Poker in Singapore - REVIEW

Was in Singapore for the weekend, decided to check out the Resorts World poker room again. I was there about 4 years ago and even then I did not have the best impressions of the place. Before this visit, I was already warned by many people to expect the worst but I wanted to see for myself.

View at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore

First of all, only in Singapore you have to queue to enter the casino. Sure it is to check your passport and visa validity blah blah but again the #kiasu mentality is so obvious. Sorry my Singaporean friends but it is true. According to their staff, the whole casino only has ONE cashier area. When I was cashing out, there was a queue of about 50 people waiting and there was only 3 people serving us. Maybe it’s their way of discouraging cash outs. They do have some smart machines where you can deposit your chips and it will cash you out. But they only take 30 chips at a time. As if they don’t expect you to win. Also they let you buy in in $1000 notes but only cashes you out in $100 notes even if you win a darn lot.

We did meet a really helpful staff who brought us to the poker room and card service area. To play in the poker room you need a membership card. That took us like 20 minutes to get. Okay fine, they want to know who I am, go ahead. Here is where things get funky. We had to go through a briefing before the game before we were allowed to be seated. Here are some of the rules.

1. Do not show your hands (even if it obviously went check check) before the dealer flips over the YELLOW button that says SHOWDOWN. Apparently if you reveal your hand before the hand is dead.

2. Verbal does not count. You can say all in but drop in one chip and only the amount of that chip counts.

3. One chip is not a call. If someone bets 80, and you drop 100, IT IS A RAISE! You can min raise 20 apparently! If you drop a 100 chip and say CALL it is still a RAISE! Remember verbal does not count.

4. So if someone bets 180, and you want to call using 2x 100 chips, then you better drop them one at a time, otherwise you might be forced to raise it to 200.

Other silly things that I have observed. The dealer does not shuffle by hand when the machine hasn’t done the next deck. It slows the game down so much. The have to slide the cards into a box to deal out from. Pots over $5000 will need a supervisor to come over to “verify” the pot and record it down. You can’t buy chips on the table, but you should buy them from the baccarat table nearby. Remember there’s only one cashier in the whole casino. Every 4 hours they change decks, and that takes like 20 minutes to do. You can’t choose your tables, you draw for your tables.

Delicious Asian food at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore

The game is usually 10/20 Singapore dollars and the rake is 5% capped at 75. They do have free water, tea and occasionally some snacks. The lineup wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was fun pretending to be a fish and see my overbet bluffs get through when they didn’t know who I was. Thankfully I won, to ease my “suffering” at the game haha.

Overall the experience can be summed up by one word. KIASU! (definition) I think the background story of these rules has to do with security cameras. Since the cameras can’t pick up voice, they can only see your actions so in order for them to “track” the way you play, they can only watch. But come on, this is poker. Why does the casino need to track how the game goes? As long as it is fair and played with international rules, it shouldn’t matter. Also some local regulars camp out there making the game feel hostile and unwelcoming. Is the game beatable? If you can pretend to be a fish and exploit the regulars, I think it is. But it is frustratingly slow, dealers seem to help the regulars, there’s no game selection as you draw the tables you get, it’s not a fun grind that’s for sure.

Dear Resort World Sentosa, if you’re reading this, please make your poker room a welcoming place for players of all nations. Whilst Singapore produces some of the best players in Asia, none of them has anything good to say about your only legal room of the whole country. You’re the laughing stock of foreign players and a disgrace to your own countrymen that has been there. Imagine if you run a football league but your’s the only one in the world that players can use their hands.