- The Japan Open Poker Tour recently broke attendance records for a live series.
- Poker prize pools are not legal in Japan, so the contestants play for contracts.
- These contracts have some monetary value, but also allow winners to play in events around the world.
LAS VEGAS - The Japan Open Poker Tour recently finished its most successful outing of all time.
Almost 6,000 players signed up for the recent Japan Open Poker Tour live series, with the total number of entries across all events reaching 5,989.
To some degree, this makes sense - not only are poker players excited to return to in-person play, the recent live series was a combination of two events that were delayed due to COVID-19.
This meant that there were a total of 33 events for poker players to compete in - two main events and 31 side events.
However, poker in Japan is in a precarious spot, legally speaking. It is not legal to offer real money prizes for poker winners in Japan.
This means that the players are playing for contracts offered by the Japan Open Poker Tour, which allow them to receive money, as well as enter in events like the World Series of Poker.
Thus, the actual monetary value of the victories taking place here seems to be quite low, considering the volume of players involved.
Japan Open Poker Tour Winners
The first main event was the Series 19: Grand Final, which was won by Yuta Aikawa, who captured a contract worth more than $20,000.
Aikawa took down a field with 396 total entries in it in order to claim this contract.
The second main event was the Series 20: Main Event, and it was won by Toshiya Ishikawa, whose contract was worth more than $30,000.
The Series 20: Main Event had a field of more than 500 players, but it wasn’t actually the largest event of the series.
That honor goes to the No Limit Hold ‘Em Megastack, which took place on May 5, 2021, and was won by Keisuke Kimura.
It seems as though poker in Japan, despite the hurdles it has to cross due to gambling laws, is booming as the pandemic seems to draw to a close.