A Macau Year in Review

By: Daniel Laidlaw

My poker year is pretty much over. I spent about 22 weeks of it in Macau, from where I returned on Tuesday, and am a little conflicted over what to write about. I don’t want to talk specifically about the games I’m playing in, so instead I’ll limit my reflections to my overall experience there.

I logged ~530 hours of cash game play in Macau this year, playing a mixture of holdem and PLO from 100/200 to 500/1k HKD (mostly 100/200), and overall ran pretty poorly. I won’t claim to have run bad at PLO, since I feel like I’m still so inexperienced and made so many mistakes it would be presumptuous to make that judgement, but at holdem I definitely ran below expectation.

Even though in reality it’s a tiny sample of hands, being a small loser over what feels like a lot of hours messes with your head. For me, it decreased my motivation to play and led to me quitting sessions earlier out of frustration, which in part explains only averaging ~25 hours a week at the tables. Reaching a purely performance-oriented mindset, with genuine indifference to results, remains an elusive goal.

Still, to have only lost a little bit at PLO while improving a decent amount was arguably a net positive given the mistakes I made along the way in learning how to play deep, live full ring. The one that annoys me the most was just the general rookie error of over-adjusting based on short-term results – not trusting my game enough to persist with what I knew to be fundamentally correct in the face of poor results. I should have been experienced enough not to let that happen, but I briefly allowed myself to get off track.

On the plus side, even though my personal results in Macau were disappointing, the friends I staked in cash or bought / traded action with in the tourney series all ran really well, so results-wise it was a solid year. My main cash horse crushed it at bigger stakes than he’d ever consistently played before, so it was pleasing to see my judgement rewarded and to watch him progress. Some days it felt like the most profitable thing I could do was stay in the apartment.

During the Asian Championship a few weeks back my friend Jeff Rossiter killed it as well, shipping the 25k HKD Warm Up for 1.77m and a few days later finishing second to Jono in the 250k High Roller for another 2.2m HKD result. Jeff makes tournaments look easy, which of course they are. :-P I took time off from cash to play most of the title events but couldn’t get anything going in the bigger ones, my best result being 7th in a turbo for an insignificant amount.

Off the tables, staying at One Central for the last 8 weeks was definitely a positive decision. This is the upmarket apartment complex where all the cash game players live, literally 50 metres from the door to the Wynn poker room. A luxurious home environment, as opposed to feeling permanently “on tour” like you do by staying in a hotel or cheap apartment, made a significant difference to my overall mindset. The ability to join waiting lists then walk back home, strolling over when your seat becomes available, makes a difference to your EV as well.

Apart from poker there is not much to do in Macau except party and chase girls, so with a bunch of other Aussie regs there it’s actually a really fun place to live. I went out with what I call the “Alpha crew” a few times – the Antipodean cash game group who divide their time between poker, working out, and partying (not necessarily in that order). Every Wednesday or Saturday is usually some event or someone’s “going away party” at Cubic (the main nightclub in Macau, across the bridge on Taipa island), so there were always plenty of opportunities for mayhem if you felt like forgetting about cards.

I’ll continue to be based in Macau for the majority of the next 12 months, but for now it’s a 6 week break from live play chilling out back in Adelaide before kicking off again with the Aussie Millions in January.

Follow Daniel on Twitter @Choparno