by Desmond Lam
An Insight into Mr. Chinese VIP
I recently had a chance to sit beside a regular Chinese gambler on my flight back to Macau and had an informal chat with him. To protect his identity, let’s call him Mr. CVIP.
Mr. CVIP works for a company in mainland China. His travel to Macau is discreet; he prepared for his trip by lying to everyone in his office that he is going elsewhere. “Macau is a very small region of China”, he said. For several years, Mr. CVIP has secretly traveled to Macau to challenge his destiny.
Mr. CVIP would stay in the best hotel in Macau, as close to his casino as possible. In fact, a private car was supposedly waiting for him at arrival to fetch him to his hotel. Despite his regular visits to Macau, he does not know too much about the city and its heritage. He has not visited any of the historical sites nor mingled with the locals. Mr. CVIP, however, likes to search for cheap shopping deals in town.
Once in the casino, Mr. CVIP plays only baccarat. This game is his love and he thinks that there are no other games fairer than this one. When I asked him if he likes poker, Mr. CVIP replied “Nah, not my type”. Mr. CVIP strongly believes in luck and fate – He promptly replied “Yes, definitely!” when I asked him the question. “It is fate that brings us together on this plane”, he added. Once, he had 18 straight-winning streaks all in the player’s hand that led him to believe that luck was on his side. Mr. CVIP has special baccarat card reading technique/behavior that he did not want to disclose. An action he appears to be very proud of.
Interestingly, Mr. CVIP acknowledged that he does not like to play in VIP rooms or even join any clubs if possible. This is because he is unwilling to reveal his profile to the casinos. He was invited, tried but did not like it. Mr. CVIP prefers to mingle with other mass market players on the floor and betting (easily) more than HKD 10,000 a hand. “People from Zhuhai and Guangdong would surround me and bet on my table after I start playing”, he said. They often bet on his side when they see him bet after a few hands. He hates that but has no choice since there is no rule on the mass floor that allows him to reserve a table to himself. He called these people “low quality gamblers”, who only bet a couple of hundreds (HKD) per hand.
Unlike what we sometimes hear in the market, there is loyalty in him. Mr. CVIP prefers to stick to one or two casinos. According to him, those places that make him feel good. The feeling when betting is important to him. The first cue of a ‘no-no’ place is when he losses on the first night. Some casinos are never attractive to him even though the top names poach him. Moreover, he will shy away from casinos that ‘cheat’ their customers during play. Although without proof, he believes some of the outcomes from his baccarat play could not have happened without the house cheating. He also hates hosts who show him a black face when he wins over the house. Frankly, he encounters these several times. But in some places, he claimed, they are happier when you win and treat you well despite you winning. He loves these places.
Mr. CVIP remembers many of his adventures. He love to talk about them (but only to strangers like myself) and appears to long for more. There were times he lost but there were times he won. He said that winning a big hand makes him excited and longing for more of such experience. He talked excitedly about a day when he kept losing but managed to win back his losses with a pair bet of over HKD 10,000 on a baccarat play. Cumulatively, he claimed he has lost several millions in Hong Kong dollars so far. But he wants to win them back badly. He boosted that there were times he would win tens of thousands one night but only to lose them back the following nights. “You count your wins only when you leave Macau”, he claimed with a sigh. Mr. CVIP said he hates himself for not stopping when he wins but he said that it is really hard to pull the plug. Many times he will put a target number to his wins but would still carry on riding his luck in a winning steak. “When it happens, nothing can stop you”, he said and added “You can win even if you close your eyes and bet blindly”. “Who on earth will stop playing when this happens…”
Before we parted, Mr. CVIP kindly shared his knowledge of Chinese gamblers’ profiles with me. To him, there are only three types of Chinese gamblers:
1. Those who bet little and chicken out when they make tiny wins or losses -the small players.
2. Those who have little money but gamble huge. They would borrow money to finance their losses - the lousy and problem gamblers, according to him.
3. Those who gamble huge but with deep financial pocket to wage a war with the house – the strong ones like himself.
Date Posted: 03-Sep-2007
Desmond Lam is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Macau. He can be contacted at DesmondL@umac.mo.