Friday, December 02, 2005

Atlantic City Weekend, pt. 1

Any of you who know me, or have been reading my blogs for a while, already know that I’ve been fascinated by casinos ever since I had my very first casino experience back in 1969. It was then when I and some fellow shipmates went to a casino in Nassau, while serving aboard the USS Boxer (LPH-4) during a Caribbean cruise. While some of the magic of that first moment has dimmed I still get a thrill when walking through even the smallest gambling den.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Pete and I drove down to Atlantic City on Friday night. Pete had an invitation to take part in a Slot Tournament at the Borgata, along with a comp room for two nights. We also had tickets to see Chicago on Saturday night, which I talked about over on SHOT’S SHACK.

I’d been to the Borgata a couple of times before and it always struck me as the most “Vegas” of the AC casinos, if you know what I mean. If you’ve ever been to Vegas or seen the casinos there on television or in films, you know that they have a certain atmosphere. With the Borgata it feels as if they picked up a Vegas casino/hotel and dropped in on the New Jersey shore. It really seems like they are trying to go for a younger hip crowd and High Rollers, rather than the typical AC player. You generally won’t see the ‘bus people’ running around the Borgata for the most part, unless they’ve taken the shuttle over from the Boardwalk. The rest of the AC casinos are a bit more welcoming of these folks, and seem to compete in trying to get as many as possible down to the gambling floor.

I’m also not crazy about the way the rooms are designed in the Borgata either. Now these may be only the low end/comped rooms, but it doesn’t make any sense to have a picture window behind the desk. You have to walk around the desk to open the blinds leaving the desk & chair blocking your view. What’s that about?

On the other hand, the pool area at the Borgata is really nice. With the palm trees and lounges it resembles some of the smaller casino pools in Vegas, which is a nice thing. It’s not deep, but decent sized with a very pleasant hot tub over in the corner of the room. During the summer they’ll open the doors and you can sit outside, but in the colder months you’re completely comfortable and can even order room service. Sweet!

The plan was to get to AC around 9:30pm or so, after Pete picked me up after work, check into the Borgata and then head up to the slot tournament. After that we’d grab a bite at one of the restaurants and then hit the casino floor. All went according to plan until we got up to the tournament. Seems the Borgata allows the player and a guest entrance to the tournament room which also has an "all-you-can-eat buffet" & open bar. What a nice surprise! It wasn’t a large buffet, but did have a decent selection with two carving tables, dessert & coffee. We spent about an hour relaxing after Pete played and then continued with our original plan.

(Aside: this may include things you don't want to hear about so feel free to skip it if you have a weak stomach. - There was one guy at the tournament who was seriously taking advantage of the open bar. At one point when he stood up he almost fell into the lap of an older gentleman sitting at a table behind him. If the guy's friend, who wasn't quite as drunk, hadn't grabbed him and led him out I think the wait staff was about to call in security. I can understand the casino not wanting to put a damper on somebody 'enjoying' themselves, but you would also think they'd have somebody at these things to keep an eye on the players. To top it off, about fifteen minutes later I found myself helping the drunk up off the bathroom floor when I went in to wash my hands. His good buddy having disappeared somewhere or other, either before or after this guy emptied his stomach into several sinks. End of aside!)

One of the interesting things about casinos, if you haven’t been to one, is the fact that no matter what time of day you get there you seem to feel it’s twilight and you lose track of time. The maze like quality of most casino floors tend to lead you away from any entrance where natural lighting or a view of the outside might clue you in. Naturally, the floor has no clocks so before you realize it you’ve spent several hours. Before we knew it my watch showed it was after 3:00am, so we finally tore ourselves away from the machines and headed back to our room. (FYI: At this point I was a little over $100 up and feeling pretty good.)

I’ll finish this report up later.
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