The acceptance, regulation and legitimisation of poker has been occurring throughout some Asian nations in recent years, while debate on the game has hotted up in others.
Generally, however, there has been a trend towards poker being rightfully viewed as more than just ‘gambling’. This has been seen by the growing number of large scale poker event being held in countries like the Philippines, Macau and South Korea, as well as recent political statements in Japan and Taiwan for poker and gaming in general.
But could you really ever imagine the possibility of a WPT Tokyo or an APPT Taipei? How about a WSOP Orient? (Which I named only because WSOP Asia is remarkably similar to the already existing WSOP Asia Pacific).
There is no point embellishing the potential of such events going forward. The facts are that most of these events, or any similar sort of poker events will occur anytime soon, at least not until fruitful action occurs in countries like Taiwan and Japan.
Still though, the potential for such action to occur in the near future is certainly possible, which would increase the attraction of the region to major poker promoters who may wish to host poker events there.
East Asia has a lot of upsides that could allow for it to play host to some of the highest profile poker events. Firstly, there’s the sheer amount of people who live in the region. South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have a combined population of over 200 million, and they are just three countries out of many.
The Philippines, another nation in the region, has just below 95 million inhabitants, while most other Southeast Asian nations also have populations in the tens of millions. Of course, one cannot forget China, which boasts a massive population of 1.34 billion people.
While there are major political differences between China and counties like Japan and Taiwan that are often the source of deep seated conflict, China’s huge population still cannot be overlooked when talking about poker.
Another upside is that a number of the larger countries in the region are quite developed, which could lead to a growth in the appeal of poker in those countries. Japan has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) power capita of over $45,900 while the per capita GDP of Taiwan is a little less than $32,000.
That shows that it would be unlikely for money to be a barrier for some, but certainly not all, people from those areas who wish to take up the game professionally.
A number of professional players from East Asia have also taken the lead and have done well in many high level poker events around the world. Japanese pro Naoya Kihara is one such player, being the first ever Japanese winner of a Gold Bracelet in the World Series of Poker.
Yoshitaka Okawa is another player from Japan who has hit the big time in poker, taking out the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event back in January. Taiwanese player Terry Fan won the most recent Red Dragon Main Event back in April, helping to show that the small island country also has the ability to produce high calibre poker pros.
East Asia also has the major potential to be a magnet for top poker events as it is easily accessible from most parts of the world. Cities like Taipei, Tokyo and Seoul have direct flights to cities in Europe, North America, Australia and other parts of Asia. The straightforwardness of getting to those cities would likely make any major poker events there more appealing to professional poker players.
As previously stated in this article, it is unlikely that we will see any huge poker events in places like Japan and Taiwan anytime soon. The tide may be changing there with regards to poker, however, which could bring such events to the region in the long-term future.
That be a huge benefit to poker in the region and in general, as the area is a potential gold mine for the game to flourish at the top level.