ref·u·gee/refyo͝oˈjē: One that flees; especially; one that flees to a foreign country
Our team is as diverse as our players, but a few things we have in common are local knowledge, international experience and the sincere desire to help our clients relocate and readjust as fast as possible. We are passionate about helping our clients travel and relocate around the world to play poker. We're all "Refugees" who have done it ourselves, and love to help others follow their passion.
Kristin Wilson – Owner & Founder
She may not be known for her poker skills (yet), but many of her friends and clients are. Kristin's entrepreneurial drive and free spirit propelled her to step directly from graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in International Business and an MBA straight into the jungles of Costa Rica in late 2005. Since then she has helped hundreds of people retire, relocate or start businesses in Central America, having helped found 3 real estate offices for international franchises in 2 countries before 2008.
A former champion professional surfer from Florida, Kristin has been a renegade traveler since age 15, having visited at least 20 foreign countries in addition to residing in Nicaragua, Australia and Puerto Rico – mostly by herself. Her first experience living abroad was in 2002 - 2003 when she was sent to Costa Rica (coincidentally) to serve as an Ambassadorial Scholar of the United States. The combination of experience in real estate, relocation and independent international travel allows her to identify with individuals who are traveling or moving abroad for the first time and make their move as seamless and stress-free as possible.
- Facts you may not know about Kristin:
- She's fluent in Spanish & English
- She had a dog named Renegade once
- She started college at age 16
- She's used to consistently fail the "Career Interest Inventory" tests in middle school
- Her first car in Costa Rica was a 4-wheeler
- Her nickname in Spanish is 'Machita' or blondie
Nick Hatley - Research & Property Assistant
A former Supernova Elite on Pokerstars, Nick moved abroad to Toronto right after Black Friday in 2011. He was one of Poker Refugees first clients and has since lived in Costa Rica as well. Nick currently studies political science and works virtually with Poker Refugees helping out with property searches and research projects for our players.
Mazin Khoury - VIP Manager
Originally from North Carolina, Mazin has lived in Toronto, Costa Rica and Vancouver since Black Friday. In addition to playing online poker and live tournaments on the EPT circuit and WSOP every summer, he manages his own online business and websites. For Poker Refugees, he assists players with setting up their Neteller and Skrill e-wallet accounts and achieving VIP status on various sites. Follow him on Twitter @msauce_
Peter Dalhuijsen - Affiliate Manager, PokerRefugees.eu
Peter has had ‘poker refugee’ status for over a decade. Originally from The Netherlands, Peter moved to Barcelona in 2004, and then to Prague in 2007, where he still resides.
Playing online poker since 2000, he was one of the first in his country to discover the potential that the game had to offer. In 2004, at age 26, he quit his university to start playing full-time, online as well as live tournaments, where he enjoyed some successes. He also started writing a blog about his experiences as a travelling poker player, which led to him becoming a regular writer for publications such as CardPlayer and Poker Player Magazine. In the years that followed, he shifted his focus more to the affiliate side of the poker world, to be able to offer more stability for his growing family. Peter currently operates several dozen poker-related websites, and provides Poker Refugees players with online poker rakeback and VIP deals, that can be seen at Pokerrefugees.EU.
Mauricio Arguedas – Costa Rica Translator, Driver & Concierge Assistant
Affectionately known as "Mau", players will most likely meet him if you are moving to Costa Rica's Central Valley. He's our go-to guy for translating, shopping trips and concierge services when he's not mud bogging on the weekends with the Costa Rica Land Rover Club.
Stephanie Gomez - Translator, Driver & Concierge Assistant
An animal lover, Steph has been working at a veterinary clinic since 2002. Since 2012, she also assists our players with their orientations to Costa Rica upon arrival, providing valuable translation services and sharing her knowledge about the country.
Anke Hertz - Translator, Driver & Costa Rica Liaison
Anke assists our players in Costa Rica’s northwest Guanacaste province. She currently lives a very ‘pura vida’ lifestyle, residing in beautiful Playa Tamarindo with her son. Anke is a valuable member of our Costa Rica team and agrees with Kristin that coconuts are the world’s most perfect food.
Mark-Daniel Hughes – Canada Poker Liaison
Mark-Daniel, known as MD in the poker community in Vancouver, has been involved in poker for over six years. At 19, he began grinding live cash games and online tournaments full time. In August of 2011 he decided to retire from playing full-time and has since turned his focus to other aspects of the game. He has written articles for poker magazines, reported on live tournaments and has been the personal assistant to several of Vancouver's elite poker players. More recently, he has worked as a consultant for tournament design and poker event planning. He played a major role in designing the events and structures for the West Coast Poker Championship poker series held at the Edgewater Casino in downtown Vancouver each fall. Last fall he also acted as the poker host for Edgewater, where he helped organize weekly higher stakes games and assisted in growing their poker room's social media and marketing. We're lucky to have him as a resource for all our players relocating to Vancouver and for advice on living in Canada in general.
Jennifer Bennett - Toronto Poker Liaison
Julia Martinez - Manager, DR Relocations
Julia loves to travel; she has lived in Austria, Spain, Netherlands and of course Dominican Republic (DR). Currently and next her boyfriend, she lives between Las Terrenas and Amsterdam. She speaks English, Spanish, Dutch and German and helps our players relocating to both Amsterdam and the Caribbean. She’s a self-made entrepreneur who runs multiple businesses and once interned at Heineken Headquarters in Amsterdam. She loves the relaxed yet international vibe of her current homes in the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands.
Keith Pearson - Ecuador Poker Liaison
Hailing from New Jersey, Keith graduated with a Master's Degree in International Trade at the University of Arizona and studied abroad on a Spanish language exchange before honing his online poker skills in recent years. After Black Friday, he moved to South America and now calls Ecuador home, helping other poker players feel just as welcome. He plays cash games, coaches on the side and is also involved in other tourism and teaching activities. He's been to Ecuador 12 times since college, claiming that Guayaquil City is "an awesome place with a great vibe, really friendly outgoing people, great nightlife, and has become modernized over the past few years. We are only 1 hour to the nearest beach, and 1.5 hours to Salinas, which is one of the nicer beach resort areas in South America. It is extremely cheap and having the best of both worlds really does make a difference."
So if you are searching for a new place to play and especially if you are on a budget, we highly recommend Guayaquil as a destination. The combination of cheapness, friendliness, great food, city/beach contrast and beautiful women makes it a great option to grind and experience a new culture while outside your home country.
Etienne Licari - Malta Rental Agent & Liaison
Etienne and his colleagues were the first to organize a local poker event that was broadcast internationally in 16 countries. Partly due to this exposure, Malta is now a regular destination for live poker circuits and special events. He now helps Poker Refugees players adjust to life in Malta and find some good live games. He also assists our clients with the rental process and is an agent at Dhalia Lettings, the company with the largest database of rental properties in the Maltese Islands.
Gus Voelzel - Playa del Carmen Liaison & Translator
One of the first poker residents to arrive to Playa del Carmen after Black Friday, Gus still calls the Mexican Riviera his home. Originally from Texas, he is fully fluent in both English and Spanish. An avid poker player (and licensed attorney!), you can find him at the cash tables on PokerStars and occasionally on podcasts such as Pokernews’ Strategy with Kristy. Always smiling, Gus is one of our favorite people in the world and we are happy that he shares his extensive knowledge about poker, life and Playa del Carmen with our players.
Julian Orozco - Mexico Poker Liaison
A local hailing from Mexico City, Julian has lived in Australia, New Zealand and Europe from 1997 through 2008. Since 2009 he has lived in Cabo, Baja California Sur, working with his own business developing upscale services for foreign tourists in the area. Julian helps Poker Refugees players with concierge services, legal advice, rental properties and tax strategies.