens up to you, locals will treat you better, you don’t get “gringo priced” as much and exploring the country is smoother, and easier.

That being said you can get by with knowing a minimal amount of Spanish, but you will find it frustrating often not knowing what people are saying to you and not being able communicate your ideas.

The majority of people on the Caribbean coast can speak English.

– How to meet girls in Costa Rica?

Plenty of hot girls everywhere, no issues there.

There are also a lot of American girls who are teachers in Jaco, if you do go there you will inevitably meet them. They are a good looking group and a lot of fun to hang with. There are a lot of other Americans who are living in CR for a variety of reasons.

Here and here are the two longest threads on 2+2 about moving to play online poker in Costa Rica.

  All Playing Poker Abroad Interviews
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