After hosting 32 for Christmas, and then having 8 folks over for dinner last Saturday night, my wife and I made a last minute decision to head to AC for a quick overnight trip last Sunday. We decided to use up a comp at the Atlantic Club which is closing on January 13th. This property was recently put into bankruptcy and then auctioned over two days as there were no suitable bids on the first day. Caesars will get the property including an 800 room hotel for $15 million and Tropicana will get the gaming tables, slots and player database for a little over $8 million. Over the past year, the Atlantic Club was reinventing itself as a locals casino with free parking, $9.99 buffets (often free with minimal play) and other low cost dining options. There were some new slots installed and new carpeting in several areas and the owners were reporting improved results, but not fast enough. Despite being one of the highest grossing properties in the 1980's when Steve Wynn developed it as the Golden Nugget, and with Sinatra performing several times a year, only then to be valued at $540 million in 2005, the smallest casino in NJ will close its doors. Then again, competition is what makes this country great and sends the weak to the abboittoir. Unfortunately, there are unpaid creditors and 800 employees out on the street. Our first stop was to Showboat, a place we've not been for at least 5 years. I was surprised at how old many of the slot machines were, much of the VP still had old CRT's. Drink service sucks, ordered a beer for the Mrs., and only diamond card holders get the bottle. The unwashed masses like us get a flat 7 oz. pour in a cup procured at the dollar store. We quickly dropped about $50 in a few slots and were not feeling the vibe, meaning too many spins between wins, so we left after 30 minutes. Plus, the place was fairly dead, this place will be off our radar indefinitely. We didn't make it to the House of Blues section of the casino. I've been wanting out check out Harrah's for awhile, so we made our way over to the Marina section. The parking deck was fairly crowded and we really liked the vibe once we hit the floor. I can't recall the last time we visited Harrah's, it could have been 10 years ago, but we will be back. It was busy and it seemed to have lot of machines that my wife liked. Alas, blackjack was 6:5 at many of the tables, not sure of the denominations, so I made my way to a nickel Super Times VP machine @ 5 hands, max coin required 30 credits to trigger the bonus. This was my first time at a machine where drinks could be ordered on the screen and it worked great. I ended up playing on $40 for over an hour and had two Heinekens and a Manhattan in the process. I skipped lunch, and have resolved to eat more fruit, so the cherries kept me on course. Before I played, I had a chance to walk around and although the layout seemed a little confusing, I was able to get the hang of my surroundings. I spotted Sammy D's in my walk around, so that's where we ended up for "happy hour" dinner. They had several $5 appetizers and a $3 beer special, which turned out to be flat Millers light in a plastic tumbler. Ordered chicken wing lollipops, which were 7 of the smallest fried drumsticks and blue cheese dressing, just plain gross and such small portions. I Also had the short rib waffle fries, which also sucked, why use chees wiz? We split a burger that was pretty decent, but I just feel a little ripped off at the Happy Hour bar specials. Why even offer them if the product is substandard? I can't recommend nor will I return to Sammy D's. Made our way over to the Atlantic Club, but stopped at Tropicana to redeem $25 in slot cash, this took about 15 minutes and we were gone. There was no one in the check in line at the Atlantic Club and we waited about a minute for a clerk to show up, by that time, one other guest showed up. We received a room on the 9th floor facing the bay, and I didn't think of asking for an upgrade to an oceanfront room. The room was totally adequate and in good working order, we dumped our luggage and made our way to the casino. It was a little dead, and there were only two $10 BJ tables, I only had to wait for a few minutes to get a seat. Drink service was good and I was able to get a couple Heinekens. The dealer was in slow motion the whole time and after about an hour, I grinded out a small win. My wife played on some tall version of a Hot Shots penny slot at 140 coins per spin and at one point won 90 bonus spins. This took about 15 minutes to complete and yielded about $60. A win is a win, but it just seemed the slots were not paying very well and I expected a better yield from the bonus spins. We went upstairs and watched most of the Eagles-Dallas game, the highlight was Jerry Jones turning his back to the camera and cursing over his QB's interception to end his season. It's a Philly thing. The next morning, we got up and checked out early and made our way home, stopping for breakfast at Maria's Luncheonette, a nondescript hole in the wall for a cheap breakfast and great coffee. I totally missed seeing any cigar chomping, amulet wearing, loud talking Philly-New York types attired in color coordinated nylon running suits. Maybe because it was Sunday and they were home with their families eating macaronis and gravy, watching the Iggles play the Cowboys. My biggest take away from this brief trip was how could I have missed coming to Harrah's Marina for so many years? But, that's the best part of travel and making new discoveries. I figured if its good enough for jerseyguy, I needed to see for myself. The indoor pool area is really nice and I could see myself in a lounge chair relaxing with a cocktail while it's snowing outside. I think we will be weaning ourselves away from Tropicana, the machines are tight and old, but we still get some comped rooms midweek.