December 16, 2010


All figures in Hong Kong Dollars:

Blackjack-1000President's Casino
Sic Bo-1000The Lisboa
Sic Bo-500MGM Grand
Blackjack-1000MGM Grand
Sic Bo+800MGM Grand
Blackjack-1350MGM Grand
Sic Bo-1500Golden Sands
Sic Bo+100The Plaza

In Macau, the blackjack dealer doesn't deal a face down card to himself on the initial deal. Dealer's second card is played face up during the final showdown after the players have received their cards already. This small difference with the Vegas style shouldn't make a difference in the odds, but the different pace and flow seems to throw off my game. At least that's my excuse for the horrific losses I suffered at the hands of Macau's gleaming new casinos.

Blackjack isn't really Macau's game of choice anyway, with only a few tables scattered here and there. The Chinese clientele don't like the slow pace and the painful decisions required to play by the book, e.g. hit on a 15 against a showing 10 even though the odds aren't good either way. Instead the floor space is devoted to baccarat, a game of pure chance where the players flip over the cards but have no real influence on them. Nevertheless, it's customary for the player to squeeze and bend the corner up to see the card, with such intensity that the cards become marked and must be discarded after only one play. But the hands move fast, with high stakes, and the odds are reasonably fair, no thinking required. Strange to see so many men who made their fortunes through grim ambition and painful effort throw it away upon pure chance. Even though the casino makes it as if there is a pattern to the independent hands, putting up a computer screen showing the historical pattern of Player vs Banker. Or perhaps they understand well the vagaries of chance, but they're so rich that they can let the 1000HKD bills flutter away like orange-colored confetti just for the sick thrill of it.

I'm certainly not at that level of non-chalance, and a $3500 losing streak right off the bat certainly took the shine off the guys-only trip. Without girlfriend or wife to badger and get us away from the gaming tables, each session pretty much only ended when one of us lost our entire stake, when we should've been walking away earlier when we had small wins. One of the guys was his first time in Macau, but he wasn't interested in sight-seeing, especially when he went on a winning streak right away. He even figured he'd figured out Sic Bo, keeping track of the dice stats, looking for patterns and combining it with a progressive betting system. Didn't want to spoil his fun by noting dice rolls are purely independent random events, and the expected value of Martingale betting is infinity in a bad way. Perhaps he knew that anyway, being a smart guy, but sitting at the table it's only polite to make optimistic chit-chat instead of grimly struggling against the invisible bonds of mathematical fate. At least I managed to drag them across the street from the Grand Lisboa to have an egg tart at Margaret's Cafe e Nata, so they can say they'd experienced local flavour.

Oh well. At least it was money I could afford to lose, and thanks to the wife for being supportive. Hopefully Macau will develop more family-style entertainment alongside the money-sucking gambling black holes. Or at least train their blackjack dealers to bust more often, damn it.

Posted by mikewang on 01:57 PM