The Gambler’s Guide Part 3: Macau Casinos
I heard great things about casinos in Macau and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to visit the Asian casino hub. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long because my boss sent me on a business trip to Hong Kong, so I ended up convincing 2 of my colleagues from work to join me and explore Macau and all its gambling charm.
Once we did our business in Hong Kong, it was time to take a jet boat ride to Macau. I did not know that it was so close, only an hour ride that which cost about $20 per person. The good thing is that my colleagues are also gambling freaks who like to drink and party, and they were thrilled to join me on this journey.
Honestly, we did not know what to expect. Most of us usually go to Vegas and Atlantic City on the weekends, and what we did not know is that Macau is completely different in so many ways. Macau casinos offer a bunch of board and card games that were new to us, there are not that many western tourists like in Las Vegas, and everything is quite cheap by our standards.
The plan was to visit all the famous casinos that our friends recommended, try the food at the local restaurants, and of course, visit some strip shows. Here is a list of some casinos that we ended up going to and what we thought of them.
First Stop: Wynn Macau
I read somewhere that this place was the first Las Vegas-style casino opened in Macau. To be honest, the actual casino is quite small with low ceilings and only 200 gaming tables.
The stakes here at the Wynn Macau are high, going from $40 at tables, and from $10/$25 blinds in the poker rooms, which seem to attract most of the crowd here. I tried my lack at of the poker tables in a game of Pot Limit Omaha. Other players consisted of some local businessman and senior tourists, so I ended up earning a nice amount of cash in less than 2 hours.
This place maybe lacks a proper casino, but the hotel with its chic décor and the jellyfish aquarium at the reception is simply amazing. There is a fantastic health club, amazing pool area, Cartier and Gucci shops, and several restaurants and bars that serve delicious meals.
After my 2-hour poker session, I picked up my friends from the slots area and we decided to have dinner at The Golden Flower. They serve the most amazing Asian dishes, but the food is a bit on the expensive stars. Of course, later we realized why; it was a 2-star Michelin restaurant!
Next On Our List: The Venetian Casino Resort Macao
It was time to visit The Venetian, the largest casino and of the most luxurious resorts in Macau. The casino floor of the Venetian is the biggest in the world with over 500 gaming tables and around 2000 slot machines, at least it says so in the brochures we were handed upon arrival.
My colleagues and I decided to try our luck at one of the tables in a Chinese game that is highly popular here and called Sic Bo. The game is played with three dice and the minimum bets are quite high. Of course, we were out of luck in no time and moved to a game of baccarat where we somehow managed to win our money back.
At the Venetian you will find a lot of promotions, similar to the ones in Las Vegas casinos, and there are also many restaurants, bars, and high profile shops that you would find in Las Vegas resorts. The thing we liked at the Venetian is that there is always plenty of action, even on work days. It is not something that is common in Macao since we were told that some of the nearby casinos are often half empty throughout the week.
After a few drinks at the bar, we decided to check out the famous Venetian gondoliers and the Grand Canal Shoppes. For us, this was a rather expensive experience and honestly it was not that fun.
Third Stop: Casino Lisboa
Casino Lisboa is a European-style casino room that was renovated 10 years ago and includes around 400 gaming tables and a little over 700 slot machines. Since there is no entertainment program whatsoever at Lisboa, and not many interesting bars, we decided to try out our luck at the tables.
There are some local games like Fan Tan and Pai Gow, but we ended up at the blackjack table and, later on, on several slot machines. It was Saturday, so there were a lot of guests that consisted of old-school gamblers as well as a few tourists.
The service was quite slow, and the selection of drinks was not that great, but we liked the interior and the fact that the casino had 4 floors. One thing I personally found annoying is that the tables were very close to one another, which can be a drag when there are a lot of gamblers in the room.
We were offered to dine at the restaurant Robuchon au Dome, which also has a couple of Michelin stars. However, since we learned our lesson on expensive meals at Wynn Macau and we decided to go to the Kitchen; a modern steakhouse that also serves delicious lobsters from the tank.
Off to the City of Dreams
The City of Dreams is located right across the Venetian, so we had no trouble finding this resort. What I like about the casino is that is hosts the Asian Championship Poker tournament every year and you can see plenty of famous poker players here. Unfortunately, we did not catch this major poker tournament, but there was still a lot of action on the tables.
Straight away I noticed that most of the players were semi -professionals who seemed to know what they were doing, and I always like these kinds of games. My colleagues and I sat at one of the tables and although the competition was tough, we left with a small profit that we decided to spend at the bar later that night.
The City of Dreams features 3 hotels that offer around 1500 rooms, and there are also various restaurants that specialize in local cuisine. Make sure to check out Ru Yi Noodles and Ji Xiang Yuan. Both restaurants are on the expensive side, but the food is amazing. Also, there is the famous water show: the House of Dancing Water, which attracts thousands of tourists.
Our Final Destination: Sands Macao
This was the last stop on our journey, and many people from home told me to check out this place because it is as close to a Vegas casino experience you could get in Macau.
I must say that the interior design is nothing special and the service is kind of slow, but the focus of this venue is on accommodation and gambling. There are four floors with over 700 tables and around 1300 slot machines. The downside is that the table minimums are quite high and that there were not many visitors when we visited.
After gambling for an hour, we decided to head out to the famous Playboy Club where your drinks are served by Playboy Bunnies. Playboy bunnies dealing cards would have also been great to see, a service which does exist online at All Slots! Needless to say, we had a blast! If you ever visit Sands Macao make sure to eat at the Copa Steakhouse. The portions are huge and meals are reasonably priced.
Is There Anything To Do Other Than Gamble in Macao?
Of course, there is! Between gambling sessions, stuffing our faces in overpriced Michelin star restaurants, and drinking in casino bars, we still found time to visit some other well-known attractions in Macao.
For instance, Fisherman's Wharf is a nice theme park that includes an amphitheater, thematic cities like Amsterdam and Lisbon, and plenty of clubs and bars. It is located just minutes from the ferry landing. We also went to visit the famous Hac-Sa-Beach and the Macau Historic Centre.
My personal favorite was the Basement Restaurant Hooker Parade. Okay, it is not your average tourist attraction where you would go with the family, but the local beer is cheap and the shows are amazing. Some locals told us to go to the Macau Maritime Museum and A-Ma Temple, but we simply didn’t have time fit it into our hectic 3-day program.
Accommodation in Macau
We stayed at the Rio Hotel for the entire trip. It is located within walking distance from the big casinos and offers free transportation to the ferry terminal. They also have a wellness center and a spacious indoor pool. I have to admit that rooms were nicely decorated and the accommodation was budget friendly.
Macau offers a wide range of hotels that are reasonably priced, but if you want premium suites or to spend the weekend in the Venetian or Sands Macao Hotel, it will cost you around $200 per night. From the information I gathered during my stay in Macau, the best bargain can be found at the Galaxy Macau. The place is luxurious and offers premium accommodation for less than $160.
After 72 hours of non-stop gambling, drinking, and sightseeing in Macau, it was time to go back to Hong Kong and fly back home.
Honestly, I liked every second of our journey. After years of hanging out in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, it was time for something new and different. Macau was definitely the change we needed.