Special Guest Post from VegasDWP
Hello, and thanks again to Rob for kindly allowing me to guest blog once again. In case you didn’t see my last guest blog, about my trip to Macau, it can be found here. To start, a bit of background to set the scene: I’m a recreational player living in Hong Kong – I’m a Marketing Director for a technology company, and I travel quite frequently on business around Asia. I have a condo in Vegas, and try to get there at least twice/year for poker, golf, and miscellaneous foolishness.
So last month, this business trip starts coming together … a request from a potential new client in Singapore to come for a follow-up meeting to meet a few of their new digital executives, followed by 10 days in Japan to meet with some clients and manage a marketing campaign we’re doing. The marketing campaign is a sponsorship of the Japanese PGA golf championship – the Japanese PGA has been using our app for mobile payments/tickets to PGA tour events, and they want to further evaluate it for potential full roll-out. Kool – I get to hang around Tokyo for 10 days eating sushi & drinking saki, while schmoozing at a high-end golf event. I actually get paid to do this.
[Side note: For you avid golfers out there, I’m planning to get fitted for some Miura irons while I’m in Japan – apparently the finest hand-forged irons on the planet. They’ll cost a small fortune, but should last me the rest of my life … so hopefully someday soon I’ll be happily enjoying retirement in Las Vegas, playing poker every night, and hitting the links with my Miura’s every day.]
So anyway, on Monday afternoon I get to the airport in Hong Kong for my flight to Singapore. I’m scheduled to land in Singapore around 7pm local time, and the client meeting isn’t until 3pm the following afternoon – sweet. After landing in Singapore, I switch on my cell phone, connect to the free airport WiFi, and all my work emails start streaming in … one of which from the Singapore client asking to postpone the meeting for a week or so, as their new digital execs are unavailable. You gotta be shittin’ me … I just flew all the way to Singapore for nothing? I email the client, telling him I’ve already arrived – he profusely apologises, says we will meet anyway. The following day he confirms, saying the digital execs will actually be there – but late. We show up, our host is there to greet us … but the digital execs are no-shows. So this shit-show is a genuine waste of time, my colleague and I are pissed off, and all I can think about is blowing off some steam at the poker tables later in the evening.
So after a quick pit-stop at my hotel to change out of my business suit into some jeans, I grab another taxi and head out to Resorts World Sentosa – only about a 10-15 minute ride from the city. Sentosa is actually a small island just next to the main island of Singapore – the whole place is like a giant amusement park, they have all kinds of attractions there. The casino is part of a complex which includes hotels, a shopping mall, a theatre, and heaps of other stuff.
I arrive at the casino around 7pm, and make my way through the complicated entry process. This is one of the primary differences you’ll see in Asian casinos vs. Vegas casinos – everyone needs to show ID to the security guards upon entry, and people who live in Singapore have to PAY to enter the casino. Can you imagine if they tried that in Vegas? Fortunately, non-resident visitors only need to show their passport for free entry.
Singapore residents can pay S$100 (US$75) each time they enter the casino, or buy an annual pass for S$2,000 ($1,500). I don’t think I’d be playing much poker if I lived in Singapore!
One of the first things I see when I walk in, is a sign saying NO PHOTOS. Ha! As if … I promised Rob a good write-up with lots of photos, and I ain’t gonna let no stinking sign scare me off. So I deploy my secret weapon: my Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch, with built-in camera. I simply look at my watch, pretending to check the time, tap the camera icon and … presto! Photo.
I figure I’ll take a walk around the casino to get a feel for the place, assuming I’ll eventually stumble across the poker room. It’s a typical Asian casino, and unlike Vegas there are NO scantily-clad cocktail waitresses, NO free cocktails, NO pleasure pits … basically the no-fun league of gambling. They do have free soft drinks though, at stations like this one all over the casino:
Rob would LOVE this … unlimited free refills of diet soda! However, Anger would HATE it as they didn’t have Mountain Dew.
I was quite surprised at how large the casino was – the gaming floor square footage rivalled any major Strip casino. It was a Tuesday night, so the place wasn’t busy … but having said that, it wasn’t empty either. Here is a photo to give you an idea of what it looks like – they even have a handy map to find your favorite pit game or the location of dem good machines!
[How about that professional photography, with my finger in the photo! #Fail]
So after wandering the casino floor for a bit, and checking out the scene, I quite easily find the poker room. It’s way in the back of the casino, in the smoking section … which means the poker room is “smoking” as opposed to “non-smoking”. Shit. This isn’t going to be fun … I’m not allergic, but I find cigarette smoke smelly and annoying. Oh well … I’ve come this far, might as well make the best of it.
It’s a small poker room, with 7 tables and a small registration desk at the front. It’s roped off, and there is one of those free drink stations against the back wall. For some reason, it kind of reminded me of the poker room at the Nugget in downtown Vegas … not sure why. Similar layout and color scheme, I guess. When I arrived there were 3 full tables going (two S$ 5/10 no limit games, and one S$ 10/20 NL game), and a short (2 person) waiting list for S$ 5/10 no limit (approx. equal to US$ 4/8). The buy-in range was from S$300 up to S$3,000 (US$225 to $2,255).
Here are a couple shots of the action before I sat down to play:
Irritation #1: No drinks service. In fact, no waitresses in the entire casino that I could see. If you want a drink, you need to get up and go over to the drink service counter and get it yourself. It’s free, but all they have are soft drinks … as a recreational player, I like to booze it up a little bit when I’m playing – calms the nerves.
Irritation #2: As previously mentioned, the poker room is “smoking” and stinks to high heaven. Not many players were smoking at the table, I must say, but it was irritating nevertheless.
Irritation #3: No cell phone usage at the table … or even under the table, away from the table, or anywhere in the room. Seriously? And this was a slow-moving game (for reasons I’ll explain later) – so there was lots of time in between hands when I had nothing to do but stare at the walls (no Slut Parade, that’s for sure). I initially got scolded by security when I pulled out my phone to check emails from work – so I put it away. My Gear smartwatch actually has alerts when I receive emails or messages, and I can read the messages on my watch without taking out my phone. My wife started to WhatsApp me, and I was reading her messages on my watch when I got scolded again. Figures … this is Singapore, where they sentence you to 3 lashes of the cane & 7 years in prison for graffiti.
Irritation #4: They were using 2 decks, with an automatic shuffler which should make the game run faster … right? Well, either the automatic shuffler was broken, or it’s the slowest shuffler on planet earth. Even after completing a hand that goes all the way to showdown, after pushing the pot and collecting the cards, the dealer had to wait nearly a minute for the f’cking shuffler to finish shuffling the other deck. Plus, the dealer is required to place the deck inside a plastic case (with an open slot at the end) before dealing the cards – not sure what’s up with that, other than more wasted time. With nothing else do to (no phones, u see) – the time between hands is mind-numbing.
Irritation #5: Either there is no English-only rule at the table, or it’s not enforced. The other players, all locals from what I could tell, were jabbering away in their native language – interspersed with English. Ordinarily I would say something, but it appeared they all knew each other and were trash talking their friends and laughing it up. If I thought there was any collusion, I would have got up and left. I found it irritating only because I like a fun table with some conversation and joking around … and I could obviously not join in.
Oh, and there is no tipping allowed (in the poker room or anywhere in the casino). The other thing I noticed was that each dealer down was incredibly long – when I sat down, the dealer who was already there didn’t get up for over 90 minutes! The next dealer pushed in, and was still there nearly 2 hours later when I left! The dealers, though, were very good (in my opinion) – they kept the game moving quickly (when not waiting for the prehistoric auto-shuffler) and always announced the amount of any raise so players never had to ask.
OK, so I assume readers want to know about the level and style of play. From observation – and getting sucked out on numerous times – the locals like them some gamblin’ when it comes to poker. People calling pre-flop raises with junk, and hanging around until the river for their miracle outs. I started off OK, playing my normal tight-aggressive game … taking down a few pots pre-flop, a few more with c-bets post-flop … even won a couple of pots at showdown.
I’ll never forget my first hand of the night: pocket deuces in the big blind. Early position player raises to $30, two callers, and I come along for the extra $20. Flop comes deuce-deuce-blank … QUADS! Check, check to me … I bet $40, and both players fold. I could have used that hand later in the night with some of the crazy stuff players were doing … anyway, I got a lot of money in the pot a couple of times with the best hand, only to be sucked out on. This decimated my stack, and after a couple hours I was down to $300.
Typical suck-out hand: I’m dealt A-Q offsuit in late position. Early position raise to $30, one caller, I make it $65 and both players call. Flop comes 2-5-Q rainbow. Checks to me, I bet $60 and both players call. Turn is a blank … check, check to me and I make it $150. One player folds, the other calls. River comes a nondescript 7. Other player checks, I bet $250 and get called … and he turns over 5-7 offsuit. Seriously? That was pretty much how my night went.
So needless to say, next time I’m in Singapore I’ll be giving the poker room a miss. The game was slow, boring, and very unprofitable (having said that, now that I have some experience, I’d play differently next time … but the irritations aren’t worth it).
On my way out of the poker room, I was feeling hungry as I didn’t have any dinner. In the mall outside the casino, I found this Vietnamese café (Nam Nam Kitchen) and ordered some spicy Pho noodles with beef, pork and various other unrecognizable ingredients.
Mmmm … Nam Nam have some damn damn good Pho noodles!
So with that, I headed back to my hotel for a decent night’s sleep as I’ve got a flight to Tokyo the next day. There is a taxi rank in the parking garage, and the parking garage is HUGE! And quite posh … much nicer than those ugly parking garages The Trooper vlogs from!
So again, many thanks to Rob for kindly allowing me to share my experience at Resorts World Singapore in Sentosa. (Plus, this gave me something do to on my 7-hour flight to Tokyo.) When I woke up this morning, I saw a news item on Twitter that Resorts World just broke ground on the next mega-resort in Vegas – if they include a poker room, I can only hope it’s nothing like the one in Singapore!