Canada’s Amaya, owner of the Rational Group brands PokerStars and Full Tilt, has announced a series of initiatives to grow the game of poker across the world, particularly in the lucrative Asian market.

The company said it is committed to supporting the growth of poker in Japan and China through its PokerStars B2C brand.

It has already agreed a sponsorship of the new 2015 Nanjing Millions event which takes place next month at the Beijing Star Poker Club in Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre, Jiangsu Province.

The APPT (Asia Pacific Poker Tour) China poker tournament has been sanctioned by the Jiangsu Provincial Chess Sports Association and is sponsored by PokerStars.net. It takes places between April 14th and 19th and will include a CN¥1m guaranteed main event.

"The growth of poker in China has been tremendous and we are committed to support this sport throughout the region," said APPT president Danny McDonagh. "Nanjing is a key location that allows players from all over the country to participate. The previous two Beijing events last year were very successful and we are proud to be a part of this government-supported event."

PokerStars.net also unveiled its newest celebrity brand ambassador, Japanese model and actress Yuiko Matsukawa. She joins a roster of PokerStars sponsored celebrities including Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo, and poker professional Daniel Negreanu.

As brand ambassador, Matsukawa will participate in poker tournaments and marketing activities to promote poker as a game of skill. She recently competed in the Macau Poker Cup at PokerStars LIVE Macau, a stop on the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT).

PokerStars said that it is committed to support the growth of poker in Japan and recently expanded the PokerStars Japanese team which now includes Japan's first-ever World Series of Poker bracelet winner Naoya Kihara and top online poker player Kosei Ichinose.

Yesterday marked the first day of the European Poker Tour’s first ever event in Malta with the EPT Malta Poker Festival.

The 12-day event, presented by PokerStars, run until March 28th and takes place at the Portomaso Casino with 69 scheduled tournaments and over 30 cash game tables available.

The EPT Malta tournament schedule will also feature an invitation-only charity poker tournament on March 21st, with all proceeds going towards Right To Play, PokerStars' official charity partner.

Alongside the signing of popular poker professional Jason Somerville to Team PokerStars Pro, PokerStars recently announced the launch of its official Twitch channel, which will host a wide variety of entertaining and educational content, including streams from other members of Team PokerStars Pro.

Somerville has a successful Twitch feed with more than 3m unique viewers who watch Somerville's real-time play, commentary and strategic advice. Somerville has been live-streaming his 'Run it UP!' series to followers on YouTube and Twitch for the past 18 months and is one of the most popular poker stream on Twitch.

Rational Group also announced Tuesday that it has launched an emergency appeal to assist CARE International’s response to the cyclone that devastated the Oceanian island of Vanuatu. As with previous appeals of this nature, PokerStars and Full Tilt will match $1 for $1 the amount donated by players and staff through FPPs (Frequent Player Points) in the VIP Store or cash via CARE.

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