I was on a business trip to Singapore and after my last meeting of the day (around 6pm), I had a couple hours to kill before my red-eye flight back to Beijing.
I’ve been dying to play poker at a casino recently. I don’t know why, since I have no plans of winning any serious money. But playing home games with n00bs gets boring and I wanted a bit more of a challenge. I even wanted to go to Macau for a poker trip, and went so far as to make Celine get a Macau visa. However work has been pretty brutal recently, and I was able to get the poker bug out with this trip.
Anyway, here is a summary of my poker experience in Singapore, since I’m a degenerate and have to play some poker everywhere I go.
There are two main casinos in Singapore: Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa.
The only Texas Hold’em poker cash game is at the Resorts World Sentosa.
The Marina Bay Sands is that big famous hotel/casino you see when you come into the city, and has the floating pools on the roof. They have something called Ultimate Texas Hold’em, but it’s a game you play against the dealer, and isn’t a real cash game.
From downtown Singapore, it took me about 15-20 minutes by cab to get to the Resorts World Sentosa. Cost me around 15 Singapore Dollars (SGD).
A quick note, you have to bring your passport or ID if you want to play at the casino.
I read that Singapore citizens have to pay 100 SGD just to get into the casino! But there is no fee for foreigners. I guess the Singapore government wants to discourage their own citizens from becoming degenerate gamblers like me (tough luck with Asian people though…) and make money off of foreigners. But to be honest, it seemed like there were a lot of locals at the casino.
The casino is connected to a mall area. When you get to the entrance of the casino, there are a bunch of security gates where employees check IDs.
Also, I had my luggage and backpack with me, and the security guard made me check both into a locker. A large locker costs 12 SGD for 2 hours, 24 SGD for 4 hours, and I think there was a 24 hour option, but I forgot how much it was.
Finally, once you get into the casino, you have to walk all the way to the back to find the poker room. There are no clear signs, so just keep asking employees to point you in the right direction.
I got there around 6:30 PM on Friday and only 2 tables were running. Blinds for both tables were 10/20 SGD, or roughly 7/14 USD. You won’t find any 1-2 tables like in Vegas. There were also 4 people ahead of me on the waitlist. I ended up waiting around 45 minutes before I got a seat.
A couple of things to note when you sit down:
Smoking – Smoking is allowed in the room. I didn’t see anyone smoking while sitting at the table, but they would stand up near their seat and smoke while watching the action. If you don’t want to die from second-hand smoke, consider bringing one of those face masks that lots of Asian people wear.
Drinks – No alcoholic drinks. I heard players order tea, lattes, coffee, and water, but nothing alcoholic. There was one waitress that walked around once an hour to take orders for drinks, but she was old and definitely not hot.
Cell Phone – Absolutely no cell phones are allowed at the table. This is so stupid, since there was a lot of dead time in between hands when the card shuffler machine was taking forever to shuffle, or when you aren’t involved in a hand. It was OK for me since I only played a few hours, but any longer and you might die of boredom.
I had to make a call to the taxi driver, as well as let my wife know my whereabouts, and I got yelled at by the dealer every time I looked at my phone at the table. The guy next to me was checking his phone while it was in his pocket, and got chastised by the dealer at least 2 or 3 times. He was also a regular, but there was no leeway from the dealer. I got around this by getting up from the table and running to a corner to quickly check my phone, and put it away before sitting back down. It was a huge pain in the ass.
Tipping – Unlike Vegas, no tipping is required in Singapore.
OK, now on to the actual game. I only played around 2 hours, but it was more than enough to get a good feel for the play style of the players. I played from around 7:30 to 9:30 PM.
Most of the players were regulars. They all seemed to know each other, and joked around a lot. It was like 80% Chinese, and 20% English, with most of the English coming from the dealer when announcing a bet or raise, and me. But they weren’t colluding by any means, and I’m sure the dealer would have said something if they were.
It was quickly obvious that some of the regulars don’t play aggressively against each other. On one blind vs blind hand they just decided to run it down. On other hands, they checked frequently against each other, and didn’t bet very aggressively.
There is only one word to describe the table: Nitty.
Everyone played super tight, something like 1 or 2 hands every rotation. There was 1 limped pot with 4 or 5 people, but otherwise, most pots were heads up with the infrequent 3-way pot.
There was an older fellow at the table, that didn’t really seem to know what he was doing. I remember he made some pretty loose (and I thought terrible) calls. For example, a guy was betting what looked like an obvious trips, but he still called down with whatever he had. But for how bad he was playing, it didn’t seem like anyone was really isolating him or trying to win his stack.
There was one guy at the table that seemed like he didn’t play one hand the whole time I was there.
To me, it felt like there were 2 guys at the table that knew how to play. Everyone else was just straight forward tight aggressive or weak as hell.
Unfortunately for me, one of those guys sat to my direct left. He seemed like a younger guy, but I couldn’t really tell since he was wearing a mask. I did manage to get the last laugh on him before I left, but basically, it felt like he was trying to play back at me a lot. Granted, I was wearing a suit and tie, and everybody probably thought I was a fish and wanted to play me, so I tightened up my game a bit.
Anyway, the guy to my left kept raising me. I tried making a steal play in the SB when 2 players limped, and he re-raised all-in there. I folded. There was another hand where I preflop raised, c-bet the flop, and he raised me and I had to fold.
So finally on one of the last hands I played, I had JK suited in the cutoff, and I raised to 60. He called on the button and both blinds fold. Board comes J 7 2 rainbow and I c-bet 100. I casually toss it in, and he thinks a bit before raising to 270. Odd raise, and given the dry board texture, basically he’s bluffing/semi-bluffing or he has me completely crushed. I think for a bit, and if he really had queens or better, he shouldn’t be raising here and a raise on the turn would make more sense if I continued to c-bet the turn. No set is ever going to raise here. I figured him either for a 7 or an 89 / 9T hand. I reraise to 600. He tanks, looks me up and down, and eventually mucks it. Haha, eat it sucker.
Other than that hand, most of the other hands were pretty straightforward. I had a hand where I had 45 clubs and hit a straight on the turn. I got it all in against a short stack who also had 45, but I was freerolling him since I had a flush draw as well, and hit on the river.
I think a LAG playstyle might work well, though the LAG player would need to be pretty seasoned to avoid tricky situations. I feel like a lot of these guys try to trap you, as they definitely underplay a lot of their hands. I saw a guy call a raise from the BB with queens, and played it as passively as I’ve ever seen anyone can possibly play queens.
Overall, I won some money, but I wouldn’t exactly describe the game as fun. Too nitty for my tastes, and against a table full of regulars it’s pretty hard to win anything.