For most people, the game of poker usually inspires images of crowded tables and smoky rooms, but today poker players ply their trade in exotic locales all over the world.

( — April 22, 2016) —  For most people, the game of poker usually inspires images of crowded tables and smoky rooms, but today poker players ply their trade in exotic locales all over the world.

Following the poker boom of 2003, Texas Hold’em and other poker variants became household names across Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America, as millions of new players embraced the game. Tournament series like the World Poker Tour, the European Poker Tour, and the World Series of Poker Circuit International grew poker on a global scale, and today you can find a table even while soaking up the sun in a tropical paradise.

Providing a stark contrast to the dimly lit and dusky setting of old-time poker rooms located in landlocked areas like Las Vegas, the modern casino gaming resorts which have sprung up in places like the Bahamas, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Aruba, offer a refreshing seaside vibe. Indeed, while casinos like the Tropicana and Treasure Island strive to emulate this unmistakable atmosphere, they just can’t come close to the real deal. And even while the casino industry continues to thrive in Sin City and throughout America, poker players are increasingly seeking alternative accommodations in more eclectic environs.

One factor which has accelerated the link between poker and tropical destinations was the legal situation in the United States after April of 2011, when the federal government shuttered major online poker operators. Following poker’s “Black Friday,” professional players living in the U.S. were forced to explore living abroad if they hoped to continue pursuing their chosen career in the best poker rooms available online.

Today, legislation passed by three states (Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware) has slowly, but surely, returned online poker to the U.S. marketplace. Even so, many players have become enchanted with life as expatriates, living abroad and soaking in every second of their extended summers.

Locating the latest faraway poker hotspot can pose some difficulties though. Even if the Indonesian island of Bali looks like the perfect place to build a new life, and a bigger bankroll, discovering that local law forbids gambling of any sort can be a bit of a bummer.

Below you’ll find information on some of the best tropical destinations for poker players, including places where online grinders have successfully sought sanctuary, and legendary island enclaves where the game has been happily adopted by the local community.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

As the exodus of American online poker pros began, most players looked either north or south to find salvation. And while many relocated to Canada in search of stable access to their favorite game, as many or more skipped happily south of the border to Mexico.

Located along the Yucatan Peninsula’s gorgeous Maya Strip, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, the coastal town of Playa Del Carmen quickly became home base for dozens of young online grinders. Banding together in beachside condos, friends and fellow pro players soon transformed neighborhoods of Playa Del Carmen into recognized retreats for the worldwide poker community.

As noted in this illuminating Business Insider profile, titled “Living the Dream,” online poker pros routinely scored six-figure paydays by night, before chartering a yacht and exploring the Caribbean Sea by day. Able to hone their craft and continue improving, veterans of the Mexican online poker grind like Garret Greer have even parlayed their additional practice time into major championships on the live tournament circuit back home.


Costa Brava, Spain

Although a bit further north than most traditional tropical destinations, the coastal region of Costa Brava in northeast Spain offers visitors a surprising slice of equatorial climate combined with pristine Mediterranean seaside landscapes.

The Gran Casino Costa Brava, located in the town of Lloret de Mar just north of Barcelona, is home to one of the most modern poker rooms in all of Europe, attracting thousands of players each year for both tournaments and cash games. The venue is even home to an 888 Live series circuit stop, taking place from May 21st to May 22nd, and online players can win their way in via satellite though the 888 poker promo code page.

With a 500-player capacity, the Gran Casino Costa Brava bills itself as the only casino in the Spanish region of Catalonia built specifically with poker players in mind. For anyone living in Europe in need of a tropical Mediterranean vacation spot which happens to be poker friendly, you simply can’t beat Costa Brava.



Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

Another recipient of so-called poker refugees, Costa Rica has more than earned its longstanding reputation as the “Switzerland of Central America.”Source:

Open to visitors from all walks of life, Costa Rica is located just north of the equator, offering oceanic views of the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Boasting a thriving vacation rental industry, Costa Rica was a natural fit for many online poker players living in America who found themselves searching for an affordable second home on short notice.

An area known as Jaco Beach has proven to be especially popular with poker pros, developing into a close-knit community similar to that found in Playa Del Carmen. Today, dozens of players congregate in Jaco Beach at any given time, sharing the burden of rent and expenses while pursuing the life-changing score which every grinder dreams of securing one day soon.

Alternative Accommodations

Other tropical destinations which are perfect for poker players include the border town of Rosarito in Mexico, the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas (during PCA tournament series season), or the Dutch-controlled Caribbean island of Aruba off the coast of Venezuela.