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Q&A with a Rakeback.com VIP player on poker in Hong Kong, visas, apartments, living costs, and the expat lifestyle in general in this popular Asia destination. He moved out there from the US after Black Friday.
HK is an excellent transition city. And by that, I mean it’s VERY different from North America or Europe, but you’ll still get by just fine with English.
Additionally, there's no crime, beer is sold 24/7 at 7-Eleven, and people generally like westerners.
It's always safe. Even with the Umbrella Revolution this past year, it was never unsafe. In general, I walk down any alley at 3:00 am and have never had anything remotely bad happen to me.
10/10 times if I had to choose, I'd rather live in HK than New York or Chicago. The qualify of life is by-and-large better than anywhere in North America.
Yes. PokerStars is accessible and there are a lot of buy/sell groups to help you transfer your money on and off without transaction fees.
Just sign up normally via Rakeback.com and it should work fine.
Most of my grinder friends here work all night and sleep in the day. I think this is to take advantage of the day/evening traffic in Europe. So maybe like 9 pm to 7 am is the optimal range.
Although some have started to switch to US-facing sites like Black Chip Poker which solves a lot of this problem. In this case, they can work a normal schedule of like 6 am to 2 pm (6 pm to 2 am US time) and it's fine.
Really varies. Mostly it's fine, but sometimes the fees are almost 5%. But see above about the buy-sell groups. Usually you need to know someone to get in, but that's not super difficult.
It's a grey area. It's basically the same as the US. Not illegal, but don't host a raked game at home.
Grinding Horse Racing in Hong Kong
There's a Hong Kong Poker Players Assocation (HKPPA) that I saw you guys did an interview with.
Underground games exist and they are lucrative. Again, you need to be invited and there are risks of police raids. Though, you'd mostly get a slap on the wrist if you're a westerner and weren't the one running the game.
A lot of clubs get around this by doing a flat "room rental" charge or a minimum bar tab rather than a straight rake. There haven't been any raids lately, so perhaps this little tweak has worked.
But there are always games in Macau which is 50 minutes away by boat. Also a good place to meet people to get into the said groups above.
Compared to Thailand or Cambodia - very high. To be honest, the only really egregious cost is housing. For poker players, I'd recommend flat sharing. You can easily finds places like that for example:
With a flat share, you might be able to get something decent for $600-1200 USD per month, but on your own, I'd say you need to spend $1300 a month to get anything passable.
It depends what you're into. Rent sucks, but if you can eat Chinese noodles, you can easily get lunch for $4 USD.
If you drink beer at a local restaurant, you might pay as little as $2.50 for a large bottle, but if you like to go out in Central, you're gonna pay $8-10. The range is large.
Doctor visits are cheap though. Even without health insurance, a GP visit will cost you maybe $30.
Go to Asia Expat and search for people selling their connections. The companies here make you sign two-year agreements which are ridiculous. But you can easily just take over someone's. Then you can later renew if you decide to stay long-term.
Not really needed. Just get a phone and tether if necessary.
View from Ozone Sky Bar Hong Kong, 118th floor
Sheung Wan is cheap-ish for Island side, and close to the Macau Ferry. Mostly old buildings though. Lots of good restaurants.
Kowloon has a lot of good options and cheaper as well. I like Yau Ma Tei, Lai Chi Kok, and Mei Foo.
If you're a high roller, go with Happy Valley and take a flat overlooking the race course.
Avoid: Mid-levels. Way overpriced, walking uphill sucks, old buildings, nothing going on, and snobby British neighbors who all work at big banks.
To rent - $1300-$2600 per month for something normal. $550,000+ to buy.
For something really nice - $3500-$10,000 per month and $1 mil to buy.
Renting flats in HK is a little weird in that you almost always have to go through an agent, and they almost always give you a little bit of a run-around.
For that reason, especially if you're just trying it out, go with a flat share first.
Not as possible as other places just because most local pros live with their parents (most Hk'ers live at home until age 30+ or until they get married).
Sham Shui Po, Jordan, Tseun Wan, or a houseboat on an outlying island. There are options.
There's a cheap Hong Kong poker pad out there somewhere
Usually need to be sponsored by a company which is a little tricky. However, starting a company is super easy and takes one day. That's an option.
Tourist visas for Americans are 90 days and 180 days for Brits, so you have some time to decide.
Here's the full list by country: http://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/visit-transit/visit-visa-entry-permit.html (see part II)
If you have a valid work visa for seven years, you can become a permanent resident.
Here's the guide: http://www.clic.org.hk/en/topics/immigration/hk_permanent_residence/
Also, if you're married to a local or work visa holder, I think you can apply for a dependent VISA depending where you come from: http://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/residence_as_dependant.html
Yes. The airlines won't let you get on the plane unless you have tickets to leave.
Yes, and should be very easy. Much easier than other places. Here's more info: http://gohongkong.about.com/od/businessbasics/a/bank_account_hong_kong.htm
"Opening a bank account in Hong Kong is straightforward, more so than in the US, UK or EU. To open a bank account in Hong Kong all you require is ID and proof of address. It is not necessary to be resident in Hong Kong or have a work visa in Hong Kong and it’s perfectly possible for a tourist to open a bank account in the city."
Pretty big, but a lot are locals. There are underground communities, but as said, needs an introduction. The best bet is to go playing in Macau a few times and try to make the right friends.
No. And frankly, if you try, you'll be laughed at a bit. Not to say you shouldn't try to learn the basics, but just be prepared to be laughed at :)
In general HK girls, are more conservative. However, the club girls in Lan Kwai Fong are like anywhere else.
As a westerner, you have a much better chance than a local of picking up women. Just be prepared to wait for date 5-10 for any hot and heavy action.
International cuisine e.g. German food available everywhere in Hong Kong
Eh sorta. There are what I like to call a "White people tax" and "White privilege" in HK.
What I mean by that is, if you go to a local restaurant, the prices on the English menu may be 2-5% higher than the Chinese menu. Also, if you go for any repair (cell phone, computer, etc), you might be charged more. The restaurant thing you just have to accept. The other stuff you can try to negotiate down.
As for the privilege part, westerners (in particular) whites are mostly treated better than others here. For example, the cops will never harass or even look at you.
I've also heard stories of expats getting into bar brawls, and if both are white and agree they were just drunk, then no charges are filed. But, by the same token, sometimes waitresses are too nervous to speak English to you, and may ignore you at restaurants.
If you understand they aren't being mean, but just shy then it becomes cute rather than infuriating.
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