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Interview with a Poker Player living in Hong Kong

Why Hong Kong Poker Costs Internet Where to Live Rentals Visas Banking Lifestyle

Skyline View Hong Kong

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.

Why Online Poker in Hong Kong

– Why move to Hong Kong?

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.

– Is it safe in Hong Kong now?

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.

Hong Kong Poker

– Can I play on PokerStars in Hong Kong?

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.

Pretty much all online poker sites accept Hong Kong players, no VPN needed.

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

Just sign up normally via Rakeback.com and it should work fine.

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– Best times to play poker online?

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.

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

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.

– Is it illegal to play online poker in Hong Kong?

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

Grinding Horse Racing in Hong Kong

– Live poker / casinos in Hong Kong?

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.

Cost of Living in Hong Kong

– How much does it cost to live in Hong Kong?

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.

– How much to live in Hong Kong for a year?

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.

Hong Kong Internet

– How to set up internet in Hong Kong?

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.

– Options for mobile internet in Hong Kong?

Not really needed.  Just get a phone and tether if necessary.

Poker in Hong Kong - Baller Sky Bar View

View from Ozone Sky Bar Hong Kong, 118th floor

Where to Live in Hong Kong

– Best place to live in Hong Kong?

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.

Hong Kong Rentals

– How much are apartments in Hong Kong?

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.

– Living in a poker house in Hong Kong?

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).

– Cheapest place to live in Hong Kong?

Sham Shui Po, Jordan, Tseun Wan, or a houseboat on an outlying island.  There are options.

Hong Kong Poker Apartment Hunting

There’s a cheap Hong Kong poker pad out there somewhere

Hong Kong Visas

– How to live in Hong Kong permanently?

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

– Do I need an onward ticket to enter Hong Kong?

Yes.  The airlines won’t let you get on the plane unless you have tickets to leave.

Banking in Hong Kong

– How to open a Hong Kong bank account?

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

An excerpt:

“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.”

Living in Hong Kong

– How big is the Hong Kong poker community?

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.

– Do you need to speak Cantonese?

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 🙂

– How to meet Hong Kong ladies?

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.

German Food Hong Kong Poker Dates

International cuisine e.g. German food available everywhere in Hong Kong

– Any scams in Hong Kong to watch out for?

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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