Is Japanese rock star GACKT the new ambassador of poker in Japan?

Poker is one of those special games that tends to attract people from all walks of life. Without exception, many well-known celebrities from a wide variety of professions have been seen taking on the felt albeit a famous athlete, actor, gamer, magician, comedian, TV host, you name it. And many of them not only steal the spotlight by their mere participation and performance but also from subsequently endorsing the game.

Early this year, Twitch was flooded with fans streaming famous Japanese rock star GACKT as he rocked a different stage – the poker stage.


As an avid poker enthusiast, GACKT was one of the Final 8 contenders of the APT Kickoff 2017 Main Event in Manila, Philippines and eventually finished an impressive 7th place. This was his first-ever cash in a major international poker tournament. Two months later, he was once again at the final table, placing 5th at the APT Daegu 2017 Main Event in Daegu, Korea.

Yet despite those achievements, it was kept fairly discreet with headlines focusing more on the event than on his participation (though same can’t be said of social media with thousands of fans and followers gripped on his every move). In April, staying low key began to slowly slip away. GACKT attracted attention from several media outlets after he led Team Japan to a runner-up finish at the APL Reloaded Team Event in Beijing, China.

More: APL Team Event: Captain GACKT leads Japanese Team to a runner-up finish

Trip to the US a turning point?

With three scores in Asia to fuel his poker high, GACKT sought bigger heights. He joined the flock for the biggest summer events at the world’s gambling mecca of Las Vegas, Nevada. Impressively, he finished 4th at one of the US$25,000 High Roller tournaments at Aria Resort & Casino for a US$75,600 payout. Days after, he cashed at the 48th Annual World Series of Poker for his 133rd finish at the The Little One for One Drop US$1,111 No Limit Hold’em event.

While his participation in those events didn’t spark much media buzz, his recent attendance at the WPT Legends of Poker at The Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens, California put him directly under the poker paparazzi eye.


Referred to as the “Michael Jackson of Japan”, GACKT told that he is hoping to use his platform to change the perception of poker in Japan and that he plans on being heavily involved in spreading the word about poker back home in Asia.

GACKT to attend WPT Japan?

Like many celebrities, GACKT has been seduced by the game and seems more willing to be in the spotlight as an ambassador of the sport in Japan. Sharing his WPT experience with,

“In the WPT, I feel some class, for sure,” GACKT said. “Not only talking about poker, but the mood, the environment. There’s a different feeling in the air. There’s definitely some tough players. I’ve met some people at the WPT, and I was impressed. They’re so nice and they’re not only thinking about poker, but also thinking about the business side of the game, so I decided to join the WPT. Hopefully I want to stay long and make the final table, of course!”

With the inaugural WPT Japan making landfall in November, it is very likely that GACKT will be attending this historical event.

“I love playing in the WPT, so when they come to Asia, I definitely want to join again. I want to tell a lot of Japanese people to join the WPT. This is so fun.”

Article by Triccia David

More: World Poker Tour announces WPT Japan

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Tricia David

Tricia David has long experience as a recreational poker player and has been covering poker events since 2010 for numerous outfits in Asia. She spent one year working part time with Poker Portal Asia then became editor and lead writer for all event coverage of the Philippine Poker Tour (PPT). Under the PPT, she overlooked content for their website, and produced live updates on all their events. In addition, she served as the live and online events website content writer for the Asian Poker Tour. Currently, she does live events reporting in Asia for online news site Somuchpoker and is also one of their news contributors.

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