Research: China Online Poker Glimpse

Short brief about the law against online poker in China, how does it work?

Online gambling is illegal in China, making online poker games essentially dead in the country. There are no Chinese legally owned or operated poker sites. As far as the players go, they aren’t breaking the law because it’s not against the law to gamble online, but this still doesn’t mean the government wishes people to play. China is well known for its censoring of the internet and can and will block any websites it does not feel to be appropriate for its people, and this includes gambling and online poker websites.

Despite this, players have found ways and means to play online. And online operators are becoming more innovative in their offerings by not having “real money” transactions but instead use alternatives that can be converted to cash. Officials here do realize that given that there are no Chinese online poker sites, no one is breaking the law as far as far as operating these sites, as the Chinese recognize that these sites are outside their jurisdiction, something that not all countries properly admit to. But once again, in China, Mah-jong and poker games are taken off the approval list following a wave of earlier government crackdowns over concerns that such titles may connected to illegal gambling.

Can people download poker apps?

June 2018, a major crackdown, known as Chinese Black Friday, occurred in China. The government banned all online poker applications, removing them from App Stores, and going as far as forbidding the promotion of Poker on any Social Media. It’s not that they always block poker websites, but this can certainly happen here, although the first thing you need to know is that this blocking is limited to the online poker website itself. People aren’t blocked from playing there, the most they can be blocked from is downloading the software, and once they do that, they are in the clear.

The Chinese have been well accustomed to getting around censorship, and the use of virtual private networks (VPN) to access the internet is very popular in general because of the Great wall firewall, and this is the tool that online poker players use to get around these poker related restrictions.

So, all you do is log on to the network and then you can travel to any site you wish without government detection, Android APK and IOS “Enterprise” workaround solves the problem. So there are now a lot of online poker players living in China and while there is still a lot of room for growth, as not everyone is aware of this means of playing, the market here is expected to continue to grow.

Can people pay for the online apps? How online payment works for those apps?

Yes, they can, but not through an official way. We all understand the APP is totally free but for playing games need real money. Taking example of Poker Master, which is not a cash deposit site, player can do an in-app purchase for getting some virtual items, but for playing in the games their funds will flow to home game host or the agent who raises the game with gateway/mobile payment methods. Taking example of Poker King, which is a cash deposit site, they have payment service provider to allow players directly deposit/withdrawal with both gateway/mobile payment methods.

Information about prices of poker apps and prices of all features inside poker apps.

Note: *   screenshots attached, ** means in-app best seller

Poker Master Store/Mall

Red Dragon Poker Store/Mall

How player pays in Poker King Club?

How player pays in Red Dragon Poker?

Download for the whole document.

Research: Open Face Chinese Poker

Hi Poker

Level: 1/2/3/5, 10/20/30, 50/100

Game Type: Normal(普通模式), Super(血战模式), Ultimate(血进血出), Bleeding(血流成河)

Joker Mode: With Joker(有癞子), No Joker(无癞子)

Dealing: Sequence(顺序发牌), Concurrent(同时发牌)

View: Horizontal(横板), Vertical(竖版)

Bleeding: Head cards to Fantasyland, three of a kind 17 cards, AA 16 cards, KK 15 cards, QQ 14 cards, Players stay into fantasylands will get same amount of cards as his/her first fantasyland.

Volume: In the past, highest estimate number 1000 tables/day (including tables existing very short period), valid 800 tables/day in total.

「Hi Poker」 was called 「Ace Poker」 back to late 2017, its registered numbers at that time was about 88,000 players with duplicated accounts counted (unique players ~ 40% – 35,000 players). In October 2018 「Ace Poker」 finally changed to the name,「Hi Poker」.

It is said that「Hi Poker」 was going to develop their anti-collusion system since 2019. It will randomly choose players asking for a voice message verification during a game. Also, it is said the system will randomly burn a card from the deck and shows to all players in order to interrupt and mislead bots’ calculation system. This sounds promising for security and player experience but nothing came out until today.

There is one unique function on this platform named 「Maximize Boost」 (一键最大) during the play, when players click this button it can automatically sort your cards which maximize the points for this fantasyland hand. It costs virtual coins and proved it’s popular among the players (Revenue come from this can up to highest¥400,000/month). By the way the estimate revenue comes from their virtual coins is about average¥300,000/month.

「Hi Poker」 has stopped running because of the massive 「judicial freeze accounts incident」 happened in early June last year and back online after several months, it is believed that 「Hi Poker」 has business relationship with some major OFC alliance owners from Poker Master. For these alliance owners (so-called 「主机」), they have powerful resources which may finally lead them to target on planting their mini-games API into platforms like 「Hi Poker」.

Poker Master

Level: 1/2/3/5, 5/10/20, 50/100

Game Type: Normal(普通模式), Super(血战模式), Ultimate(血进血出)

Joker Mode: With Joker(有癞子), No Joker(无癞子)

Dealing: Sequence(顺序发牌), Concurrent(同时发牌)

View: Vertical(竖版)

Fantasyland: Three of a kind gets 16 or 17 cards, setup before game starts.

Volume: In the past, highest estimate number 2000 tables/day (including tables existing very short period), valid 1100 tables/day in total. Now, it’s hard to have even one $50 table. During the day, 6-7 tables could be seen up to $20. When the peak time arrives, $50 table become available and may just stay one table.

According to the inner voice from 「Poker Master」, OFC players didn’t grow and there are only 2-3 big alliance owners are hosting for OFC games for long-term business. Also, the OFC bots are everywhere in Poker Master which keeps decreasing the OFC players’ willing of play. Before Poker Master was beaten by bots it can up to 12 tables of $50 and dozens of $5/$10 at the same time but now you can hardly see any high-stake tables.

Platform seems no attention or plans on making any changes for its OFC users as player resource are basically controlled by hosts and 「Poker Master」 is a credit site not a deposit site. Even though, these players will stick to those alliance owners and it’s worth to keep an eye on what will these host do with the traffic. Just like I mentioned before about 「Hi Poker」, inner source shows host from 「Poker Master」 has worked with 「Hi Poker」 already and might planning to do something. I won’t be surprised if there is another new OFC platform comes out in China.

Stakes/ClubsHi PokerPoker MasterPoker ClansFish Poker
Normal Stakes/Clubs Size (CNY/USD)

Poker Clans (Deposit Site)

Level: 0.1/0.2/0.5, 1/2/5

Game Type: Normal(普通模式), Super(血战模式), Ultimate(血进血出)

Joker Mode: With Joker(有癞子), No Joker(无癞子)

Dealing: Sequence(顺序发牌), Concurrent(同时发牌)

View: Vertical(竖版)

Hand PointsJackpot Bonus

Volume: 200-300 could be the biggest number of players online at the same time. Tables’ number is big but including tables existing very short period (5-10mins), it’s more like PokerStars 「ZOOM」 game which made me very hard to estimate how many tables they have each day.

Player pool is small and since the platform is target on micro stake players it doesn’t have a high margin. The good thing for 「Poker Clans」 is it’s a cash deposit site and its online MTT has a stable traffic of 2,000-3,000 ppl at the same time which provide its OFC a certain liquidity. As a manner of fact, 「Poker Clans」 is going to launch its mini games (Featuring 「Texas Cowboy」 as 「Coming Soon」) aiming to increase its revenue.

But still, if its strategy is only focusing on Chinese micro stakes then it will never be competitive because players won’t trust it (net deposit increase) unless its brand can go as big as Poker King or other cash deposit sites. When we come back to OFC in 「Poker Clans」, it still has a potential to go big if the platform can be more diversification and make good use of its unique feature 「Jackpot」.

FeaturesHi PokerPoker MasterPoker ClansFish Poker
Normal Type
Super Type
Ultimate Type
Bleeding Type×××
English Verison××
First Fantasyland1716/171716/17
Joker/No Joker
Maximize Boost×××
Features Landscape

Fish Poker

Level: 1/2/3/5, 10/20/30, 50/100

Game Type: Normal(普通模式), Super(血战模式), Ultimate(血进血出)

Joker Mode: With Joker(有癞子), No Joker(无癞子)

Dealing: Sequence(顺序发牌), Concurrent(同时发牌)

View: Horizontal(横板), Vertical(竖版)

Fantasyland: Three of a kind gets 16 or 17 cards, setup before game starts.

Volume: In the past, highest estimate number 150 tables/day, 6-7 tables up to $20 at the same time.

Players mainly form Chongqing City, Sichuan Province, Xian City and Shanxi Province, and a few groups of players come from Beijing and Zhejiang Province. This territoriality shows the path of its marketing which also means most of the hosts in Fish Poker stays in above areas/cities in mainland China.

「Fish Poker」 turned out to just have a tiny market share of OFC, its OFC games are all relied on club hosts and missing of the alliance structure also restricted the growing of those clubs. This just made all club hosts discrete which for sure restricts the scale of its traffic eventually.

Stakes/ClubsHi PokerPoker MasterPoker ClansFish Poker
OFC table volumes (GMT+8 Evening)

OFC Player Landscape

I will define the OFC players into two groups, A & B.

Group A are those players who play the private games hosted by agents or alliance. They will be raked heavily by the game organizers and most of them can be found on 「Poker Master」, 「Hi Poker」 and 「Poker Clans」. Group B are those who play regular games in public hall or held private games by themselves where they won’t be raked that much. It is believed that in 2017 all users belong to group A and then started to switch to group B since the players noticed that they can’t profit because of variety reasons such as rake, pro and cheats . Now the scale of group B players is much bigger than group A players.

It is believed that there are around 80% of the group B players play in 「Poker Master」 and around 15% in 「Hi Poker」. If we see the market as a $100 cake to buy, I believe the group B players can afford $90 and the group A can only afford $10. Especially when the group B players have formed a stickiness to platforms, there are chances they may just switch between group A and B over and over again. After-all player stickiness is the increased chance to utilize the same product or service that was bought in the last time period. Overall, the growth speed of OFC players are extremely slowly in China and also missing good local platforms which is very unlikely to happen in recent years.

Research: Asian Sportsbooks

Legal Landscape of the Region

China*Illegal, except via state-run sitesYes
IndiaProbably legalYes
Hong Kong SARIllegal, except via state-run sitesYes
Macau SARLegalYes
MalaysiaProbably legalYes
PhilippinesIllegal, except via state-run sitesYes
SingaporeIllegal, except via state-run sitesYes, but very few
South KoreaProbably legalYes
ThailandIllegal, except via state-run sitesYes

* The laws of mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) prohibit almost all forms of gambling, including online sports betting. The only exceptions are government-run gambling terminals and lotteries. The Chinese government has taken steps to restrict access to online betting sites, though many residents have found ways around this (usually by purchasing a VPN) and many online sportsbooks hosted in foreign countries offer their services to people in China.

Key Factors in Asians Choosing a Sportsbook

Safety/Anonymity: Since so many countries in Asia render it illegal to use offshore sportsbooks, finding a site that will keep personal information secure and can process transactions in a way that doesn’t hand over banking details to third parties is often a big concern.

Accessibility: Accessibility is about more than just bare access. Users want to be able to log-in from anywhere these days, no matter the time of day or the platform. It’s becoming increasingly common for bettors to make wagers on their mobile devices anytime in a day.

Ease of Use: Does the sportsbook have a user-friendly look? Does it offer support services in users’ preferred language? Is it clear how to deposit and withdraw? All above will affect how enjoyable their experience is.

How Do Chinese Residents Deposit & Withdraw?

The authorities strictly regulate and block financial transactions with online sportsbooks. As with many countries in Asia, the best option for Asian bettors is likely an e-wallet such as 「Neteller」 or 「Skrill」. And for Chinese bettors, the option is likely the two dominated online payments, 「WeChat Pay」 and 「AliPay」 (China version of 「Paypal」 or 「Square」).

Asian Sportsbook Business Model Landscape

In Asia, the betting market is quite large but uncoordinated. However, in early 2017, the Asian sector has become a leader in the field of global betting, and it continues to hold the leading positions. According to statistics, 40% of bets in the world are placed in Asia. The bookmaker’s list in the Asian betting market is growing every year, and so far, the players’ demand outpaces supply.

Asian bookmakers, like their colleagues from other regions of the world, mostly work under offshore licenses from the Philippines, the Isle of Man, Macau, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

The policy of the Eastern bookmaker’s offices is different from the Western, so they have gained a certain reputation that allows them to attract professional betters from all over the world. For example, in Asia, they do not have limits of bets for experienced players who carry out their analysis.

European Bookmakers | 1X2 Bets | Fixed Odds

This is the oldest model. These bookmakers simply offer odds on matches and customers can bet on these events. This model is more profitable for European bookmakers and crush 98%+ of the people who are using them not only because this is not a fair model (they take huge margins on the odds) but also only allow small or losing players to bet with them. Winners are not welcome, specially not if they bet big and understand how to exploit their entire model.

Here is an example of a 1X2 bet on a Champions League math from Bet365. FC Barcelona wins @ 1.16 / Draw @ 7.00 / Boavista FC wins @ 20.00, we can figure out the margin, (1/1.16)+(1/7.00) + (1/20.00) = 1.0549 (The 5.49% is the margin).

The reason they are also called 1×2 or Fixed odds bookmakers is because they mainly focus on Win-Draw-Lose outcomes and the odds are not directly affected by money that is being bet. They also offer a very big variety of special bets like over-under, correct score, both teams to score, goalscorers and so on. These types of bets are charged with bigger profit margin. Bookmakers in this category are nearly all the bookmakers the big betting public know. Some of the European 1×2 bookmakers are Unibet, Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill, bwin. Since these bookmakers allow no big winning players, they don’t have to fear huge losses. This is their weak point as odds adjustment often is slow and can be exploited.


These types of bookmakers directly link players and charge a commission for their services and do not risk losing money in the process. Betfair™ and Matchbook are the biggest examples. Exchanges like Betfair™ are mostly used for sports trading since the commission fee only is charged on the net winnings.

Though exchanges are getting popular globally, Asian players still love fixed odds plus Asian handicap which will be explained as below.

Asian Bookmakers | Asian Handicap | Dynamic Odds

These types of bookmakers offer a newer model that is much fairer overall. Unlike 1×2 bookmakers, they focus on Asian handicaps to offer 50%-50% type bets on a football match which allows then to offer dynamic lines that move directly based on the money that comes in. For example, if 50%-50% odds are Home 1.952 – Away 1.952 and I bet let’s say 1000€ on the home side the odds will instantly change to 1.892-2.01. This way they created a self-regulating system where the market sets the price. They allow for bigger bets and winning players are welcome as they help them set the lines correct. The way they make profit is by having huge turnovers which allows them to only changer small margins compared to the European business model. A side effect is that most of the times the odds are set very tight. Another important to know is that big money always comes into the Asian market first and the European market adjust their odds based on the this a tiny bit later. The most used Asian bookmakers are Pinnacle, SBOBET, ISN, 188Bet

How Asian Handicaps work? Asian handicaps work like handicaps in NBA or NFL with the only difference that sometimes there is a “half win” or a “half loss” where part of the stake is returned. The over / under lines work in a similar way. It might be confusing at first, but it will become clear and easy to understand as the picture below.

7 differences about the Asian Sportsbook (compares to European)

  1. Their traders take positions in games and keep the prices. Others just follow the market. This also means that most of these Asian sportsbooks attract many arbitrage activities, they do not block professional gamblers who place only bets without risks.
  2. Websites are simple, user friendly and usually available in more Asian languages: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and sometimes Japanese even.
  3. Have more focus on the Asian Handicap market.
  4. Lower margin (maybe lowest) and average odds are much higher than traditional books.
  5. Football odds are extremely competitive, they offer high limits and allow the duplication of the selected outcomes. However, the prices for the other sports are not the best.
  6. 24-hour customer support via email, telephone and Live Chat in Chinese.
  7. They never bar from the withdrawal of winnings, no matter how large they may be.

Asian Sportsbook Types

Landed Shops: Asian Bookmakers such as Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), Macau Jockey Club (MJC) or Macau Slot, have dozens landed shops in Hong Kong and Macau. There are also thousands landed shops in China which they all belong to the state-owned 「China Sport Lottery」.

Cash Site: Players can bet with the exact amount of their deposits only, no credits allowed. These types of bookmakers values chances of sponsoring a well-known European football club because they will need to strength their credibility in order to build bettors’ trust for more deposits.

Credit Site: Players can bet within a certain amount of credits; this usually go with high-stake bettors and the credits are authorized by their affiliates.

Affiliate Attitude

Affiliates may be the most important key element to a bookmaker’s success in Asia. The affiliate offerings can be very aggressive among different competitors. Bookmakers never set limits on how much money affiliates can make with them, they all share the same consensus: whoever get more affiliates’ help wins.

Common affiliate offerings are revenue shares, acquisition bonus, referral commission of affiliates (possible pyramid affiliate structure), deposit commission and so on.

Speaking of which, Singbet, one of the biggest private bookmakers in Asia offers the most football leagues and events both pre-match and in-play and it operate a 「shareholder」 business model, which pays-out lucrative commissions and rewards to agents. Minimum 45% position taking for the agents, i.e. only 45% of the bet staked is valid.

You can enter the Asian sports betting market if you have a partner that is worth to be trusted, and who understands the specifics of the region. You also need to understand the features of the promotion, the needs of the audience, deal with financial issues very carefully and avoid all the pitfalls.







于给力总是双唇微张呆滞地坐着,然后在众人的提醒下回神向前方的加注回应,他看一眼手牌,一边大喊一声哎呀这么好的牌不玩可惜了,一边又双唇微张着呆滞地将牌扔向牌堆。我曾偷看过他扔掉的那些所谓好牌,委实烂牌。但这又着实令我对他大智若愚的造型肃然起敬,原来这,就是Poker Face。


Once Upon a Time in #426 (刘开开/于给力/汪若海/陆太远 – 2010)









未等如火如荼的线下比赛遭遇牌照续约的铁锤,中国的线上扑克也迅速随着约局模式的擦边球创新粉墨登场,互联网能量井喷式爆发,线上约局一时蔚然成风。然而这并没有给我们的线上业务送来任何一丝温暖的东风,旷日持久的合规问题除了能令我们在道德高度上自我标榜与不断完善,根本无法允许我们在事实层面上推动中国内地市场任何形式的推广,等于只给挖战壕却不给开枪或白刃战。我们唯一能做的,就是把合规的线下比赛办的如火如荼来增加自然曝光。你要问这是为什么?我只能告诉你俺们只靠品牌就能实现nature growth。但如果你还要再追问这是为什么?全公司都他妈是在为法务那帮讼棍打工这事儿,打死我也不说。








十年也好,二十年也罢,结束了就是结束了,没开始就是没开始。我突然想起公司的Slogan,「We Are Poker」,扑克之星也许是一代扑克人共同的回忆,但人们早就对它不再保有人生若只如初见。一家公司从来就不是扑克的全部,它只是包含与被包含捶与被捶的关系,它完整了扑克,扑克完整了我们。但我还是相信,随着扑克之星的离开华人玩家中仍然有人不免如我这般抚今追昔,即便这样的人已经不多。当我们回头重新品味定义自己曾经走过的扑克之路,除了那些丰碑礼赞经验教训外,对于时代的回忆至多也不过令你我在记忆深处得到些许牛逼哄哄的顾影自怜和不为人知的伤感与美好罢了。于是我开始本能地有点相信,扑克并不是选择离开了我们,而是选择存在于它应该存在的地方。继续向前追寻,你的真诚就躺在梦开始的地方。十年,回忆起来似乎还很近,又实实在在的遥远了,我甚至没有什么像样的经历能把这十年时间填满,逝者如斯。