Top up your travel budget at Macau's casinos

Galaxy in Macau

Our destination today should be the Las Vegas of China, the province of Macau, not far from Hong Kong. The town is a special administrative district similar to Hong Kong and has everything that goes with it: its own international airport, its own visa and its own currency. However, the currency is hardly used - the Hong Kong dollar has about the same value and is popular everywhere.

Since Macau is only about 60 km from Hong Kong, we preferred to use the ferry instead of the plane. There are connections from several points in Hong Kong and the prices are between €15 and €20, depending on the provider and pier. The whole thing is quite professional and you are even assigned seats and a safety briefing is shown on the monitors. Afterwards we went on a one-hour swing tour through the South China Sea, even in calm seas. However, in heavier seas, the trip on the catamaran could quickly become much more uncomfortable.

When we arrived at the Taipa pier in Macau, we had to go through the usual entry procedures again - fill out entry cards, get in line, collect stamps. When we finally got out of the terminal building, there were already dozens of buses waiting to take you free of charge to all sorts of hotels and casinos on the island - only our hotel didn't seem to have a shuttle service. Since we didn't want to walk the 5 km, we quickly checked Google Maps and got on the shuttle bus to the Venetian, a large casino near us. Apparently no one was really interested and so in a few minutes we were at the entrance to the attached 5 star hotel. Here we quickly realized that the buses were only intended for hotel guests, as we had to defend our suitcases against various bellhops. Having overcome the first hurdle, we were then guided unerringly towards the reception by the stream of visitors and the door boys - now it was high time to disappear. Luckily, the lobby was so busy that we were able to slip out through a side door unnoticed - lucky again.

We had to walk the last two kilometers and had a little time to look at the area. The previously mentioned Venetian is a huge replica of Venice including several small houses that were surrounded by moats and gondoliers. The entire area was probably 1 km² in size and was still very new. In our part of the island there was also the Galaxy, the City of Dreams and several smaller facilities. The large complexes are all based on their counterparts from Las Vegas, but do not have to hide behind them in terms of size and appearance (according to Chris). The Chinese know something about monumental buildings! After a few minutes of walking we reached our “Grandview” hotel and were pleased to discover that we also have our own small casino here. We checked in quickly and were happy to see a tidy room with large beds again after spending the last two days in what felt like a closet. The only structural peculiarity was a very strange shower. Although this was separated from the lockable bathroom with an opaque shower curtain, it was open to the bedroom with a large panoramic window. Luckily, after a few minutes we found a blind that could restore privacy.

Macau Casinos

So now off to the casino! To get us in the mood, we tried the slot machines in the in-house casino. The one-armed bandits are actually quite easy to use, but since everything was only labeled in Chinese, we had to say goodbye to half of our bet (luckily only €2) after the first push of a button. After a few more attempts and a few more losses, we finally figured out how to handle it and developed our first strategies. The machines differ in the number of rows of symbols and the possible winning combinations. In my opinion, the simpler machines are the better machines because although you can win less, you can also lose less. After 1.5 hours and some going up and down on our winning ticket, we had lost €3 and had had enough of the machines. It's a bit of fun at first, but I'm not sure how some people can spend an evening doing it. It was now time for us to turn to the “big” fish.

In Macau, different types of games are offered at the tables. The most common is baccarat. I have no idea how it works, but the Chinese seem to have a lot of fun with it. You can always see them jumping around on their chairs, shouting and throwing cards on the table. There are also poker, roulette, casino war, craps and various other games that we had never seen before. Our game for the evening, however, was to be the king’s game of the casinos, “Black Jack”. I knew from films like 21 that there should be a good strategy that gives you at least a certain chance of winning. So I tried my luck on Google and was very surprised that on the first hit you could find the corresponding Wikipedia article with the strategy. I memorized the just over 20 rules as best I could and was ready for the table.

Black Jack Tische im Venetian
Blackjack tables at the Venetian


Before we could jump into the fray, we had to decide how much start-up capital (and therefore the biggest possible loss) we wanted to spend. A stake of €20 per person seemed reasonable to us. Our casino was supposed to be the Galaxy: one of the gigantic, magnificent buildings that was now beautifully illuminated from the outside. Admission was no problem despite the more or less elegant clothing (for me, a polo shirt and tracking pants). Inside, an overwhelming sight of hundreds of tables and thousands of gambling Chinese awaited us. We fought our way through the crowd and after some searching we found the Black Jack tables. That's where the blow hit us! (figuratively speaking) A single Black Jack game cost €20 at the cheapest table with a minimum bet. The limit was €6,000 – that’s simply too big for us!

Galaxy in Macau
Galaxy in Macau
Weihnachtsumzug im Galaxy
Christmas parade in the Galaxy


Ok, our first attempt was probably nothing - so we tried again at another casino. Free shuttle buses are available everywhere to travel from one casino to the next. However, when we arrived at the Venetian we discovered that the prices were just as high.


In the City of Dreams it even started at €30. It was completely incomprehensible to us how a normal Chinese person could afford this and the bad thing was that most of them looked completely normal. Suits were rare and ostentatious status symbols such as Louise Vuitton bags or Rolex watches were almost never seen. Feeling a little discouraged, we went back to the hotel to focus on the slot machines again. Shortly before our hotel, however, we saw another, smaller casino up the street and decided to give it another try. This one wasn't quite as luxurious and new as the others, but the stakes on the first tables were only 1/4 as high. After a short search, we finally found a Black Jack table that had a starting bid of €5.

Black Jack

However, this was still too high for Chris, especially since he had never played Black Jack before. So we put our bets together and added another €10 to have at least 10 games and I pushed our luck. The first few games went well and I had already earned €10 in just a few minutes. Chris was already making plans on how best to spend the money when I suddenly started losing more often. After a few more games I was down to €25 and Chris started to sweat. But then the rules of probability started to take effect and things started looking up again. Wikipedia claimed that after an hour of playing with an optimal (my) strategy you make 11% profit. To my greatest surprise, it was true! After 1 hour I had settled on around €65. At €75 I gave Chris our starting stake so that we would definitely go home without a loss. From then on he was able to watch much more relaxed. After about 4 hours of playing, I had won €72.50 and we ended the evening.

Black Jack
Black Jack

I have to mention again that I never expected that you could actually win money in the casino. For me, the sporting challenge was to hold out for as long as possible without going bankrupt. I was all the more surprised that you can apparently make money by simply following the Wikipedia strategy. We just wondered why more people don't do it that way. So the evening was successful after all and we had recouped the cost of the ferry and some of the food.

With this experience I say goodbye to our trip to Asia and take with me many unique impressions and exciting experiences. To everyone who has stuck with this Mamut post this far, I say “Thank you for reading!” and I hope you enjoyed it.

They will

  • overall rating

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.