Posts Tagged ‘Naoya Kihara’

PokerStars gets Far Prettier with Yuiko Matsukawa Signing

Friday, March 20th, 2015

yuiko-matsukawa-signs-pokerstarsDoes PokerStars have a Japanese schoolgirl fetish? Sure seems like it because their latest Team PokerStars addition is model Yuiko Matsukawa, whose schoolgirl photos and other modeling work are plastered across the net.

This is quite an interesting signing because Matsukawa has no live-tournament cashes; instead, it seems like she just started playing poker since she was spotted at the Macau Poker Cup before landing a sponsorship deal. However, it’s pretty clear that Matsukawa wasn’t signed on her poker merits.

Instead, this is your perfect example of a poker site signing a good-looking woman who brings more to the table than just a couple big live-tournament victories. Matsukawa furthered her fame by starring in a film called “Terrace House Closing Door,” which centers on a fake reality show involving six men and six women. Given the 24-year-old’s fame in Japan, this fits in well with what PokerStars is trying to do in Japan: get ahead of the market before the game is legalized.

In previous years, it seemed like there was no chance that Japan’s relatively traditional society would ever embrace casino gambling/poker games. This is, after all, the country that inspired the Last Samurai, a movie about a bunch of late-nineteenth-century, stubborn-assed samurais who refused to trade in their swords for guns, ultimately meeting their demise after charging a Gatling gun head-on.

yuiko-matsukawa-signs-pokerstars-1Of course, this isn’t to say that casino gambling is the Gatling gun and all Japanese are stubborn samurais for refusing to embrace the activity. But it’s pretty clear that their prime minister, Shinzo Abe, sees the value in legalizing casinos and not just relying on a bunch of pachinko machines to drive gaming revenue.

So by signing Matsukawa and their previous additions to Team PokerStars, Naoya Kihara and Kosei Ichinose, PokerStars is doing a great job at appealing to the large potential Japanese poker market before anybody else gets a chance.

WSOP Champ Naoya Kihara dreams of Japanese Poker Boom

Friday, July 18th, 2014

The three most talked-about online poker markets these days are the U.S., China and India. And this is for good reason too given that these three countries together contain over 2.9 billion people. But if there’s one promising market that often gets left behind in these discussions, it is Japan.

WSOP champion Naoya Kihara recently brought this topic up in a recent interview. Kihara, who’s the only gold bracelet winner in Japanese poker history, spoke with PokerListings about the implications of widespread poker in his country

“People love to play games and gambling in Japan,” Kihara said. “So I’m pretty sure the poker market grows huge if the poker is legalized in Japan.”

Unfortunately, there are some misconceptions in the Land of the Rising Sun when it comes to poker, which Kihara hit upon in the interview. “When somebody doesn’t know the poker, their image of poker is just gambling,” he said. “The image of poker in Japan is still 5 card draw, single change and no more betting rounds.”

Kihara went on to describe how Japan’s version of 5 card draw is a simplified game that’s basically all luck. So his mission is to let his countrymen know what “real” poker is like with regard to the large skill element involved. Kihara added that if he can get people to like Texas Hold’em and some of the other skill-based games, then attitudes towards poker could change.

He may have a lot of work on his hands, though, because certain Japanese politicians are still trying to get casino resorts legalized in the island nation. Once this happens, perhaps poker could start showing up in the casinos and become more accepted.

Such acceptance (and legalization) would mean a nation of 127.6 million people being eligible to play online poker. Moreover, Japan has one of the world’s top economies, so this adds even more significance to the matter.