Blackjack in Macau

(Last updated: February 6, 2024)

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

It 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), Starworld ($500) and the Plaza ($1000).  Shout out to Ponte 16 for keeping their tables just $100, while the Grand Lisboa keeps it real too, with 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 18 casinos in town that offer Blackjack, 8 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 10 casinos are exceptions.

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.

Blackjack in Macau: What to Watch Out For II

Bad side bets.

In addition to the standard 11-1 Pair bet (11.25%) seen all over town, a few casinos also offer Over/Under 13 and Lucky 7 side bets.

The Over/Under side bet is as straightforward as it is bad.  You wager if your first two cards will be over or under 13, with a 13 resulting in a loss.  Paying out 1:1, the Over bet (6.55%) is slightly better than the Under bet (10.07%).  Of course, you shouldn’t be wagering on either one.

Lucky 7 side bets were introduced in 2023 and are available at Melco and MGM casinos.  It pays out if you get a pair of 7s, or three 7s, while a single 7 returns nothing.  The pay table is as follows.

In the Melco casinos, for the 3 card Lucky 7s, the 7s must have been split beforehand.  At MGM, the third 7 can come after a hit or a split.

I reached out on the Wizard of Macau forums to see if someone could calculate the house edge.  A random dude who may or may not know what he’s talking about, but at least wrote down some semi convincing looking math told me it was 19.95%.  I’d love for the Wizard of Odds to get on it, but so far he hasn’t commented on the post.

Regardless, the better response might be to ask who knows and who cares anyway?  Whatever it is, it’s not going to be good, the betting preference of suckers only.

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

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annie silva

how do you calculate the 0.24% HE?
I can’t find the proper software to calculate the special rule that “Loss all wagers after doubling on 11 vs dealer BJ”

annie silva

the wizard article is 9 years old, at that time there was no 0.24% HE game in Macau.

HH Chiu

Last week in Studio City, I asked the dealer and the pit boss about back betting rule. They said the hand is still controlled by the original player.
Not sure about other casinos, though,

Dan

At Wynn now, before at MGM. Asked for their brochure over drawing rules, and other rules. Also asked on both places how many deck they using in the CSM. Both uses 8 deck. In the Wynn broschure, it clearly states that the sitting player makes all playing decisions.