Hey Guys. I'm back after recently making my 1st trip over to Macau, it was the culmination of a 1 month trip I had made around Asia (predominantly Thailand). I spent 3+ weeks travelling mainland Thailand (Pattaya) as well as the beautiful islands Koh Samui & Koh Phangan, I have numerous stories from this part of my trip which aren’t really appropriate for FTP however if you see me around I’ll gladly share my misdemeanours with you. So moving on I flew from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok on early hours of Wednesday 7th April & after a 2 hour flight I arrived Macau International Airport at approximately 8:00am so after collecting my luggage I catch the complimentary Venetian, Macao shuttle bus & relax as I enjoy the very short 5/10 minute journey to my hotel.
So upon on arriving & queuing for check-in I’m told they don’t have a room available & I’ll have to wait until 14:00 (It’s like 9:00am now) so I’m like 3,000+ suites & non available? But anyway whatever I’ll camp over the poker room for the morning/afternoon. I head towards the casino & 1st impressions is top draw, it’s a mirror image of it’s Las Vegas sister hotel only 3x size & flooded with Baccarat tables.
Note - I quickly learnt that Baccarat is the game of choice out there & it’s played at astronomically high stakes, my understanding is the high stakes Baccarat players are responsible for Macau’s gaming revenue competing with Las Vegas.
So after a quick scout about I head to the concierge desk & sign up for the Cotai Rewards Club card as I’m not wanting to miss out on any comps whilst grinding the side games. I then proceed to the poker room which is most disappointing, 1st off their isn’t any games running & when I ask the guy he explained the only game going died off around 6:00am & he doesn’t expect things to pick up again until after lunch. I took a quick look at the spread of games whilst I was their just to get an idea of what’s on offer (All games are in currency HKD);
For your information below is the current exchange rate in accordance with http://www.xe.com/ as of April 21st 2010;
Exchange Rate: £83.66GBP = $1000HKD
However I found it easier whilst calculating quickly in my head to exchange £100GBP = $1000HKD, so for example the $10-$25 I played as the equivalent to £1.00-£2.50 obviously this meant I generally had a bit more than I thought but it was way easier to calculate things.
Note - In Macau you can choose to spend either Honk Kong Dollar (HKD) or Macau Pataca (MOP) however the poker rooms only deal with HKD so if your going as I did with the sole intention to play poker then exchange all your GBP into HKD & forget MOP. My understanding is HKD & MOP are like for like in regards to the exchange rate & if there is a difference it’s minimal & not worth worrying about.
Anyway I asked the card room manager where I’ll get a game of poker & he explains quite often (especially midweek) their isn’t a game running around breakfast time, so I’m like sigh. He then further explains that Macau isn’t really a mecca for poker & despite having 30+ casinos only 4 have poker rooms;
All pretty much spread the same cash games (as explained above) but the only casino which offers tournaments is the Grand Lisboa & the other 3 (Wynn, Starworld, Grand Lisboa) are all located in centre Macau whereas Venetian is on Cotai strip.
Note - Cotai strip although planned to be Asia’s equivalent to Las Vegas boulevard is currently just a building site. The only 2 resorts on Cotai strip as of April 2010 were Venetian (including four seasons hotel) & City Of Dreams (including Hard Rock, Crown Towers, & Grand Hyatt) so although both resorts host a number of hotels/casino’s it really isn’t worth staying on Cotai strip until some of the construction is complete & they can offer some more resorts & preferably poker action.
So I’m like right I’m off to centre Macau and not paying ridiculous price’s to stay here when all the action is 15 mile’s away, I check out explaining my reason’s to the concierge & ask for recommendations to stay over centre Macau. I’m giving a number of hotels & choose the Rocks Hotel which is situated in Macau Fisherman’s Wharf which boasts a number of restaurants, attractions (including Babylon casino & Flamingo slot club) & is a 5 minute walk or $13 (£1.30) taxi ride to centre Macau.
I check in with no problems (around 10:30am by now) & after quickly dropping my suit case off I head straight out although in hindsight it would have been optimal to catch up on some sleep but cest la vie. I quickly notice it’s absolute pissing down & I’m walking around in a vest/¾ jeans so must have looked a right clown & over the course of my stay the weather didn’t improve, for some reason I assumed China was really hot all year round (I guess because it’s in Asia) but It wasn’t & subsequently I hadn’t packed appropriate clothing for the trip but whatever I’m sure I’ll make do.
I taxi straight to Wynn as I’m interested to check it out & hopefully get on the felt, by the time I arrive it’s just gone 11:00am so I sign up to the frequent players card & take my seat at the only $10-$25 game they have running. The max buy-in is $3,000 (120BB) & everybody is thereabouts so I buy-in for the max & after building up to approximately $3750 I decide after like an hour to lose my head;
AKc vs. QQ: $10/$25 “$7,500” (I open AKc for $125 from MP & get 3BET by a guy behind to $300, after it’s folded round to me I 4BET $1,000 total which is called. Flop ensues 78Tr (including 1 club) & I continue my aggression leading for 2/3’s of the pot $1400 which again is flat called. Turn brings 3c giving me flush draw & 2 over cards with pot currently $4,800 & I’ve only got $1350 left which of course has no fold equity but at same time I’m not folding & it’s pretty clear now he has JJ/QQ so I might as well be the 1st in the pot & hope to find 1 of my 15 outs on the river. It’s a blank & easy as that I’m a buy-in down, FML.
I’ve no idea why I decided to go berserk with AKc I guess it was a combination of lack of sleep, still drunk from previous night, & for the last 3 weeks I’d played zero poker & just fried my brain with endless amounts of binge drinking but cest la vie. So I reloaded in an attempt to recoup some of my losses when some female Chinese member of staff begins to make a fuss because I’m wearing a vest, saying it doesn’t adhere to the dress code & I must have sleeve’s, so I’m like FFS what should I do then?. I’m advised there’s some clothes stores just outside the casino but still in the Wynn building so leave my chips on the table & head off in search of a t-shirt/jumper only to see they had directed me to shops such as Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Prada, etc. & everything costing north of $1,000 erm no thanks. So I head back to the casino to collect my cash, a little disappointed to leave behind a full buy-in but I think on reflection it was a blessing in disguise because I really wasn’t focused enough & likely I could have tilted away some of if not all of the 2nd buy-in.
So after being asked to leave Wynn I just decided to have a wonder over the MGM Grand to check that place out, it wasn’t overly impressive to be honest the building is a wave like shape & the décor inside is nothing special. There was no poker room here so I didn’t play & was really just looking to grab a bite to eat before I headed for bed as it was approximately 13:00 Wednesday afternoon now & I had been on the go since Tuesday morning after having an all night bender for my last night in Thailand. As I was leaving I noticed an all you can eat buffet just adjacent to the casino entrance doors & still on the MGM Grand premises so I was like bonus, let’s see how it compares to the ‘MGM Grand Buffet’ in Las Vegas & wonder in without paying the blindest bit of attention to the price.
Anyway it was average at best & the selection was limited to Chinese & Japanese food, although the dessert corner was pretty impressive that was about the highlight. I later began to regret not checking the price as when I asked for the bill after eating very little as I must have been full on lager it came in at $280 (£28) which for a buffet isn’t too bad but considering I was only after a quick bite I really wasn’t looking to spend that much but anyway just a schoolboy error I guess, foolish mistake.
Finally after eating I jump in cab & head for my hotel for some much needed sleep, unfortunately $3280 lighter but what can you do & I’ll be ready to take on Macau after a good rest or so I thought. So anyway I arrive back at ‘Rocks Hotel’ for around 14:30 & after taking a couple of quick photo’s of the room, I eventually collapse in my bed & out for approximately 8 hours as I wake up at 23:00.
Unfortunately this is where my trip turns sour as I wake up extremely ill, now considering I’m never ever ill & if I’m honest I don’t remember the last time I was really ill (excluding hangovers) during my entire adult life. But I was in a terrible way, below were the symptoms I was suffering with;
Nausea & Vomiting
Chills & Shivers
Aching Muscles & Bad Back
Lethargic & Disturbed Sleep
Jaundice (Yellow Skin & White Eyes)
So needless to say I was in a bad way & certainly in no fit state to be heading out. So I decided to watch a bit TV & grab a few can’s of coke out the mini bar ($37 each = £3.70 FML) & maybe see if everything would wear off. Several hours later & no improvement so I thought FFS & just soldiered on after jumping in the shower I braved the city about 3:00am & taxied to Grand Lisboa to hit the felt. Here I notice they have a tournament schedule, below is the schedule they ran during April 2010;
Monday: 20:10 $500 KO Bounty
Tuesday: 20:10 $1,000 Deepstack NLH
Wednesday: No Tournament
Thursday: 14:10 Freeroll & 17:00 $100 Rebuy Tournament
Friday: 20:10 $1,000 + 1 Rebuy Tournament
Saturday: 20:10 $1,500 Deepstack NLH
Sunday: 14:10 $3,000 NLH & 18:00 $200 Rebuy Tournament
As well as a couple of APPT Macau satellite’s so in GBP the tournaments ranged from £50-£300 which was ideal for me if I wasn’t too ill to play.
So the only tournament that coincided with my stay & interested me was Fridays at 20:10 the ‘$1,000 + 1 Rebuy Tournament’ so fingers crossed I was feeling better then I would for sure be entering. Anyway I eventually sit at the $10/$20 (Grand Lisboa run’s $10/$20 as opposed to the other 3 which run $10/$25) & table $4,000 which was the table maximum, here I’m told to head to the cage for chips which I then remembered also happened at Wynn. So I investigated as to why their was no chip runners & although nobody knew the reason’s behind it they did say that Starworld was the only casino with chip runners & furthermore Starworld was the only casino that let you build up frequent players points whilst on the felt and the other 3 just had players cards for the house table games. So needless to say I made a mental note to ensure I visited Starworld & to be honest giving that there the only casino adding value with frequent players comps I found it weird that all the regulars weren’t over there, unless of course they were playing a tournament which was exclusive to Grand Lisboa but for the side games anyway.
So yeah I tabled $4,000 (200BB) & after 6/7 hours of running back & forth to the restroom either vomiting, urinating, or with diarrhoea problems I eventually cashed out with $7,650 after having never been all in & called of course I was all in several times either bluffing or value shoving but never called. So around 10:30am (Thursday 8th April) & the table broke which was my cue to head back to the hotel as I was still in a bad way & although the winnings felt good & recouped my 1st day losses it unfortunately didn’t make me feel any better, bearing in mind when I’m in Vegas I’m accustomed to 18+ hour sessions on the felt & now after 7 hours I couldn’t think about anything but getting back to bed demonstrates exactly how bad I was feeling.
So I was tucked back up in bed for 11:00am (Not before making sure I stocked up on cans of coke from the supermarket to save paying the ridiculous mini-bar prices) after having only been out & about 8 hours, although I was tired I just couldn’t sleep & was tossing/turning for several hours. I tried watching TV & I guess their were a few easy watching channels (including ESPN, Sky Sports, & a few movie choices) but nothing fantastic & largely I was quite bored & still extremely sick. 16ish hours later after several disturbed sleep attempts & catching up on the Premiership I built up the strength to brave the city again around 3:00am (Friday 9th April) & after a quick shower I taxied over to Starworld as I’d heard good things about the place the previous night over Grand Lisboa.
So I arrived Starworld approximately 3:15am & after signing up to their frequent players card & a small wait to get seated I was on the felt for 3:45am tabling the maximum at their $10/$25 tables which was $3,000 (120BB). Another disturbed night of running back & forth to the restrooms & by now I hadn’t eaten since 14:00 Wednesday afternoon so I decided to try the steak burger & french fries for $85 which after a couple of fries & 1 bite of the burger I completely wasted, sigh I guess if you’ve no appetite their’s no fighting it.
I met a couple of great guys over Starworld who were also tourists from the USA Victor Chang & Edwin from Las Vegas & Los Angeles respectively, they filled me in on a couple of things regarding Macau notably the protocol regarding tipping;
Note - Macau unlike Las Vegas where tipping is kind of expected (Mandatory almost) you don’t tip at all in Macau. The reason behind this is no casino employee’s see the fruit’s of tips & they go straight up top (Management, Directors, Owners, etc), so yeah rule of thumb in Macau if in a casino don’t tip for anything at all.
Despite being ill & having to sit with toilet roll stuffed up my arse through fear I’d follow through, which might I add happened on at least 2 occasions whilst I was bad. I still managed to leave a big winner after getting my full stack in (was down to about $2,500 at this point) across every street with KK;
KK vs. ??: $10/$25 “$5,000” (I don’t remember how the board ran out (No ace, I know that much) but it was very safe & after calling my PF raise & check calling every street I figured he value’s his hand enough to call a river shove which is exactly what I did & he obliged with the pay-off. He folded face down & have no idea what he had, didn’t really put much thought into it but I knew for sure I was good because he was such an AGRO player that anything better than KK he would have been raising/betting & not calling.)
So yeah another relatively short night as I left before the table even broke approximately 11:30am, after 8 hours of play which will likely sound like a long time but for those familiar with poker sessions will know it’s really short but that said I had to answer to my health which was beyond my control. On a more positive note I was now in the black to the tune of about $1,800 & considering I was too ill too eat, drink, go clubbing, sightsee etc I wasn’t likely to spend that any time fast. So back at the hotel & tucked up in bed for no doubt several more hours of chills/shivers & disturbed sleep but cest la vie I guess I’d just accepted what ‘will be-will be’ by now.
I managed to crawl out of bed a little earlier this time round & got up around 23:00 after 11 hours of being a miserable sick boy in room asaposed to 16 hours which I had on the previous 2 days. So although 15 miles out the way & no comps system in place I headed over Cotai Strip to play at Venetian this was for no other reason than I hadn’t yet played there & really wanted to, so paid the $100 taxi & made the journey.
I had to wait around half an hour for my seat which eventually opened up around midnight, so again with a $3,000 maximum I sat at the $10/$25 & had the equivalent to 120BB. One bonus of playing at Venetian is I particularly wanted to try the hot chocolate to compare it to the hot chocolate over Venetian, Las Vegas which is just the nicest thing ever & need I say complimentary;
Las Vegas Venetian hot chocolate is made from the finest hot cocoa & served in a large long clear cup is boiling hot & deliciously sweet, sugary, creamy. It’s topped with a wonderfully light & fluffy whipped cream which is then sprinkled with chocolate shavings. As Gordon Ramsay would say “It’s fucking brilliant”.
But needless to say Venetian, Macau was a far cry & although I guess it was ok I had high expectations which it just failed miserably to meet, but never mind I kind of expected it to be honest. Moving on anyway after a slightly longer session, mainly because I was chasing & on a table full of clowns I cashed out for a small $500 profit. Basically quick overview is I was AIPF for a full buy-in after half an hour with AA vs. some jack in the box who thought his JJ would be good against me, needless to say the board ran xxJxx & I was a buy-in down. The table was full of calling stations & although in general I found the standard of Macau players to be pretty bad (At least at the $10/$25 level I was playing) this whole table were way below their standard & honestly absolute clueless (Should have been wearing the below caps) in regards to position, bet-sizing, table image, etc so basically their was no way I was leaving my $3,000 behind.
I slowly ground my money back managing to dodge the fish suck-outs & without never really playing a pot bigger than $1,000, so yeah a very slow grind but satisfying to retrieve my buy-in & as said earlier a small $500 profit. It was like 12:30 now & I’d managed over 12 hours on the felt which was a 4 hour improvement on my last 2 nights so bonus, although I didn’t feel it maybe just maybe I was beginning to get a little better. I headed for the exit after navigating through the astronomically sized casino & taxied back to Rocks Hotel arriving around 13:00 where I was pulled at reception, they were “Mr. Trett you were supposed to check out for 12:00?” & I’m like “Oh right it’s Saturday, sorry I completely lost track of time” anyway they were cool about it & as it happens I wanted a snooze (or at least try) before travelling home so I agreed to pay half the room rate which meant I could have it up until 18:00 that evening which was ideal as my flight was 21:30 & I had to be there 2 hours early. So I asked for 17:30 wake up call & headed off to bed, but morale of this story is I’m a complete dumbass.
So after a final 4 & half hours of tossing & turning I get my wake up call, after quickly jumping in the shower & throwing what little stuff I’d worn back in the suitcase I’m out the room about 15 minutes late but left a $50 tip for the cleaners so I’m sure they’ll be cool. Anyway I pay the room which was $4,900 (£490) all in which isn’t too bad & considering I was prepared to pay just shy of £700 for the Venetian I feel like I’d saved. So not due at the airport for another hour I decided to head to the hotel’s business centre & surf the internet for half hour before I book a taxi, whilst there I calculate my poker profit for the trip;
Grand Lisboa: +$3,650
So from my 4 short sessions across all the casinos in Macau that have a poker room I was 3/4 & showed a tidy profit of $3,150 (£315), I honestly think if I was feeling 100% & putting in some long real sessions I could have made quite a bit more but easy come easy go I suppose & all said ‘N’ done profit is profit. So I left for the airport around 19:30 arriving for 19:45 in good time to catch my 21:30 flight home which was the 1st of 3 flights & a nightmare 29 hour journey home;
Macau International Airport: 2 hours
Macau - Bangkok: 2 hours
Suvarnabhumi Bangkok Airport: 3 hours
Bangkok - Amsterdam: 14 hours
Schiphol Amsterdam Airport: 6 hours (Missed Connecting Flight)
Amsterdam - Newcastle: 1 hour
Newcastle International Airport: 1 hour (Mark Late)
Total Travel Time: 29 hours
So in conclusion Macau is a lot of fun, although my trip was seriously spoilt by me taking ill I could still see it for what it was. I’d read reports comparing it to Las Vegas, saying “Vegas better stand up & take notice”, “Macau is elbowing it’s way to the gambling mecca of the world”, etc well IMO that’s a load of nonsense’s because unless you’re a seriously sick high stakes Baccarat player then your far better off in Las Vegas then Macau. Don’t get me wrong Macau is great fun but for UK tourists who have the same distance West to travel to get to Vegas as they do East to get to Macau for me there would be only 1 winner, for starters Vegas is half price to get to, accommodation whilst there, & almost everything during your stay is cheaper. Below I’ll give a quick comparison;
Casinos: Las Vegas has 120+ compared to Macau’s 30+, with the exception of Macau’s Venetian the casinos in Macau are tiny in comparison to it’s Western brother. The table game spread in Macau is almost all Baccarat & you literally struggle to find a Blackjack or Roulette table, this is of course not the case in Las Vegas.
Hotels: Like Las Vegas most of Macau’s hotel’s are integrated into the casinos, however there on average 3x more expensive which isn’t a problem if your only staying for 3 nights like me but if your there for a week or 2 the cost of accommodation can become rather pricey.
Food: I unfortunately can’t comment on the quality of food in Macau as I was ill for the majority, but I will say this the price of food is astronomical (At least where I ate) & everybody knows how cheap & good the food is in Vegas.
Bars/Clubs/Gentleman Clubs: Again I unfortunately missed out on experiencing this side of Macau due to my illness, maybe a blessing in disguise because I know I can get a bit flash when I’m out & with the price of Macau I’d have probably bankrupted myself. But I can say that I’ve been to some of the best bars, clubs, & strip joints in the world over in Vegas & quite frankly I’ll be very surprised if Macau even come’s close.
Staff: I guess it’s kind of like comparing the Chinese’s vs. Americans & both are IMO 1st class people, obviously I don’t speak Chinese/Cantonese so the language barrier was a problem but they really did try their up most to help me & over come the language barrier. Personally I found staff at both Macau & Las Vegas to be most pleasant with no complaints about either.
Poker: Need I answer this? Macau has 4 casinos to play whereas almost every casino in Las Vegas has poker of some sort catering to your average recreational tourists to the highest stakes players in the world including the likes of Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey & Co & of course it's home to the world famous WSOP.
Comps: Again hands down Las Vegas winner, particularly for poker players as in Macau Starworld is the only casino offering comps whilst over in Vegas pretty much every casino has a comps system of some sort in place for it’s frequent poker players.
In a nutshell & to use a poker term, Las Vegas is the nuts baby & although I guess Macau is the closet city in the world to it as MC Hammer would say “Can’t Touch This”. My recommendation for what it’s worth is if your in Asia, the flights are real cheap so book up making sure you stay Central Macau & check it out. I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself but I’m certain anybody that’s been to both Vegas & Macau will agree, no place like Vegas.
Thanks for reading guys, I hope you enjoyed my Macau trip.
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