You’re probably asking yourself, 75 countries really? That’s almost half the world! Yes, I truly did. How does one find the time for that? You play online poker! In this blog, I’ll break down how I poker nomad and traveled the world. What motivated me and how did I achieve it?
Let me ask you this if you could work from anywhere in the world, would you stay where you are now?
I clearly didn’t. So I made the decision to cut all my ties to The Netherlands and become a nomad.
In this piece, I’ll be sharing a few personal travel stories that are related to the poker nomad lifestyle. I’ll skip the stories on strippers, drugs and things related to that side of the poker player life for now. I don’t want to give us a bad reputation 😉
And don’t worry, this won’t be another travel blog, as there are so many already. However, since people repeatedly ask me how I managed to do so, “drumrolls” here’s the story folks!
Find the right balance in your life
During my career, I experimented with different work and sleep schedules. Like many grinders, I struggled to keep a steady life schedule. Late nights, struggling to get out of bed or ignoring sleep altogether. Organizing your personal agenda is a challenge for many players. And it was for me as well! How I came to the right balance is a story for another time though. But for you curious readers, here’s an old blog I wrote when I was in the midst of figuring this out.
What worked best for me is to focus a certain period on work, and after reward myself with travel and new experiences. I noticed the carrot at the end kept me motivated for the grind for the weeks I set out for it. Personally, it was the right balance between switching my mind on and off.
Work & travel, would you arrange your life the same way?
On top of that, living in poker houses already provided me with the satisfaction of living abroad. That’s why the poker nomad life I laid out suits me very well.
Poker houses over the world as a Nomad
Why I left my country to live abroad
Back in 2008, when online poker was still soft, I used to multi-table like a maniac. One crazy month, long before Zoom tables, I played over 200k hands of cash games.
Living a life where you’re stuck behind your computer for days on end, can lead to serious mental and health issues. I know several people in my network who suffered from depression, anxiety or burned out.
I wasn’t going to let that happen to me.
When a few of my friends moved to Malta to start a poker house, I immediately realized that’s what I needed to do as well. I believed that living in tropical locations would improve the quality of my life and provide a natural life balance I was looking for.
So I moved from house to house
If you live on the beach, you’ll take a stroll every day to dip your toes in the salty water. So even if you spend 6 hours going through Hold’em Manager to improve your game, you still get some relaxing beach time with an ocean breeze to clear your thoughts. That’s the poker nomad style of living I aim for.
Over the course of a few years, I lived in poker houses all over the world. Including, London, Medellin, Costa Rica, Italy, Brazil, Chiang Mai and New Zealand.
I always made sure to travel too!
And while I was playing poker in these countries, I’d made sure to go out and explore the surrounding countries on the days & weeks, to take advantage of my “down” time. This poker lifestyle gave me the opportunity to see a lot of countries, without feeling like a backpacker or traveler.
Of the 75 countries, what are my favorite places? That’s a question I hear almost every week and I dedicated a blog with a few exotic places and travel stories to it.
It’s quite similar to the digital nomad life, where online entrepreneurs combine their work and travel. During my time in Poker houses, I came across many remote workers, who make their income online while traveling from one country to another.
If you’re curious to find out more about the digital nomad life, I’ll write another piece on that topic soon. Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter to get an update on it.
Poker nomad 1 year around the world
Having a full year off just to wander the earth feels like a long time, but in fact, it’s over before you know it. I ended up hopping from continent to continent and visited countries like Botswana, Nepal, Maldives, South-Korea, New Zealand, Cook Islands, USA, and Ecuador. I didn’t keep a blog at the time, however, I did document most of the trip on my Poker_Nomad Instagram, which you can see here:
When is the right time to take a break?
Between 2014 and 2016, heads up (HU) poker was my main game. The games were easy with regs and fish eager to play. Good times! Yet like always, the games evolve.
End 2016 the HU games started dying. Sites removed the competitive game, limited the poker tables for regs and soon it was a shark tank with little fish to eat.
I have to evolve as well and switched back to 6-max. Nonetheless, during the transition, it felt like a good time to tick off something from my bucket list: A travel year.
During this year of globe-trotting, I did play a bit of poker on the Chinese sites and ended up starting a business. However the goal of the year was to travel the world, and so I did. To 24 countries in 12 months to be exact.
How much did this cost?
Instead of booking an around the world plane ticket, I booked subsequently single flights that we’re dated already. This limited the amount of freedom I had, but I got to visit two dozen countries on a plane ticket that cost €2200.
During the trip, I kept track of expenses in an app. Just to see where the money is going. I was quite surprised by how much of it went to alcohol. I guess if you don’t work and have a few beers a day it adds up, don’t judge me! (yes I can feel it)
Based on daily expenses the most expensive country of the year was Japan, the cheapest Sri Lanka.
On a budget
I can’t call myself a budget traveler, but I don’t splurge either. My days throwing dollar bills around for the heck of it are long over. My accommodations varied from hostels to Airbnb’s and anything in between. I camped for 3 weeks in tents in Africa, from the Kalimari desert to Botswana jungles. Or in Japan, I spend a few nights in the Capsule hotels, where you rent a box to sleep in not much bigger than a coffin. Whereas in Qatar I stayed in a 5-star hotel, dead center of the city.
Similar to diners, I keep it balanced, where I could eat Thai street food or wine and dine in one of New York’s most prestigious places, “Blue Hill ” which was featured in Netflix’s Chef’s table.
Now you are probably wondering, “All sounds good, but how much did he spend during the year?”
You might be surprised!
Visiting all these countries, across 6 continents for a full year cost me approximately €20,000. Now if you add the ticket and some extra cost, like insurance and vaccines, etc. The total damage added up to €25,000.
Not bad right?
I do have to be honest and say I used a few Bitcoins to pay for travel expenses. Like flights, hotels and sometimes even diners. I like to use BTC when I can, just to get the feeling its actually useful in real life. With the price of crypto going up significantly since I spend them. One might argue my world trip was a bit more expensive. I don’t believe in this result-oriented mindset though. If I spend $100 in BTC, it’s $100 in my eyes. No matter how valuable BTC becomes in the future.
One last note, it helps if you cut all the running costs in your home country. Get rid of your house, subscriptions and everything you don’t need. Now imagine if you can work, digitally or in the real world, on the road as well? You don’t need to spend your life savings to go out and explore. Give it a shot! You won’t regret it, I promise.
From Poker Nomad to Digital Nomad
As I mentioned earlier in this blog, during my years of travel I began my startup journey. So I naturally found a new passion and quit poker ever since to focus on growth hacking for startups in blockchain and technology industries.
I consciously chose a new path where I kept the freedom the poker nomad life provided me. I’m not ready to give up the travel and living abroad lifestyle. Would you be ready for that?
So now, I’m part of the crypto nomad or digital nomad tribe. Spending my working days in co-working spaces to network and to get shit done. It’s a different way of working than I’m used to, but it’s manageable. I like to stay active, while I let my passive investments compound over the next few years.
Looking to build a travel itinerary for your perfect trip?
Schedule a meeting or call with me or my team to discuss your dream location and what to do there. With our combined travel experience, we can layout the perfect holiday for you. From activities, restaurants, plane tickets to accommodations. If you want, we can even find you some live poker games to earn some extra money.
Don’t get all the travel stress and let us do the heavy lifting for you, so you can continue dreaming about your perfect vacation.
In the meanwhile, enjoy this goofy video I created of doing cartwheels around the world.