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Living in Dominican Republic as poker pro

I was living in Dominican Republic for 5 months during 2021. I often travel with friends who are working also remotely. My close friend Nikola was living with me for few months in Dominican Republic. We had a flight from our hometown Belgrade to Punta Cana. This place is made for vacation and tourism. Many locals who are living here work in hotels, bars, restaurants and other services. Few people already warned us that Dominican Republic can be quite dangerous. There were many situations where tourist were robbed or attacked. From our perspective that turned out to be very false. Everybody were very nice, I never felt threatened even though I was late night partying, drinking and walking the streets alone.  Maybe I was just very lucky.

Living in Dominican Republic – Punta Cana

Punta Cana at night


Punta Cana is a small city by the sea with beautiful beaches. Whole place is organized in resorts made for tourism. Usually resort is boarded by a fence and protected by guards on the entrance. These guards work as receptionist in a way and can help you with many things if you are nice and leave them a tip. Inside of the resorts there is usually a pool, sometimes a tennis or basketball court or open gym and of course few buildings with apartments for rent. Whole architecture style is similar to American one. In our apartment we had 2 big private rooms for sleeping,  spacious living room and nice balcony looking at the pool.

Resort in Punta Cana 


Cost of living in Punta Cana

We never book anything in advance for longer time as most people do. It’s more fun to have a little adventure  🙂 We booked 2 nights stay in a hotel using Airbnb. After we arrived and left our bags in the hotel we found a small local bar. After few drinks in the bar local girl offered to show us few places to stay and help us negotiate prices since our Spanish was little rusty.

She took us to few places and they were quite pricey around 2000$ a month. At one point we liked the place a lot and it was in very center of the city, 5 minutes from the beach. Owner asked for 1600$ for a rent but after I explained that we are not rich America/Canada tourist but 2 guys from Serbia and after little bargain we got the place for 1000$. Everything else was also a little more expensive than expected.

For example pack of Marlboro cigarettes is 10$ (3 times as much as in Serbia) and some quick fast food is around 5$. Restaurants are very reasonable price. You can have a decent sea food and a bottle of vine for 50$. Taxi is affordable and you can also use “Uber” for transportation. Only really expensive thing is drinking in the bar. One beer is around 10$ so if you stay late night drinking you can easily spend a lot of cash.

Punta Cana beach


Thoughts about Punta Cana

Punta Cana is great place to stay and has a lot to offer. Sea and beach is one of the most beautiful I ever visited. One thing I really like is temperature of the sand. You can walk barefoot without getting burned and water is still nice temperature for swimming. There are nice beach bars for chilling and people are very friendly. For night clubs there are not too many options but for me it was fine. It is relatively quite and peaceful in the night and for partying once in a few days it is good enough. One thing that did not impress me much is food. You can pretty much eat western style food like burgers, pizza, sandwitches, fries etc. I did not find any local interesting food or recipe.  After 3 months we got little bored of the same routine and same places so we wanted to explore bigger city. Than we decided to travel to capital.



Old city square in Santo Domingo

Living in Dominican Republic – Santo Domingo

We had a same plan when coming to Santo Domingo. We booked a one day stay with Airbnb and later met some people in the city and found place to stay.  Houses in Santo Domingo are totally different than in Punta Cana. There are many small more European style house and there are no resorts. Just a regular big city with different districts. Also all prices are at least 30% lower than in Punta Cana.

This place had a very bloody history. Probably whole island but especially Santo Domingo. Christopher Columbus first stop was this city. He was one of the builders of the city as well as his wife and later son. There were many wars between Spanish and local Indian tribes and later Africans who are brought in as slaves. Spanish is still official language and you can still feel racial problems and differences.

Maybe all this wars and mixing of different nations resulted in an extremely beautiful nation. I think I never seen so many beautiful people in my life. Firstly I did not get along well with locals because they seems to have a different customs than I am used to. They will always touch you and stand very close to you. Things like this would be considered impolite in Europe. After some time I just realized they are like that. They are just very warm and easy going. I needed some time (maybe 20 days) to figure them out and get out of my comfort zone but Dominicans are actually very cool people and great friends.


hanging our with the locals
hanging our with the locals

Dominican music – Dembow

This stuff was totally confusing for me. So first when we come to Punta Cana I started hearing same music everywhere. I have no idea what it was but it was terrible. It’s like some sort of reggaeton but much more aggressive and in Spanish. And when you hear it all the time it starts to get irritating. It was in the club, bar, private party, beach and grocery store. Like everywhere is some constant hysterical party. And after you start to relax a bit and get into that chill groove you realize for Dominicans party is actually everywhere. They are constantly dancing, singing and laughing. So this crazy music makes actually a perfect soundtrack, it makes total sense when you get into their groove.  And if you ever saw Dominican girls dancing to Dembow you probably never forgot it. Now I love Dembow I still listen to it occasionally even when not in Dominican Republic 🙂

Poker in Dominican Republic

We had no problems with internet. There are few local companies but one that was easier to get vas “Vevo”. And their internet router was cheap around 40e a month. It was not the best I ever had but I worked for 5 months without no problems. There were also no problems with logging in PokerStars or other big casinos from this location. Live games in Punta Cana were on the other side terrible. There was only one legal game in local casino. Rake is 10% with high cap and everybody buy-ins super short like 50e/100e. Everybody looked at me if I am crazy for buying in for normal amount. They all play very splashy and gamble with these short stacks but with that aggressive game where you can not win a big pot so easily all money just finishes in rake. Terrible game. I played there twice and gave up. I just continued to play strictly online while in Punta Cana.

In Santo Domingo there are much more casinos but rake seems to be higher than it should be. Also now there were already few regulars. I went only few times for live games but there were many problems. Waiting for game to start, not enough fish, distant locations of casino etc. From my experience you can just skip the live games here nothing worth investing time into. I was just possibly unlucky to find good games, could not say for sure.

Final thoughts

I enjoyed living in Dominican Republic. For me personally this is one of the locations I would always happily come back to. People are very cool, parties are lit, beaches are one of the most beautiful I ever saw and prices are not soo high. Only downside is if you can not speak any Spanish is that people are rarely talking English. But even if that is the case they will try to help you out and not scam you too much on the way 😉

If you wish to read more about travels try with  Muay Thai kickboxing in Thailand.

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