Top online poker sites for Japanese players
Despite Japan’s quite cold relations with poker, it keeps offshore online poker sites open to local grinders. Feel free to explore some of the top platforms in 2022 with soft tables and decent promotions.
|Rank||Poker Site||Deposit Bonus|
|1||Natural8||up to $1000|
|2||GGpoker||up to $600|
|3||WPT Global||up to $1200|
|4||Pokerking||up to $2000|
How to choose an online poker site in Japan?
On one hand, having a wide array of poker sites allowed in Japan is always a plus, but on the other, choosing one among them is a tricky task. Make sure to start by checking the operator’s background and some information about licensing and its encryption protocols.
Next, is game diversity. No matter how many tables the poker room has, if all of them offer Texas Hold’em, you’ll get bored of the same gameplay sooner or later. Speaking of gameplay, the platform you play on should be user-friendly, preferably with a mobile app.
It’s also a good idea to browse through the poker room’s bonus policy. Some sites offer fixed rakeback while others have unique programs like the Fish Buffet system at GGPoker that boosts your rakeback as you play.
Online poker in Japan
Due to restrictions on live poker in Japan, most players don’t have any other option rather than going online. But things are tricky there. While the country doesn’t anything against our game itself, it prohibits gambling, meaning that you can take part in or even organize tournaments but without money prizes. At the same time, giants like PokerStars sponsor regular tourneys such as the Japan Open Poker Tour, swapping cash prizes for other material benefits like covering travel and accommodation expenses during offshore tournaments.
At the same time, you won’t find a site officially licensed by the Japanese government, as it hasn’t yet introduced the procedure of licensing offshore or domestic operators.
Japan legal poker background
Gambling, in general, is prohibited in the country under Article 185 of the Japanese Penal Code, except for betting on several types of sports, lottery, and pachinko. The Act passed on 27 July 2018 allows private entities to obtain licenses for opening land-based venues.
As for online poker, there’s no legislation that allows any cardroom operator, domestic or offshore, to obtain a gambling license and provide services legally within the country. This means that there are no legal platforms in Japan. Luckily, the Japanese online poker regulation doesn’t have a strict policy towards international poker websites, allowing them to operate openly, making Japan a potentially lucrative market.
To put it simply, most forms of gambling are prohibited from the law perspective. But from the player’s one, there are no restrictions for accessing offshore poker sites that work in Japan as long as these platforms don’t have local servers or otherwise have any connection to the country.
Available deposit and withdrawal methods
Since all platforms for playing poker online for real money in Japan are international, they come with a great variety of banking options. Regardless of the platform you register on, you’ll most likely find the following payment methods for both deposits and withdrawals:
- E-payment systems: Apple Pay, Google Pay, LinePay;
- Pre-paid cards: Astropay, PaySafeCard;
- E-wallets: ecoPayz, Skrill, Neteller;
- Debit/Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Maestro (may not be an option since online gambling is technically illegal in Japan);
- Bank Transfer.
Apart from that, some rooms have adopted cryptocurrencies, so you may also have the option to pay and cash out in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Tether, Ripple, and other cryptos.
Currency-wise, it will be a problem to find a platform that accepts JPY. But you’re free to choose the most popular options like USD or EUR, and your deposits in JPY will be automatically converted.
From the legal point of view, there is a tax on winnings in Japan, which is based on income tax rates - 5% on taxable income below ¥1,950,000, 10% on amounts between ¥1,950,000 and ¥3,300,000, and up to 45% on amounts reaching ¥40,000,000 and more. However, since international poker sites operate in the grey area of the law, players don’t need to pay any taxes on winnings.
Best Japanese poker players
Considering the population of Japan, the total amount amassed by local players in tournaments is rather humble - $59.7M, putting the country in 34th place according to the Hendon Mob. The list of the top earners is dominated by three players:
- Tsugunari Toma ($2.2M, Macau Poker Cup Championship, Asia Pacific Poker Tour, and multiple EPT Prague and EPT Malta champion);
- Kazuhiko Yotsushika ($1.7M, Asia Championship of Poker, EPT Barcelona, and multiple Japan High Roller Festival, All Japan Poker Championship, and Rio Daily Deepstacks 2018 champion);
- Takashi Ogura ($1.6M, Asian Poker Tour, Asia Pacific Poker Tour, and Asia Open Poker Tour champion).
The online scene sees less action, with the overall amount won by grinders reaching $13.4M. The most productive online poker players are “HKPanda” ($5M), “Lestatdiego” ($484K), and “aces_up4108” ($4.5M).
Just like any other form of gambling, online poker can cause addiction. If you or a person you know begins developing signs of problem, don’t hesitate to visit gamblingtherapy.org.
As you can see, the situation with poker in Japan is as peculiar as the country itself. Japanese poker laws prohibit both live and online as a gambling activity with the exception of land-based venues. At the same time, local grinders have no problems with accessing offshore platforms like PokerStars, GGPoker, 888 Poker, and others with little-to-no resistance from the authorities.
Now let’s answer some of the most commonly asked questions about Japan online poker:
✅ Can I play online poker in Japan?
Yes, playing online poker in Japan is legal. In short, local laws don’t prohibit it as long as you play on an offshore platform, preferably with an international license.
✅ What is the best online poker room for Japanese players?
Opting for the best platform, there are plenty of factors to consider, such as safety, game diversity, promotional programs, and more. So we took some time to make the job easier for you and put together a list of the most reliable sites available in Japan.
✅ Can I play at PokerStars in Japan?
Yes. You’re free to create an account and play for real money.
✅ Is GGPoker available for players from Japan?
Yes, you can access GGPoker from Japan. Moreover, the country even has its own poker team.
✅ Is gambling in Japan legal?
Most forms are prohibited in the country, but the ban doesn’t concern international online platforms. And though the legal age for gambling in Japan is 20, players aged 18 can play online on offshore websites.
✅ Is online poker popular in Japan?
Poker sees little popularity in the country because of rather strict laws surrounding it. However, Japan Poker Association actively promotes the game, so it’s not rare to see Japanese players participate in tournaments worldwide.
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