With the economy in the tank, legalized gambling has begun to sprout up all over the northeast. New casinos have opened in New York City and Philadelphia, and legalized sports gambling is being pushed hard by Chris Christie in New Jersey. These venues have given hardcore gamblers a more local way to sate their sinful desires. Personally, I’m not addicted enough to try out the New York City casino yet, as it is in the distant land they call “Queens,” and there’s much more fun to be had all over the city (plus, NO BLACKJACK!).
With this new competition, Atlantic City has been forced to dump money into new marketing, creating the “How I Do AC” campaign. The basis of this campaign isn’t just to spotlight everything you CAN do in Atlantic City, but spotlighting what you DO do (snicker) in Atlantic City. These ads encourage you to make Atlantic City your own, and they want you to share your personal experience on Twitter using the hashtag #HowIDoAC. But, 140 characters cannot contain me, so I’ve created a 12-step program. I humbly present to you: How Rory Does AC.
1. Take Public Transportation - I know some people fear public transportation. Driving there offers more freedom – you don’t have to stick to a schedule, you can play your own music, and, most importantly, you don’t have to deal with the riff-raff that often inhabits public transportation. But, when going to Atlantic City, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal. For one, the price can’t be beat. If you are living in New York City, the bus will cost you just under $40, and that’s for the entire round trip. Gas and tolls would easily cost twice as much. In addition, many bus lines offer gambling vouchers which, while won’t cover the ride, are fun to put aside and use as an extra bet if you are down on your luck. But, most importantly, the bus allows you to both prepare and repair yourself mentally from Atlantic City. The “prepare” part comes on the way down, where I’ve taken to having a few adult beverages to get myself loose. The “repair” part comes when you leave the city, as you recover from your long night with a solid nap on the bus. You could drink and sleep in your own personal vehicle, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.
2. Get A Player’s Card At Every Casino - It baffles me that people do not get player’s cards. They are free, and have literally no downside. Through my player’s cards, I have gotten numerous free room stays and bets. However, it is important not to overestimate the comp dollars you’ll earn with these cards – I’ve checked my cards after all-night gambling binges to see a robust $1.16 worth of comps. But hey, that’s $1.16 I didn’t have before. Many cards also have bonuses for new members, so if you haven’t signed up yet, make sure you do.
3. Gamble Almost Immediately - Really, get it out of your system. There have been times where I’ve gone to Atlantic City, then checked into the room, then went to dinner, and then saw a concert. And you know what was running through my head the whole time? GAMBLE GAMBLE GAMBLE GAMBLE. I couldn’t enjoy either the meal or the concert with that thought on my mind. In Chapter 5, I gambled within minutes of debarking the bus, and was much happier for it. Once you are done gambling, you can enjoy the other sites and sounds of the city, such as….
4. Walk The Boardwalk - Atlantic City has a beautiful, historic boardwalk. On a lovely day, there’s nothing better than taking a stroll, stopping in novelty stores, hearing the ocean, feeling the sunshine…..
OK, you fellow gamblers know this is bullshit. Really, just get outside. Casinos have no windows, no clocks, and you are constantly bombarded by flashing lights and the ding-ding-dinging of slot machines. A walk on the boardwalk will do you good, if only to get you fresh air and reconnect yourself with reality.
5. Buffets - The last two times I went to Atlantic City, I was fortunate enough to be treated to dinner by my good friend OB. However, if you are on a budget, buffets are the way to go. I’ve always liked the Resorts buffet, with its cheesy decor and endless crab legs. The Atlantic Club casino seems to have the cheapest buffet on the boardwalk, but I have yet to try it out. But, please, a moment of silence for the Wild Wild West’s Virginia City buffet. It shall be missed.
6. Pool Time - Much like walking the boardwalk, this is another activity to relax you and keep you away from the tables a bit. I’ve hit the pool the last two times with Keith, and have found it a nice way to both soothe your mind from the gambling you have done and will do. While many pools offer a poolside bar, your best bet is to bring a drink down with you, as it can be a bit pricey.
7. Pay As Little As Possible For Your Hotel Room - When you go down to Atlantic City, you will be spending very little time in your hotel room. The city never sleeps, and there is always something going on. I feel like the world is passing me by whenever I’m in the hotel room. With this in mind, try to get a comped room. The aforementioned player cards will be useful in this regard – you can even add your friend’s card to the room to help reduce the price. If the rooms are still too expensive, there are some seedy motels nearby. I wouldn’t recommend these for everyone, but if you are on a budget, it could be a fun adventure. The rooms there are such cliched dumps that it almost looks like they were purposely designed that way.
8. Sleep - While you may stay out to the wee hours of the morning, get some sleep. Be it four hours, three hours, or even 30 minutes, any amount of sleep in Atlantic City will do you wonders. I’ve pulled all-nighters in Atlantic City, and by the end, you feel physically and emotionally drained. Your judgement starts to dissipate, and you make careless errors in gambling. You’ll even be too tired to celebrate winning, as gambling will just turn into a joyless chore. So yes, sleep will do you good.
9. Visit Other Casinos - Get a feel for the whole city. I always enjoyed perusing the other casinos to see how the atmosphere was like in each one. You may walk into a depressing hellhole (like I saw at the Trump Plaza last time), or an unexpected party (like I saw at Showboat bank in Chapter 2). Staying in the same casino all night gets boring – eventually you’ll start to recognize all the dealers and gamblers. Sure, the other casinos may be worse than the one you left, but that will just make you appreciate returning back that much more.
10. Break Up The Night With A Show - Once Atlantic City hits 8pm or so, the pools, shops, and buffets start to close. There really isn’t much to do outside gamble and drink, which is fun, but if you plan to stay up to 4AM, that’ll be 8 hours of partying, which would tire out Andrew WK. That’s why I’ve based many of my trips down around a show of some sort. The show will break up the night, and give you a completely unique experience. Many times, when you head to AC, the show will already be pre-planned, such as my trips to see the Orion Music Festival, Summerland, and Louie CK. However, there was one time I was down with OB, and we had no plans. We were getting killed at the tables, and decided to spend some money to see a Beatles tribute band. While the show wasn’t anything special, we got a solid 2 hours of entertainment away from the gambling floor.
11. Know Your Budget - Whenever you go to Atlantic City, you’ll either win money or lose money. No shit, right? And, more often than not, you’ll lose money. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll have a bad time. It is all about setting a strict gambling budget. Your adherence to your budget is your best indicator of how much fun you’ll have in Atlantic City.
When I used to go down, I was soft with my budget. I would plan to gamble a bit, lose it, then hit an ATM, then lose that money. By losing more than I should, it ruined some otherwise great trips. Now, I have a strict amount I’m set to lose – I even refuse to bring my ATM card with me (which has its drawbacks – sometimes if I win I’d like to put the cash back into the ATM, but can’t). It is extremely important to gamble within your means, and to realize that this is not a way to make your riches. I feel like telling that to a gambler is like telling a child that Santa isn’t real, but it is true. However, just as you can still enjoy Christmas knowing it is all fake, you can enjoy gambling knowing that your money will be gone soon. Bottom line – any time you place a bet, assume that you’ve lost that money already. Your money is as good as gone as soon as the cards get dealt, the roulette wheel spins, or the dice get tossed. And ask yourself, “Am I OK with losing this bet?” If the answer is “No,” stop gambling.
12. If All Else Fails – BOOZE! - Seriously, if you are out of money, just booze it up! Alcohol is extremely cheap in Atlantic City, so you should have no problem getting your drink on. You could sit at a bar, pretending to gamble and get free drinks, or you could get back to your room with some beers (this strategy works well if there is a sporting event to watch on TV). After being responsibly inebriated, go out and putz around! Maybe you’ll meet someone to have a romantic rendezvous with, or a rich oil tycoon who is looking for an heir to his fortune. The possibilities are endless!
And, really, that’s the key point. Most see AC as just a gambling mecca, and trust me, it is. But, most of my points (4-6, 8-10, 12) are about finding fun things to do away from the casino floor. When I look back at my memories of Atlantic City, I remember mostly the concerts, the food, the relaxing, and the putzing (but yes, I do remember some bad beats and lucky hits). Bottom line, with AC, you never quite know what to expect, which is WHY I do AC. You’ll never get the same experience twice, and it could be good, or it could be dreadful. But if you stick to my 12-step program, you’ll have better odds walking away with a win.