Saturday, July 22, 2006

Meet me Tonight In Atlantic City

"Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty, and meet me tonight in Atlantic City" - Bruce Springsteen

I haven't been to A.C. since 2000 I think, when I visited the Trop on a Friday night with some friends from work. I remember it vividly because I had tweaked my back so badly that I couldn't take my shoes off - pure, debilitating pain, only mildly eased by the seemingly endless string of pocket aces I encountered in my low limit hold'em session.

Now, all grown up, I was ready to trounce the fish in the 2-5 NL game, but first things first: bankroll. I IM'd Dirty Dave Thursday afternoon, telling him that, like a true pro, I'd already scouted out the Citibank branch locations in the area: NONE.

"Ahhhhh... The essence of the EV hound: Capitalization," Dave responded. Yes... Indeed - nothing worse than being lucky enough to find a six sigma game and not have the bankroll on you to withstand the variance. So I wanted to make sure I was rolling with ample ammunition. Later that afternoon, when I heard one of the locals complain to his buddy that the reason he was waiting for his marker to come through was because he didn't want to be walking around with $4k in his pocket, I decided to just keep my mouth shut. Please... $4k? That's lunch...

Nevertheless, there's still no real easy way to get to A.C., so I had to settle for the bus. Clearly not glamorous, and I took an endless amount of shit from my colleagues at work all day long about who I'd be sitting next to on the bus, but when I got to Port Authority, it was a piece of cake. There were probably 15 people on the whole bus, so I didn't have to crowd in next to some wacked out Asian slot jockey drinking onion juice from a mason jar.

Backing up, I had arrived at Port Authority 30 minutes earlier than the targeted 3:30 bus to the Tropicana. The ticket-takers at the 3pm Greyhound bus to Resorts explained to me, "No, you should wait for the Tropicana bus, so you can get the bonus there." You see, you get a voucher for $20 in free play or free food or some combination thereof, for whatever casino you go to.

"Umm, I think I'll just get on this bus, and then take a cab to the Tropicana from Resorts," after all, I'd get a Resorts bonus anyway on this bus, and I clearly figured to make more than $20 in 30 minutes at the poker table anyway!

The bus ride down was smooth, apart from a woman two rows behind me yapping loudly in Spanish, but the approach to Atlantic City is a real downer. Vegas it is not. While Vegas was engineered and then rebuilt with visual perfection in mind, all of Atlantic City seems to be like Caesar's Palace: a melange of shit thrown together and built upon, constantly added to, never done right. It just looks depressing. I elected to not wait the extra 30 seconds on the bus to receive my Resorts bonus, instead choosing to get my ass to the Tropicana ASAP. Passing up such a freeroll is a violation of all my gambling ethics, but I knew they were trying to pull the old "deal him a hand where he has to split 8's or something else to make him dig into his pocket for the extra bet" maneuver. You have to wake up pretty early in the morning to trap Kid Dynamite with that crap.

Exiting into the Resorts bus area was pure depression. I had been clinging to the hope that I'd appreciate Resorts, the original A.C. casino, and see some old school nostalgia, but all I saw were old school old folks, done pumping their $20 in nickels into the slots, lifelessly waiting for their buses back to The Home. I ran like a crazed rat in a maze trying to find a cab out of this dump, eventually hailing some off duty guy from a side street.

This cabbie was an old white guy, writing on a sign in his lap like the one a begger would hold. I craned my neck to read his masterpiece: "Wanted: washed up crack whore. Retarted children ok. Black girls welcome," was all I could see, as he covered up his work, but I liked this guy already. The cab ride was only about a mile, but fuckin'A the A.C. cabs are expensive: the meter starts at $2.90, and seems to tick $.20 every 5 seconds. I later noticed that the catch is that there is an $11 maximum, which basically means almost any ride will cost you $11.

I stroll up to the front desk at the newly (2 years ago) renovated Tropicana, and hand my i.d. and credit card to Magdelena, the desk clerk. "Vhat kind of vrooom vooold you like?" She asks me, in a Russian accent. "Non-smoking, king bed," duh.. Do you know who the fuck I am? I'm surprised that she apparently DOES know who I am, as, after punching the keyboard for 3 full minutes, she calls the manager over to help her find "something high," which, in Tropicana parlance, means a room in their new Havana Tower.

Magdelena hooks me up with the Havana Tower upgrade, and I'm thinking "FREEEEEEEEEROLLLL" as I take the elevator up to the 54th floor to find a perfectly nice room with a fantastic view of the sprawl that is A.C., including all the casinos, the new Borgata, and the ocean.

I quickly change into my standard poker room gear: Red Sox hat, hooded World Series Champion Sweatshirt, card capper, bankroll: Let's roll. I hit the poker room, and find an open seat in 2-5NL, $500 max buy in. The game was pretty boring: there were about 6 locals who were rocky, and a few local young guns were later mixed in. The youngsters could mix it up, and had the potential to bluff you off a hand, but it usually wasn't hard to figure out where you stood in a hand against them: they tended to play too tight, especially coming from the game I'm used to in the city.

A super tight old lady local made a comment when I followed up a $20 preflop re-raise with and $80 pot sized flop bet, saying "You have nothing - that bet screams of weakness." I raised an eyebrow at her. "Really? Do all of my pot sized bets scream of weakness? Don't I always bet the pot?" "No, you sure don't," She told me, and I made a mental note to be sure to hammer any pot I was in with her, as she interpreted my larger bets as weaker hands. Unfortunately, I didn't get the opportunity to play a big pot against her, so I resorted to showing her my hammer - I mean, The Hammer.

I made it $15 with the 7d 2d and got called 4 times. The 5-6-8 two diamond flop hit me about as hard as it could, and I bet out $45. Everyone folded, and I shook my head and tossed my hand faceup, "Best hand I guess," I shrugged, as I could see the locals seethe. Next orbit I raised again out of position, this time with AdKd.

When the flop came with 3 rags, I bet the pot into my grinder local opponent, explaining "I don't have deuce-seven of diamonds," and he shook his head and mucked A-K faceup, complaining "I can never hit a flop." Now this would have been the perfect time to evaluate my implied tilt odds by tabling my own hand faceup, and explaining, "No, I just play it better than you do," but I decided it would be easier to win at this table if I used the license to steal pots, rather than inciting the locals to play back at me - in which case I would have to make real hands.

The one enigma at the table, a loose cannon Ghetto Basher who seemed to bet with impunity but was very difficult to read put a series of beats on me when he proved I wouldn't be able to push him out of pots. I decided I'd have to make a hand.

When he called a raise I made from the cutoff with AhJh, I was ready to take another crack at him on the JsTsTc flop. He bet out $25, and I smooth called.

The turn was the 9c, and he bet out again. $45. Hmmm... I smooth called again.

The river was a card that didn't really help me: the Ace of diamonds, giving me two pair, but I was either already way ahead or drawing to a jack. GhettoBasher bets $70 into me, and I shake my head, realizing that seemingly pretty ace didn't help me, before I call. He tables 3s4s sheepishly, and I rake the pot.

In the only other partly interesting hand from the night, GB raised to $25 UTG, and one of the YoungGuns called, before I re-popped it to $125 from the cutoff with AcKc. GB stared me down. I stared back at him. Bring it on, Muthafucka. He mucks. YoungGun seems anguished. "You have aces or kings?" he asks me. I ignore him. He's talking to himself out loud. I look him right in the eye, a look that conveys one message: ""

He mucks QQ faceup (I told you they were tight! smooth call then fold with QQ here?!?!) as I tell him "Excellent laydown."

I end the 5 hour session up only $136, and promptly give back a quarter of that at JakesDogHouse, the specialty dog store the have there for some reason (I guess for people like me who miss their pets!) buying things for Oscar: a sleek Patriots doggy hat, and a soft chewey bone that squeaks and rattled.

stay tuned for part II of the trip report to come...



Anonymous said...

"I didn't have to crowd in next to some wacked out Asian slot jockey drinking onion juice from a mason jar."

haha awesome, reminds me of the time Jay and I hopped into the only available bus back from foxwoods on our "worst trip ever" which was stocked to the gills with asian gamblers. It might have been ok if they didn't start blaring some chinese game show on the tvs.


Kid Dynamite said...

I have a memory seared into my cortex of an Asian dude sitting next to me on a bus drinking onion juice from a mason jar circa 1998.