Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Poker Expats in Paradise

For a fee, Kristin Wilson’s Poker Refugees relocates online poker pros to a country beyond Uncle Sam’s reach

A glistening swimming pool, fed by waterfalls and flanked by fat palm trees, lies 20 steps from Matthew Stout and Joey Cappuccio’s new apartment in San Jose, Costa Rica. Temperatures in the high 80s would make the private pool seem an obvious refuge for the longtime friends from New Jersey, but neither has been swimming once since moving in three weeks ago. During early September they’ve barely left their apartment at all, except for grocery store runs. They’ve been too busy playing online poker. It’s what they do for a living, and it’s why they’ve left the U.S. Like thousands of other professional players, Stout and Cappuccio have been denied their source of income since Black Friday—Apr. 15, 2011—the day when, without warning, the Justice Dept. blocked access to the three top online poker sites in the U.S. Relocated and logged in, they’re making up for lost time.

“It took me a while to admit to myself that things aren’t going to get resolved anytime soon and that we were eventually gonna have to do something about it,” says Stout, who’s perched on a plaid chair in his new home, laptop in hand, registering for the day’s games. He barely finishes his sentence before Cappuccio, six-foot-three but the quieter of the two, blurts out: “By ‘eventually,’ we meant ‘now.’ ”