Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Everest Poker

The JPPA web page has had links up to Everest Poker for a while now, but it wasn't until I saw that Everest Poker was sponsoring a poker tournament for the JPPA, the Everest Poker Cup, that I thought to sign up and give it a try.

The Everest poker client supports something like 16 different languages, including Japanese! This is pretty impressive, and encouraging for Japanese players. Most Japanese study English in school for several years, but the average Japanese person can handle about as much English as the average you or I can handle spanish or french if we studied it a couple years in high school.

It's no fun to run applications regularly that are not in your native language. Having a native Japanese language poker client is a big deal - Japanese who are new to poker and need to get comfortable with the game won't have the added discomfort of an application in another language, scrolling English messages that take an effort to comprehend.

I signed up for Everest, launched the installer, then selected Japanese as the native language. The installation program was all in Japanese after that, and the program itself fired up completely in Japanese. Slick! I jumped in a game and played a few hand - the interface is all right but nothing spectacular. But the client supports Japanese text in the chat windows too, I confirmed. Japanese can chat with each other easily, which is pretty cool. Japanese character sets often don't work well in applications that aren't designed with them in mind.

I noticed in my game there were players from Chile, France, Canada, and eastern Europe, and they all had something other than English selected as their native language. Also impressive. Everest seems to be in a good position to go after international non-English speaking markets... and that's most of the world, isn't it?

I haven't tried it out yet, but apparently there are keyboard shortcuts for common phrases ("nice hand," "hello," "good game," etc.) that will automatically show up in everyone's native language. You may not even realize the guy you're chatting with speaks another language for the first few moments.

I had assumed that the Everest Poker Cup would be an online tournament, kind of like the PokerStars blogger tournament, and the JPPA players would log in to Everest and we would play there. But despite signing up for the tournament on the JPPA page and getting a registration number, I couldn't find the tounament listed in the Everest client. About 30 minutes before the game was set to begin, I called up the JPPA card room, figuring someone would be there, and asked about it. It wasn't an online tournament at all - it was a live game at the JPPA card room in Ueno, just sponsored by Everest!

I flung on pants and rushed outside to catch a cab to the card room. Made it there 10 or 15 minutes late, but they had saved a spot for me and the blinds hadn't hurt me too much yet.

I noticed something different as I sat down. The chips! The chips were all new, and had the Everest logo at the top and "Japan Poker Player's Association" at the bottom. Nice! There were also two large Everest Poker posters up on the walls. And they also kicked in several prizes for the JPPA-Everest Cup, including things like iPods, Playstations, etc. The prize for the tourney I entered was just a deck of Everest Poker playing cards, but presumably some of the other games that have been going on have had the juicier loot.

I got nowhere in the tourney - bled off my chips steadily as I got crap hand after crap hand. The best hand I saw was A-4 suited, which I limped in with just to see a flop with only one of my suit and fold.

But the games are still going, every Friday and every other Saturday, with no entry fees and free prizes put up by Everest. Hard to go wrong with that. These guys are tossing their hat into the Japan poker market and earning some pretty decent goodwill points with the hardcore poker players here. For an investment of a couple thousand dollars worth of poker gear, it could turn out to be a very lucrative gamble.

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