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Texas Hold'em Poker Coming to Macau

Government Approved the Most Popular Form of Poker

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Officials in Macau have given casinos the green light to spread Texas hold’em games. The Macau government announced the change through its official bulletin Monday, and casinos are allowed to start spreading the games immediately.

At least one casino, the Grand Lisboa, has begun to spread the games. This casino is the flagship property of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM). SJM operates 17 casinos in Macau.

Tournament Texas hold’em was first played in Macau during the PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour in November 2007. The APPT received special permission from the government to hold the event at the Galaxy Grand Waldo Casino. With 352 entrants, it was a smashing success, and showed that Texas hold’em poker could thrive in the largest casino market in the world, despite the fact that most of Macau’s visitors are not familiar with the game.

“The APPT Macau was a test event meant to demonstrate the viability of poker as a new game that diversifies the gaming market, encourages international tourism (primarily from individuals who are not traditional visitors to Macau), and has a broad distributed benefit to everyone involved,” said Jeffrey Haas, APPT president. “The results from this test were successful, and since then, the APPT and Galaxy Grand Waldo have been working to help bring poker to Macau on a permanent basis.”

Before this change, Galaxy had the only "poker room" in Macau. It has four Poker Pro machines — spreading no-limit hold'em games ranging from 75¢-$1.25 to $6-$12 - and two Poker Pro heads-up tournament tables at its flagship property, Star World. During the APPT event, the Grand Waldo was also testing a Lightning Poker table, a company operated by professional poker player Brian Haveson.

The casino was able to have the machines because Macau considers automated poker machines in the same category as slots.

Casinos will be permitted to take 3 percent-5 percent of each pot for rake, but cannot exceed five times the big blind. Games can start with as few as two players (although each table will be required to hold at least 10 players, plus the dealer).

Las Vegas casino operators Wynn Las Vegas, Sands, and MGM Grand all have properties in Macau, which passed Las Vegas in gambling revenue as the world leader in 2006. In 2007, casino gambling generated $10.3 billion in revenue, which was a 46-percent increase from the previous year.