I have visited Vietnam at least 30 times now and can speak a tiny bit of the language so I consider myself part Vietnamese lol. The poker fever hit Hanoi before any other cities so the games there are more prevalent, the field tougher as well. Unfortunately I did not play there and among all the cities I’ve visited in Vietnam, Hanoi is my least favourite.
Saigon also known as Ho Chi Minh City with a population of about 9 million, is the biggest city of Vietnam. It is also a city of motorbikes (scooters) zooming about in all directions, even if it is the wrong one. It gives new meaning to hustle and bustle and there is a lack of respect for traffic laws. Green means go, red means go at your own risk. I was laughed at for putting on my seatbelt and sidewalks are for pedestrians and bikes. I still haven’t gotten used to it yet and I really hope Vietnam can improve on this because it is not only dangerous but it reflects poorly on your country. Cutting queues, peeing on the street, eating with mouths open…. can’t really blame them because the country only came out of war 44 years ago. But it’s about time the people are educated and brought up correctly.
Back to poker. The tournament poker scene has exploded in Vietnam. Credit to APT for kicking it off with a 2 billion VND (USD 85k) guarantee, followed by APL 6 billion, and WPT up the ante to 8 billion (USD 342k) all within the same year. There are local tournaments running literally every day. There are also decent value in the NPC (National Poker Championships) where the field is 99% local and much softer than the international fields. There are some solid local players and a few pros who have done really well in the international scene but generally I would say poker is still very young in Vietnam so there is still lots of room to grow. Buy ins are quite low by comparison and really fun. I experienced the funnest bubble time antics as the whole room cheered when the big stack busted bubble boy’s Kings with 24 spades.
Another place I played poker at was at Da Nang city where the National Poker Championships are held. Da Nang is a nice beach town with lots of great seafood and nice sandy beaches. Food and accommodation are pretty good and very affordable. For a decent 3 star hotel expect to pay less than USD 20 per night.