WPT Japan breaks Asia-Pacific attendance records

Poker writer Geoff Fisk profile photo
Geoff Fisk
Posted on: August 29, 2020 11:56 PDT

World Poker Tour's Tokyo stop marks first WPT live event since March

The World Poker Tour ran its first live tournament series in five months, and players in Japan responded in record numbers.

WPT Japan marked the return to live poker for the World Poker Tour, with the weeklong series running at Hotel Gajoen and Sammy Corporation in Tokyo. The series centerpiece ran as an invite-only Main Event, which produced 726 entries to set a WPT record for the Asia-Pacific region.

The WPT Japan Main Event awarded $35,000 in WPT Passports, including a $13,000 passport to the winner. That grand prize was earned by Charlie Ryuta, who can now use the passport at any WPT global event.

COVID-19 has caused the live tournament poker economy to grind to a screeching halt around most of the world. The return of the WPT for the Japan-based event marks an encouraging sign for the poker community.

Record-breaking Main Event draws 726 entries

The WPT Japan series included three tournaments across a seven-day schedule. The Main Event took center stage, with 726 entries vying for a $13,000 WPT Passport that allows entry into any WPT global events with a buy-in of $13,000 or less.

The series took place at a pair of venues, with Tokyo's Hotel Gajoen and Sammy Corporation headquarters hosting the action. The final table was streamed on Twitch by the Japan Poker Union media team, as live poker made an exciting return to Japan.

WPT Japan extended entry into the Main Event on an invite-only basis, and that format led to 726 entries, a record-setting turnout for a WPT event in the Asia-Pacific region.

"WPT is thrilled to set a new record with our exceptional partners in Japan and continue the growth of poker in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Angelica Hael, VP of Global Tour Management for the World Poker Tour in a press release. "Thank you Hotel Gajoen Tokyo and Sammy Corporation for creating a vibrant and safe playing environment for this record-breaking event."

Sponsors for the tournament series included the Sammy Corporation, a Tokyo-based global gaming technology company. In the WPT press release, the company expressed hopes for a future boom for poker in Japan.

"Sammy Inc. has been supporting further excitement of the Texas Hold’em industry in Japan," the company said. "We are honored and proud to be the sponsor of WPT Japan this year."

"We believe that the attraction of this game will appeal to mind sports and game lovers in Japan! The Japanese poker scene is on the way to booming, and through WPT, we hope that this game will spread across the country and become a part of the national culture in the future!"