Self-restraint pays off

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 12 May 2021

Macau was reinvigorated during the May 1 golden week as mainland visitors returned. I asked a Macau friend whether casinos did well.

He said activity on the open gaming floors was robust, boosted by spending by the mainland tourists. VIP gaming room business, however, has yet to pick up due to the continuing clamp down on lavish gambling by the mainland authorities.

If that's the case, casinos that have a strong open floor section like Macau Galaxy will be the first ones to benefit from this round of revival.

Also impacting on private gambling room business is the ongoing Hong Kong-Macau travel freeze. But that means once the travel ban is lifted, this segment of the casino operations will rebound by 30 percent, said my friend.

That's not wild speculation but a projection based on past figures, which, incidentally, reflects the potent spending power of Hongkongers. I asked him whether there are any big names among the "big spenders" from Hong Kong. My friend laughed and named Chim Pui-chung, the famous stock investor who flaunted his gambling triumphs in newspapers from time to time.

But has Chim just been broadcasting his winnings while keeping his losses mum?

My friend vouched that Chim does have a unique way that has enabled him to pocket tens of millions of dollars from the casinos a few times, but has never lost big money.

The house edge ensures 99 out of 100 casino customers lose money. What then is Chim's secret winning formula?

My friend told me it boils down to two words: ren de - self-restraint. Chim is disciplined - on a losing streak, he would quit once he hit the bottom line, but he would give free rein to a hot streak.

That is ying gu shu suo - feed a win, starve a loss - the same strategy to which Chim has been adhering in the stock market.

But this is a motto that is easier said than followed, which is why most stock speculators - and almost all gamblers - get burnt.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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