3-Card Poker Seems to Be a Hit in Japan

1 week ago
3-Card Poker Seems to Be a Hit in Japan
10:41
13 Nov

Poker fans visiting Japan are usually disappointed when they find out it is very hard to get a poker room.  Restrictive gambling rules prohibit casinos and casino games like poker.  That is not to say there are no poker players in Japan.  Japanese poker players are very active in online casinos. Naoya Kihara even won the World Series of Poker in 2012. Since then, many Japanese have been inspired to learn poker.


Poker Laws 

Gambling in Japan had long been prohibited by laws that were passed in 1907. The parliament improved on these laws in 1918, but they have not been put into force.   Playing for money prizes in sports like poker and sports betting is still prohibited. However, there are private poker rooms that are invite-only.  Players also organize poker meetups on social media networks. 

The Japan Poker Association is actively involved in the Japan Open Poker Tour and the All Japan Poker Championship. These big poker tournaments have no cash prizes.  Participation is by invitation.  Players have to do a cash buy-in for tournament chips with no cash value.  Points rank the players, and the top players get 'gifts' in many forms, including an invitation to the World Series of Poker's main event.

But poker fans can access poker games in online casinos.  The gambling laws do not restrict these casinos because they are registered offshore. Japanese poker players flock to these online casinos because they can play for real money and keep the winnings.  


3-Card poker

All poker variants are popular in Japan, but  3-card poker is perhaps the most popular because of its simplicity and fast action.  Many players play this game on online mobile casinos.  https://www.6takarakuji.com/ have a great article on 3 card poker (スリーカードポーカー) in Japan. The  Rules are simple;

  • The game starts with the player placing an ante. The player can also place a pair plus wager
  • Each  player and the dealer  receives three cards face down  
  • The player looks at his hand and decides whether to fold or raise. Folding will lead to losing the ante. Raising requires that a player places a wager  equal to the ante
  • If the player raises, the dealer turns his cards over to determine who has the better hand
  • The dealer's hand is considered qualified if it is a Queen or higher. 
  • If the  dealer does not qualify, the player wins 1:1 on the ante, and  the play bet pushes 
  • If the dealer's hand has qualified, but the player's hand is better than the dealer's, the player wins 1:1 on the ante and 1:1 on the play bet 
  • If the dealer's hand is stronger than the player's, the player loses both ante and play bets 
  • If the player had placed a pair plus bet,  it is considered independently of the dealer's hand

3-card Poker Bonus Payouts 

Many online casinos have bonus payouts on the ante bet, depending on the player's winning hand;

  • Straight flush gets 5:1 
  • Flush gets 4:1 
  • Three of a kind gets 2:1 

A pair plus wager wins on any pair.  The pair plus wager's bonus payments can pay anything from 3:1 to 40:1 depending on the casino's bonus incentives. 


3-card Poker Strategy 

3-card poker strategy is easy to muster because there are few cards. It is simple and  with few rules;

  • Play hands higher than Q-6 – You should play if you have Q/6/4  or higher. You will eke out small wins with these minimum cards. This  strategy brings down the house's edge to 3.4% 
  • Fold any cards  lower than these cards 
  • Don't place  pair-plus wagers because this wager raises the house's edge by 7%. Placing this wager in effect means that you are betting blind 

Online Poker Games 

3-Card games are available on online casinos that Japanese players can access on their mobiles. These casinos also have native iOS/ Android apps.   Japanese poker players prefer online casinos because they are accessible from anywhere.  Japan has one of the best internet connectivity globally, so poker players can access 3-card poker games from anywhere in the country. 

Online casinos have also made it easy for Japanese poker players to deposit stakes and withdraw their winnings.  These online casinos are also private, and players can enjoy their games easily without worrying about legal complications. 

The good news is that Japanese gambling laws are relaxing.  More online casinos will be available with more incentives for 3-card poker and other games. Poker players in Japan will soon enjoy a more relaxed gambling environment where poker players can enjoy 3-card poker.


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Writer and semi-retired poker pro from Edinburgh (UK).Read more

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