Tournament poker returns to Macau with event at The Venetian Macao

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Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: March 12, 2024 17:52 PDT

Six years after the last live poker tournament was held there, a recently approved event at The Venetian Macao marks the return of a live poker event to Macau, the Special Administrative Unit that is part of the People's Republic of China.

The Macau Masters is a four-day event that's already underway, having begun on Monday just days after formal approval for the tourney was granted by Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. The four-day event features three opening-day flights, each with unlimited re-entries, and an entry fee of HK$3,000 (about US $384).

The top 30 chip stacks from each of the three opening flights will then move on to Thursday's Day 2 finale, according to an Inside Asian Gaming update.

Macau tourney-free since 2018 City of Dreams series

The event at The Venetian Macao ends a nearly-six-year hiatus for tournament poker in Macau. The drought dates back to April of 2018, when a seven-day PokerStars Live Macau Millions series ran at Macau's City of Dreams. All live-poker offerings in Macau ran squarely into a series of Chinese anti-poker policies and enforcement actions in 2017 that primarily focused on illicit online cash games via poker apps, but had a chilling impact on poker in China as a whole. Macau, a former Portuguese colony, returned to China's control in 1999.

Cash games at several Macau venues also ceased to run for several years following the 2017 crackdown, though more recently, three poker rooms have resumed operations in the gambling-focused enclave. Besides the cash games now also offered at Venetian Macao, MGM China and Wynn Macau also currently offer cash-game action. The City of Dreams room no longer exists, and PokerStars withdrew from online Chinese markets in 2020.

Today, Macau in particular and China in general represent a renewed market opportunity for poker operators. The World Poker Tour was among the poker entities that formerly had a toehold in China via its partnership with Chinese gaming company Ourgame, though that deal fell apart amid China's anti-poker efforts. WPT CEO Adam Pliska, however, still eyes Macau and China as a region where the WPT plans to be.

Featured image source: The Venetian Macao