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Naoya Kihara is on the leading edge of poker in Japan and says that if the government decides to legalize it, the market is going to be huge. Right now live poker is illegal in his country but Kihara says that it's frustrating since there are more than 10,000 locations where you can play live Mah Jong. Pachinko is also a huge industry in Japan and operates in a legal grey area. Kihara also says that most Japanese people don't understand poker, and think it's a gambling casino game as opposed to a skill game where hard work and education can pay off. But despite the current situation Kihara is optimistic about the future of poker in Japan. He says that Japanese people are passionate about games in general, and that their skill and experience in video games will translate perfectly to online poker. Right now Japanese people are able to play online and Kihara is helping to grow that scene with his Team PokerStars Online sponsorship deal. Check out this video to hear the story from Kihara himself and keep watching PokerListings.com for the latest video and news from the 2014 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
In the world, I am not too much famous. But in Japan, I think I'm the one that best famous player. I'm showing up in the TVs and radios. People think that poker player is me in Japan. That's why I want to be a big group for the poker market in Japan. I want the poker market in Japan to grow more, more and more.
I think poker should be okay, of course. Because poker is a much more skilled game, not just gambling. In the short-term, poker is a lot of gambling. But in the long-term it's a big skill game. I'm talking about that more and more, especially in TV or radio. Because when somebody doesn't know poker, the image of poker is only gambling. The image of poker in Japan is still a five-card draw, single change, and then no more betting rounds.
Okay, let's bet one hundred. Okay, get five cards. Okay, I change this. I win. I win one hundred. It's like that in Japan. But it's completely different, right. I want to let people know what is real poker. Then if somebody likes it, I think that if a lot of people like the Texas Hold 'Em and now real poker, I'm pretty sure that things are changing.
If poker is legalized in Japan, I'm pretty sure the poker market would get pretty big in Japan. Because that's already more than 10,000 merchants around in Japan and they bet money, even small, but they bet money. Ten thousand merchants around, it's about 10,000 small casinos in Japan. And then, people are allowed to play game, gambling in Japan, so I'm pretty sure the poker market would grow huge if poker legalized in Japan.
We really have a lot of video games in Japan. Poker is one of the games, so if somebody is really good at video games, that guy should be good at poker as well. I think, like Starcraft, a lot from the video game to poker.