Macau may be packed to the rafters with historical monuments, fine dining establishments and up market bars, but it has forged its appeal as a tourist magnet on its burgeoning reputation as one of the world’s leading gambling hotspots.
James Bond aficionados may recall Macau being a key location in “The Man With The Golden Gun” and the district has been immortalised in many other works of fiction. Bond himself however may find himself both shaken and stirred if he were to see the development that has taken place in Macau since that 1974 film.
Las Vegas may still proudly boast the prestigious World Series of Poker, but in terms of sheer gambling revenue, Macau has left even Vegas trailing in its wake, pulling in over $20 billion in revenue per annum. Nearly 30 million tourists per year now come to spend time in the area’s string of high-end casinos and there is something to whet every gambler’s appetite, whether they be looking to spend some time at the blackjack tables, shooting some craps or sitting down to a game of poker.
In recent years there have been whispers of the biggest poker cash games taking place in Macau with luminaries such as Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Phil Ivey making regular trips to test their skills against some of Asia’s most wealthy entrepreneurs. Whilst you may not be bankrolled to jump straight into those nosebleed high stakes cash games just yet, this article will take you through some of the multitudinous gambling options available within the Macau casinos.
Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança
Anyone familiar with the Las Vegas gambling experience will recognize this name immediately. A byword for style and sophistication in the American city, Venetian Macau has established a similar reputation with extravagance and opulence the main themes inspiring the décor.
The Italian-themed casino has a shopping mall, 3000 room hotel and a stream of gondoliers swarming its faux canals and that’s all before you consider the wealth of shows and culinary attractions also available. Above all though, there are ample gaming opportunities, with the Venetian’s generous gaming area hosting all the usual table games from Blackjack to Baccarat to Roulette to Pai Gow.
There is also a poker room with mainly low-stakes cash games (HK$10/$25, HK$25/$50 and occasionally HK$50/$100 at weekends (roughly USD$1/$2, $3/$6 and $6/$12 respectively). Although poker is not the main focus of the casino, this is nonetheless a great place to play some small stakes cash games in stylish surroundings. If you tire of playing, there is usually live music and the Bellini Lounge to relax and wind down in.
PokerStars Macau/Grand Lisboa
Casino Grand Lisboa, Avenida do Dr Rodrigo & Avenida Infante D Henrique, Avenida De Lisboa
Poker players visiting the Grand Lisboa are extremely well catered for, with a very healthy 33 poker tables within the card room. Cash games between HK$10/$25 (USD$1/$2) and HK$50/$100 (USD $6/$12) are spread regularly, meaning players of low to medium stakes shouldn’t have a problem finding a game here. Indeed, arrive during some of the big tournaments hosted here and you may even find bigger games such as HK$100/$200 (USD $12/$24) running.
Action is not limited to cash games either as the card room hosts regular weekly tournaments as well as being home to the Macau leg of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), Macau Poker Cup (MPC) and the Macau Millions. The casino tries to look after its poker players with free beer, soft drinks and sandwiches available to patrons of the card room.
Poker King Club
StarWorld Casino, Avenida da Amizade
Whenever you hear hushed voices speaking of some enormous pot raked in by Phil Ivey or Patrik Antonius in Macau, the chances are it took place at the Poker King Club at the StarWorld Casino. The Poker King Club plays host to Macau’s notorious nosebleed stakes games, and although these usually take place behind closed doors, there’s a good chance you may brush shoulders with some of the biggest names in poker here.
You don’t have to hide away, waiting for a glimpse of Ivey or Dwan either, but can pass the time in the card room playing cash games from HK$10/$25 to HK$100/$200. The card room is large, although with just 11 tables, there is plenty of space and you needn’t worry about enthusiastic waiters bumping into your chair during a key pot.
Rua Cidade de Sintra, Level 2, City of Dreams Casino, Estrada do Istmo
Another casino built in the image of its illustrious Vegas namesake, the Wynn is the busiest poker room in Macau, with games from HK$10/$25 right up to HK$500/$1000 spread when the big poker tournaments are in town.
It is also the only Macau casino to offer Pot Limit Omaha games (as high as HK$100/$200), meaning the card room stays full of eager action junkies any time of the week. Its popularity is a double-edged sword however as you may end up spending time waiting for a seat to be vacated but once you are sat, you won’t be short of action.