Online Poker in South Korea

Online poker is now very popular in South Korea. While the game only started to boom here in the past few years, it is a natural fit. For generations Koreans have played strategy board games such as Baduk (Go), Janggi (Korean Chess) and Hwatu-style card games. Such games are mostly about outthinking, outsmarting and outplaying opponents which are skills very useful to poker players.

starcraft and pokerPerhaps it was the several high profile champions from StarCraft having had poker success that put it on the Korean map. Today it is an activity enjoyed by Koreans from all walks of life including gamers, student, workers, and even business professionals.

There are now four high-profile real money poker sites that service our country. Unfortunately, we’re yet to find a poker site who offers their software in Korean. As soon as we do we will be sure to update this page.

If you are looking for more details on Korean poker you can keep reading. If you are a in a hurry to play poker online you can select a website from the list below.

  • Rank
  • Site
  • Deposit Method
  • Bonus
  • Visit Site

The top two websites on the above list are the ones most Koreans will want to use. Depositing at DafaPoker is very easy. For sending money by bank wire, you need to log-in, click live chat, and ask the customer support agent for the information required to deposit to their Korean bank. Korean players who play at Dafa also have the option of using Skrill/Moneybookers, as well as using a Skrill issued credit card.

At Bet365 you can register an account for free, visit the cashier, select credit card or local bank transfer and find instructions for depositing in Korean won (KRW). All of the above options are extremely safe – I explain why below.

Using DafaPoker

Dafa (www.dafapoker.com) are one of the top choices for Korean online poker players. They are fully licensed in the Philippines and their poker site is both safe and reliable.

Dafa are a huge brand, both in Asia and Europe. They are the official betting and gaming partner of both Everton and West Bromwich Albion of the English Premier League (EPL).

They operate on the iPoker Network managed by Playtech. This is the largest skin-based online poker network and one of the largest publicly traded software companies combined. iPoker is licensed, regulated and audited in many countries for security and game fairness.

Dafabet accepts Korean won (KRW) deposits transferred from your local bank branch and pays winnings using the same method. They also accept Moneybookers.

The reason we’ve chosen them ahead of Bet365 is because they are more actively involved in the Asian market.

Using Bet365

Bet365 are another top choice for a number of reasons. Firstly they accept deposits in Won currency, so we can deposit, withdraw and keep our account balances in local currency. Secondly they have a large range of deposit options. I have been able to deposit here using both credit and debit cards, as well as a selection of ewallets. They do not support local bank transfer though it is possible to send an international wire.

Using PokerStars.com

PokerStars is the world’s largest online poker site. As with most online poker sites, they do not offer local bank transfer nor do they support Korean won currency.

You should open your account in Euro and deposit with an e-wallet. The main reason to use PokerStars is it’s MASSIVE tournaments with big prizes as well as it’s wide selection of non-Holdem poker variants. Here you can find plenty of traffic for the Korean card game Badugi and can also play 7-Card Stud, Omaha, Triple Draw, Razz and other non-mainstream card games.

Using 188Bet Poker

188Bet Poker does not support Korean won currency. You should select Euro as your account currency when opening an account. They also do not support local bank transfer. To deposit here you will need to use EntroPay or an e-wallet such as Skrill.com or NETELLER.com. I cover the Skrill instructions in my article on Korean sports betting.

The reason that this might be worth it (despite the added hassle depositing) is the games are VERY SOFT! They operate on the MPN network (formerly named MicroGaming) and have anonymous tables the same as Bodog Poker. The real draw here is they have more player volume than Bodog and a lot of these players come from casinos of the network partners. Many of these players are just gamblers and not very good at poker.

Using Bodog88 Poker

Important update: Please note Bodog88 no longer take poker players from Korea. Only players in China may play poker at Bodog88.

Bodog88 gets our nod as the one of top poker sites for South Korea for two primary reasons. The first is this is the Asian version of one of the oldest and largest gambling companies servicing North America. In business for over 19-years they have never had a payout complaint. You can fund your account in Korean won (KRW), play poker in USD, and then – when you win – cash out in Korean won. This is all done seamlessly and involves no currency conversion fees. Their payout method is local Korean bank transfer which is the same as their deposit method.

The thing I like most about Bodog88 is many of their players come from China, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam where poker is not as popular as it is in Korea and other parts of the world. This makes for some of the softest poker games found on the internet.

One of the other ways they keep these games soft is by making the tables anonymous. Here you do not get a user name at the table but will rather be labeled as Player 1, Player 2 etc. which changes each time you take a new seat.

If you are a recreational player understand anonymous poker is a GREAT thing. This stops good players from taking notes on you, using software to determine your playing style, and then finding you at future dates to exploit your weaknesses. On average recreational players will fare better at Bodog Poker than other online poker rooms. While we here at AsiaBet aren’t huge fans of anonymous poker, we do see the benefits, hence why Bodog is a must have for our list of Korean poker sites.

Advice for New Poker Players

First, it’s important to understand people play poker for all different reasons. If you are playing for social interaction or just for a gamble no problem – www.dafapoker.com is a great website to use. The games here are very soft and casual players win quite often. For those playing for the competition, or ideas of riches, who dream about moving up in stakes and taking on the world’s best – I encourage you to slow down, but to also know this is possible. I will even give you some success stories for motivation.

famous korean poker players

Some of Korea’s most famous poker players, from left to right: Kevin Hong, Somyung Sim, Steve Sung and Nani Hallison

Jimmy Cha (Ch’a Min-su) is someone you may never have heard of, but he moved from South Korea to the United States in 1975 and has made a career as a gamer the old fashioned way (not online). He also happens to have a black belt in Martial Arts and was National Amateur Baduk (Go) champion twice in the 1970’s before moving to the US. He won many gaming championships and the Hanguk Kiwon issued him an award for spreading the game of Go around the world. Along the way he had success in poker too, cashing seven times in the WSOP and once in the WPT.

More famous than Jimmy Cha is Nani Dollison. This South Korean born female poker player has 23 career cashes in major tournaments including 5 victories which includes 3 WSOP bracelets.

Let’s also not forget Kevin Song. He is a South Korean born poker pro and resides here today. He has cashed in 6 WPT events and 29 WSOP events and has won a single WSOP bracelet.

South Korean player Somyung Sim (심소명) is best known in the game StarCraft under his pseudonym s.s.m~[SiLvEr]. However he also final tabled the Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Macau event in 2008.

Last but not least, the most successful South Korean poker player is Steve Sung (online poker user name: MuGGyLiCiOuS). Sung has cashed in 12 WSOP events winning 1 bracelet and cashed in 10 WPT events making 3 final tables. He has career poker tournament winnings of $3,276,306 USD.

While I don’t know these players personally, I strongly suspect each spent thousands of hours studying poker and improving their game. This is a great game to play for fun and you can improve in time. Those who become great at it are not players who put money they can’t afford to lose at risk. My advice is to take it slow, play with money you can afford to lose, keep studying the game and having fun.