Know when to fold 'em
Last column, folks. It's been a good run the past year and a half. But there were weeks when writing this column felt something like chasing an inside straight, and the bosses upstairs have decided that a 68th column focused on the gaming industry would be one too many.
So this is it.
Not that we're turning our backs on Macau or on the casino trade - quite the opposite, as the city is in the midst of a rip-roaring recovery.
But from here on out, my Macau musings will migrate over to the business pages as proper articles (with real reporting and sources!). In retrospect, that is where they probably always belonged: my carefully crafted revenue charts always found the 'entertainment listings' to be a strange neighbour on this page.
There is a touch of irony in the timing. This column was launched on April 25 last year, three days after the city's chief executive, Edmund Ho Hau-wah, relayed a message from Beijing that Macau was putting the brakes on casino development and planning to cap junket commissions.
Within months of that announcement, Macau was reeling from the combined effects of Beijing's visa restrictions, regional recessions and the implosion of a credit bubble in the VIP junket segment.
Visitor arrivals plunged and casino revenues contracted. Some of the city's biggest casino developers nearly went bust, and tens of thousands of industry workers were laid off or forced to take pay cuts.
Fast-forward 18 months. As this column winds down, Beijing is easing its visa restrictions on travel to Macau. The junket commission caps are - finally - becoming a reality.
Casino revenues are again soaring to unheard-of levels, starting with August's haul of 11.27 billion patacas, and the trend shows no sign of slowing.
Wynn Macau this week raised US$1.6 billion in a Hong Kong stock market listing. Rival Las Vegas Sands may follow with its own listing within months, which could deliver the cash it needs to restart construction on its mothballed Cotai mega-resort across the street from the Venetian.
Macau is once again on a winning streak and, if anything, there is more to write about than ever - and rest assured, we will.
I will probably miss the feedback from readers the most - it isn't your average columnist that gets e-mails from professional poker players and retired card counters (did anybody else have problems with the blackjack movie 21?).
Still, knowing when to fold 'em is probably more important than knowing when to hold 'em.
All In is all out.