All Japan Poker Championship Tour Following Trends to China, with Stops Planned for Macau and Taiwan

January 29th, 2018 | by Brian Corlisse

While it won’t be the first time that the All Japan Poker Championship (AJPC) has ventured outside of the Land of the Rising Sun, it will be the tour’s biggest geographic leap yet. The fledgling organization revealed its lofty ambitions on Monday by declaring plans to hold tournaments in Taiwan and Macau, the epicenter of the Asian poker boom.

APJC poker tour Macau and Taiwan

The energized poker markets of Macau (seen here) and Taiwan are what have pushed the APJC to announce new tournament events coming to the Asian hotspots. (Image: robvegaspoker.blogspot.com)

For years, the Chinese gambling mecca has been home to the biggest poker whales from Asia to the Americas, and this expansion into Macau will put the AJPC alongside other major tournaments, such as the Macau Poker Cup and APPT Macau, while also grabbing a piece of the developing poker scene in Taiwan.

Expanding Horizons

The tour was aptly named when the Osaka-based outfit was content with holding a number of events within Japan alone, including the largest one in the country, their flagship championship event. Late last year, however, the APJC expanded its borders, drawing more than 300 players to the Paradise City Casino in Incheon, South Korea for the main event in December, where the winner bagged ₩36,217,000 (USD $33,682).

And with that move, the tour was less and less hesitant to try events beyond its own shores.

In Asia, the poker venues don’t come any fatter and flashier than Macau. Often called the “Vegas of China”, the city not only hosts huge poker tournaments, but is also home to some of the biggest cash games in the world. There will be no shortage of players stepping up when the AJPC hits town for the first time.

Taiwan doesn’t have the same high-roller reputation, of course, but the island is one of the most densely populated regions in the world, making it a prime mark for poker expansion.

The scene there is a growing one, thanks in part to the popularity of PokerStars Team Asia Pro Raymond Wu, who won the Macau Poker Cup in 2010. Gambling inhabits a grey legal area in Taiwan, but online play is allowed by the government, and PokerStars has held tournaments there in the past. Dates have yet to be announced for either of the AJPC’s Taiwan or Macau events.

So Close and Yet So Far

The AJPC has found success despite a still-challenging gambling framework in the country. Casinos aren’t yet legal in Japan, and although legislators are making moves towards changing that, the process recently suffered a setback.

It was widely expected that lawmakers would finally pass the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill (IRIB) in late 2016, paving the way for casino resorts and legalized gambling. Instead, the government moved to add more new legislation, including a bill intended to address anti-addiction measures.

Last week brought more positive developments, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened parliament by indicating that his government intended to submit the bills in the early part of the year, meaning they could be put to lawmakers by as early as April.

There is still a long road ahead, and while it may be months before Japan is moving towards an actual casino industry, it seems the government is intent on making it happen, as Sheldon Adelson likes to say, “whatever it takes.”

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