While it is open to debate, there are plenty of people who believe that poker also originated in Asia. Some historians think that poker evolved out of a Chinese game that was made popular in the 10th century although others say that the game’s roots are found in 16th century Persia. Either way, poker has been around for a long time and is one of the most popular card games in the world. Today, millions of people play poker in their homes, at poker clubs, in casinos, and over the internet.
The legality of poker differs greatly from region to region in Asia because the continent is so vast and is made up of many different cultures. Generally speaking, Muslim countries in the region such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia hold a very firm anti-gambling stance due to religious reasons but a lot of people in those countries take their chances and participate in poker. Other countries like Malaysia and Thailand also forbid gambling but little is done to stop people from engaging in it.
The most prosperous gambling destinations in the world is Macau which is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Macau’s gambling revenues even exceed Las Vegas’. While Macau is actually a part of China, it has an independent economy that is fueled by gambling and a political system that allows gambling to thrive. There are dozens of casinos that operate legally and residents can freely place sports bets and play poker. In fact, there have been several high-profile poker events that have taken place there.
Online gambling is a different story as Macau does not license or regulate it. As such, online gambling is not prohibited and residents can partake in online gambling without any concerns. Macau’s gambling laws are perhaps the most relaxed in all of Asia. Other Asian countries such as China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan allow some forms of gambling but it is typically limited and operated by state-sponsored entities. While online poker players in these countries are often able to find offshore sites to play at, they sometimes find it difficult to deposit money and some sites are blocked.
Gambling laws are also relatively relaxed in the Philippines. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is tasked with issuing licenses and regulating land-based and online operations in the country. However, one thing that makes the Philippines rather unique is the presence of a separate gambling entity. The Cagayan Special Economic Zone in which several online gambling sites operate out of does not fall under the PAGCOR monopoly. The Philippines is the fastest-growing market in Asia and online poker is seeing steady growth.
It’s difficult for Singaporean poker players to get access to online poker rooms. The government recently implemented strict gambling laws in which it is only legal to gamble online with local operators that are non-profit. Authorities blocked hundreds of offshore sites and those who try to skirt the rules by playing at an unauthorized site can be charged criminally. Even though online gambling is prohibited in Japan, authorities do not stop residents from playing at offshore sites which means that Japanese online poker players can play without worrying about being prosecuted.
India has seen a rapid increase in online gambling in recent years as the middle class grows and internet access is becoming more available. India’s gambling laws are very outdated and there is no legislation that prohibits online gambling although two Indian states have recently addressed the issue in extremely different ways. Maharashtra opted to ban online gambling while Sikkim opted to issue licenses to operators that want to offer their product to the state’s residents. In the meantime, online poker has increased significantly in the last few years and Indians are quickly becoming very interested in playing poker and turning it into a full time career.
Poker might not be the most popular game in Pakistan but it is certainly gaining traction. Being an Islamic country, all forms of gambling are banned in Pakistan but punters still manage to play at offshore sites. Even though Pakistani online poker players could be penalized if caught playing online, there is little in the way of enforcement and many confidently play at offshore sites. It is very similar in Bangladesh where Islamic law prohibits gambling.
Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates also prohibit gambling in keeping with Islamic law but, unlike some other Islamic countries, these countries go to great lengths to enforce the rules. Authorities in these regions block gambling sites and harsh penalties await those who get caught gambling.
Despite the prohibition of online poker in so many Asian countries, Asia still boasts more than enough players to make it a key market poker market for poker operators. Most Asian online poker players have a lot of great online poker sites to choose from and most Asians are welcomed with open arms top online poker sites. These sites even have some valuable bonuses and other incentives that Asians players can easily take advantage of. We list the top 10 Asian online poker sites below.
Best Asian Poker Sites
200% up to $2500
BetOnline.ag currently have one of the fastest growing Online Poker sites. This is largely due to the popularity among US poker players as they find BetOnline Poker the most trustworthy brand in the current US poker market.
100% upto $1000
Ignition Casino is still a very good site and this is especially true for American players. There are a lot of features that can be customized and the ability to play in anonymous mode can be very helpful for beginners. The welcome bonus is quite generous and the Weekly Boost just adds to the value
200% upto $1000 + 65% Rakeback
GG Poker is one of the online poker sites that we strongly recommend to poker players in Asia. It is very suitable for European players aswell when you consider the awesome 200% deposit bonus and 65% rake back.
200% upto $4000
Best Poker is the no.1 ranked online poker site in Asia and is fast becoming a favourite in Europe. After you read our Best Poker Review you'll see why!
100% upto $500
Bovada is part of the Bodog brand and is one of the most popular and trustworthy poker sites still operating in the US Poker market. Read our Bovada Poker review to see why its so popular.
100% upto $1000
SportsBetting.ag Poker is part of the growing Chico Network and is a sister site to the no.1 US poker room BetOnline.ag. We recommend BetOnline Poker above SB Poker, but both are viable choices for US poker players.
100% upto $1000
The Bodog brand is one of the most recognisable brands worldwide. At one point Bodog was the biggest brand in the US and Asia. No longer in Asia but still a strong brand in Asia.
Was once one of the powerhouses in the online poker world. However, in recent years it has feel from that status and now finds itself in the middle of the pack. Possibly due to poor promotions for its players.
200% upto $1000
Intertops has been running a successful online poker and online casino site for many years now. It has never had its time in the sun yet, as it has always been a middle of the road type gambling site. Although in our opinion a very solid poker site for US poker players if they can get over the fact its usually little dated.
100% upto $1000
The most popular poker site on the US friendly Winning Poker Network. Americas Cardroom has been around longer than people might suspect as it was rebranded a good few years ago now from the world famous Doyles Room. Now just a bit part player in the US market behind BetOnline Poker, Bovada and Ignition Poker. Still highly recommended for US poker players though!
PokerStars was launched in 2001 and has become the largest and most popular online poker site in the world. No matter what time of day it is, players will always find thousands of other players enjoying everything that PokerStars has to offer. This means that you can get into the action without having to wait which can be a problem at some other sites that see significantly less traffic. PokerStars offers much more than just Hold’em and Omaha. In fact, PokerStars often experiments with exciting new poker variations.
On top of offering a huge selection of games and stakes that suit players of all budgets, PokerStars also has some great bonuses and promotions. Those who open a new account and make their first deposit will have their deposits matched 100% up to $600. The bonus money is released in $10 installments when a player earns enough redemption points which are generated each time they contribute to a rake.
An alternative to the 100% match bonus is PokerStars’ $30 of Free Play Bonus which awards $20 in tournament tickets and a $10 cash bonus to new players who make their first deposit of $20 or more. There are also many other promotions regularly running that can help build your bankroll.
Bovada Poker has been around since 2004 and was intended to attract American players although many Asian online poker players have discovered just how much this online poker site has to offer. Bovada Poker boasts a great selection of poker games as well as a plethora of tournaments and they are well suited to players of all skill levels and budgets. Their weekly $100,000 guaranteed is very popular as are many of their featured events such as the Golden Spade Poker Open and the Summer Million Poker Open.
Bovada Poker’s 100% First Deposit Bonus up to $1,000 is one of the most generous offers that you will find and players can even give their betting accounts a nice boost through Bovada Poker’s Refer-A-Friend program which gives you up to $100 in bonus cash when your friend makes their first deposit. Asian online poker players who prefer to use a mobile device will be impressed with the graphics and they will also love the $10 bonus that Bovada Poker is giving away to those who play on their iOS or Android device. On top of having a great selection of payment methods to choose from, Bovada Poker also accepts Bitcoin which has gained popularity in Asia.
BetOnline’s poker room opened in 2011 and the site has gained a very good reputation by offering an excellent product, superior customer service and some very nice bonuses. BetOnline’s interface and graphics might appear to be bare bones but this is by design as they aim to deliver a pleasant but no-frills online poker experience. As such, the site is very responsive and extremely easy to navigate. BetOnline Poker offers their customer a wide range of poker variants and they see a relatively high volume of traffic which is a good thing for those who don’t like to wait around for opponents.
Asian players who open up a new account and make their first deposit can claim up to $1,000 with BetOnline Poker’s First Deposit Bonus. Also, players who make their first deposit will receive a free ticket into BetOnline’s $10,000 New Depositor Freeroll which is held on the second Sunday of every month. BetOnline Poker has plenty of regular promotions such as the $1,100 Daily Cash Race and the Weekly Sit’n Go Leaderboard Challenge which has $5,275 in cash prizes up for grabs every week. Winning a piece of the Bad Beat Jackpot will definitely take the sting out of losing with quad eights.
TonyBet Poker has become very popular with Asian online poker players. This independent poker room offers several versions of Open Face Chinese Poker and Open Face Pineapple Chinese Poker. TonyBet boasts the distinction of being the first online poker site to offer these games. It’s never hard to find a cash game, sit & go or tournament and TonyBet offers several easy and instant payment methods which allow Asian players to get right into the action.
Those who appreciate getting added value will be thrilled with TonyBet’s 100% up to €2,000 Starter Bonus. On top of getting a nice chunk of bonus cash, TonyBet will also give you a free entry ticket into the €2,500 Guaranteed No-Limit Hold’em tournament which runs every two weeks. All you need to do is use the code STARTER when you make your first deposit and the bonus package is yours.
Those who aren’t familiar with Open Face Chinese Poker or other similar games can learn all about them from the basics to more advanced strategies with TonyBet’s helpful tutorials and OFC School. Newbies can get their feet wet in any of the Open Face Chinese Poker freerolls that regularly run throughout the week.
GG Poker is a part of the GG Network which happens to be the largest poker network in Asia. GG Poker is a relatively new site but its focus on protecting inexperienced players is one of the things that make this site stand out. There are many things that make this poker site standout. Their fresh graphics and unique features like Run it Three Times, straddle betting, All-In Insurance, and tournament staking which allows you to stake other players in tournaments make GG Poker stand out from the rest of the competition.
GG Poker offers a good variety of poker variants and a full slate of tournaments that appeal to everyone from low-stakes players to high rollers. A lot of new players have cashed in on GG Poker’s 200% First Deposit Bonus up to $1,000 as well as their Fish Buffet Rewards program which is one of the best loyalty reward schemes out there. Asian online poker players can participate in the $100,000 Tournament Leaderboard every month and they can also win seats into GG Poker’s Main Events.
Getting quads or better is always exciting but it’s even more so when you can win a piece of the Big Hand Jackpot. It’s no wonder GG Poker is so popular among Asian online poker players.
Ignition Poker Room
Ignition Poker is one of the younger poker sites in the market but it is quickly building a client base that is more than happy with what this poker room has to offer. While the graphics might now blow anyone away, players will find that there are some handy options and there is absolutely nothing confusing about it. Ignition Poker Room features tables that allow players to play anonymously.
Experienced online poker players know that they are able to take notes about other players which can be very advantageous. However, those who play at Ignition Poker’s anonymous tables are simply represented by numbers and any notes that have been previously attributed to them are unavailable.
Asian online poker players that like tournament action will be very pleased with the number of regular tournaments that they can participate in at Ignition Poker.
This site gives away over $2 million in prize money every week through their tournaments and there is always a sit & go tournament about to start along with plenty of cash games to get in on. New players that make their very first deposit can claim a 100% match bonus up to a whopping $2,000 and existing players have loads of ongoing promotions to choose from.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when trying to find the best online poker site to play at. Among other things, Asian online poker players want valuable bonuses, a variety of games, plenty of traffic, and superior customer service. Ultima Poker has become a preferred destination for online poker players all over the world because they offer all of those things and much more. Ultima Poker is relatively new but their rich graphics, excellent bonuses and promotions, along with a full schedule of tournaments is capturing the attention of a lot of online poker players.
Ultima’s great poker experience begins when you open an account and make your first deposit. Ultima Poker will match your first deposit by 400% up to $2,000. That means that a $50 deposit will net you $200 in bonus cash while a $200 deposit will earn you $800 in bonus cash. Ultima Poker also has one of the best VIP programs through which players can earn 100% rakeback for a month. Other promotions such as Ultima Poker’s Flash Bonus and Rake Race for $10,000 give players a way to cash in and fatten up their betting accounts. There are also regular freerolls that give players a chance to win cash without having to risk anything.
Although Bodog has been around since the early days of online gaming, Bodog Poker was launched only in 2004. Bodog Poker accepts players from many Asian countries and they make it easy to make instant deposits and hassle-free withdrawals using several payment methods including Bitcoin. Players of all skill levels and budgets will have no trouble getting into their favorite game as Bodog Poker usually has hundreds of players online at any given time. Weekly guarantees, Jackpot Sit’n Go tournaments, and main events like the Golden Spade Poker Open are just a few ways for Asian players to win big cash prizes.
There are quite a few ways for Bodog customers to pad their accounts with bonus cash. Bodog Poker will match a new player’s first deposit up to $1,000. The bonus cash will be released as the player earns Poker Points and there are no rollover requirements. Those who are lucky enough to hold a royal flush in a Texas Hold’em cash game can win up to $200 in bonus cash while those who have their aces over kings or better beaten will be relieved to know that they can still walk away with up to $1,000 in bonus money.
Breakout Poker was launched in 2017 and it is a part of the GG Network which is very popular in Asia. More and more Asian players are signing up and playing at Breakout Poker because of the great graphics, excellent security, and the many payment methods that facilitate instant deposits and quick withdrawals. Even though this site is rather new, it attracts a lot of traffic which makes it easy to find a game.
One of the most popular promotions at Breakout Poker is their 100K GGS Tickets Giveaway in which players can earn a seat at the GGS Championship 250K GTD, GGS Daily Main 50K GTD, various GGS tournaments, or various GGS satellites. Players can also participate in the Weekly Mission. Players are given three tasks every day and they must complete one of them. Those who complete five missions in a week will receive a free ticket into the Mission Complete $5,000 Freeroll.
Those who complete more than five missions in a week will also receive their free ticket but they will start the tournament with more chips which gives them a better chance at winning a share of the guaranteed prize pool. Asian players will also want to check out Breakout Poker’s Fish Buffet loyalty rewards club.
BestPoker is another site that is brought to you by the GG Network. It is a brand of Europe’s BestBet Ltd. but it is becoming very popular in the Asian market as are other poker sites on the GG Network. BestPoker’s welcome bonus is a little different than the normal but it offers Asian players a shot at getting up to $2,000 in bonus money. It is pretty straightforward; for every $10 in rake, BestPoker will add $1 to your betting account. You have 90 days to take advantage and you need to activate the welcome bonus in your “My Bonuses” section.
New players who make their first deposit of at least $10 will be rewarded with a free ticket into the New Player Freeroll which has a guaranteed prize pool of $1,000. Beginners and experienced players will also want to check out BestPoker Twitch.
Every week, a BestPoker pro will be live streaming on Twitch giving advice and teaching you some of the more advanced strategies of poker. Viewers are given the opportunity to answer his questions and complete tasks to win prizes. These weekly sessions last two hours and starting times are announced on BestPoker’s Facebook page so be sure to follow them.
Online poker is becoming increasingly popular in Asia and poker operators from around the world are looking at expanding their presence in Asian countries. The online poker market in Asia is already massive and it is bound to get bigger as online poker gains acceptance in countries like India and other heavily-populated nations. Despite the fact that online poker players in certain Asian countries face penalties if they are caught playing poker online, many confidently take their chances with the help of modern technology like VPNs.
One of the most important things that Asian online poker players can do is to be sure that they are playing at a reputable site. They can’t go wrong playing at any of the above-mentioned sites and there are also many more. A little bit of research or Google searches can be very helpful. Look for the best bonuses and promotions as well as VIP programs that will reward you for playing your favorite games. Finally, enjoy your poker experience and play within your limits.
The biggest drawback to online poker expansion in Asia is over the fact that poker is still considered a game of chance or luck. Poker operators and lobbyists are continuing their efforts to educate legislators and do their best to promote poker as a game of skill, so that it can be classified as a sport and gain legal approval.