Lai See

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2007, 12:00am

poker fans counting on stanley to come up with grand gesture

The Grand Lisboa, Stanley Ho Hung-sun's new casino, is thinking of introducing five-card stud poker, which the Chinese usually call 'Show Hand', to its VIP rooms this year.

Five-card stud, a game for high rollers, has become extremely popular in American casinos and online. It has been featured in a number of Chinese movies, notably God of Gamblers, which starred Chow Yun-fat. In such flicks, players are given to wagering everything they have - up to and including a hand, in one instance.

The Macau gaming scene, which is dominated by baccarat, desperately needs some variety. Last year, all casinos' revenues from mass-market and VIP baccarat came to HK$47 billion, or about 85 per cent of the total.

By contrast, blackjack, which Lai See personally finds much more stimulating, accounted for HK$1.6 billion, or about 3 per cent of revenues. Little wonder that we had to wander through the Grand Lisboa for half an hour on opening night before finding a blackjack table.

poor hand for old lisboa

About 30,000 punters and curiosity seekers who stormed the Grand Lisboa on opening night were enough to make us wonder if there was anybody left at the original Lisboa, the firstborn of the big casinos back in 1970.

The new building - built to resemble a lotus flower towering over a Faberge egg, by one account - is even more eccentric than the original. (If any readers were around when the first Lisboa opened and can remember what it was supposed to look like, we'd appreciate hearing from you.)

An interesting bit of trivia - for its first hour, the Grand Lisboa's 240 tables were all but deserted.

This was because the management was giving away a HK$10,000 cash prize every 15 minutes for customers who agreed to fill out a card with their personal particulars.

success whets appetite

Oblivious to the frenzy of the opening was Mr Ho, who dined at the new casino's Italian restaurant, Don Alfonso 1890, the first overseas branch of the Michelin-rated eatery.

The King of Macau was joined in a private room by Angela Leong, his fourth wife, and senior executives of his gaming firm Sociedade de Jogos de Macao. A convivial Lui Che-woo of rival casino operator Galaxy Entertainment dropped by to pay his respects.

We're told Mr Ho and company dined on chilled lobster, seared tuna, veal and other southern Italian delicacies.

UPS collars female volleyballers

United Parcel Service, which has been anointed as the official cargo and logistics provider of the Beijing Olympics, has also managed to get its corporate logo on the collars of the jump suits that will be worn by the Chinese women's volleyball team, which won the gold medal in Athens in 2004.

UPS general manager Leung Kwok-kei said staff were polled on their sponsorship preferences.

'The poll found that everybody on the staff wanted to sponsor a Chinese volleyball team - as long as it was the women's team,' he said.

In case any potential sponsors are interested, there is still time to get your logo on the right-hand side of the shorts that the men's volleyball team will wear.

fung shui adds interest

Hats off to Standard Chartered for adopting an original tactic in the mortgage war.

We're used to seeing banks bait their hooks with preferential interest rates, cash rebates, free conveyancing services, even LCD televisions. But StanChart is the first, as far as we can tell, to exploit what is becoming fashionable to call our 'intangible heritage' by offering borrowers the services of a fung shui master.

The bank said clients who qualify for a mortgage under the government's Home Ownership Scheme will be entered in a draw, and 10 will win a free consultation with Master Yeung Tin-ming.