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Atlantic City Trip Report with Vegas comparisons

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by dewey089, Nov 18, 2002.

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  1. dewey089

    dewey089 Guru of Value

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    Location:
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    My Trip Report

    Atlantic City Evaluative Trip Report with Vegas comparisons

    November 12-13-14 2002
    from Albany NY

    I try here to focus on information and evaluation rather than narrate the entire trip. Ask questions if there are things you’d like to know.

    The Hotels:

    I stayed two nights at the Sands and one at Bally’s. Everyone I met there told me it was impossible to get free nights at Bally’s, but I’ve been sent another postcard for one free in December and I have not played there much. It will be interesting to see if the mailings stop based on my minimal play at both places this trip.

    Both were nicer rooms than I remember experiencing a few years ago when I stayed at the Sands and the Claridge. Bally’s was the largest and very fancy. They also seemed to have more free channels on the TV. They had an ironing board and a refrigerator.

    The Sands had a very cool safe that worked with pin numbers or your credit card. I got it closed with my credit card, but it would not reopen easily, so I went to pin numbers. It is a great idea, so much nicer than keys.

    Both rooms gave me views of flat roofs. One morning there were workmen running a machine that worked like a snow blower but pushed rainwater off the roof. It was about 7 AM and loud enough to wake me. I think they were doing roof repair.

    Sands offered free continental breakfast of all you could eat doughnuts, bagels, toast, cereal, muffins and plenty of juice, coffee, milk. It was all done with throwaway materials and it was crowded so the tiny tables need to be wiped off to be comfortable. But it meant I only had to eat one other time to be satisfied all day. Sands has also sent me free money and a scratch card for more free money. I played $25 of their money. They did not however honor the Casino Player $10 matchplay coupon.

    THE GAMBLING

    VIDEO POKER

    As reported by most other travelers the advantageous VP is hard to find and what was there is gone. Last time there was one 10/7 Double Bonus at the Sands and I did not find anything like that this time. I found unthinkable 9/6 DB. The only game close to playable was the 8/5 Bonus Poker. A bank of six in the Video Poker Parlor of Wild Wild West were is such poor condition that most did not take money and some did not have decent colors left in the screens or sound. They will certainly soon be gone too. I played and won $34 my last day.

    I did not search every corner for games. I did look for Pickem at the WWW bar and could not see that it was there. I was interested in playing live poker, my newest passion. I get no credit toward rooms playing that, however.

    I played a 50 cent 9/6 JOB at Sands and did well, made $150. However, I hate filling out tax paperwork, so I don’t like to play above the quarter level for very long. For a while on the Claridge Mezanine I played a dollar Bonus Aces (8/5 Bonus with a twist) before I noticed it was a dollar. Too bad the one hand of three fours did not develop a quad. I could have used that $200 surprise. I found quarter 8/5 bonus there where a few years ago there were 9/6 JOB.

    In general, you don’t want to come here to play VP. It is sad, but the increase in casinos around the country has not brought better competition in VP as hoped, but rather has taught the casino operators that most players will play anything. So they drop the pay tables. In many places, the pay is so low that it probably pays to switch to slots where mistakes are impossible. People just don’t shop for VP games they way they do for gas or at the super market. Could you imagine if chicken breasts were $1.99 a pound in one cooler and $3.99 a pound in the cooler right next to it? Would shoppers pick up the more expensive chicken unless it had some reputation for tastiness. And if you pointed it out to them and asked them why they shopped in discriminating ly like that would they answer, “Hey, I just shop for entertainment, I don’t really care how much chicken I get; I’m just here for the fun of filling my cart. What do you want to make me think for? I do enough of that at work. Here I just want to buy chicken.“ And would the super markets ever bother to print up those weekly advertisements? Or would they just price it nice and high to keep a high profit? Anthony Curtis was asked in a recent interview why people flock to bad gambling. “Is the average player a shmutz.†“Yes,†he answered.

    LIVE POKER

    Certainly the nature of these games change often as the players change, but here is my limited experience. I played at Bally’s, Tropicana, and Taj Mahal. The Sands Poker room was closed but rumored to be reopening.

    Bally’s was small and friendly. I played $1-5 stud and lost a little in a few hours. The Trop was fine. Again I played $1-5 stud. You could get comped to eat, and I did, but left early in the morning and was not hungry so I never used it. I had free breakfast waiting at the Sands. Unlike Vegas that comp I left at the Trop and another at the Taj will not be there the next time I come. This fall at Arizona Charlie’s East I walked into $19 in cashback left there over two years ago.

    The Taj Mahal was the most crowded and seemed to offer every game. I moved up to $5-10 stud and liked it. The rake ends up being too high in the lower limit games so even if you win, you lose over time. It is like playing slots. You have no long time advantage. I was worried about the ante eating up my tight play, but that did not happen. It does keep away those super tight players who sit in low level games maybe waiting for a Hold Em game or maybe just with nothing to do all day except wait to play the nuts.

    In all the games I found a mixture of tourists and locals, but at the Taj I found more tourists and fewer of those players I hate, the ones who are clearly there too often, know other players and the dealers by name, and make me nervous that they also know how to signal hands, work in pairs, squeeze my mediocre hands by friend raising friend, risk less by checking when they encounter each other head to head. Tourists on vacation play looser and safer.

    I lost on all my play. I lost $355 in 12 hours on the 5-10. I think I know my mistakes. Most of them are due to impatience. Some are due to tight play and then no one to bet against when the cards come. What I liked best is that for the structured $5-10 game the 7 card stud for Advanced players book begins to make some sense. As I reread it and try some of those ideas, I think I will get better. I read people well enough to sort them out as loose or tight. I am beginning to spend more time on faces. I tend to spend most of my time studying cards. I slow played one full house successfully. I also stayed with an obvious bluffer and won a big pot with a pair of queens that never developed after which the guy moved to another table. In the $1-5 game with only five tight players left, I was dealt four jacks in a row, two down and two up. No one had anything and it was hard just to get them to stay. I lost one guy with my dollar bet and another with my two dollar bet, just scared of the pair showing. Finally, I won $12. That proved to me I needed to go up a level. If I am figuring the odds right, having four jacks dealt in four cards is a 1 in 270,725 chance. It should be worth more than $12.

    The Taj comped me at the rate of $1 an hour. I left after seven hours of play to eat and they gave me a $10 comp. That was nice. Plenty of very sweet and pretty Asian women were dealers, and in general a good place to play. However, there were many heated arguments in $1-$3 games and I was glad to avoid that. There are a lot of loud mouth, ego driven poker players. My table was very friendly, especially two guys from North Carolina.

    One odd dealer was Joe who suffered with a degenerative muscle disease and was nearing a place where working would be very hard. While he dealt, the table rolled like a boat on rough water and he had some difficulty getting cards and chips where he wanted them. He was patient with himself and overly polite and clearly a tolerated favorite of the regulars. But in the rocking of the table the plastic toke bin was dislodged and it fell on an 81 year old man’s foot. The casino was very apologetic and sent people to urge the to get to the nurse, but the old man feared it would get the dealer in trouble and refused treatment saying it was nothing. It was both fine and sad to see this table of often sarcastic and hard poker players all softened toward this one fellow who clearly had but a short time left.

    OTHER GAMBLING

    I used the $25 matchplay at the Taj Mahal in a craps game and lost along with $20 in come bets while I waited for the come out roll. My craps game has reduced itself now to matchplay and to playing just $20 on dollar or two dollar Vegas tables. I have been in the longest losing streak I can remember. I must have lost ten matchplays now in a row at various places.

    I played a handful of nickels in an Adams Family slot, one at a time, and wound up with $5 after seeing the graveyard videos, the trains and hearing the bells and whistles.

    No BJ this trip.

    I missed the Gadzillion drawing by a few minutes because my pin number was not up to date. That seemed a good deal. Winners got free lottery tickets and aobut thirty people won the drawing I watched while I stood in line to lose to a chicken at Tic Tac Toe.

    ENTERTAINMENT

    Melissa Marshal at the Tropicana was one of the best lounge acts I’ve ever seen. She is very sexy with a cute edge to her voice and the drummer and keyboard player also sing well. Their music was a fine mix of songs that were neither sentimental lounge or loud rock but songs I’ve known and loved from Everly Brothers to Simon and Garfunkel and a little county. I bought an after dinner brandy at the bar to see her and it cost me over $7. I’m spoiled by those free drink coupons in Vegas and prices that make sense.

    At the comedy Stop I saw three good comics. One was a magician and I enjoyed the show.

    I had free tickets to the Legends in Concert, another of those impersonations of famous singers acts I have promised myself to avoid. I have seen too many and become a bit jaded. But a free ticket is a free ticket. This was perhaps the best one I’ve seen. I had fine seats in the center and back far enough to see the entire stage for the dances. They played Richie Valens, Barry White, Garth Brooks, Celine Dion, and Elvis. The voices were some of the best I have heard. Sets were short and fast paced, full of colorful lighting and great show chorus dancing and garnished with side video often showing the real performers. Drink prices were published. I got smart and ordered a virgin margarita so I saved $2, had my thirst quenched, and experienced no alcohol induced midshow uncomfortable need for the bathroom.

    FOOD

    On a friend’s recommendation I tried Pickles Deli at Bally's using a $10 mailed comp. I spent $15 on a pastrami ruben and a bowl of sweet and sour cabbage soup, and it all was very tasty with plenty of crisp dill and garlic pickles on the table. The waiter and I talked about the area and he recommended the Irish Pub for inexpensive sandwiches and beer. I just never got there, nor did I find out if the Black Forest German place was open or where it might be if it had closed.

    At Virginia City I had the buffet and it was fine. A fellow in line gave me a coupon from the Sunday Star Ledger. Everyone had coupons of some sort. The lines were terrible. There was one for reservations, then you came back in an hour to eat. Plan early for lunch as you don’t eat when you go. It takes a while to get a reservation.

    They did seat me in a nice little area set off from the crowds and insulated from noise. It was quiet and plush. I wrote in my journal and had great conversation there with a retired couple who had traveled the Carribean, doing “all inclusive†resorts. They spoke highly of Royal at St. Kitt and of places at Nevis. Friendly, great service in spite of no tipping allowed, good food and entertainment. It is a British vacation place. Funny, I did not ask about gambling there.

    I ate quickly on a break at the Taj Mahal just down from the poker room with a $10. I had a very small but tasty buffet for $5 more. The name of the place was something with Cabana I believe.

    GENERAL ATMOSPHERE

    It was off season at AC and things were closed. The entire Taj buffet was closed so I missed the senior special of 50% on Thursdays. As I have always experienced, most players were older people. Some were ancient. There were few in twenties and thirties. This meant fewer pretty girls to watch, but I did feel like a young man in comparison to that crowd.

    Of course, they can’t close the ocean. It rained the first night, so I bought a $3 umbrella and walked to the Tropicana and enjoyed the rain. The next day we had fine sun and warmth on the boardwalk so I bought three dollar sunglasses and three dollar caps. What great deals there are on that boardwalk! I picked up a lucky shell and talked to a single surfer in a wet suit who said the water was “not bad.†He looked about 50 years old too.

    TIPS AND OBSERVATIONS

    They made a joke out of this on Prairie Home Companion the other night, but carrying that duct tape for the crack in the window shades is a wonderful trick. I also carried in cokes and cranberry juice and cheese and bread for a little snack in the room.

    I took a sport jacket this time and found it very convenient. I never wear one because I hate dress up and hate ties. This one I wore with plain black pants and a nice warm fall shirt. I looked fine and had pockets for papers. I could take it off in warm places. With a scarf I was warm enough outside to skip a heavy coat.

    Staying at the Sands is not the most elegant but it did give me a decent access to a large part of the strip. You can go now to the Claridge and Bally’s and Caesar’s without going outside, but the navigation is often rather wild. It was a nice walk to the Trop and the Taj, but I should not be walking the boardwalk at 3 AM. That was dumb. I should take a cab back or take my car in the first place. I left my car at the Sands. With the card I parked free.
    On the third night I wheeled my luggage to Bally’s, but it was not easy and if you try to go through the casino, security grabs you and redirects you. I loved checking in on the third floor just off the parking garage at the Sands. That was very convenient. I loved it too that the elevator in Bally’s delivered me right at the Promotions center and I had easy access to either Bally’s regular or Wild Wild West.

    COMPARED TO VEGAS

    Everyone has preferences but Vegas is hard to beat for a gambler like me, especially for a low roller with me who knows Vegas well enough to plan and who rents a car.

    Here are some advantages of Vegas:

    Planning is easier for Vegas. There are more bulletin boards and questions get answered more quickly. There are more sources of good coupons and deals and more ways to book rooms.

    Easier walking in early morning hours along strip. Boardwalk all closed up.

    Video poker is unplayable in AC and full pay is everywhere off the strip in Vegas.

    Vegas machines still accept a single dollar bill. AC takes $5 as the smallest.

    Vegas casinos remember my comps sometimes for a couple years, they move them when the casinos change hands, they combine them when the casinos merge. As low roller who moves around it may take me a couple years to earn a buffet comp but it is there when I get to it.

    Lower table minimums. Many more Bad beat awards in poker.

    More of a mix of people. More people from different states and different countries.

    Friendlier locals. New Jersey and New York City are home to too many people, and they have learned a sharp wit and a biting sarcasm that may be comfortable to them but is much less fun for strangers. Eye contact is hard. Engaging in conversation is harder too. Try smiling at a pretty girl. In Vegas over half smile back. In Atlantic City most are over 70, and still they won’t smile back. The only really inviting smile I got was from a pretty girl at the end of a bar all by herself at 3 Am in the morning. She smiled first and often. I wasn’t even at the bar, just walking by, lost as usual. I smiled back, said no thanks, and turned in by myself.

    At the poker table I encountered more folks with attitude than in my inner city classroom. Everyone is uptight. I know they don’t mean to be, inside they are as warm and fine as any people, and with the right engaging questions they open up and tell you their whole life story. Usually it tended to be about operations, sickness, degenerative disease, recently attended funerals, where their grandchildren live.....but there are some good stories, good travel suggestions and plenty of retirement tips. It just takes such skill to get inside those hard urban shells.

    Travel is more risky and expensive. It takes me longer to drive to AC as to fly to Vegas. Tolls add more to the cost of the trip. I often save enough on rooms with deals in Vegas to offset the airfare and car rental .

    This trip I decided to take the scenic Taconic Parkway down and missed my
    Tapan Zee turn only to end up in the Bronx. I get lost a lot in life‘s travels. Surrounding Vegas there is unpopulated desert. It is hard to get very lost and getting back on track is easier. I am less likely to wander into an unsafe neighborhood in the desert. I still need to stay in my car to avoid the scorpions, but I don’t need to lock all the doors.

    On my return to Albany from AC I had to leave well rested and ahead of Friday NYC traffic, so I lost gambling time.

    AC Rooms and food are more expensive and there is less variety. Drinks are more expensive so the lounge acts cost more.

    Cold weather, rain, snow demand more coats, umbrellas, boots.

    Here are advantages of AC:

    ocean, ocean, ocean
    sea gulls, sand, shells, taffy, cheap hats and sun glasses.

    good bagels and wonderful pastrami

    fine big matzah balls in the soup

    no dehydration. I could have a scotch without needing four bottles of water to follow it.

    Closer to home.

    Much better low roller gambling and less crowded than Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun.

    No children.

    Plenty of old folks to watch.

    That wild Wild West prospector and mule and that vulture who talks like Jack Nicholson both crack me up.

    All in all it was a good trip. I came home down $551 and had a fine time. But then, I find most travels are endlessly delightful.

    [ November 18, 2002, 11:09 AM: Message edited by: dewey ]
     
  2. Kelly33

    Kelly33 Tourist

    Joined:
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    Thanks for posting!! I live 45 minutes from AC and Ive only been to the casinos about 5 times...
    AC is like no other place. Every time I go I do not see anyone who looks like they are from
    "Jersey" . Its a strange melting pot of travlers.
    You have to fight chain smoking grandmothers playing two machines each and hacking up whats left of her lungs...YUCK. I too find when you ask people or servers how are you today....you get the biggest sob stories and think "why did i ask "
    Ever wonder why most comedians are from NY & NJ its that bitting witt and sarcastic sense of humor we have [​IMG]
     
  3. KathyinNY

    KathyinNY Tourist

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    Good trip report. Being from upstate New York I have traveled to AC at least once a year for the past 4 years on a one day bus trip. I've enjoyed it but after going to Las Vegas this year it is pale in comparison to Vegas.

    There is just not enough "entertainment" (besides gambling) to do in AC compared to Vegas. The only draw back for me getting to Vegas at least once a year is the airline ticket. Unless I find that great deal, airfare can be quiet expensive (and no NYC, jetblue, southwest is not an option for me).

    I usually gamble at Trump Plaza in AC. The Sands sounds like a nice place, I was curious about their hotel too. Thanks for the info.
     
  4. Miffylynx

    Miffylynx Low-Roller

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    Great report. I'm also from NY. I try to go to AC once or twice a year, but the old smoking ladies piss me off....hogging the row of machines. I would love to visit Vegas more often, but at $250 - $300 a ticket we just can't.

    T-131 [​IMG]
     
  5. dewey089

    dewey089 Guru of Value

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    Thanks for your kind comments. I'm glad you enjoyed mine. I'd recommend either the Sands or the Bally's. Bally's was the fanciest. What is really fine is having so many casinos available without having to go outside in bad weather.

    In reference to smoking, I played in nonsmoking situations in the Taj, Bally's and The Trop. I believe the Taj was all nonsmoking and maybe the Trop too. Bally's had some nonsmoking tables. Sure added to my enjoyment not to fight that second hand smoke.

    [ November 19, 2002, 01:58 PM: Message edited by: dewey ]
     
  6. EskimoTony

    EskimoTony Tourist

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    What's Atlantic City? [​IMG]
     
  7. nittany

    nittany Tourist

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    good report!
    i live about an hour from ac, in fact i was just there with a friend this past weekend! hubby and i used to go ALOT, but once we visited vegas, we rarely go anymore. when we do we don't gamble as much as we used to. We're both blackjack players, and the minimums in AC are just way too high on the weekend (give me 2 or 3 dollar blackjack any day)
    it seems a shame they can't do more with it, i find it dirty and a little depressing. they have the beach, they have the tourists, and they have the legalized gambling...why oh why does it plae in comparison to vegas?
     
  8. bigdogmom

    bigdogmom VIP Whale

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    Very interesting report, Dewey. I've only been to AC once, 15 years ago, and I didn't gamble much then (oh, how things have changed!) I just remember it was COLD and WINDY. But it was nice to have the ocean there, anyway.

    We have gambling here in Colorado; same situation with poor VP pay tables. I'll only play nickels.
     
  9. danny

    danny Tourist

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    excellent, detailed report! i hardly find any AC trip reports, let alone AC boards. living in nyc, i go to AC 3-4 times a year. however that number has gone down from about 10-12 times because of my trips to vegas in recent years.

    AC has so little to offer compared to vegas...i find it more of a gambling trip rather than a destination. not surprisingly, AC brings in 3x the amount of revenue that vegas does...
     
  10. ChipCollector

    ChipCollector Tourist

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    Very nice report. I live 132 miles from AC. I have a second home in Vegas. That should just about sum it up. Barry
     
  11. brooklyngirl

    brooklyngirl Tourist

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    You can't compare AC to Vegas. AC is close to home (2 hour drive)and a good place to go when all you want to do is gamble. I can't complain about the comps either.
     
  12. KathyinNY

    KathyinNY Tourist

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    Brooklyn- I have to agree with you on that. I get better comps from Trump Plaza for my day trips than I did for going to Vegas for 4 days and it is closer to home. But once I went to Vegas oh man would I love to go there at least once a year compared to AC. Mainly because there is so much more to do and see than in AC but whatever my budget allows I go.
     
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