Tsugunari Toma has become a head-turner at the live felts for his unique sense of fashion and “selfie-worthy” get-up. The Japanese poker pro is out to prove that there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Toma has been running hot in the 2019 European Poker Tour (EPT), cashing over €800,000 thus far and winning two high roller titles within a week.
He captured the €10,200 Single-Day High Roller for €135,220, and followed it up with another victory in the prestigious €10,300 EPT High Roller for a cool €523,120.
Last year, he also put Japan on the EPT map after finishing as runner-up in a €25,000 Single Day High Roller, also held in Prague.
More than just taking selfies at the poker tables and making a name for himself in the international poker scene, Toma’s main aim is to spread awareness about the beautiful mind sport of poker in his home country of Japan. His goal is to encourage more Japanese people to play poker.
Gambling in Japan
Toma started his poker journey by competing in free games in his home country, with no real money involved. He soon realised he could start playing professionally if he travelled outside the country. He did this and slowly started making some cash in the process, which he then used to level up his game and take part in bigger tournaments. He played a lot in Macau, while also taking care of his own businesses in his home country.
Toma debuted in the European high roller scene in April 2017, but his biggest success came in 2019 with total earnings reaching seven figures. The Japanese businessman and poker player said his main aim is to promote poker as a sport, and remove the negative perception associated with poker in Japan.
Improving Poker in Japan
Japan legalised gambling but is yet to launch gambling operations. The government is currently working on gaming regulations and is expected to issue three major casino licenses in 2020 which could pave the way for major casino giants such as MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands Corp to establish operations in Japan.
When Japanese poker players like Toma experience poker success, it automatically boosts the popularity of poker in Japan. If more Japanese players end up having a good run at the poker tables in 2020, it will create a bigger demand for poker games in Japan.