Games Blackjack

Blackjack in Macau
March 5, 2016 – 06:38 am
Step 1

Standard Macau Rules

Blackjack in Macau has changed a lot between my first visit in 2007 and my second visit in 2009. As with most games there, the rules are becoming consolidated. The rules which most casinos follow are as follows.

  • Six decks
  • Dealer stands on soft 17
  • Player may double on any first two cards, including after splitting
  • Player may split to up to four hands, except aces may only be split once
  • Player may take early surrender, except against a dealer ace (worth 0.24%)
  • Continuous shuffler in use. Some casinos will let a small pile (about 52 cards) build up before putting them in the shuffler.

The house edge under these rules is 0.16%.

Following are some rule variations encountered in Macau.

  • Player may re-split aces: This good rule is followed at the MGM and the Wynn. It lowers the house edge by 0.08%.
  • Five decks: Some casinos may use five decks, rather than six. I'm told the Hotel Lisboa uses five decks, but the Grand Lisboa uses six, for example. Using five decks, as opposed to six, lowers the house edge by 0.01%. Due to this small effect, I do not keep track of who uses five and who uses six, but assume everybody uses six.
  • Player loses all bets when splitting and dealer gets a blackjack: This unfavorable rule is followed at the Galaxy casinos. The player may still double safely, and only lose his original bet if the dealer gets a blackjack.
  • Player may split to only three hands: This unfavorable rule is also followed at Galaxy casinos.

The following table shows the rules and house edge at all six casino concessions in Macau. Please report any errors.

Macau Blackjack House Edge
Concession Resplit Aces Lose Splits to Dealer BJ Max Hands by Splitting House Edge
Galaxy No Yes 0.20%
Melco Crown 0.16%
MGM 0.09%

* See exception for Pharaoh's Palace below.

Note: I have an uncomfirmed report that the Wynn no longer uses a discard pile, and the Venetian does. I'm awaiting a confirmation, but until then I'm going by the last known rules at the time I was last in Macau in August 2009.

The following two tables show the basic strategies in Macau. Use the one of the left for any casinos other than the Galaxy properties, and the one on the right for Galaxy casinos.

Pharaoh's Palace Rules

I'm told the Pharaoh's Palace still deals blackjack with an old and unusual set of rules. I believe many SJM casinos used to offer these rules, but most have converted to the standard game. However, a reader tells me you can find the following set of rules at the Pharaoh's Palace. I do not know if every game follows these rules, or just certain tables.

  • 5 decks.
  • Dealer stands on soft 17.
  • Player may double only on 11.
  • Dealer does not take a hole card. If dealer has blackjack player will lose entire bet, including additional wagers for doubling and splitting.
  • Double after a split allowed.
  • Player may surrender on any initial two cards, except against a dealer ace.
  • The player may choose to win half his bet with any five-card hand, except against a dealer ace. This option is not available after splitting.
  • A player 7-7-7 or suited 6-7-8 in his initial hand will immediately pay 3 to 1. Splitting will void this rule.
  • Resplitting aces is allowed.
  • Continuous shuffler.
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