Time spent as a poker player in Phnom Penh would not be complete without a visit to the Red Fox. The Fox is an iconic spot in Phnom Penh, not only as a guesthouse and bar, but perhaps as home to the craziest little poker game you'll ever encounter. The Red Fox hosts three no limit hold'em tournaments every week, a small $20 rebuy event that most in town are able to enjoy. And while that is great fun, the real craziness starts after when they spread a dealer's choice $0.25-$0.25 game with just about every game imaginable in the rotation. I have personally played everything there from 8 card short handed omaha, 6 card badugi, super stud and follow the queen. These games are legendary as most players familiar with the region have all heard the stories about players winning and losing thousands of dollars in what is supposedly a $0.25 game.
As I previously mentioned, the Fox spreads three tournaments every week at 7:00 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. They are small $20 affairs, but the pot can get really big as players often play for prize pools north of $1,000. There really is no rake in the tourneys nor the cash games as they just ask that players order food and drinks from the bar. The Red Fox has garnered a lot of good will this way through the years with such practices and it is often said that the first organized poker game in Phnom Penh was played in this very bar. The staff at the bar double as dealers for the game and they are some of the funniest characters you will meet in the city. They have even developed their own catchphrases with their unique way of speaking English that players throughout town are well familiar with. If you play in the Red Fox just a few times it is easy to fall in love with the bar and those that work in it.
The most epic nights of course occur in the cash game where players can buy in from $20 to really whatever they want. There have been those who have taken advantage of the non-cap and have created some of the memorable games in the city's history. They really will play anything as the game is dealer's choice. Personally I usually pick Razz or 6 card badugi but there have been some exotic games chosen that you really will not find anywhere else. I don't want to say that the players are bad, it's just that no one cares. The game is meant to be fun and not a vehicle for which bankrolls are won and lost. The games can last a long time as just a few months ago there was one cash game that ran for 24 hours. And there is always someone to play as the bar doubles as a guesthouse and players stay there all the time. The owner plays in the game himself and will often cut good deals on the rooms for players who drink, eat and play there.
The Red Fox was one of the first places I played poker in Cambodia and has provided some of the fondest memories I have of Cambodia. They are still going strong so if you are in Phnom Penh and still haven't experienced the Fox, get out from under your rock and drop by for a fun game.
Life in the Third World
Just a collection of random and not so random thoughts from my daily life here in Cambodia.