Sunday, April 11, 2010


I'm not a terribly good gambler. All my luck apparently got wasted during my youth, when I would routinely walk away with a couple of prizes at penny socials and raffles. Complete strangers would use me as a ringer if there was a prize they desperately wanted. My luck was something to behold, but unfortunately it only won prizes like a chocolate gift basket, and not something a bit more substantial, say, a Mediterranean cruise. And over the years, my luck has dwindled to just a speck, and so every trip I take to a casino inevitably ends with me walking out in a daze, wondering how the hell my wallet got raped so quickly. But still, it is fun to meet up with friends on occasion (misery loves company) and spend a day playing cards or table games. Such was the case a few days ago, when I decided to join my friends in Atlantic City for a little crapshooting.

Now, I had never played craps in a casino before. The only experience I've had with it is a handful of times playing at my friend Pete's place for fake money, and since the money was fake (and the alcohol was real), I usually just tossed all my chips on the table - what did I care? I gotta say, though, I was a little relieved that we'd be playing craps this time instead of poker. It's funny; when I play cash games with my pals, I'm aggressive, and I often end up with a pocketful of money (and my friends' contempt). When I get to the casino, though, the same pattern occurs: I win a hand or two playing strong, then I realize, "Hey, this is actual money in front of me, and I'm up now. Maybe I shouldn't be so aggressive...." Then I change my style, and end up turning into, for lack of a better term, the Table Bitch. As soon as someone raises, I pull out like a teenage boy who ran out of Trojans (nice image... you're welcome). In the end, barring some miraculous suck-out, I end up getting hammered at poker, so I figured that this time around, I might actually do well. Did I? Well, allow me to recap the day:

3:00 PM - I get in my car and prepare to drive to AC. I'd never driven there myself, and was always a bit hesitant to drive the Parkway, but I figured I'd have to learn at some point. Plus I had work the following morning, and my friends were all planning on getting shit-faced and staying the night. So anyway, I go to the bank and pick up $250. I went to get gas and lunch, and while I'm there, pick up a scratch ticket for $3. Surprisingly, it was a winner, for $20. That's good mojo! So I went to cash it in, and everyone in the place was watching TV. I asked what happened, and the clerk said, matter-of-factly, "House blew up down the street." Maybe that wasn't such good mojo. I got back in the car and got on the Parkway. BANK: $232.

3:20 PM - I really need to get an EZ-Pass. These tolls keep raping my stash of quarters. Besides, I think it's mandatory for all New Jerseyans... um, Jerseyites? Wait, I got it... It's a rule for all Bon Jovi fans to get an EZ-Pass anyway.

3:45 PM - It never stops being funny to me that there's a place in NJ called Cheesequake. Seriously. What, did the entire village lose a bet?!?

4:15 PM - Pass Seaside Heights. Fist-pump.

5:15 PM - Two hours and $5 in tolls later, I make my approach to Atlantic City. It's always a fun drive; you drive through these marshlands, and out of nowhere a whole shitload of ostentatious, brightly-colored buildings just seem to surround you. And for those of you who haven't been, there are two main areas: the Boardwalk, which has all the old favorites (Caesar's, Bally's, etc.); and the Marina, which has two casinos geared toward the younger crowd - Harrah's, which has a ridiculously trendy club called The Pool, and the Borgata, our typical stomping grounds. You can tell the target audience by the billboards that line the main road into town: Diana Ross and Ringo Starr at Caesar's, while the Borgata has more modern acts like Kesha, Weezer, and um, Hall and Oates.... Nevermind then. But the Borgata is actually a nice casino, and our usual stomping grounds. Such is the case tonight.

5:30 PM - One thing about the Borgata I always forget is the cocktail waitresses wear these extremely revealing dresses. Actually, I don't even think you can call them dresses, as they fail to cover up the girls' asses. Still, if you ever hear me complain about this, feel free to scissor-kick me in the testicles, since I won't be needing them anymore.

The first place I visit are the Wheel of Fortune slots. They've saved my night in epic fashion on several occasions, and after my scratch ticket win, I was feeling pretty confident. $20 later, and so much for my confidence. BANK: $212.

5:45 PM - I saunter past the roulette tables and figure I'll give it a whirl. I actually do OK at roulette most times. I put $20 on black and hit, then go $30 on black again and win a second time (Thanks for the sound financial advice, Wesley Snipes!!). Just prior to the third spin, this guy rushes up to the table like he had some urgent news, and proceeds to place a six-inch stack of $25-chips on red. It had to be at least $500 in that stack. Never have I wished for black to hit so much in my life - who puts that much money down on a single bet? As it was, it hit 00, so everyone got half their bet back (so the guy still lost $250, which tickles me a bit). Still, walked away with a $35 profit, and I'm feeling good. BANK: $247.

6:00 PM - Not all of my friends have arrived, and I'm feeling kinda hungry, so I go down to the food court. Make no mistake, this is definitely a food court: there's a pizza place, a burger place, a Japanese place (i.e. teriyaki for everyone!!!), a Panda Express, two other places that no one ever goes to, and a Ben & Jerry's. Of course, being a "high-end" casino, these places that you can find in any mall have their items' prices jacked up by about 200%. You know what's the worst feeling ever? Being cleaned out at the casino, and you don't have enough money to buy a brownie for comfort food. That's fucking depressing. Anyway, after standing in line behind a mom and her two kids (who brings kids to a casino? For that matter, who brings their kids to Atlantic City in the first place???), I plunk down $10 on a small cheeseburger combo. I'll let you figure out if it was worth it. Here's a hint: NO, IT WAS NOT WORTH IT. BANK: $237.

7:00 PM - OK, the gang's all here. Time to roll. Gotta hand it to the croupiers: they're an easy-going bunch, and they can do the math with ease. At our fake games, we practically hafta bust out a TI-83 to figure out the payments; these guys do it almost robotically. It's quite impressive, actually. Anyway, we hang at the table for a while, and have some ups and downs. One exchange while our friend Jon was shooting:
[Jon rolls a 7] ME & PETE: Yeah, Jon! Good stuff, man!
[Jon rolls craps] ME & PETE: Man, who is that douchebag rolling such garbage?
[Jon rolls a 7] ME & PETE: Hey, Jon, all that bad stuff we said, we didn't mean it.... unless you roll craps again, then we hate you.

Ultimately, I get paid on a risk bet (hard 8 and a $25 point bet) and end up being the only one in the group to come out ahead - by a whopping six dollars. Still, I'm doing well, and feeling pretty jacked up. Let's see how long this lasts... BANK: $243.

8:00 PM - One of my friends got wiped out at craps and decided to play penny slots. I lead him over to the Wheel of Fortune bay, looking to extract a little revenge from before... You can see where this is going.

8:01 PM - I lose $30 before I can even blink. And no word of a lie, the couple that takes my spot does one spin and wins $100. Go fuck yourself, Pat Sajak. BANK: $213.

8:30 PM - A few of the guys decide to play poker, and I wisely abstain. I decide to have dinner (yes, another meal. Shut it.) with my friend Dan and his co-worker, Chris, who hails from Britain. Maybe it was the accent, but by the time dinner was done, I had come to the conclusion that this guy was quite possibly the coolest motherfucker I had ever met. Then he picked up the tab, and I came to the conclusion that he was DEFINITELY the coolest motherfucker I had ever met. I should get him a giftcard or something; that was pretty boss of him to pick up a total stranger's dinner tab. Maybe that's an English thing, like mispronouncing the word "garage". And oppressing indigenous populations.

9:40 PM - The guys decide to head over to The Pool and get their collective drink on. I'm about to leave, but I feel like I didn't play enough tonight. Now, at this point, there's a little tiny voice saying, "You didn't lose a lot, there's no point in going back and risking it." That voice got shouted down quickly. After passing by the $50 blackjack tables (see my prior comment about Roulette Man), and the stream of whores heading to the clubs, I locate a cheap craps table. And by the way, when I say whores, I mean WHORES... like the kind that make you afraid of catching an STD just by being in the same area code as them. I particularly remember this one girl last year who wore a tube top that had more fabric than her skirt. Tack on a pair of 5-inch heels and more make-up than Dame Edna, and you have one classy lady (and no, my New England-based friends, I will not cast aspersions on the entire female population of New Jersey. Do it yourself.). Sadly, none are quite so trashy tonight, but it should lead me to pay attention more to the table, which should help me... right?

10:00 PM - Yeaahhh, about that.... After one halfway decent shooter (who blew on the dice like he was rolling in a back alley in Bed-Stuy), this old guy comes up to roll. In order, he rolls 3 (lose $10), 2 (lose $10), 3 (lose $10), 8 (set the point), 7 (lose $32 on the table). Holy crap, that was like getting a root canal from Freddy Krueger. Suddenly that tiny voice in my head is saying, "HA!!! I TOLD YOU! I FUCKIN' TOLD YOU!!!" Sometimes a separate tiny voice says "It's OK, we can get this back!", and you end up blowing everything. Not tonight. I actually show some restraint and take off. $5 fee for the garage later, and I'm heading back home. BANK: $156.

10:30 PM - I see a sign: "Philadelphia: 50 miles", and I'm half-tempted to just go there on a whim. But then I remember that Philly sucks, and following whims are for people who don't have work in the morning....

11:15 PM - Ha! Cheesequake..... That shit never gets old....

12:15 PM - Get back home, ninety-four dollars poorer. In the end, it wasn't an extremely memorable night - I've had much more epic collapses and great escapes. But I didn't bankrupt myself, which is always a good thing. Was it worth writing such a long blog about it? Probably not, but I haven't written anything in a while, and I felt the urge to tell a story. As for the events my friends went through at The Pool? Well, you'd have to ask them, but don't get your hopes up. What happens in AC, stays in AC. Except this blog post.