Cambodia now has more than 60 casinos spread across the country and its gambling industry continues to thrive as the Cambodia government has encouraged casino operators to invest and expand their facilities as gambling generates a significant amount of revenue in gaming taxes for the government and also helps to boost tourism. Current gaming law in Cambodia does not allow locals access to casinos.
Underground Poker Thrives
While legalized gambling continues to grow and hog the spotlight, the underground poker scene in Cambodia has also grown rapidly but has been kept under the radar on purpose as these secret cash games attract both foreigners and locals. These underground poker games take place on a regular basis and the venues for these illegal poker games are well known within Cambodia’s poker playing community.
These games attract poker players from the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) and many of them have decided to put their roots down in Cambodia and make a living playing at these underground poker games. The average monthly income for a local is around $100 and hence expats are able to live pretty lavishly on a few hundred dollars which is easy to make at these underground poker tables.
The Riverking Poker Club is considered to be one of the most popular establishments for hosting underground poker games and a number of poker variants are played at the table. The club is alleged to be owned by a high ranking government official and is reportedly under the protection of the authorities. More information on underground poker venues in Cambodia can be found on popular poker forums such as the Two Plus Two poker forum.
Underground Poker More Lucrative
There are a number of reasons as to why these underground poker games have grown in popularity and become a hit with foreigners. When a poker player cashes out in the UK and the US, they have to pay a high amount of taxes and as a result their winnings slim down considerably. The casino also takes in a rake for hosting the poker games and at the end of the day, the poker player loses a significant amount of their winnings. This isn’t the case in Cambodia as no taxes are paid on winnings at underground poker games and the house charges a minimal fee – which is considered to be the lowest in all of Asia.
There are a number of Cambodians who also visit these underground poker games and are happy to compete against foreigners, have a chat, make friends and enjoy themselves at the poker table. These locals are not professional poker players but are wealthy Cambodians, high ranking government officials and politicians who don’t sweat their losses.
The expats at these underground poker games are usually seasoned pros who have played against tougher competition in the UK or the US. They enjoy playing against the locals as they know that they have the money to lose and against each other, they enjoy the grind and competition as it helps improve their poker playing skills.
 Underground Poker vs. Online Poker
Some of these expats have experimented with online poker in Cambodia and from time to time will play at PokerStars, Party Poker or 888poker just to have a change of scene. However, they realize that the competition in online poker has risen incredibly over the years and it has now become very difficult to win regularly at online poker and make a living. Since many online poker players rely on software such as heads up display (HUD) to give them an edge, expat players in Cambodia prefer to play the underground poker scene as it is easier and friendlier.
Another reason why online poker isn’t very popular in Cambodia with expats is because the WiFi connections aren’t always reliable and a disconnect during an online poker game doesn’t make for a great experience. Also transferring money from an online poker account to a Cambodia bank account incurs high processing fees and can sometimes take up to two weeks to be completed.
Underground Poker Lifestyle
While the underground poker lifestyle allows expats to live a luxurious life in Cambodia, it also has a number of challenges. A number of expats get caught up with the party lifestyle enjoying all that Cambodia has to offer including beaches, booze, women and drugs and end up spending most of their money very quickly.
 
 

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