Poker in Asia – How Popular Is it Really?

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Asia, the world’s largest and most populous continent, is known for its rich history and diverse culture. But aside from oriental dishes, martial arts, and impressive architecture, there’s another facet worth exploring – the fascinating world of poker in Asia. The popularity of this card game varies from country to country, but one thing is for certain: poker is gaining traction and setting the Asian gamblers’ hearts aflutter.


China – a powerhouse in many areas, but what about poker? While you won’t find poker as widespread as their native games like Mahjong, there is an undeniable interest in this western card game. Mainland China is a patchy terrain when it comes to poker, with most activities happening underground due to stringent gambling policies. 

Despite poker’s limited exposure in mainland China, its presence cannot be entirely ignored. Poker exists, albeit covertly, in private gatherings and exclusive clubs where enthusiasts surreptitiously shuffle, deal, and bluff their way to poker glory. In the shadow of great walls, Chinese poker lovers are working out flushes, full houses, and royal straights. 


Meanwhile, the Special Administrative Region of Macau, often known as the ‘Vegas of Asia,’ offers a stark contrast to its mainland counterpart. The city’s glitzy casinos are not only home to Baccarat but also to Texas Holdem Poker, with both local and international players cashing in big on the poker tables.


The land of the rising sun is venturing into the world of poker. Japan has a robust gambling tradition revolving around games like Pachinko, but poker is beginning to share the limelight. Numerous underground tournaments fly under the radar, signaling a budding poker subculture.

The Impact of Japanese Legislation

Yet, the road to poker stardom in Japan is laden with legislative speed bumps. While most forms of gambling are technically forbidden, the government has started granting exceptions, paving the way for legalized poker games and tournaments.

Despite legal restrictions, Japan savors the essence of poker through professional poker tournaments like the Japan Open Poker Tour. These events add to the poker enthusiasm, giving wings to the game amidst the legal restrictions.


The Thai poker scenario is a hidden gem, waiting to shine. Despite the nationwide ban on gambling, poker enjoys a secret life amongst both Thais and expats with VPNs guarding their online poker arenas.

Thai Laws and Online Poker

As for online poker, while not explicitly mentioned in Thai law, it falls under the general umbrella of gambling and is thus technically illegal. However, that does not deter a very real and active community of poker lovers from engaging in their beloved game.

The allure of poker is not lost on the expat community living in Thailand. Numerous underground poker games occur within expat communities, increasing poker’s footprint in this southeast Asian nation.

Indonesia: A Dark Horse 

Contrary to expectations, Indonesia, being a predominantly Muslim country with strict laws, embraces poker in secretive circles. Despite facing scrutiny, online poker platforms serving Indonesian players are growing, thanks to the country’s ‘folding’ interest in card games.

The Legality of Poker and Its Implications

Indonesia’s strict anti-gambling laws definitely pose a challenge for poker’s widespread acceptance, yet online platforms and secretive poker games continue to thrive, testifying to a dedicated community of poker enthusiasts.

The people’s attitude towards poker in Indonesia is fascinating. While traditional card games like Ceki hold a special place in their culture, the advent of online poker seems to be grabbing the younger generation’s attention.

Overcoming Challenges

Clearly, Asia’s flirtation with poker is filled with ebbs and flows, with unique opportunities and challenges. Addressing legislative hurdles, busting misconceptions, and fostering an environment that encourages poker can be a royal flush for increasing poker’s popularity in Asia.

The Future of Poker in Asia

Asia’s poker landscape is an intriguing hot pot filled with hidden poker games, covert enthusiasts, and enticing opportunities. The future of poker here may hang in balance, but given a play of cards right, this game can potentially emerge from the shadows to the limelight. Hold on, guys! The Asian poker journey has only just begun.