‘O Canada! Our home and native land!’ Yes, that might just be the call from one American online poker pro who has made the big decision to cross the border into the USA’s North American neighbour.
However, another Internet star doesn’t quite yet have the need to learn the Canadian national anthem after having his hopes dashed – for now – by that nation’s immigration authorities.
Several pros, including Olivier Busquet and four-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu, have travelled north following the US Department of Justice (DoJ) decision to shut down more than a few online poker websites – including PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker – back on April 15, or ‘Black Friday’ as that shocking day has now become known.
In the three-and-a-half months since that fateful day, there has been a steady stream of American online stars quitting the States to ensure that they can continue making a living from poker.
The latest to abandon the USA for Vancouver is Phil Galfond (‘OMGClayAiken’) after he quit New York, but another star, Daniel ‘Jungleman12’ Cates, has failed in his initial attempt to relocate to the beautiful British Columbia city.
Galfond – who won the WSOP $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha with Rebuys event back in 2008 for $817,781 – took to microblogging website Twitter to announce his departure when writing: “To everyone asking, I moved to Canada to play.”
Of course, many poker insiders had predicted a mass exodus of American online pros following that dark spring day, but it really has been more of a trickle.
However, the high stakes star is not unduly worried about his future as he talked about his joy at once again being allowed to display his undoubted skills online, writing that he “was really happy to be back playing at @PokerStars”.
Galfond, who is known as ‘MrSweets28’ on PokerStars, added that the website have “been extremely helpful and responsive with getting everything set up again”, although he hasn’t had as much luck with PartyPoker.
The native of North Potomac in Maryland continued by posting that he had hoped “to start playing on @PartyPoker, but they’ve responded to 0 of my 3 e-mails over the past 3 days trying to verify my account”.
Still, it is almost certain that many other pros will look to follow in Galfond’s footsteps now that the WSOP in Las Vegas is over for another year.
However, for now, Cates won’t be among them, although that could all change very shortly…if he can sort out his visa problems.
Another Maryland native, Cates also ventured on to Twitter to report that he would be “leaving for Vancouver tomorrow, time to crush online again :)”.
But that post proved to be inaccurate as the 21-year-old – who is considered by many to be the best heads-up No-Limit Hold’em player in the world – was refused entry by the Canadian immigration authorities.
Cates, with his online cash earnings from PokerStars and Full Tilt sitting at about $7 million – including more than $5 million last year – later tweeted that, “in a ridiculous twist, I have been deported from Canada for being an illegal immigrant… Going to Seattle tomorrow to try to get temp visa”.
We will soon know if he has been successful, but he later followed up his second post with another that stated: “Apparently I need a visa to play poker for a living in Canada? Wtf? Anyone know about the immigration laws here?”
So, will Galfond and Cates open the floodgates for a poker player evacuation to Canada? Or will we see most remain in the USA in the hope that any future laws created by the American government will be stacked in their favour?
It is certainly a strange time for North American poker pros, that’s certain.