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READ: Cambodia Offers Poker Players Attractive Underground Lifestyle

  • Cambodia has a fairly lucrative underground scene for poker players.

At the Riverking Poker Club in Cambodia, many professional poker players are trying to claim the life of luxury poker stereotypically provides.

While Cambodians can’t legally gamble in Cambodian casinos, after a law passed in 1996, westerners have taken to these casinos, according to Southeast Globe. Even so, there are nearly 60 licensed casinos, six of which offer ‘live’ poker games, in the region for visitors to Phnom Penh.

“Regulations in this country are pretty relaxed… But for poker, it depends,” said Vi, the general manager of Riverking, to Southeast Globe. “You need to have a strong backing to open somewhere like this.”

These full-time players play the poker variants and make a living off the game, playing local upper-class fish who are willing to risk the dough. The scene is flocked by politicians, military generals and wealthy Khmer businessmen.

“The poker is easier and better here [than in the UK]; there’s more action. [Moving to Cambodia] was a no-brainer,” poker player Gareth ‘The Nugget’ Jones told Southeast Globe.

In Cambodia, there are also no tax limitations and the rake is considerably lower. Some players also take the risk of playing online in the Asian nation despite Wi-Fi challenges, money transfer issues (delays, extra charges, etc.), and online play becoming increasingly difficult.

Poker retains its stigma as a game of gambling versus skill in Cambodia, thus, players must be prepared for the lifestyle and its effect on health.

"To make a living you need discipline,” said Luke McCollum, a British national who moved to Cambodia to play poker four years ago, to Southeast Globe. “I don’t know anyone who has done really well here. People can’t control themselves. They end up drinking and spending too much. I’ve known people who were doing well but came here and are now meth heads on the street.”

Read the full story on Southeast Globe's website here.

Lead image courtesy of

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