In a country where gaming is only allowed to foreign passport holders, the game of poker, which has only been popular in Vietnam recently, has had an uphill climb to finding its niche in the market. However, the strong passion for the mind sport seems to be what’s keeping the game from totally disappearing from Vietnamese shores.
Gaming had always been in the bloodstream of the Vietnamese but the love for poker started with the “Việt Kiều”, Vietnamese who fled the country after the fall of Saigon in the 70s. A lot of the “Việt Kiều” settled in the West Coast of the US and got exposed to game. It was love at first sight and this love had resulted in some of the best players of poker in the world like Scotty Nguyen, Men “The Master” Nguyen, J.C. Tran, and Nam Le just to name a few.
After the Doi Moi, which were economic reforms made during the 80s, some of these poker playing Việt Kiều returned home and brought their knowledge of the game with them. But with Gambling laws still being stringent on the locals, only 2 casinos offered the game of poker, and only with electronic tables which took out the social and psychological strategy of the game.
A breakthrough happened when The Grand Ho Tram Strip, in cooperation with the World Gaming Group (WGG), opened a poker room which offered cash games with starting limits of $1/$2. Local poker players became more hopeful when, in May 2015, the Asian Poker Tour (APT) brought their brand to the country and held a tournament for both locals and foreigners. For the first time, the community enjoyed and played in an international poker circuit. But all hopes for a budding poker scene were dashed when The Grand Ho Tram Strip ended their agreement with WGG resulting in the cancellation of the 2nd APT Vietnam supposed to be held on November 2015. To make matters worse, New World Hotel had stopped its electronic poker tables making poker almost non-existent in the country.
That is until July 2016 when Aces Poker Club, the very first brick & mortar poker room, in the country opened its doors. Like a breath of fresh air, the Vietnamese poker community had once again been revived.
This time, their future seems brighter and with the recent news of Poker King Club announcing its imminent arrival to the beaches of Vietnam, poker players have something to look forward to in this part of the peninsula.
Article by Gabrielle Ruiz-Barredo
Capital : Hanoi
Languages : Vietnamese
Population : 90 million
Currency : Vietnam Dong
Calling code : + 84
Time zone : UTC+07:00
Online rooms: Access to all major poker sites
Internet: Average quality. Possible disconnections 3G stick recommended.
Recommanded providers: FPT – Viettel
Live poker: Only foreigners are allowed to enter casinos. In Hanoi and HCMC games are offered on electronic tables.
Online poker: No regulation. Restriction for deposits from local banks or with local credit card
Online Payment: Skrill, Neteller & paysafecard