As this year’s World Poker Tour started on Saturday, news of new Asian stops for the tour in coming years was greeted with great delight by the game’s loyal fans and players.
The booming Asian market is seeing increasing levels of investment from gaming companies around the world, but the Indian and Vietnamese markets are probably not the first that come to mind when thinking about business growth within the continent.
Still, the World Poker Tour is expanding into those two countries.
Two extra tournaments this autumn
The new tournaments have been scheduled for September and November, with the first leg taking place in Vietnam, followed by India. The Vietnamese leg of the tournament, hosted by Ho Chi Minh’s Pro Poker Club, will start on September 26.
A number of tournaments will take place during the event, as with the series’ other events. The two headline tournaments will be a $500 WPT Pro Poker Club Superstack Classic and a $1,000 Main Event. Team events have not yet been announced for the tournament.
The World Poker Tour will hold its second-ever event in India at the Deltin Royale Casino in Goa. Organizers are hoping the event will develop the franchise’s presence in the country, which is one of the fastest-growing gaming markets globally. Last year, the tournament drew 527 players and this year’s tournament will be even larger. Last year’s $92,000 prize money is proving to be a big draw to players both locally and from further afield.
These are not the only tournaments the World Poker Tour has organized in Asia. The Vietnamese leg will be preceded by events in Japan and South Korea September 15-17 and 18-21, respectively. Korea’s tournament will offer the usual lineup but will also include a $5,000 team event that is likely to be popular with players from surrounding countries who will travel to Paradise City Casino for the tournament.
The team event has drawn attention from players globally, with five nations already represented: South Korea, Singapore, the UK, Australia, and the United States. Each event is open to a maximum of 16 teams, with four players each. This global expansion comes as organizers are attempting to diversify their audience by streaming final hands along with other parts of the event.
According to a spokesperson, the WPT is “looking to raise the level of televised events and the experience we provide to our players. We understand the change may have sparked a sense of uneasiness from some of our players, but there is plenty to be excited for. Each televised final table will come with an increased spotlight and players who reach a final table will receive a true superstar VIP experience in Las Vegas, the global home of poker.”
India’s poker controversy
The expansion is not without its controversies. In India, poker laws are a source of political disagreement. As it stands, each Indian state has laws governing poker, but the Indian Law Commission is pushing to create standardized laws across the country. The commission is seeking to regain control of the gaming market in the country and has suggested that unified laws are the only way to govern the practice in the country effectively.
Still, India’s online poker industry is booming and bucking the global trend by proving increasingly attractive to female players. The trend has reached such a point that Indian online poker companies are explicitly sponsoring female players just to encourage traffic to their sites. 9stacks founder Sudhir Kamat said: “Given that poker is a mind sport that requires strategic acumen regardless of their gender, we think there’s a huge market waiting to be tapped here, and we just need a small push to encourage more women to take up poker either professionally or just for fun.”
The government also proposes legalizing sports betting in the country, in a further move to control a market that is currently growing under the radar but that could prove to be lucrative to the nation if governed effectively.