Global Reactions, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

The fever for Poker that has swept across a global market has steadily piqued the interest of players with no cooling down in sight. Poker popularity has grown leaps and bounds and in Macau there is no exception to the increasing phenomenon.

Once belonging to the Chinese Empire it became a Portugal trade port in 1557 where anti-gambling laws didn’t exist. As early as the 16th century Pai Gow Poker was available throughout the city where Chinese workers indulged in play. In the 1800’s Sic Bo (tai sai) was introduced raising the attention of players with a new game in town. By 1847 the Portuguese government passed a law declaring all games of chance in Macau legal. This was the beginning of an upward climb of Casinos thriving.

Macau grew into a booming business with over one million gamblers visiting yearly. Tourism was on the rise and by the 1980’s players from Thailand, Korea, Japan and India visited. Due to Europe’s influence games like Blackjack, Roulette and Baccarat were introduced in Macau Casinos.

After a 442 year reign China gained power over Macau ending Portuguese rule while still maintaining their independence. The 1990’s was a difficult period with triad gangs taking control of Casinos. It was in 2000 the military stepped in and was instrumental in reducing the crime rate. As a result casino revenue increased almost 50% that year.

2001 was a time of major transition when Casinos from around the world were now allowed to enter ending the monopoly in Macau. Top leading corporations took a vast interest including MGM, Wynn, Venetian, Grand Lisboa, Galaxy and Crown from Australia. Other gaming such as lotteries, sports betting, greyhound racing and horse racing became available.

Today Macau attracts gamblers from all over world and is the most popular gaming destination generating revenue that supersedes Las Vegas. While tourism is a large contributor, it is the Chinese that comprise the most visits. It’s understandable considering there are no Mainland China Casinos permitted.

It was until recently as reported in February 2015 a decline in revenue over the past eight months. It was what market analysts have predicted and after the report from the Macau gambling officials, the dreary forecast is true. Some sources attribute the decline to the anti-corruption campaign instilled by President Xi Jinping and the drop in high rollers. However by 2016 predictions suggest the mecca gambling epicenter will land right back on its feet with new venues in the works to open.

Poker Progress

Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular variations of Poker gaining world-wide recognition. Lipstick cameras popularized televised Hold’em tournaments. Although telecast since the 1970’s it wasn’t until 1999 that lipstick cameras showed the hole card on Late Night Poker aired in the United Kingdom. By 2002 the World Poker Tour (WPT) explodes across Europe and the United States when live broadcasts televised the tournaments. It replaced seven card stud as the new favorite in the United States Casinos and through televised events and the Internet. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the World Poker Tour (WPT) featured the weekly broadcast of no limit betting.

In August 2007 Hold’em Poker is introduced for the first time in Macau when Galaxy Starworld Casino added three electronic machines on the gaming floor. Within three short months the first live poker tournament took place in the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) event. It was not long after the government of Macau issued the official rules for Texas Hold’em in January 2008. The popularity of poker spread quickly and in a smart move Grand Lisboa Casino was among the first to have live dealer games.

Televised Poker tournaments are aired in the Chinese language gaining the attention of viewers and potential players. The APPT Beijing Millions in 2014 was the first event held in China. The tournament attracted a large number of people in a 10 day festival at the Star Poker Club as Mainland China becomes increasing more receptive to Hold’em.

Online Poker Sites Focus on Chinese Market

Online Poker sites focus on China by offering languages, banking and currency in Chinese. Table games hosted by live professional dealers include Poker variations including Baccarat, Sic-Bo, Blackjack and Roulette. PokerStars, one the largest names in the online Poker industry is host to Asia’s Live Poker Tournaments at the City of Dreams Casino in Macau. The Hold’em craze piqued the world-wide attention of Poker players. Spreading the word like wildfire through television and online Poker sites the game seemed to flourish overnight.

Poker is one of the most exciting, challenging table games in the gambling industry. Whether you lay your chips down on a green, blue or a red felt table, play Hold’em, Pai Gow or Caribbean Stud its skill that rules. In tournaments and Sit n Go games it is more than just winning a piece of the cash pie, it’s about the ego of placing first among a sea of contenders. Second place is nice but realistically it only counts in horseshoes. The top dog number one spot winner is never forgotten and the player who wins never forgets.

For more about gambling in Macau and its history check out What Happens in Macau Doesn’t Happen in Vegas.