The land of the rising sun will soon experience its first major poker event with the World Poker Tour (WPT) and the Japan Poker Union Corporation (JPUC) teaming up for a special event branded WPT Japan. The official announcement was just released and it will be the first ever WPT poker festival held in the country. The event will take place in Tokyo, the country’s famous capital, from November 23-26, 2017.
“The Japan Poker Union Corporation is very pleased to partner with the World Poker Tour on this brand new event, WPT Japan,” said Yabuuchi Nobuhiro, Japan Poker Union Corporation representative. “The World Poker Tour is the perfect brand to help launch a new chapter for poker in our country, and we look forward to hosting players from all over at WPT Japan and showcasing all that this great region has to offer.”
“WPT’s expansion to Japan marks an important milestone in both the history of the World Poker Tour and our industry,” said Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour. “The World Poker Tour was the first to hold a major live poker tournament in China, a country in which we have held six consecutive years of sold-outs events, and we are honored to be the first to do so in Japan. The flourishing Japanese poker market deserves to be showcased on a global stage, and it is World Poker Tour’s pioneering success in the Asian region that uniquely positions the WPT to elevate the game of poker to new heights in Japan.”
During the festivities, players can expect four events which players may qualify to via satellites offered at various local poker clubs. Full details have yet to be disclosed by the WPT.
With cash prizes considered “forbidden” in the country, WPT Japan winners will receive exclusive packages applicable to future WPT events. According to the announcement, “The WPT Japan Main Event winner will receive a package to both the Season XVII WPT Main Tour event in Beijing, plus another WPT event of their choice in the Asia-Pacific region.” At the moment, WPT has made their mark in China with India coming up later this year.
One additional incentive at the table is the infamous status symbol Player of the Year award. All the WPT Japan events are point-generating and will apply towards the Season XVI WPT Asia-Pacific Player of the Year race. Currently there are three WPT events where players can accrue points. The first one was in April at WPT Beijing, and the next two are upcoming, WPT India and WPT Japan both held in November.
The WPT Asia-Pacific POY winner will receive a package worth US$15,000, the runner-up will receive a US$3,500 buy-in to Season XVII WPT Beijing Main Event, and third place will receive one WPTDeepStacks Main Event buy-in and one WPT500 buy-in for WPT events in the Asia-Pacific region.
WPT’s growing ambition in Asia
Ever since the World Poker Tour fell into the hands of Ourgame, a Hong Kong listed corporation, it certainly has been full speed ahead with the Asian continent as the key target market.
This year alone saw the first WPT event in Beijing, the capital city of China. And everyone knows, China is considerably one of the toughest markets to penetrate in Asia. The event was sold out, capped at 400 entries with Pete Chen becoming the first player to ever win a major poker event in that city. This event was in addition to the already established WPT Sanya traditionally held once a year.
A few months ago, WPT announced another new frontier for the brand with the first-ever WPT event to be held in India. This upcoming festival is on the way, scheduled from November 7-13, 2017 at the floating Deltin Royale Casino in Goa, India.
With these countries tapped, China and India, WPT has positioned the brand in two of the most promising poker markets in Asia.
Japan: A logical step
Now WPT enters the Japanese market which is quite an interesting arena. The country has enforced its own set of limitations when it comes to what they deem as gambling. The most hindering regulation would be the prohibition of prize money to players as rewards. Yet despite the law, several poker clubs – already operating in the country – have found ways to compensate. Players are offered seats to other big poker festivals overseas as prizes.
One well recognized brand in Japan is the Asian Poker Tour. The brand has established a strong relationship with the Japanese poker community which in turn has seen a large number of Japanese players attend their events. The APT Corp Japan – an independent entity from the Asian Poker Tour – also organizes several events per year in the country under the APT brand.
Before the end of the year, WPT will be the newest player in the Japanese market joining these already established brands. With a working rewards system in place, WPT will be opening new doors to other types of tournaments and events that players in Japan can have access to outside of the country.
Article by Triccia David