Atlantic City Diaries, Chapter 5: Louis CK at Trump Taj Mahal

Posted: September 7, 2012 by rorytoohey in Atlantic City Diaries
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Well, Summer 2012 is just about finished.  This past Labor Day weekend signified one last time to hit the beach, have a cookout, or find one last summer love.  For most Americans, that is.  For me, it was one last opportunity to recklessly spend money and drink.  Ladies and gentlemen, let’s just dive into this engrossing chapter of the Atlantic City Diaries!

Friday

3:45PM – The crew this time: OB (star of Chapters 2 and 4), Rainman Suite’s founder Keith, and yours truly.  The destination: Revel, again.  The goal: drunkenness.  As loyal readers know, I often have a low budget on trips to Atlantic City, and, at this time, I am in the process of moving, so my money is much lower than usual.  Therefore, I must exercise self-control, and by that, I mean I must drink more alcohol rather than gamble.  I’ve modeled myself after Charles Barkley, in the sense that I am not a role model.

As mentioned in previous chapters, taking the bus down always involves stealthy drinking.  However, due to my aforementioned money shortage, I went cheap – instead of buying several smaller bottles, I bought a giant two liter bottle of Pepsi that was on sale at the local CVS.  This, combined with my cheap liter of Rory B. Bellows brand rum, did very little to mask the fact that I was a bus rule-breaker.  Additionally, OB made sure to point out that I was drinking as loudly as possible, banging pots and pans like it was New Year’s Eve, marching up and down the bus aisle singing “RORY IS DRINKING, ON THE BUS!”  This may not be true, but it certainly felt akin to this as it was happening.

Keith Stone: I, meanwhile, had pounded a carton of Bandit wine at Rory’s apartment before the bus. When heading to New Jersey, do as white trash does.

6:30 – We arrive in Atlantic City.  Aside from some slight spills, the bus trip was without much ado.  While OB and Keith would be getting off at Showboat (which is next door to the Revel), I got off at Caesar’s.  I had a small amount of comped slot dollars to play, which expired at the end of August.  While I won absolutely nothing, it helped sate my appetite for gambling. When I arrive in Atlantic City, every second before my first foray into gambling is spent on thinking about when I am going to gamble.  This small detour helped me alleviate this thought – for a bit.

I strolled down the boardwalk, chugging my 2-liter-Pepsi-and-horrible-rum concoction, taking in the sights of the Jersey Shore in the late summer, which was primarily seeing a naked man get arrested.  The boardwalk is also littered by numerous t-shirt shops, pandering to the latest catchphrase of the day (i.e. “YOLO” and “Call Me Maybe” shirts).  However, MTV had just announced the cancellation of Jersey Shore, and you could see the disappointment in all the store owners’ faces.  Stay strong, my poorly-made crap-slinging entrepreneurs, I’m sure the next horrible exploitative phenomenon is just around the corner.

MKS: I’m looking at you, Honey Boo Boo.

7:30 – I meet Stone and OB at the Revel, where the great OB has procured us another comped room (although not a suite this time, but I’m not complaining).  We have dinner reservations are Azure again at 9:30, and we decide to drink more in the room as preparation.  Bad idea.

9:30 – Dinner is a blur.  I had some steak dish, which I recall as being delicious.  Our table also had a great view of the Revel fireworks over the beach, which I drunkenly blessed with inappropriately-timed applause breaks (I seem to remember about 15 times where I thought they had reached the grand finale).  Other incidences, such as me introducing myself to all the waiters and busboys, or rating my drunkenness on a 0 to 60 scale as a, quote, “85″, had to be relayed to me the next day by OB.

MKS: Rory and I both got the filet mignon, which was absolutely delicious. This was the first time I’ve ever had a dinner comped and as such, I wasn’t sure what the appropriate amount of free food I should order was. Is it cool to order four entrees? I settled on a steak, salad, appy, and a Grey Goose cranberry, which I promptly spilled all over the table. Between that and Rory’s clapping, we may have cost the Azure a full star on Yelp.

11:00 – After dinner, I apparently went back to the room to take a bit of a breather from drinking, eating, and gambling.  Thank goodness.  Later, I met up with Keith and OB, who had taken their game to the Showboat.  I sat down at a blackjack table, and promptly lost $80.  It was a classic “slowly sinking” blackjack run – I was never up at all, just in varying states of losing – down $50, then down $20, then down $75, then down $45, etc.  Luck was not on my side.  I hightailed it out of there to use my $25 slot machine voucher I received from the bus at Caesar’s

MKS: While Rory went to change his tampon in the room, the men of the trip went to check out the tables at the Revel. OB sat down and laid out quite a few $100 bills. After treading water for a bit, he caught some breaks and cashed out with two orange colored chips. Yeah, 2 G’s. OB handed them to me and after considering abandoning him and making a run for it, we found a new table at the Showboat.

I stood behind OB and acted as his own personal Jimmy Hart. I cheered him on, gave him advice, and hit the dealer in the head with a steel chair for giving him bad cards. Eventually, I was joined by some black dude who rounded out the OB cheering section. However, after winning a few times, Lady Luck caught up and pretty soon OB was getting up empty handed. To his credit, he played like a champ and didn’t back down from any doubles or splits, no matter how high the stakes were.

As we walked away, OB fan #2 made sure to compliment him on his ballsy play. Then, he asked OB for some money. Fucking Atlantic city.

12:00AM – I somehow staggered all the way to Caesar’s, and plopped my weary, drunk, and broke-ass down at one of those extremely complicated slot machines.  I usually enjoy a slot machine that is either extremely simple (actual reels, three columns, a limited number of lines) or has a fun theme (Wheel of Fortune, Ghostbusters).  The one I sat down on had some crazy wizard theme, 5 columns, and about 596 different lines, symbols, and ways of winning.  I slapped “max bet” a few times, when all of a sudden, I saw five symbols line up in a row.  Even intoxicated, I knew what this meant.  My credits won piled higher and higher, and I walked away from the machine up $200 (so, minus my losses, up about $120 for the night).  I took that as a sign to head back to the Revel and call it a night.

MKS: OB and I had gone back to the room and watched one of the greatest classics in cinematic history, The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear. Somehow, OB fell asleep right as O.J. Simpson helped stop Robert Goulet’s dastardly plot to set off a nuclear bomb.

1:00 – Keith is still looking to party.  We go to the Trump Taj, and walk back to the Revel.  While I try to be a solid wingman, my night – from the awful lows of blackjack and naked men on the boardwalk, to the dizzying highs of slot machines and fireworks, to the creamy middles of an embarrassingly drunken yet delicious dinner – has left me exhausted physically, mentally, and spiritually.  I bid Keith adieu, and head to the room.

MKS: I played for about an hour and won around $60. It was about as solid a showing in steady blackjack as you could get.

2:00 – I am asleep.

4:00 – I am awake.  OB’s legendary snoring has woken me up, and I can only assume has woken up others on our floor.  It is relentless.  Now, as my mind is clearer than it was before, I decide to go down and putz around the casino floor, to see what the rest of the world is up to.

MKS: Legendary.

5:00 – It is horrible to be sober and watch drunk people play blackjack.  Now, as a blackjack player, I absolutely hate when people give me unsolicited advice on how to play the game.  It is my money, so let me make my own mistakes.  I show other players the same respect, but I can’t help but cringe inside every time someone stays on a 16. I saw one man, who was doing very well, turn in most of his chips for 2 black $100 chips.  As he played with his remaining chips (I assume the $200 is what he started with), he casually remarked that he’ll leave when his beer got to the table.  He lost his remaining chips, and the beer had not yet arrived.  So, he took a $100 black chip out of his pocket, and contemplated spending it.  I tried mental telepathy to tell him that this would be a horrible idea, but he cashed it in anyway.  By the time the beer came, his remaining chips were gone.  The free beer cost him $150.  Sometimes, I hate Atlantic City.

6:00 – I can’t watch the Revel take suckers’ money anymore.  I need sleep, and I need to get a clear mind, away from the constant noise and blinking lights.  Through putzing around, I found what I can best describe as the “Revel Resting Area for Broken Souls.”  In this lounge area of the casino, located right outside the One restaurant, there are several extremely comfortable couches.  From there, you have a floor-to-ceiling view of the beach (a window in a casino?  SHOCKING!).  Above, there are small cylinder-shaped lights that play random calming bell bongs.  To top this off, the Revel pumps in fake bird calls.  Truly, the most relaxing experience you can have within 50 feet of slot machines and blackjack tables.

7:00 – The pool opened around this time, and I tried sleeping out there.  While the rooftop pool has numerous areas to lay down and rest, the indoor area blasted club music, and the outdoor area was receiving a power-washing.  So, back to the room I went, where a pillow over my head and my exhaustion allowed me to defeat OB’s snoring and get to sleep for a bit.

Saturday

10:00AM – I’m awake, completely sober and moderately well-rested.  I take a morning constitutional to grab some pretzels, and return to the room.  OB and Keith are now awake (Keith had gone running, OB ordered room service).  Keith and I decide to explore the pool area more.  It is now jumping more than it was at 7:00AM.  The place is packed, and we cannot find a deck chair to place our stuff on.  The pool is filled with Revel-branded beach balls and champagne-branded inner tubes, which looked like fun but which we could never commandeer.  I always love a solid pool bar (see Chapter 3), but here they were serving $22 glasses of champagne, which was too rich for my blood.  We took a quick dip in the main pool and the hot tub, which helped my body recover from the previous night’s antics.  After that, we explored the indoor part of the pool area, which had X-Box Kinect games, pool tables, Foosball, and a putting green.  A quick putting green challenge with Keith left me bested by his athletic ability once again.  To the gambling floor!

MKS: I’ve never seen  a dichotomy like the Revel pool. Half of the crowd was the type you’d see in Vegas: think muscles, tats, and lots of silicone. The other half was families. Some of the Guido trash even had kids with them as well. I guess that’s the idea of a family vacation in Jersey: ogling chicks in thongs and pounding Miller Lites while little Vinnie plays in his Veuve Clicquot inner tube. I’m pretty sure that at some point Snooki will take her child to the Revel pool within the next 10 years.

1:00PM – Every Saturday (for a limited time), Revel has a free blackjack tournament.  They give you $5,000 in play money, and you have 10 hands to amass the most chips you can.  The top six scorers after the initial rounds (which lasted from 1:00PM to 5:00PM) go onto the final table.  The prizes are $500 for the 4th through 6th place finishers, $1500 for 3rd, $2000 for 2nd, and $5000 for 1st.  Keith, OB, and I decided to try this out.  It was a good way to kill some time, and we made a pact, should we win, to share a bit of our winnings (10%) with each other.

Upon signing up, we received free Revel T-shirts, so I already counted this afternoon as a win.  I played my 10 hands rather conservatively, as I wanted to stick around and not bust out.  I was just in it for “love of the game” at that point – knowing what I know now, I would have bet more aggressively.  I turned my $5,000 to $8,000, which would be a good haul in any normal blackjack game, but was pitiful in tournament play.  OB, at around the 7th or 8th hand, had gotten his assets up to $40,000.  While they can’t post the scores, the dealers had intimated that usually $20,000 to $30,000 can get you into the finals.  I highly encouraged OB to bet less aggressively, as now I had some money at stake.  He promptly ignored me.  Eventually, he left the table with under $20,000, and I was very bitter.  I thought I had just seen OB piss away his chance to compete for $5,000 (and $500 for myself).  Fortunately, I was relieved to find that the lowest of the top scores had been $72,000.  I quickly apologized to the great one.  Oh, and Keith ended up with jackshit.

MKS: To be fair, I was up to $24,000 and bet it all on a losing 10th hand. But really, the tournament (while fun) is garbage. All you have to do is win your last few hands while betting most of your money. Sure, you’re probably are going to end up with jackshit if you lose but hey, at least I got a free T-shirt. And did I mention that the tournament was played on an electronic blackjack table? God, they are horrible.

4:00 – The fourth member of our group, Finn, arrived.  We ordered room service for dinner, and prepared for the night ahead.  OB, Finn, and I would be going to see Louie CK at the Trump Taj Mahal.  Keith would be seeing JD and the Straight Shot at the Revel, followed by this little band called the Eagles (OB would join him when the Eagles got on stage).

MKS: I like to think that JD and the Straight Shot was the main attraction and the Eagles were the closing band.

7:00 – We have arrived.  I must admit, as an amateur comedian, Louis CK is one of my heroes.  He is to comedy was Springsteen is to music for me (and for my love of Springsteen, just see www.legendsofspringsteen.com).  On a scale of 1 to 10, this show ranked about 14.

Todd Barry opened for Louie.  I am a huge fan of Todd Barry as well, and enjoyed his set very much.  His style is a risky play in Atlantic City, but the crowd was completely into it.  While I had heard a few of his jokes before, he still had a lot of fresh material.  I particularly enjoyed his bit about unnecessarily complicating restaurant orders.  “Could I have a slice of lemon in my water?  You know, the way I always drink it at home?”

Louie was fantastic as well.  Many of his jokes were mined from his favorite subjects, such as his aging, his experiences in parenting, and his hatred of this entitled generation we’re in.  My favorite bits were a rant about the digital “cloud” that is slowly engulfing our lives (the poetic tone of this piece was Carlin-esque) and a look at a world where murder was legal.  The material was 100% new, and seems to be what he’ll be doing on his upcoming fall tour, so if you don’t have your ticket to see Louie yet, what are you waiting for?

(Side note: The crowd at Louie was fantastic, as well.  There were very little people who shouted out during the show – always a problem with drunk crowds at casinos – and those that did were amazingly shot down by Louie.  There was one old couple in front of us who did not laugh often, but when they did, it was at the dirtiest jokes in the set.)

9:00 – The show was over fairly quickly, and we headed back to the room.  While OB went to the Eagles concert, Finn and I waited in the room, drinking and watching random college football games.

MKS: The Eagles were great. I’m not much of a classic rock guy but it was really cool to see so many songs you’ve heard in the car played live. But yes, the real reason I went was to see JD and the Straight Shot. You might know JD as Jim Dolan, owner of the Knicks and Rangers. While not destroying Linsanity, he also fronts a jazz/funk band. I had to go see this car wreck in person but to be honest, it was more like a sideswipe. The Straight Shot was legitimately very good, and JD, while obviously the weak link, wasn’t awful. He was like an above average karaoke singer.

Sure, he may have paid his way to an opening gig for the Eagles, but it wasn’t an outright embarrassment. The only thing that truly was horrendous was the southern accent JD somehow conjured up as he awkwardly spoke to the crowd between songs. He’s a fucking billionaire from Long Island acting like he’s been eating gumbo out on the bayou his whole life. Stick to what you do best, JD, which is, um…

11:00 – We meet up with Keith and OB and start to explore gambling for the night.  Finn and I play the digital blackjack, where I see Finn building his $100 up to about $150, while I again sink like a stone.  Eventually, I battle my way back to even, and cash out immediately.  Clearly, the cards are not with me this weekend.

OB settled at a table that was a little rich for our blood. Stone, Finn, and I putzed around the casino floor, looking for an open blackjack table that the three of us could play at.  However, on a Saturday night, all the tables had $25 bet minimums, and were overly crowded.  We headed to Showboat, which had a milder scene.

12:00AM – As I am trying to hold on to my winnings, I watch Keith go on one of the all-time greatest blackjack runs.  Sitting at a $15 table, Keith was successful nearly every time he hit, doubled down, split, etc.  The dealer must have busted 8 or 9 times in a row – it got to the point where I actually felt bad for the dealer, as blasphemous as that may sound.  Watching my friend have a successful run should discourage me from gambling – I mean, statistically speaking, if one person is up, the other person is more likely to go down.  However, the opposite occurred.  I had to find a table.

MKS: I’m not just better at blackjack than Rory. I’m also better looking.

1:00 – I find Finn, who had been taken to the cleaners at Caribbean Stud.  We head to a $10 single deck blackjack table, where I proceed to lose 13 out of my first 15 hands.  My profits from Friday night are next to nil.  There are two explanations for this:

a) I was overdue.  In chapters 2 through 4 of the AC diaries, I walked away with cash.  I was due to take a bit of a beating.
b) Little old ladies are right!  My losses ($180) came at the blackjack table, but my winnings ($200) came at the penny slot machines!  Maybe slot machines are the way to riches.

2:00 – I get a depressing text from OB.  He is taking another lashing, like last time.  In his worst hand, he had split his 8’s, with the dealer showing a 6.  He received a 20 on one hand (which he had doubled down on) and a 19 on the other.  The dealer flipped over a 4, followed by an ace.  He was returning to the room to medicate himself.  After my beating, I decided to join him.  Finn, with losses, and Keith, with wins, also headed back to Revel.

MKS: It wasn’t just myself who was winning. Me and the three women at my table (hello ladies) were putting the Showboat out of business. Next to me was a little old black lady from the Bronx named Clay. She was like my identical twin if I was an 80-year-old lady. We bonded over our love of the Yankees and face cards. By the time we finished our conversation about Derek Jeter, I was up about $200. I gave Clay a kiss as I left. My hand hurt from high-fiving her so much.

3:00 – We are drinking and watching WarGames on TV.  Finn and Keith want to keep playing, and I briefly get the notion to go back down and just get rid of the rest of my money – you know, take my beating like a man.  But, fortunately, I decide to stay in the room with OB.

As we are both passing out, I tell OB to turn off WarGames and the lights.  He grabs the remote and turns off WarGames.  Then he looks back down at the remote.  Then back at the TV.  Then back to the remote.  Now, in the Revel, the remote controls the lights in the room, so I assume his drunk mind is trying to figure out how to turn the lights off.  He looks back at the TV, then the remote, then the TV one last time.  He then asks, “Who turned off WarGames?”  Who turned off WarGames, indeed, OB.  A fitting end to a wild trip.

MKS: Finn and I set up shop at the electronic blackjack (I know, I know) where he actually went on a nice little run. I went up a couple bucks until the absolutely gorgeous pit boss showed up. She was everything I’d want to take home to mom: blonde hair, community college education, fat ass. I guess her associate degree from Guido State CC made her a prime candidate to be an overnight pit boss for the electronic blackjack tables. For whatever reason, I cannot win at blackjack when there’s a hot chick around. I don’t know if I get distracted or what but after a few losses, I cashed out about even.

Sunday

10:00AM – We bid farewell to Finn, found out the bus schedule, had our third “last beer” at the Wild Wild West bar, and OB and Keith took a 1:00PM bus back to New York City.  I was staying in Atlantic City, as my mom was coming down to meet me there (she lives about an hour away).

While waiting for her, I decided to check out the Trump Plaza.  I have not played in this casino since I was a wee gambler, and now I know why.  I was enticed by the “new member” offer, which advertised $100 in bonuses.  Well, these bonuses are earned only by accumulating 20 tier credits in one trip, and 20 more tier credits in another trip.  And what exactly constitutes as “tier credit” is anyone’s guess.  I would stay away from this deceptive offer.

Additionally, the decor of the place is awful.  It offers $1 blackjack, which is the sure sign of a dying casino (the Wild Wild West had $1 blackjack before its demise).  Unlike the Revel, which is a completely smoke-free environment, it seems smoking is encouraged at the Trump Plaza.  While I’m not anti-smoking in casinos, I had gotten used to casinos having designated smoking areas.  Here, the whole place smelled like an ashtray.  I grabbed a free beer, and sat outside, just to get away from the smell.  Sure enough, within 10 minutes of sitting down, someone sat next to me and lit up a cigarette.  So, Trump Plaza gets a big thumbs down.

When my mom arrived, we had lunch at Harry’s Oyster Bar, and I showed her the Revel.  It was interesting to see the Revel through someone who had decades of experience with the dumpiness of Atlantic City.  She was blown away, always assuming I was staying in a dump every time I went to Atlantic City (not entirely untrue).  I believe I’ve talked her into trying out the Saturday blackjack tournaments when she can.

So, with that ends Summer 2012 in Atlantic City and the end to many of the events I love going down there for – concerts, comedy shows, fireworks, etc.  However, as there are less visitors, I’ll often receive complimentary room stays.  So stay tuned, as I’ll try to head down to Atlantic City in the winter time and try not to spend a dime there.

MKS: OB didn’t say much on the bus ride back. Until next time…

Read Chapter 4

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