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Popular Poker Games in Japan – What Can You Play?

poker games in japan

4 minutes

Posted by: Ivan

Tokyo's neon lights are impressive, and while you can find various ads in that place, you will not see a single casino, let alone a classic poker room.

The only way to play live poker in Japan is if you know someone who knows someone.

Equally surprising is the fact that the Japanese people spend $400 billion a year on the pachinko game, which is widely loved in this country.

While online poker is also technically not regulated, you can find some online games and casinos accessible in Japan. So if you have an urge to play poker while staying in Japan, you might get lucky and find a place for that.

Public Games In Japan

Pachinko game Japan

Japan has restrictive gambling laws that prohibit playing games for money rewards, and betting is allowed only for public games.  These are horse racing, boat racing, bicycle racing, and motorbike racing.

Pachinko is also highly popular, and the lottery is allowed for charity and non-profit ventures.

Playing poker in Japan is not expressly illegal, but playing for money is prohibited while families and friends can play in private.

That being said, there are discreet poker bars for those you know where to find them.

Also, Japanese poker players play online in unregulated casinos where they can play unrestricted.  The Japan Poker Association is very vibrant and actively involved in big poker tournaments, the Japan Open Poker Tour, and the All Japan Poker Championship, to name a few.

Poker Variations

japan poker games

Online casinos in japan offer all the popular poker variations, so you can find actual poker games and casino poker options alike.

Texas Holdem 

This poker game is by far the most popular in Japan. It is played in the Japan Open Poker Tour and the All Japan Poker Championship.

The players receive two hole cards and five community cards.  The strongest five-card hand wins.

3-Card Poker 

In this poker game, the player must beat the dealer’s hand with a combination of three cards.

It is a fast and fun game with huge bonuses in online casinos.

A beginner’s guide to 3-card poker can be found at

7-Card Stud 

Variation of the 7-card stud is another popular poker game. The player receives three cards; two hidden and one face up.

The dealer issues three other cards and then a final card that is face down. The best hand of 5 cards wins the game.

Pot-Limit  Omaha 

This game is much like Texas Holdem, but instead of two hole cards, the player gets four.

Then community cards are dealt in the middle, with the first three cards on the flop and one more on both turn and river.

The strongest five-card hand wins at the end, but this game often has a pot-size limit, which means you will not be able to bet more than there is already in the pot.

5-Card Hand 

This poker game is simple and quick.  Each player gets an initial five cards face down, which is followed by a round of betting.

After this, the player can replace his cards with new ones from the deck.  There is a final round of betting, after which the strongest hand, according to poker hand rankings, wins the game.

Pai Gow poker 

The player receives seven cards, which he splits into two hands of five cards and two cards.

The two hands must beat the dealer’s two hands to win.

High/Low Chicago 

This poker game is much like a 7-Card stud.  But the strongest hand wins only half of the pot. The other half goes to the player with the highest or lowest spade card.

A high game requires the highest spade card, and a Low game the lowest spade card.

Online Poker Games 

online games japan

All Japanese poker players can access poker games they prefer in casinos that accept their IP addresses. These online casinos allow Japanese players to play safely and keep their cash winnings.

Crypto casinos are also making it easier for Japanese players to join the action and play some hands.

On top of that, players can also use VPNs to access a wider variety of casinos without any restrictions.

Live Poker Tournaments 

The All Japan Poker Championship is the biggest poker tournament in Japan, which also tours South Korea and Taiwan.

The winner gets a seat in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event, and Japanese player Naoya Kihara managed to win the 2012 event.

Change of Poker Laws in Japan 

The Japanese parliament passed laws in 2015 to make gambling more accessible.  However, gambling will only be allowed in  Integrated Resorts (IR).

The regulations also guide gambling games to ensure maximum fairness to all players.

The government also formed the Casino Administration Committee to regulate gambling games and casinos. For the moment, operators with plans to open up land casinos have put their plans on hold.

Poker will likely continue growing in popularity in Japan with the help of easier gambling laws.

At the moment, Japanese players can enjoy poker games in online casinos.  The new laws will only make it easier to enjoy their favorite poker games when land-based casinos launch their operations.

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