Blackjack in Macau

Blackjack is the fourth most profitable game in Macau, behind only Baccarat, Slots, and Sic Bo. 

The game really took a beating during Covid, with a lot of smaller places getting rid of it completely.  Outside of the Big 13 casinos, it’s now only available at Ponte 16 ($100), Altira ($300), Oceanus ($300), and the Plaza ($1000).  Shout out to Ponte 16 for keeping their tables just $100, while the Grand Lisboa deserves recognition too, for offering several $200 games.

Basic strategy is not well known among the majority of local players, so bite your tongue, put up with their errors and just hope they benefit you in the end.

Blackjack in Macau: Holding a natural

Blackjack in Macau: Advice and Strategy

A decade ago, Blackjack in Macau was like the Wild West – there was no order and it seemed like every casino played by their own rules.  It was confusing and contradictory, but ultimately good for the player, with a 0% house edge game at New Orient Landmark and 0.08% games at Wynn and MGM.  Unfortunately those days have bit the dust and we’re left with a Blackjack scene that is much more streamlined now. 

If you’re looking for positives, a standardized set of rules means there’s less basic strategy to learn so you should be able to confidently walk into any casino in town knowing what to do and the best way to play the game.

Of the 22 casinos in town that offer Blackjack, 13 of them follow these rules: 

  • Five or six decks
  • Dealer sticks on soft 17
  • Player may double after their first 2 cards on any total, and may also double after splitting
  • Player can split up to 3 times to make 4 hands; however aces can only be split once
  • Early surrender is always available, except when the dealer has an ace
  • Continuous shuffler is utilized

Under these rules, the house edge is 0.15% (5 decks) or 0.16% (6 decks).

The following casinos are exceptions.

A couple of notes about the chart above.  The Sands casinos are strange, and so is the Sands Macao casino itself.  I got conflicting information about their rules from two different dealers on the same day, which is pretty hard to fathom.  You’d also think all of the Sands casinos would play by the same rules too, but they were very adamant at Londoner Macao that splitting vs a dealer Blackjack also loses both bets.  Bottom line?  Don’t bother with Blackjack in any Sands casino anyway, because their rules are clearly the worst.   

As for basic strategy, the Wizard has you covered on his Macau site, with a very handy basic strategy chart that covers every 0.15% and 0.16% table in town.  Don’t pay any mind to his Galaxy or Pharaohs Palace strategy cards though, as they’ve both been obsolete for years.

Blackjack in Macau

Blackjack in Macau: What to Watch Out For

Back betting.  Look, what’s cool in Baccarat isn’t cool in Blackjack so I can’t explain why casinos in Macau allow the player with the higher wager to control the hand, even when he is back betting.  In Baccarat of course, it doesn’t matter because the person who “plays the hand” only turns the card over and has no impact on the result of the game whatsoever.  Blackjack is totally different though which is something that casino operators should know.

So picture this.  You’re on a good run, you’ve got $500 down on the table, when some Baccarat whale saunters over at the last minute and drops $2000 behind you.  You’re dealt a 10-6 versus a 10 and instead of surrendering like you tell him to, he smirks to his friends, takes a card and then busts your hand.  If you think that’s crazy and would never happen, that’s only because you’ve never played Blackjack in Macau! 

If there are 10 Chinese players at a table, it’s no exaggeration to say that exactly 0 of them will know what they’re doing.  You might need to cycle through 20 or 30 to finally meet 1 who has ever heard of basic strategy. 

So needless to say, this back betting rule is as vile as it is wrong.  If it happens to you, tell the dealer immediately you want to pull your chips away and they should let you do it.  And then hopefully the person messing up your mojo will get the hint and leave before too long.

To learn all about Caribbean Stud Poker in Macau, just follow the link below!

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