I came across an interesting and wacky story of one traveler who somehow ended up in Thailand with only a few hundred dollars to his name living on $300 per month.
I recently did an interview with him (he’s a poker player), and here it is.
Hey mate, could you tell us about your situation right now?
I worked in the UK in a job I hated, and decided it was time for a change.
I managed to get a different job, but the start date wasn’t until September 2016, which left me a little over a year to play around.
I decided I’d go abroad traveling, using the money I’d saved while at work, which was only like $4,500 or so.
So I booked a flight back to Bangkok, but the travel agency screwed up the flight details. I ended up having to buy a ticket at the airport (very expensive).
Because of this, I ended up with only $750 left (I also had $300 in an 888 poker account, but I wasn’t planning on funding myself by playing poker in Thailand until I ran into the misfortune with the airline).
How would you rate your quality of life at the moment?
I’ve got plenty of time to focus on my poker and really try and take it seriously. I’d much prefer to be living Bangkok apartment with air-con place, a pool and a bed, but I get by okay sleeping on the floor.
In my travels before I was sleeping in hostels, and prior to that I was living in shared accommodation with strangers in the UK. It’s not like I’m used to living the high life.
With that said, I’m not sure it’d suit Thai expats. The toilet flushes using a bucket, there’s only cold water for a shower, there’s no bed, just a roll-up mattress on the floor, and there’s no real kitchen.
What’s it like living in your place, what’s the best and worst thing about it?
The best thing is the excellent food that is right next door!
There’s so much choice since there’s quite a large community of Thai people where I am. None of them speak English but they’ve come to know what sort of food I like, so when I show up they know what to cook.
The worst things are the lack of air-con and lack of decent Internet. The Internet is fine for working since it rarely disconnects, but the 128kbps speed is too slow to watch any YouTube videos, and even stuff like going on Facebook takes a while for all the pictures to load.
The no air-con you sort of get used to after a while (though there are certainly days it really sucks), but not having access to YouTube, streaming is a pain.
Where abouts are you in Bangkok?
I’m around 15 minutes walk from Wongwian Yai BTS station. There’s not many foreigners around this area, but the locals are friendly enough, though they don’t speak much English.
How many hours of poker do you play per week, and what is your currently hourly?
I’ve been hitting the study hard recently, so haven’t been playing as much but reading up on the game.
However, I’ve finished Applications of NL Holdem now (a poker book), so will just be working full-time from now on.
On a typical work day, I’ll start between 8am-10am, and finish between 3pm-5pm (if I start later, I finish later).
I average 4,000 hands a day during the weekdays, less at the weekends though because the girlfriend gets angry when I’m working while she’s at home.
I’m aiming to bump this up to 5,000 hands a day, and run an 8am-5pm schedule. I need to build my endurance up for it…prior to the last month I’d generally only play 2,000 hands a day maximum.
Currently hourly at 10nl is $3.50 (no really, this isn’t some ‘about three fiddy’ joke, I really earn $3.50 per hour).
I’m a 6bb/100 (this means for every 100 hands, he wins 60 cents on average, which is actually pretty good) winner at the stake currently.
I’ve not really played enough hands to know my ‘true’ win-rate there since I’ve only played 80,000 hands of 10nl in my lifetime.
Note: 10NL means the buy-in for the game is $10 maximum.
Could you give us a breakdown of your costs per month?
- $120 for food.
- Visa costs around $50 (this is an average, some months it’s zero, but other months it’s $100).
- My share of rent+bills: $45 (my girlfriend pays half)
- Other random stuff (toiletries, the occasional beer from 7/11, transport if I’m going somewhere etc) – around $60.
- Internet on phone: $7
It ends up coming to around $300 a month altogether.
What does your girlfriend think about all this, does she care?
She considers this game to be akin to the simplistic games like Farmville or Candy Crush that she plays on her phone!
Which is why she gets super angry when I work at weekends or evenings. Which kind of sucks because as we all know, those are the best times to play poker as it’s when the fish play.
With that said, she doesn’t care that I spend my day working playing poker rather than a ‘real job’.
I’ve known her a while now, and at no point in our relationship have either of us had that much money, so she’s used to staying at home, not going to all the fancy Bangkok places etc.
What would you suggest to anyone else in Thailand who was in your shoes?
It’s going to sound pretty obvious – but hard work, hard work, and more hard work to make money in Thailand.
If you can make money by playing poker, it really is just about getting in as much volume (playing as many hands) as you can.
Some days I don’t feel like playing, and at other times when halfway through the session I start to get bored or tired.
But I force myself to sit there until the daily quota of hands is reached.
This probably goes against what a lot of people say, as many believe you should only play poker when you feel ‘up for it’ – but when you don’t any money to your name, you don’t have the luxury of not doing anything.
Treat it like a full-time job – i.e. you still have to ‘go in’ even if you don’t particularly want to that day.
Oh yeah, and needless to say, don’t go spending all your money on non-essential stuff. Drink your beer from 7/11, not in Nana Plaza.
Go to the cinema on Wednesdays where there are discounted tickets. Don’t buy a McDonalds too often since you could eat for a whole day on what you spend there if you eat Thai food instead.
Why don’t you go and ask your family for help/extra money?
If the worst came to the worst, I’m sure they’d send me the money for a plane ticket home, but I really don’t want to have to live with family for a year until my new job starts.
Ideally I’d like to stay here with my girlfriend where I have a degree of independence. Plus I really don’t want to have to get them to bail me out – this year, if all goes well, might see me develop as a poker player and climb the stakes.
I know that wouldn’t happen back home since there’s not the same motivation to grind.
The guys got a lot of moxy, and I respect that.
I would usually advise people like him to go home ASAP and get a job. But he has one, it just doesn’t start until 2016.
He seems happy living in his cheap Bangkok apartment but there is no way I could live like that, although there’s lots of blog articles where people do it for $500 and sometimes even less than that. For a more realstic cost of living in Thailand, Ajarn.com has probably the best cost of living in Thailand archive full of teachers listing their monthly spendings.
I don’t know what the future holds for a western people living in Bangkok for $300 a month, but I wish you the best of luck. Will be sending him my book on how to become an online freelancer for sure.
What are your thoughts?