Interested in playing poker online? This guide will cover everything you need to know about playing online poker while living in Vietnam.
My neighbor plays online poker in Vietnam, so I consulted/interviewed him to write this article. Hopefully someone finds something useful from it. Italics denotes sections where I am quoting (it’s really paraphrasing) my neighbor.
It starts with some general questions about poker, but then we go into the specifics about setting up your online poker career in Vietnam.
Where do you play online Poker in Vietnam?
“All the major sites allow players with a Vietnam IP address to both play and sign up. This includes PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, 888 Poker, BetFair, etc.”
Do I need a VPN?
It’s still a good idea to use a VPN in Vietnam for other internet browsing. You know, for reasons we can’t mention.
Anyway, ProtonVPN is literally the best VPN for privacy and the one I use. They don’t have an affiliate program, so you know it must be good if a blogger recommends them.
Note: Yes, it hurts to recommend something without an affiliate program, but I won’t recommend a crap product just because it pays well.
How Fast is the Internet?
“Fast enough to play poker.”
For reference, the average speed you can expect is around 15 Mbs in Saigon, so not too bad. If you want to use a mobile tether, then use Viettell. It’s the best cellphone and internet company.
Internet here is slightly slower than Thailand. Much, much faster than the Philippines and a lot faster than Cambodia.
Keep in mind that sometimes “sharks chew the undersea internet cable“, which can cause the internet to slow down for a few weeks. These sharks are probably just shitty Vietnamese workmanship, but that’s none of my business.
Best Times to Play Poker Online
“I normally wake up early, around 5AM. Play from 6AM-1PM and call it a day. I don’t need much money to live here. Some people play overnight, but I hate staying up overnight and it negatively impacts my performance. The best time to play is when you’re rested and sharp.”
For reference, Vietnam is in the same timezone as Bangkok. You can use the best time to play from pros that live in Bangkok, but then you’ll be playing with pros that live in Bangkok…
How to Deposit/Withdraw From Poker Sites
“It’s pretty simple. Use your US bank account and then use Skrill or Neteller. Vietnamese banks block Skrill and Neteller for deposits and withdraws, so you can’t use them with your Vietnamese bank. Vietnamese banks suck, so only use them as a backup option. The only good Vietnamese bank is Timo because it was founded by an American dude.
You can also do a live transfer if you have a good source. That’s pretty common.”
Timo is a great bank. I go into detail on opening a Timo account later on.
You still can’t send money home with Timo. Well, you need a work permit.
Is it Illegal to Play Online Poker in Vietnam?
“If you have a Vietnamese passport, then it is illegal to do any gambling [Edit: The Vietnamese can now gamble]. Vietnam does not care about blocking online poker sites… and the poker sites are happy to have you. This can change in the future. Though it looks like Vietnam will probably legalize gambling instead of further criminalizing it [Already did].”
It’s now legal for Vietnamese to gamble in Vietnam, so online is probably fine.
Can you play Live Poker in Vietnam?
“Vietnam has like 30 casinos, but they only have tournaments with low buy-ins IF they have poker. Not many cash games.
There are also a bunch of casinos right across the border in Bavet, Cambodia. This is where the Vietnamese go to gamble. Surprisingly, a lot of Vietnamese play poker, but they don’t really have poker in the casinos. I’m not too sure though, so don’t quote me on this [I quoted you. -Neo] …
I’m way too autistic [he’s Rain Man irl] to play live poker lol. Not the person to ask.“
What do you tell people you do?
“I don’t interact with many expats and I don’t do nightlife. Normally I just say that I do ‘risk assessment’ and leave it at that. Most people only want to talk about themselves anyway, so they don’t press too much. I don’t tell girls either because then they want me to teach them how to play poker.”
It’s true. The only reason I discovered he played poker was because I said his description of risk assessment sounded a lot like poker. He also uses a fake name, so he does a good job keeping a low profile.
Why did you move to Vietnam to play poker online?
“I was originally going to move to Bangkok. But, the visa situation is kind of fucked over there. I looked at the Philippines, but the internet sucks, the country is a shithole, lots of fat girls, and the food is shit, and it’s more expensive because it’s an island… BUT it has an easy visa situation, easy girls, and Roddy D, so that was a tough call.
Vietnam has basically the same internet speed as Thailand, is much more developed/cheaper than the Philippines, and has an infinitely easier visa process than Thailand. Plus, the girls are hotter and the food is better than Thailand/Philippines. Girls and food is what really swayed it for me. I love pho, bo la lo, banh xeo, and bun thit nuong.”
Ok, why did you leave America though?
“There just wasn’t anything there for guys like us. I can’t see myself ever returning, but you never know. Things are looking better.”
Banking in Vietnam
How to Open a Vietnamese Bank Account?
It’s pretty simple to open a Vietnamese bank account. Just go to a place called Timo. The CEO is Australian or something, so you know it doesn’t suck.
It’s an online bank, but you have to go to their cafe-office thing to open the account. They have one in D3 in Saigon, one in Da Nang and Hanoi. It’s pretty chill, they give you tea while some babe in a miniskirt fills out all the forms. The girl that did mine was kind of fat though. Timo’s gotta step it up.
All you need is your passport with any valid visa to open your account. It’s that simple. US citizens need to give their social security number, which sucks. We can blame the IRS for that one.
You need a work permit to deposit cash in a Vietnamese bank… but not with Timo because that’s just how things work in Asia. Go to their ATM (or the bank they’re associated with) and make a deposit.
Remeber, you can’t use Skrill or anything with a Vietnamese bank account.
Can I send money home?
“No. You need a work permit and an income stub from a Vietnamese company to send money outside the country or to deposit cash (if you don’t have Timo). It’s a total pain in the ass to use one.
Lots of people will go to gold shops that transfer money out of the country. However, this can be risky. [I’ve literally seen Vietnamese businessmen with briefcases of USD at gold shops. Not sure what that’s about, but I’m sure it’s not shady and perfectly legal. – Neo]
The safer option is to convert the money to USD at the gold shop and take it to Cambodia. You can then wire it home. You can also convert the Dong to Bitcoin and then sell the Bitcoin for USD on Coinbase, but this is expensive af.
Both of those are expensive… but safer than the gold shops.”
I don’t really know what all this stuff is, but he’s been in Vietnam a long time. I’ll take his word on it. Leave a comment if any of this is wrong.
Cost of Living in Vietnam
How much does it cost per month to live in Vietnam?
“It costs me under $1000/month, but I don’t have much of a life and I have a girlfriend that cooks for me and does ANYTHING I want. Single guys could live like a king for under $2,000/month though.”
My neighbor is right. Honestly, it just depends on where you live and how much you party. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t ever need to spend over $2k/month. Most people can get by spending under $1500/month.
Life here would be damn fun on a $5,000+/month budget, but it isn’t necessary to live.
How is the visa situation?
“I have a one year business visa, so I don’t leave the country. I barely leave my room to be quite honest.”
The visa situation in Vietnam is super easy compared to Thailand. You can purchase a one year tourist visa, which means you have to leave every 3 months. Don’t worry, you can go to Cambodia for 1 minute and reenter Vietnam. They don’t care. This visa costs around $200 to $300 for most nationalities.
Another option is purchasing a new 3 month visa every time you leave the country. I use this method.
Alternatively, you can purchase a 1 year business visa for $500 or more. You don’t have to leave Vietnam for a whole year with this type of visa.
We did a guide to Vietnam visas.
Do I need an onward ticket to enter Vietnam?
The government doesn’t care. However, sometimes the airline people will want to check for an onward flight before letting you board.
You can purchase a ticket at BestOnwardTicket.com. Those guys are mostly legit according to this Southeast Asian expat’s blog. It costs $8 for a ‘fake’ onward ticket that will scan. Just make sure they get an actual ticket and not a booking code.
Me personally, I purchased a flight on Expedia and got a 100% refund after landing since I did it within 24 hours after boooking. I didn’t want to have any problems at the airport. Read the fine print if you use this method because not all tickets are refundable.
You do need a visa approval letter to board the plane and enter the country. You can pick those up online. Also, make sure that you have the money, in USD, with you before boarding your flight and a picture. There aren’t any ATMs before passport control.
They make change at the airport. They don’t make change at the land border.
Can you live in Vietnam permanently?
“Well I live here permanently. I don’t have a residence card, but my business visa means I don’t have to leave. Money talks; laws are for chumps.”
Yes. You just have to keep doing visa runs or getting a one year visa.
Vietnam isn’t like Thailand where they don’t want foreigners living in the country. They don’t care… or maybe they do, but the Vietnamese definitely like money more than feelings or laws. Must be that “Chinese cultural influence.”
Where to Live in Vietnam?
Best place to live in Vietnam?
I was going to do a table, but I’ll just lay it out.
Saigon: This is the big city of Vietnam. It’s in the south and more liberal than anywhere else, but it’s still conservative compared to the US. You have a decent amount of western amenities such as McDonalds, pizza, Starbucks, bars, white girls, Asian sluts, whores, nightclubs, drugs, and so on. It’s a major city with lots of stuff to do.
Hanoi: Hanoi is the capital. It’s much more conservative than Saigon. Nightlife is pretty terrible because everything closes at midnight. It has four seasons, which is nice compared to Saigon’s ball bustingly hot weather. COL is the same as Saigon, but the apartments might be a little more expensive. Lots of mountains and pretty scenery is a day trip away, so this is a good place if you like the outdoors. It’s also a good city to have a gf.
Da Nang: This is the third largest city in Vietnam. It has 1,000,000 people, but it can feel like a big village. It’s on the coast with mountains nearby. Lots of expats like to live here for a slower pace of life and because it’s near the beach and a little cheaper.
Not many nightlife options compared to Saigon, but a decent amount of expats live here (see previous sentence). It’s much cheaper than Saigon or Hanoi, but doesn’t have some of the western amenities that you have in Saigon and Hanoi. The cops and government aren’t corrupt either, which is nice.
Oh yeah, most of the girls in Da Nang live with their parents, so good luck having them spend the night.
Vietnam Apartment Rentals
Where to rent an apartment in Saigon?
There is a big expat community in District 2 in a place called Thao Dien. This area has grocery stores, wide streets, less people, and less Vietnamese people. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like Vietnam, which is nice. There are plenty of expat focused bars and restaurants. Everything is more expensive here. Most of your embassy personnel, actual expats with corporate jobs, digital nomads that make real money, and rich Vietnamese will live here. You also get English teachers living with like 5 people.
District 1 is the main tourist area and the business center of the city. Apartments with western amenities are a little more expensive here than other districts.
District 3, District 10, and Binh Thanh are both nice and centrally located. You can find plenty of apartments with western amenities in these areas. District 3 is pretty nice. Lots of embassies/consulates here.
District 4 has a nice apartment complex called Rivergate. It’s right across from District 1, so it’s pretty central. Other than that, this district is pretty famous for being a poor district…
District 7 has some nice apartments, but it can be far from District 1 depending on where you live in the district. It’s considered the suburbs. Not much pollution or poor people though.
The other districts in Ho Chi Minh City suck. Not many western amenities and too many Vietnamese people. The City Government basically decided to make the countryside part of the city, so it might say Ho Chi Minh City, but it’s the countryside.
Avoid far out districts like Go Vap, Thu Duc, District 12, District 9, the south end of District 7, Cu Chi, Binh Chanh, and so on.
How much should I pay for an apartment?
This depends on how big of an apartment you have, where it is, and whether it is furnished or not.
Most of the apartments include water, WiFi, and cable in the price. Electricity is typically 3,500 Dong per kW/h.
You can find a furnished 1 bedroom/1 bathroom apartment in the city center for about $500/month + 1 month deposit. It might have a pool and gym, but probably not. They aren’t too common here. This can go up to about $750/month if it’s a newer apartment that has a pool and gym.
The $750/month range is mostly for 2br/2ba apartments though. It will be nice.
You can also rent a multistory house for like $400/month in some districts. They aren’t expensive, but you will need a Vietnamese person to help you. Just meet a girl and have her show you around.
But you’ll have to deal with Vietnamese people stealing your stuff once they realize a white person lives there (White people = RICH!). This includes stuff in your house, your motorbike, your electricity, and your water. Basically, anything that can be stolen; will be stolen.
You can also find apartments for like $300/month or less in all the districts, but they suck by western standards. I lived in one of those for a few months.
Where is the cheapest place to live?
The far out districts are definitely the cheapest to live… but who wants to live an hour away from the city in some far flung district like District 12?
Life in Vietnam
Is there a poker community in Vietnam?
“Not really. Most of the guys here tend to stick to their own, but I’m a loner anyway and probably on the autism spectrum.”
(He’s definitely a loner like me, which is why we get along so well. -Neo)
Do I need to speak Vietnamese?
“No. I’ve lived here for way too many years and don’t speak a word of Vietnamese other than some food dishes. I can’t even count to ten.”
We both agree that life is easier if you can speak Vietnamese. It just isn’t necessary.
Honestly, not worth the time to learn it unless you’re Rain Man and can learn a new languages in like 5 minutes.
Is it easy to meet Vietnamese women?
Once you’re in Vietnam, then you can easily hook up with girls you meet on Vietnam Cupid. Just take them on a date, get some drinks, and go back to your apartment.
One night stands are a little harder here, but still possible.
Can I ride a motorbike?
Not legally. You need a license.
However, western concepts like laws and toilet paper aren’t really a thing in Southeast Asia. The only law is who has the most money.
Anyway, if you go through the trouble of getting a license, then you will STILL have to pay a bribe of 200k ($8) for some bullshit infraction that they make up.
That being said, most of the expats here have motorbikes, but almost none of them have a license.
I already wrote a guide on how to buy (and ride) a motorbike in Vietnam. Check it out.
Can I smoke weed?
Yes. Weed is easy to find. I wrote a guide on purchasing weed in Saigon.
Is there anything else I should know?
“Don’t come here if you have low impulse control or degenerate tendencies. Most professional gamblers seem to have those traits, so be careful…
Anyway, beer is under $2 at a bar. It’s like 50 cents at the corner store. You can get a blowjob for $15. Every girl, including gold diggers, wants to marry you. You can buy almost any drug you want. Basically, there is no one here (police, angry feminists, government, media, etc.) to tell you no. You can do whatever the hell you want if you have money. It’s easy to degen out.”
Neo: I agree with everything he said. I wrote a guide on how to stay productive while living abroad that touches on a few of his points.