Anyone who thinks that their country has some harsh gambling laws should hop on a plane and head to Japan. The Japanese government’s stance on betting is almost zero tolerance as the activity is banned by chapter 23 of their criminal code. The only form of gambling allowed is through a couple government-controlled exceptions in lotteries and certain public races.
So all of this brings a very good question to mind – How in the world is a big poker tournament like the All Japan Poker Championship (AJPC) taking place in Tokyo right now? After all, poker tourneys where money is exchanged definitely falls under the Japanese criminal code and there are no exceptions.
Luckily for poker enthusiasts in the nation of Japan, a consulting firm by the name of Global Mix was able to find an answer to this question last year when they staged the first AJPC.
It all began when the firm was looking for a way to bring poker to the Land of the Rising Sun and promote it in a positive light. So they came up with the idea of the All Japan Poker Championship which wouldn’t make participants pay an entry fee thus bypassing any legal complications. But while this may have sounded good on paper it was a little tougher to execute than imagined.
Making things more difficult was the fact that using the traditional casino setting as a venue for the tourney was out of the question as casinos are not even allowed to operate in Japan. This is where the SEGA Sammy group stepped in to not only fill the need for a big sponsor, but also to offer a site for the tournament in the SEGA Inc. head office building.
All of this led to the success that was last year’s AJPC and laid the foundation for the 2008 All Japan Poker Championship which kicked off this week. And it has been such a success that there are multiple tournaments on the schedule in this year’s AJPC with the Ladies’ Tournament and the Senior Tournament.
But the biggest tourney in the AJPC by far will be the Main Event which takes place on May 18th. Players must win a preliminary event held in Osaka or Tokyo to get into this tournament. The prize for the winner of the AJPC Main Event will be a $10,000 buy-in to the WSOP Main Event along with airfare and accommodation.
Last year Kunihiro Sakamoto took the top prize and competed in the WSOP after beating out a field that included over 2,000 players. It will be interesting to see who is declared the winner after the Main Event this year. But regardless of who the winner of the tournament is, the world poker community is already a winner as it appears to slowly be gaining the acceptance of the Japanese.