Autonomous Region of Macau and Hong Kong are one of the biggest hubs of Poker Players in Asia and the World in general.
Although poker cash games are illegal in the country, operators and organizers have been innovative in their offerings of poker tournaments to address the growing population of poker players in the country. It is not unheard of to find legal poker rooms in Beijing or Shanghai running tournaments that offer goods that can be converted to cash as prizes.
And because of this strategy, China has been able to hold some of the biggest tournaments in the region. Becoming quite popular as a poker destination is the island of Sanya, a beach paradise found in the southernmost part of the Hainan province. Due to its tropical weather, Sanya has been the venue of most of the poker tournaments held in China. It has hosted tournaments like the WPT, APT and the China Poker Games Event. Tournaments like this also bolster tourism for Sanya which China is promoting as a tourist destination.
Poker is very popular in Hong Kong, and up until 2010 a number of poker clubs operated here, in the belief that poker was legal as well as mahjong, so these clubs operated in the open until the police ended up shutting them down, and driving the poker clubs underground.
Again though, there is at least some uncertainty about whether poker is actually illegal here, but with potential jail time on the line, many players are leery of getting caught and this has had a big impact on the live poker scene here, although it still exists.
Getting to Macau couldn’t be easier. You can either fly into Macau’s international airport, get the Sky Shuttle Helicopter from Hong Kong or get a boat from one of the free ferry ports in Hong Kong; Kowloon, Sheung Wan or from Hong Kong’s international airport (If you opt for the later, don’t leave immigration as the ferry check-in is done from inside the airport terminal).
If you’re visiting Macau to play Poker, it’s hard to beat the Cotai Strip – which is a collection of hotels that are linked to each other via walkways, restaurants and shopping malls.
What’s great about choosing one of the hotels on the strip is that you’ll be within walking distance to 2 of the 3 spots where you can play no limit texas hold’em in Macau; the Venetian and the Poker Stars room located at the City of Dreams.
There are 5 spots in play Texas Hold’em in Macau:
The Wynn hotel and casino is generally considered the best spot in Macau for high-stakes cash games, and it’s also considered to have the best facilities, chairs and comfort. I played here on my previous trip but did not visit on this trip, but I hear the stakes are 50/100 with a minimum 50,000 buy-in (HKD). If you’re interested in playing high-stakes, The Wynn would be a great place to check out.
The Venetian has many cash games, from 25/50 with a buy-in between 2,000 and 15,000 to 100/200 if my memory serves corrected. The chairs here are especially comfortable, and it was mainly a Chinese/Asian crowd when I visited with about 6-8 tables in play.
The Poker Stars Room is situated in the City of Dreams complex, a stone’s throw away from the St. Regis and the Hard Rock Cafe hotels. The starting rake here is also 25/50 with buy-ins from 2,000 to 5,000 – which I personally really liked. This is also the only spot where I had to queue, albeit only 20 minutes (I hear this can easily extend to 60 minutes).
Once the biggest poker game in the world, the buy-in at the Starworld Casino once topped one million dollars. But the Poker King outfit who ran the game has now moved on to the Venetian, taking the heavy hitters with them.
Starworld still run poker games, but it’s more local and low-key. Expect small to medium stakes and pots. There are eight tables, with at least some in action round the clock.
The newest poker room in Macau is proof that the game is gaining in popularity. It’s also run by Poker Kings, and you’ll find it well designed, comfortable and staff who are calm and collected.
You’ll also find the cheapest stakes in town with stakes available at HK$10/20. The room is open twenty-four hours a day.
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