Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Japan Poker Player's Association

The Japan Poker Player's Association is headed by Hiroshi Shimamura, who also answers to his handle "Bluejay" and writes a blog describing his poker happenings, his play in the WSOP and other poker tournaments, and other events. Bluejay is friends with many in the poker industry, including Linda Johnson and Jan Fisher of Card Player Magazine, who make yearly trips to the JPPA to compete in the Japan Poker Cup, a local tournament. Professional player Tony G is also a friend of the JPPA and has been known to drop in unexpectedly for a game.

The JPPA's card room is near Okachimachi station, between Akihabara and Ueno on the Yamanote train line. (Click here for a map, care of Google Maps Japan.) It's a long but somewhat narrow room, fitting up to five poker tables. Poker photos, posters, and articles from Japanese newspapers and magazines adorn the walls. A large TV and entertainment center at one end often plays ESPN episodes of the World Series of Poker or other tv shows, or doubles as a tournament timer display during the larger tournaments. A soft drink machine provides free refreshment for players, and chilled beers and snacks are freely available for a few hundred yen more.

Several members act as regular dealers for the games, and some of them have attended professional dealers school here in Japan, I believe. They are quick, competent, and friendly, and keep the games running smoothly. They also carefully track the games as each player is eliminated, posting results on the JPPA's web page and calculating point totals and bounties.

Most of the players have a regular handle that they use in both the games and on the JPPA website. To be honest, I know most players by their handle only. Almost all of the players are solid poker players, competent and with a love for the game.

The JPPA runs mostly tournaments, though usually a live game will open up after enough players are knocked out of a tournament to start a table. The live games are not played for cash - you can buy a rack of chips for 500yen, then the number of chips you have at the end of the evening is marked and carries over to following weeks. Big live-game winners at the end of a season can win some sort of prize, though I will have to update the details later.

The current games that the JPPA runs are:

Monday: Live Day -- no tournaments, all live games. Generally limit and no-limit holdem, though it depends on what people feel like playing. Starts from 6pm, buy-in is 500yen for a rack of 100 chips.

Tuesday: STEPS tournament. NL holdem, starts at 7pm. 1000 yen buyin for 2000 chips, with two rebuys possible for players who bust in the first 6 rounds. Winners accumulate points towards the World Poker Japan tournament at twice the standard rate.

Wednesday: Ocean's Gaming Cup. NL holdem, starts at 7pm. 1500yen buyin, winner receives a choice of a 2GB Apple ipod nano, or a Nintendo DS Lite. Sponsored by Ocean's Gaming, so players must sign up for an account with Ocean's Gaming to participate.

Thursay: PokerStars Carribean Adventure. NL holdem, starts at 7pm. 1500yen buyin, winners earn points towards a Nov 23, 2007 playoff game. The top 70 point winners may enter the playoff game, and the winner receives an entry package for the PokerStars Carribean Adventure tournament in the Bahamas, including airfare, hotel, and an entry into the main event. Players must sign up for PokerStars to participate.

Friday: Everest Cup tournament. NL Holdem, starts at 7pm. 1000yen buyin. Winner receives choice of a 4GB Apple ipod nano, or a Sony PSP. Sponsored by Everest Poker, so players must sign up for an account with Everest to participate.

Saturday: Saturday schedules vary, but generally follow the below pattern:

1st and 3rd Saturday of the month: Straddle Cup games. Winners earn points towards a yearly Straddle Cup playoff game, which 16 players can compete in. The winner of the playoff game receives either a paid entry into a $1500 WSOP event, or a $1500 travel package. Second place wins a 30,000yen travel package.

Starting at 1pm is a Straddle Cup Mini game, which has a 1500yen buyin. This game is limit holdem on the first Saturday, and on the third Saturday is a different game every month (Omaha, Razz, Stud Hi-Lo, Pot Limit Crazy Pineapple, etc.)

At 5:30pm is the Straddle Cup Main Event, a NL Holdem tournament with a 2500 yen buyin.

2nd and 4th Saturday of the month: HOPS and JUMPS tournaments. Similar to the STEPS tournaments, these games earn winners points towards the World Poker Japan tournament. HOPS games are cheaper games with a 1500yen buyin. Usually there is a 7 Stud game at 6pm and an Omaha Hi-Lo game at 8:30pm. HOPS games earn winners points at the standard rate. JUMPS games begin at 2pm, and are limit holdem with a 5000yen buyin and 40 minute levels. Because of the bigger buyin and longer rounds, JUMPS tournaments earn points for the winners at 4 times the standard rate.

Sundays: Usually there are no games on Sundays, but there are exceptions. Sometimes there are additional Straddle Cup games on Sundays, either quarterly finals games or bounties games for extra points.

The weekday games are fairly regular, but the Saturday games are harder to keep track of. Checking the schedule on the JPPA web page regularly is the best way to keep track of which weekend games are coming up.

The HOPS, STEPS, and JUMPS tournaments earn winner points to the yearly World Poker Japan tournament. Any player with at least 60 points earned during the year can enter the playoff tournaments - more points also earn players more chips to play with. The winner of the tournament receives a $10,000 entry into the World Series of Poker Main Event or a World Poker Tour $10,000 event.


Roy Thørn said...

What is the password for tournament?

James said...

The Caribbean Adventure games are live games held in the JPPA cardroom in Ueno. It's sponsored by Pokerstars, but doesn't take place online. So, no password needed - you just need to show up.

Anonymous said...

don't talk bullshit. give that password. no password needed, such a shit.

James said...

Anonymous -

You don't read or write well, do you?

At the time I wrote this post, over a year ago, the JPPA was not holding any online games. They may have started doing online games on Pokerstars now, but if so I don't know anything about them.

So piss off.