We’re Home

I am writing this page grudgingly. In my heart of hearts I know I want to write and share some experiences. On the other hand the trip home was so awful and exhausting. We left this afternoon and spent nearly five hours driving through rain, much of it torrential. And somehow, either through a weird driving position or more likely while carrying our overstuffed bags upstairs, I pulled something in my upper left leg that needs little provocation to be painful.

But I digress…

Monday was another awful weather day in Atlantic City. Looking back at some of my photos, I see hints of blue. Trust me, if you were there in it, you wouldn’t have used the color blue in any description.

As I mentioned earlier, Steffie was not particularly thrilled with the Boardwalk. Still, I hadn’t been in at least ten years and Steffie had nothing better to do, so the three of us got the car and headed out.

I believe there’s a tax issue here, but another way Atlantic City differs from Vegas is that you’re charged for parking. We went to one of the Trump hotels and were hit up for $5 for the self park garage.

I should get a break for the mere fact that I was a registered New Jersey voter who originally voted to bring casino gambling in. Is there no loyalty?

The Boardwalk remains as tawdry as ever. Unfortunately, the first thing you notice is, there’s no beach to be seen! Oh, it’s there, but it’s hidden behind dunes which have been built to stave off erosion. Somehow, I would hope there’s a compromise between the beach disappearing physically and the beach disappearing visually. Maybe not.

All the casino hotels back on the Boardwalk. Because of the salty sea breeze they are stucco or ceramic facades. It would be foolish to expose too much metal here. Still, the lack of chrome and glass and the salty coating makes everything dull, including the colors.

Other than the casinos, here’s what you’ll find on the Boardwalk: psychics, t-shirt shops, old arcades, a few food joints, Steel’s Fudge and birds. The number of birds on the Boardwalk is astounding. Some hotels and other businesses have strategically placed metallic spikes to keep the birds from roosting. But they’re around 24/7. There are constant sources of food, both discarded and offered.

There is one older apartment building that seemed to be home to thousands of birds. They would fly in an intricately choreographed swarm and then light on small outcroppings.

Some of the outer structure of the building, hopefully not weight bearing, has crumbled away. Maybe it’s because of what the birds leave behind. Maybe it’s the salt air. Probably it’s a combination of the two and too little maintenance.

Steffie and Helaine went to Steele’s to get some fudge. It’s really great. A true Atlantic City treat. I believe pound for pound Steele’s fudge has more sugar than sugar!

We popped into Trump Plaza on our way to and from the beach. I remember thinking, years ago, how gaudy and yet upscale it looked. Not anymore. Everything seems small, crowded and a bit seedy.

As we walked by an outside window, a Trump Security vehicle pulled up. It was old, sort of beaten up, and had letters missing from its name. The Donald would not be thrilled – though this vehicle is the least of his Atlantic City problems.

Back at The Borgata we had dinner at the buffet again. There’s no doubt I’ll be dieting again as soon as I can! Buffets are my undoing.

The comedy club at the hotel runs seven days a week. Monday is when the new acts begin. So Helaine got tickets and we got to see another three comics working hard.

First up was Jim McCue. He just couldn’t get started – couldn’t get the audience warmed up. About 15 minutes in, he started talking to the audience, again going nowhere. He had some funny bits and maybe as second up he would have done better.

Next was Rob Magnotti. He is a talented impressionist, but he needs better material to support his voices and movements.

The ‘headliner’ was Kenny Rogerson. He was very funny – top notch. It’s interesting how a comedian’s performance often hinges more on his command of the stage and audience than jokes. I thought this guy took charge from the beginning and there was no doubt he was going to be funny. That’s very important and then he followed through.

It was 10:30 when the show ended. We said goodnight to Steffie and I headed to the basement and poker. Unlike the weekend, the list for the $10/$20 Texas Hold’em table was short. Within 10 minutes I was in the back ‘room’ playing.

The players at this table were older than those I had been with over the weekend. One man, who the dealers called by his first name, sat a few chairs down from me. I had played with him earlier and he had been a putz. He continued on that track.

Of the ten at the table, I would guess 5 or 6 were regulars or semi-regulars. This was tougher competition than what I had faced earlier.

Within the first few hands I played a big pocket pair (I think it was Kings, maybe Queens) only to get busted on the river (someone had caught good cards to beat me – the best hand when dealt). I was down over $100 and the night was young.

I wavered a little, crawling up and down, but by the time Helaine stopped downstairs to check on me (she called me on the cell phone from within the poker room because she couldn’t see me in this back area) I had shed nearly $200. My play was fine, but the cards weren’t great and the competition was.

I had bought in with $300, getting $20 in white $1 chips and the rest in $5’s. The chips at Borgata are a good idea gone bad. They are clean and new. Unfortunately, they have a tendency to stick together. Mention this to anyone and you’ll be told there’s a magnet inside – but that’s not true. If there was a magnet, at least some of the time it would repel. These always seems to stick together.

Over hours and hours of playing I had lots of time to look at the chips. I think I know where the problem lies. The chips are quite smooth. There are no grooves or ribbing anywhere around. The center inset is depressed ever so slightly – a few fractions of an inch. When two chips come together, a vacuum is formed between the chips in that tiny cavity. It’s enough to make it cumbersome to separate them easily as their natural tendency is to stay together.

Before Helaine left, I won a hand. It was fairly big and I quickly moved from minus to plus. I continued playing until nearly 2:00 AM. At one point I said to myself, as soon as I won a hand, I’d walk. And, I won the very next hand from the small blind position.

At the end, I was up $253 for the night and, as I previously mentioned, the trip was a remarkable success at the poker table. Each time I sat down, I cashed out a winner.

Of course that got me to thinking about what I did right.

First of all, I played my cards. I know that sounds foolish, as that’s what you’re supposed to do. Sometimes, a player wants to look weaker than he is, or stronger. I’ve been guilty of those ruses myself – and often to my detriment. When I thought I was leading, I bet. When I felt behind I folded. Simple as that.

I didn’t play crap before the flop – didn’t chase. If a large number of players were in, and I was in a late position so I could see them bet before me, I’d sometimes play two suited cards or ‘connectors’ (like 9-10 or 7-8). Compared to the table, I was conservative.

If there were tells to be seen from me, no one seemed to catch on. And, to my surprise, my betting really didn’t affect many other people’s play. I was surprised at how few players folded to my raises. Weird.

These tables were fairly loose. Not as loose as some I’ve seen at lower stakes. Still, for a $10/$20 table, I was amazed at how many players saw the flop, even after a raise.

I was lucky, but not overly so in having my cards hold up. I would hope I could replicate my play for similar, if not quite as lucrative, results.

At one point I brought up the subject of on-line play. No one at the table played on-line. To me, the thousands and thousands of hands I’ve played have been my real poker education. I can’t vouch for its honesty in ring games, as I’ve heard stories. But it seems that it would be tough to cheat in the tournaments on a regular basis.

I left the poker room, found Helaine and we got to the room at about 3:00 AM.

Today was getaway day, and pretty uneventful. There was one piece of high tech equipment that caught my eye on our way out. At the valet parking stand is a sophisticated computer system. As each car goes in or out, six cameras take a photo, getting a detailed look at the entire car. Any pre-existing damage is beautifully documented! And, as the cars go in and out, the valet ticket and the ID of the driver are both recorded.

I asked the driver who delivered our car if this system pays for itself. No pause, “yes.”

Blogger’s note: I’ve posted some pictures from the trip in my photo gallery. All the shots with this entry are there, but in a larger, more readable size.

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