Poker in Asia

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Poker in Asia

Poker has seen a global growth recently few would've anticipated prior to 2004. We're all really quick to bill this huge phenomenon a "global" one, but how global is the online poker craze anyway? For one thing, the 2006 U.S. UIGEA has exposed the vulnerability of the market.

A large percentage of all online poker players in the world are obviously in the U.S. A very effective way of assessing the popularity of poker in certain countries, is to run a Google Trends search on the term rakeback. This will show you which countries search for this term the most. This is relevant because rakeback is something only those people use who are quite efficient at poker and who know more than just a thing or two about the game. The more people search for poker rakeback in a certain country, the more professional and semi professional players that country has, thus the more popular poker is with the masses. In this respect, Scandinavian countries lead the way, with western Europeans following and eastern Europeans in a close third. Anyway, by the looks of things, Asia is still pretty far behind.

Nonetheless, the poker industry has apparently recognized the potential of the Asian poker market, as yet almost pristine, but with huge masses of people (population-wise, Asia is far the biggest continent on earth) and thus with a huge potential for the future.

Naturally, poker usually takes root in those countries that have a thriving economy and a high living standards. There are plenty such countries in Asia, which represent huge potential markets for the poker industry. A sure sign that the industry is slowly but surely turning its focus towards Asia, is the fact that there are more and more live poker events organized there. Ever since Joe Hachem won the WSOP in 2005, poker has been gathering momentum in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asian Poker Tour is held in Singapore and it is part of the first wave of assault, poker will soon unleash upon the continent.

Enjoying the support of the Singapore government - which sees it as a means of attracting tourists and money - the APT is apparently here to stay. When looking for poker opportunities in Asia though, Singapore is not the only place worth checking out. Macau has surprisingly beat Las Vegas as the world's biggest gambling-revenue generator. What better sign would one want to prove, that online poker and poker can be bigger in Asia, than they've ever been in America and Europe put together. All those online poker rooms and casinos, which have lost their American player base, have been focusing their marketing efforts on the European region for a while. Experts say, Asia is to follow. After all, no marketing expert in their right mind, would ignore a continent which is home for two thirds of the world's population.

There will be problems in poker's eastward spread. It obviously won't be a smooth ride. Many Asian countries are still deeply anchored in tradition, belief and religion. That may cause them to take a hostile stance towards gambling. Contrary to casino gaming though, poker can be viewed as a sport. Quite like backgammon, it requires a good quantity of skill on the part of the player to go with the luck element. With this changing image that poker is promoting nowadays, and with the current trends, online pokers will conquer Asia someday, and when that happens, the 2004 poker-popularity explosion will look like a quiet little Saturday afternoon walk in the park...

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