Macau on the Chinese mainland has popped up as the biggest gambling city in Asia, if not the whole world. With big casinos, a high level of safety and truly exotic settings, Macau is definitely worth a visit.
Being an old Portuguese colony, Macau was repatriated to China in 1999. Just like nearby Hong Kong, though, Macau still has its own government and currency. Here, the Far East mixes with old Europe and the glittering glamour of Las Vegas.
The Macau skyline with the famous Macao Tower bungy jumping platform
Gambling nothing new in Macau
Until 2002, local casino mogul Stanley Ho held a monopoly on casinos in Macau. Since then the government has been handing out gaming licenses. Famous Las Vegas casino operators like Wynn, Sands and MGM Grand have arrived on the scene and opened up resorts in Macau.
It should be clear right away that most of the gaming in Macau is not poker. The most popular game is Baccarat, a card game very different from poker. Pai Gow is also big.
Nevertheless, the Macau government allowed Texas Holdem in January 2008, and the number of available tables grows by the day.
Macau on the Chinese mainland near Hong Kong
You shouldn't have any trouble finding a game to your liking if you go to Macau today, and in a year from now Macau could start to resemble Vegas, even when it comes to poker.
Let's have a look at the casinos that offer poker today (or in a near future).
Grand Waldo Casino - Poker Stars Live Poker Room
When Poker Stars opened its live poker room at the Grand Waldo Casino in Macau, it was definitely a huge step in making Macau Poker a credible concept.
In this poker room, run by the biggest internet poker site, there are daily multi-table tournaments with guarantees of up to $75,000, as well as sit and go's and cash games.
Thursdays at 5pm and Fridays at 3.30pm there are no-limit holdem freerolls, giving beginning poker players a perfect opportunity to get into the great game.
Macasu poker room locations
Here you'll also find regular live satellite tournaments to events in the Asia Pacific Poker Tour that Poker Stars arrange all over East Asia, as well as to other major poker events worldwide.
Needless to say, some big events are due to be held in this very place as well. First out is the Macau Poker Cup.
If you want to play poker in Macau, you can win seats in Poker Stars Macau events in online satellites and freerolls on PokerStars. You'll also be able to trade Frequent Player Points for taking part in Macau live events.
Grand Lisboa Casino
This is the flagship of Macau casinos. A couple of years ago it started out with just a few holdem tables. Since day one of this attempt they have seen the players' interest in poker grow steadily. The poker room has gotten a better placement and the number of tables has increased to 12 (February 2009).
Another classical Macau casino, which has introduced an element of poker. So far it's without human dealers, though. That's not as weird as it may sound. The explanation is that Pokertek Inc. has installed five electronic PokerPro tables. Nothing wrong with that, I guess.
The Diamond Casino at the Holiday Inn downtown Macau has opened a poker room in co-operation with the PokerDome Group. The poker room is up on the 25th floor and features 30 cash game tables.
The Holiday Inn is just a short walk away from Grand Lisboa and Star World.
Cotai Strip - Lots of new casinos to come
Great construction effort is going on right now on a piece of land between Coloane and Taipa. A number of hotel and casino operators are aiming at a venue on the so called Cotai Strip, such as The Sands', The Venetian Macau, Marriott, Sheraton and Hilton.
A number of casinos are being built along this new Strip in Macau. In a couple of years the Macau poker scene is bound to bloom on this eastern Strip. The first phase of the Cotai Strip is scheduled to open in summer of 2009.