With regular high-quality poker tours like the PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), Asian Logic’s Asian Poker Tour (APT) and the Macau Poker Cup (MPC) continuing to grow in scope and scale the Macau poker scene is becoming increasingly vibrant.
Macau now has over 5,500 gaming tables spread over 33 casinos, though only 5 of these casinos cater to the visiting poker player: The Grand Lisboa; the Wynn Macau; the Venetian and the Hard Rock Hotel have all opened plush poker rooms in the last four years and Galaxy StarWorld have recently re-branded their room following the release of the movie Poker King.
Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius and Tom ‘Durrrr’ Dwan are just a few of the big names to have made the trip out East in the last 12 months for the high-stakes poker action. However, you don’t have to sit at the nosebleeds to get a game as there’s one to suit every bankroll, and we’re going to tell you exactly where to find them:
THE COTAI STRIP
If you are landing at Macau International airport this will be your closest port of call. Located between Taipa and Coloane islands, the Cotai strip boasts several new Western style casino developments and is home to two of Macau’s five poker rooms; the Venetian Macau and the rock ‘n’ roll themed Hard Rock Hotel.
Poker Room: Hard Rock Poker Lounge (Update: Now closed! See Dream End for Hard Rock Poker)
Location: Level 2, City of Dreams Casino, Estrada do Istmo
Tel: +853 8867 6537
Game & Stakes: No Limit Texas Hold’em – HK$10/$25, HK$25/$50, HK$50/$100, HK$100/$200
The Hard Rock Poker Lounge is Macau’s newest poker room and also the hippest. Whilst it only has seven tables, everything about this room oozes style and comfort, from the plush leather chairs and cushioned poker tables to the stylish rock ‘n’ roll themed décor. Nine large LCD televisions showing sport and poker keep players entertained whilst card dead, and there is a bar and lounge area to relax in whilst waiting for a game.
While it is pretty quiet during the day, this is a great poker room to visit in the evenings. Many casual players are attracted by the free drinks on offer from the integrated bar, which are served by smoking hot, scantily clad cocktail waitresses. This makes the games some of the loosest in town, especially at weekends due to the close proximity to Macau’s newest nightspot – Club Cubic. In addition to taking advantage of drunken walk-ins, you can enjoy the free drinks towards the end of your session, then head over to spend your winnings and strut your stuff to a selection of pumping dance tunes blasting out over Cubic’s state-of-the-art sound system.
Verdict: Stylish and comfortable with plenty of poker action, this is the best place to play at evenings and weekends.
Poker Room: Venetian Macau
Location: Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança
Tel: +853 2882 8888
Games & Stakes: No Limit Texas Hold’em – HK$10/$25, HK$25/50 and occasionally HK$50/$100 at weekends
Located on the ground floor towards the back of this mammoth casino, the Venetian poker room first opened in early 2010. While it’s a small room, it is set amidst a backdrop of Continental-themed opulence and boasts ten green felt tables, lined in plush leather. Several large flat screen televisions adorn the walls to cater for sports fans and waitress service is available 24-7. Fridays to Sundays are the busiest (hence best) times to visit.
The Venetian is also a pretty good place to start an evening out on the town. Open 4pm to 4am Mondays to Fridays and 2pm to 4am on Saturdays and Sundays, the Bellini Lounge, situated on the casino’s ground floor, is a popular nightspot offering live music ranging from R&B to easy listening lounge tunes. Many of Macau’s resident ex-pats congregate here to begin their evening’s festivities, especially on Wednesdays, which is ladies night. If you want to meet some of Macau’s off-duty cocktail waitresses and other resident hotties, this is the time and place to do so.
Verdict: The Venetian is good for low-stakes cash games filled with tourists and beginners, and a great place to start an evening out on the town.
Be sure to stay tuned for the second installment of our two-part Macau Poker Guide where we’ll cover the three rooms of the Macau Peninsula…
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