Saturday, June 28, 2008

Final Macau Post

Ah, gambling in Macau - so after all our fun with Sic Bo and Roulette, we headed over to our old standby favorite of Blackjack.

As I said yesterday, Blackjack should be easy for us to play even in Macau, the rules are simple and well documented and everyone follows the same guidelines, right?

Biggest difference is the way the dealer operates, it seems standard in that all the player get their first card, dealer gets a face up card, players all get a second card, and then the play begins. That's right, the dealer doesn't take a second card so how people play effects the second card the dealer gets. We still stuck with the mindset of "Presume it'll be 10", but that concept was foreign to the locals here. Dealer showing a 8,9, or even a face card and they stand on a 12. What?
So lets say that the dealer has an 8 showing, I'm at the end of the table and take a hit to my 15. I get a 5 to give me twenty, great right? No, because the Dealer now takes a 10 and has 18 beating most of the table, whereas if I had stood on the 15 the dealer would've busted by going 8, 13, and finishing with 23. So, everyone with 12 and 14 lost because I presumed that the dealer had what the dealer ended up getting. I still win in this example, which is nice.

This method of playing is maddeningly frustrating as people refuse to build good hands that will help them, and us, win. We found our selves more often then we'd like saying "If only she had hit that 14 against the dealers Jack, you wouldn't have busted and I would've taken the Ace the dealer got..."

So, in this way of playing, if the dealer is showing an Ace you get asked if you want insurance, but you don't get to find out if you lose until after everyone has played and used up more cards - usually your best hands of the night.

But, now for the real differences, they have a 'Doubles" bar in front of where you place your bets. You can bet this and if you end up with doubles the casino pays you out at 30:1. That's not a bad bet except that the few times we tried we lost, and then usually received doubles right afterward.

The other twist is what I kind of call proxy betting, where you'll be playing with 10 HKD on the table and someone will lean over you and put some money down behind yours, usually 30-50, but sometimes hundreds of dollars, and they win or lose based solely on how you play. I can tell you that it is a little more stressful to hit the 13 against the dealers 7 when three people before you have 13, 18, and 15, and there's a Asian man standing right behind you with his 50 in your hands... Tina had this happen to her more then I did. But people will come right up to the table, lean over you and bet that you will get doubles, or just bet along with you, so the tables get big crowds around them where everyone is involved.

The final difference that we noticed gambling in Macau is that they don't really drink while gambling. Well, they drink, but they drink milk or tea or some strange pinapple-guava juice mixture, but not the acholic drinks that we are used to people drinking when gambling. I've heard, read actually, that it's because they feel they shouldn't be drinking when gambling because it interferes with their luck or something, maybe their concentration. But most of the games they play are luck games and not skill games, except for the Blackjack, which they've managed to take the skill out of. We managed to get some drinks and at our table, despite our alcoholic intake, we managed just about the same as everyoen else at the table.

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