Caribbean Stud in Macau

MacauMacau was the first European colony in Asia and walking through it, the only clues you’re in Asia is Chinese population, street signs and language. If it wasn’t for these clues you might assume you were either in Europe or Las Vegas. Here you can take in amazing views, visit historical sites including the Guia Fort, Monte Fort and the Ruins of St. Paul’s, or head to Fisherman’s Wharf to enjoy theme-park activities and shopping. Or you can embrace an experience larger than Las Vegas, in Macau’s enormous luxury casinos.

Macau Casino History

As the only region of China where gambling is fully legal, the corporations building casinos here spared no expense. You see, after more than 400 years of Portuguese rule on 20-December-1999 Macau became the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. With a new policy of “one country, two systems” China promised Macau at least 50-years of independence in all matters other than foreign affairs and defence. Macau has its own currency, passports, immigration policies, police and laws. Prior to this independence there were already casinos in Macau, most all of them owned by Stanley Ho and his family. His company Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) now owns 20 Macau casinos today including the famed Grand Lisboa.

In 2002 Macau started expanding and offering new gambling licenses. This brought Hong Kong Stock Exchange traded Galaxy Entertainment Group to the market who now owns five Macau casinos Grand Waldo, President, Rio, StarWorld and Waldo. It also brought Australia gambling giant Crown Limited who owns City of Dreams and two other casinos on the Cotai Strip. And finally, Las Vegas showed up with Las Vegas Sands Corporation building the Venetian, Plaza and Sands; Wynn building a matching Wynn Macau and Wynn Encore, and MGM building a Macau version of MGM grand. Just like that, in short order, Macau became the largest gambling destination in the world in terms of revenue.

Caribbean Stud Poker in Macau

Although Baccarat, Slots, and on a lesser scale Texas Hold’em Poker, are the main gambling draws for Macau, most all casino table games are available. Having taken several Macau trips for poker tournaments, I’ve found Caribbean Stud tables in all of the major casinos including the Wynn, Grand Lisboa, the Galaxy and the Venetian. On my last trip in December 2012, I spotted a large neon-sign impossible to miss outside the Wynn that was advertising a big progressive jackpot and as a result spent most of my time playing there. No progressive for me that time unfortunately, but i’ll keep plugging away. My local Macau fortune teller has told me “big luck awaits me”. We’ll see 🙂

The table stakes were normal for Macau standards but a bit high for a westerner like me who is used to Las Vegas stakes. Here the ante was $200HKD minimum and $4000HKD maximum. The progressive jackpot, which was at 2.75 million at 2PM and 2.86 million by midnight, cost $25HKD to participate in. To put this into perspective in the United States $5 min ante games are very common. $200HKD is about $26US, so with the raise bet – just to play a hand here the stake is $78, as compared to $15 it costs back home. The $25HKD is about $3.25 US, so this is over three times larger bet than the $1 side bet in the US. Again though by Macua standards the stakes are quite reasonable.

If you decide to play Caribbean Stud Poker make sure you have Hong Kong Dollars on you to buy chips at the table. If you make mistake many of us do on the first trip and initially exchange for Macanese Pataca ($MOP) you’ll need to head to the casino cage and get $HKD as Hong Kong Dollars are the only currency accepted for gambling. In the rest of the town you can spend HKD or MOP interchangeably, this is true with taxis, food stands, shops or anywhere else.

Once you’ve bought into the table with HKD, everything else is as expected. The payouts are exactly the same for the raise bet as covered on my page Caribbean Stud rules, and as found in any Las Vegas casino. For the $25HKG progressive the odds are not nearly as good as the otherwise still poor progressive odds in the US. In the US the side bet is $1.00 in Macau $25, so if the payouts were the same by stake we’d multiply the US pay-tables by 25 and see the payouts should be Flush $1250, Full House $2500 and 4 of a kind $12,500. In Macua however the payouts are Flush $1000, Full House $1500 and 4 of a Kind $5000 with the same 10% for straight flush and 100% for royal flush we’re used to. This leads to much larger house edge. So the bet costs more and the house is keeping much more. I haven’t run the exact math but with the jackpot at 2.87 million the house has about a 35% advantage on this side bet.

Conclusion

In short, while I enjoyed playing my favourite casino game some 9,000 miles from home, there wasn’t anything special about the game Caribbean Stud Poker in Macau itself. I’d much rather play online at whichever internet casino is offering the best odds. Or to wait until my next Borgata Poker Open trip and play in Atlantic City which is a near Mecca for any Caribbean Stud Poker fan.

To learn more about casinos in Macau check out Wikitravel Entry: Macau