WPT concludes first main event in Japan

The World Poker Tour took another step toward becoming a fully international tour this week by finishing up its first WPT Main Event in Japan. The WPT Japan event was played a little differently than other WPT events, including having different days of the tournament being played at different venues. The final day and final table of the main event was held at the Bane Bagus Poker Club in Shibuya.

Due to Japan’s stringent gambling laws, the setup for the event also looked a little different than normal. To get the tournament going, the WPT partnered with the Japan Poker Union Corporation. Players earned their way into the tournament through one of the many poker clubs in the country, or by qualifying online via one of Japan’s growing poker sites, Natural8 or Our Game.

The way a player qualified determined how many chips they would start with. Any player who qualified one-time through a poker club received 15,000 starting chips. Any players who were able to win multiple qualifying packages online were able to start with 20,000 or 25,000 chips. Players were also able to buy in to the tournament with 25,000 Japanese yen and receive 20,000 starting chips. A 25,000 yen buy-in may sound expensive but it converts to only $225 US.

Eiji Kimura wins inaugural event

In total, 469 players qualified or bought in to the main event. At the end of the three-day tournament, Japan native Eiji Kimura was the last man standing to win the tournament. Kimura dominated the final day of the tournament, amassing a huge chip lead heading into heads-up play against compatriot Ryo Omori. Heads-up play lasted only one hand before Kimura sent his opponent to the rail.

With cash prizes not allowed in Japan, the WPT had to get creative when it came to prizes for Kimura and the rest of the final table. For winning the tournament, Kimura received a $10,000 WPT Multi-Passport package. As part of the package, he received free entry into the next WPT Beijing event and any other WPT event in Asia. The top 10 finishers also received similar packages ranging in value from $1,000 to $4,000.