Author Topic: Macau 澳門小游  (Read 145708 times)

Offline chin

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #50 on: 19 February 2010, 03:14:28 »
In my last trip to Macau, I learned to play Texas Hold'em in Grand Lisboa. And I found it a nice game to play with my family in our gatherings.

We started playing with coins for chips, but they are dirty and hard to count quickly. We then went for chips from Mahjong shops, but the chips were made from cheap injection mold plastics with very rough edges and cannot be stacked for quick counting. I then found some decent chips in women street and they cost about HK$2 per chip. But none of then had the feel of the casino chips.

So one of my goals for this Macau trip was to find good poker chips. A few days before our travel, I found out the nicer poker chips are made of clay and are very expensive. There is a niche market for poker chips because in a typical poker game, the players have to handle the chips very often, vs in Mahjong the chips were only used as notation at the end of a game.

At the hints of my friends, I found the following in Grand Lisboa poker room - HK$575 for 300 chips. They are made of ABS and probably has metal insert to add weight. They feel much better than the previous "chips" we used. We ended up spending quite a bit of time playing poker in our suite.

(I eventually ordered some Protege Clay Chips from buypokerchips.com and will take some pictures later. The clay chips do feel very nice in the hand. And did I ready say that they are very expensive?!)
« Last Edit: 19 February 2010, 07:38:45 by chin »

Offline chin

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #51 on: 19 February 2010, 03:16:04 »
Poker chips vs regular casino chips (not from their poker room.)

Offline chin

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #52 on: 19 February 2010, 07:10:06 »
In the course of researching for nice poker chips, I contacted a friend who made his living playing cards, and learned many interesting stories.

This friend of mine was originally from Hong Kong. Although he did not finish high school, he was smart and persistent enough to have done something not many people can do. When he was still in school, he found a book teaching how to play blackjack. He was able to learn, memorize, and apply the probability tables and played well enough to join the blackjack playing/counting teams that made the rounds in casinos in the 1980s. From then on, he moved to Macau for the lower cost of living, and has been traveling around the world to play blackjack.

(On a separate note/rant, I have seen many university graduates who couldn't even speak passable English or understand enough English outside the narrow technical fields in order to establish personal rapport with English speakers. Whereas this Form 3 graduate was able to learn & play in English in a team of mixed nationalities, and participate in English blackjack forums. The problem is not learning enough vocabulary and learning the right grammar, but mainly the willingness to communicate with confidence.)

I met him about 7 years ago. I was looking for a hard to find book on the subject of computer modeling. The book was published in 1980 and the modeling was done on mini-mainframe computers! We contacted the author but even he did not have copy of the book (or not willing to sell?!) By then the author switched career and plays poker professionally. (The book has less than 100 pages and a used copy now selling for about US$300 on amazon. Although published 30 years ago, some of the insights discovered in the book still work today! But that is a separate story.)

Luckily I came across my Macau friend's personal blog, which has a picture of his bookshelf with mostly blackjack books. But one of the books was the book I was looking for, and I made the contact and obtained a copy of the book. Since then I would try to meet with him every time I go to Macau.

When I asked him where to find nice poker chips, I was surprised that he had no idea and did not even know that nice chips are made from clay. It's kind of irony that someone who makes his living playing cards does not care about the quality of chips, whereas amateurs like me are spending money on chips.

7 years ago he told me that he did not play blackjack in Macau, because the rules are trying to throw off positive expectation players. (Rational, probability based players who bet on positive expected values.) In recent years, with many new casinos opening in Macau, some casinos offered rebates to agents who introduce new customers. They rebate 0.8% for every $100,000 chips purchased. My friend and his card counting friends were able to minimize the losses on playing blackjack and make money on the rebate.

When the casinos stopped paying rebates, so did their plays. Some of them started looking at poker, and particularly Texas Hold'em.

More stories to follow.

Offline chin

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #53 on: 19 February 2010, 07:17:59 »
As poker getting more popular in casinos, some of his friends started to learn. Initially they played free poker on partypoker.com and the likes. And they would be consistently losing. Eventually they found some probability tables on the internet, and were able to apply the probabilities properly. They started to winning hundreds of millions fictional cash on the free poker games.

The next logical step was to play real money. Poker is a player vs player game with the casino taking commission from winners. It's the unsophisticated players who are feeding cash to the professional players and the casinos.

His poker playing friends found many amateurs in casinos where there is a learning table - the same place where I first learned poker in Dec 2009. He told me that there are many casinos visitors who would change, say, $10k casino chips and try out many different casino games without understand the finer intrigues or fairness of the game. This is the groups of willing givers whose money buy them entertainment and hopes. They also probably believe in luck rather than probability expectations.

In my own learning experience, I have seen a few players who learned 10 or 20 mins then would start playing with real money. If the casino on an average day has 20 unsophisticated players who cough up average $2000, then the handful of pro players hanging around in that casino would have about $40k between them, minus the not too small casino cut.

I don't know how many times the amateurs' money can turn before total losses. If the money can turn 5 times, then the casino's cut would be $10k at 5% and the pros would have $30k between them. If 10 times then the casino's cut would be $20k. Thus each pros may earn about $3k to $5k per day.

IMHO, at this rate one can make a comfortable living, but nowhere near rich or wealthy unless investing the income wisely. I always thought that biggest pile of money for pro pokers are tournament prizes. And even that is not too big. For example the author of the book mentioned above made "only" US$1.7 million in the past 15 years, according to his official web site. Considering he's already a "name" in pro poker, that amount is not exactly huge. His other income would be endorsements.

Then my friend told me where the large pile of money is for some of the pro players in Macau.

Offline chin

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #54 on: 19 February 2010, 07:22:29 »
In his short excursion into the poker world, my friend and his pals found a small group of very wealthy players playing pokers in casinos. He told me that very often the chips on the table would exceed HK$100 million! And usually at tens of millions minimum. Sometimes they would have side bets that's 10 times the amount changed hands on the table.

This small group would only play with other members of the group. They choose to play in casino instead of their own home or office because of the casinos already have all the security device in place, and the casino's cut is capped at $300 per hand which is almost nothing compare to the amount involved. They found enough comfort in each other's company but not enough trust to play in one of their home or office.

I asked who were these people, and why they played such large amount of money. I was told that these are Macau locals or mainlanders who became super wealthy super fast in the economic boom. My friend's impression is that they are really playing for entertainment, and not a front for money laundering or any hanky-panky stuff. They are well aware that they could be the target of professional players, thus they refuse to play with pros from the US. Only occasionally some Chinese speaking Chinese Americans could play a few games with them.

One of his friends hung around long enough and eventually earned enough trust from this small group of whales, that he was allowed to fill in when one of the whales was absent from their poker games.

Since the money on the table are in the tens of millions, my friend's pal need to gather a war chest of tens of millions in order to join the game and have staying power. He had the skill but not the capital. The guy was eventually able to raise capital among friends and investors. I was told that in three months, the pro player's share of profit reached $3 million.

One of the vital and more intrigue skills a pro player needs is to have the appearance of luck and winning by only a small margin. The whales would not like to be seen as being skinned. So the winning has to be subtle (and slow?) I imagine this pro would probably never want to be in the tournament circuit, because getting famous is hazardous to playing with the whales & winning from them.

My friend started as a blackjack player more than 20 years ago so he's naturally a Kelly player. I asked if betting poker could be modeled successfully, and plug into one of the online poker sites to win from the human players. His observation is that it's difficult for unlimited hold'em, but possible for limited hold'em. The possible variations are smaller so perhaps advantages can be modeled more accurately. However, this is assuming the computer modeler can get pass the biggest hurdle - that online poker sites bans AI players.

I have seen many types of gamblers, and I am not yet counting those playing the financial markets.

My Macau friend belongs to the group of true professionals who play with objective probabilities and bet only when advantageous mathematically. They bet very conservatively. They don't gamble on anything else for fun. Gambling is just a mean.

The other groups are those gamble to entertain themselves. Be it the multi-million dollar betting whales or the $10k-and-bet-everything types. I can even count some of my relatives in this group - they set a budget before set foot into the casino, and just playing for fun. There is not much expectation for win, and any winning would be a bonus.

The worst off are the group of daydreamers who dream of being professional gamblers but lack the right attitude, intellectual capacity and perseverance. I still vividly remember reading one guy's exuberant declaration that he made the first step toward being a professional gamber. His achievement was getting a ruby VIP card from the Sands Macau that allows him to have free lunch there, and maybe free ferry tickerts from HK, playing Baccarrat!

Offline chin

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #55 on: 19 February 2010, 07:28:30 »
Over the years, I have heard many interesting stories from my Macau friend. Maybe I will write some more when the time is right.  :)

Offline chin

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #56 on: 19 February 2010, 23:55:48 »
One of the many fun things for my kids was they got to play 啪啪紙. We were test firing in the hotel.  ;D

This is a simple toy that we got to play a lot in our youth, but increasingly hard to find, and perhaps already outlawed. A few months ago, a smart but not very wise high school kid extract the tiny little explosives from the 啪啪紙 and made a small explosive device that accidentally went off and blew off his own fingers.

Offline chin

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #57 on: 20 February 2010, 03:33:38 »
Pictures of clay poker chips. Supposedly the chips are from the same manufacturer who made chips for Vegas casinos.

Offline wongyan

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #58 on: 10 September 2010, 14:34:37 »
that story really reminded me that I've once made some little money (around US$150) from the internet casinos.  yes, it is also blackjack with counting technique.  And they even offer free chips but you have to wager 2 times the initial endowment.  Right now, they are asking more than 5 times so no one can beat them anymore.

Sounds we have to study texas-hold'em
Never stop Learning, Never stop Earning!!
哲人無憂,智者常樂。並不是因為所愛的一切他都擁有了,而是所擁有的一切他都愛。

Offline chin

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Re: Macau 澳門小游
« Reply #59 on: 15 September 2010, 03:39:41 »
that story really reminded me that I've once made some little money (around US$150) from the internet casinos.  yes, it is also blackjack with counting technique.  And they even offer free chips but you have to wager 2 times the initial endowment.  Right now, they are asking more than 5 times so no one can beat them anymore.

Sounds we have to study texas-hold'em

You learned the counting techniques?

What stop you from using a computer probability program alongside with the online BJ?

BTW bjmath.com has lots of math related to BJ and gambling/investment in general.