It is estimated that there are over 50,000 online professional poker players in the United States earning a tidy living from online poker. Since poker “Black Friday”, most of these poker players have either gone out of business due to first and foremost unavailability of their funds which have yet to be returned to them by the affected online poker sites. Those that do have some cash reserves to fall back on, cannot find the online action that they were used to on the larger sites that have since ceased taking players from the USA.
There are still some online poker rooms that accept players from the US like sites on Carbon Poker, Cake Poker and Bodog, and even though their traffic has increased by up to 70% since poker “Black Friday”, they don’t have sufficient traffic to allow players who are used to multi-tabling and playing at high limits to maintain a level of play that will ensure they earn the revenues to support their lifestyles.
Tournament players from the US are suffering even more because no other poker rooms come close to offering the size of big tournaments that Poker Stars and Full Tilt organize such as the Sunday Million.
Many players highly dependent on poker earnings have turned to playing at local poker clubs and casinos and even in underground games. But this is a different kind of game than that are used to online.
There has been news that banned websites like Absolute Poker continue to take Americans even though they struck a deal with the Feds where they agreed not to continue in the US market. Sources have also revealed that another faction of players from the US have found workaround solutions to access PokerStars and Full Tilt either with or without the help of those sites who may have chosen to turn a blind eye despite the fact that PokerStars recently released statements saying that if they detect that proxies are being used, they will block the accounts. Players from the US have found special proxies that hide their IP addresses, such as www.hidemyass.com which allows them to surf anonymously.
Many US players are contemplating relocation to other countries to further their poker careers and Canada comes up as the first country they consider moving to mainly because of the proximity and similarities with the USA. However, it’s not that easy to immigrate to Canada because new immigrants are selected based on contribution to the country and likelihood that they will succeed. Skilled professionals such as doctors and nurses which are in short supply will have a much easier chance of getting approved. The government will be a lot less receptive to someone who lists “poker player” as their occupation.
Another option for Americans seeking to move to Canada is to apply for a temporary tourist visa. While Americans can’t work in Canada with that visa, at least they can set up temporary residence and a bank account which would be sufficient for them to gain access to some of the larger poker sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt or even open up doors to other poker networks like Party Poker and iPoker that were otherwise off limits to them as American residents.
Whatever the case, moving to another country is never an easy thing. Leaving family and friends behind is a big factor and if there were no family ties, it would be much easier, but for many poker players that have turned professional, it may be the only option to continue earning a healthy living. Studies have shown that most online poker players are younger and not married and are used to travelling anyhow making a move a lot less problematic for them.