Atlantic City Diaries, Chapter 11: Arbitrary Sin

Posted: June 26, 2013 by rorypatrick in Atlantic City Diaries
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

KISSslot

In last month’s Atlantic City Diary, I made the bold mission statement that I wanted to make this the BEST.  SUMMER.  EVER.  And, to accomplish such a grand task, there will have to be a lot of trips to the Lost City of Atlantic.  However, taking a three-hour bus ride to go get drunk and lose money does need some justification.  As explained in my guide to Atlantic City, I usually go down to see a concert or comedy show.  However, a good 90’s band or horribly offensive comedian does not come to Atlantic City every weekend.  You’ll have to invent excuses to go down.

This time, we celebrated my buddy Finn’s “birthday,” which was actually over a week ago, and involved the usual crew of drunken vandals.  The cast of characters this time involved Keith, OB, Finn, my girlfriend, Polar (making his debut for the AC Diaries) and yours truly.  The setting – the Boat of Show, also known as Showboat.  Let the adventure begin!

12:00PM – The previous night, my girlfriend and I both proclaimed that we would not get drunk and stay out too late.  We split up to hang out with our respective friends, and, of course, found ourselves coming home at 3:00AM and nursing killer hangovers the next day.  At noon, we headed for the subway to Port Authority, and she was asking me how I got home.  Struggling to recollect the experience, I say, “Well, I think I said goodbye to my friends, left early, and walked back by myself.”  As soon as I finish this story, I hear my name being called.  It is the friends I hung out with last night.  So, my girlfriend asks them how I got home last night.  The answer:

“We walked you home!  And you kept drunkenly shouting, ‘Are we there yet?’ every block!”

So that was my Friday night.

2:00 – We reach Port Authority, where we meet up with Keith and OB.  Unlike previous experiences, I’ve learned to eat heartily before the trip.  OB grabs a sausage-and-egg sandwich, which the master chefs at Port Authority stick in a microwave and nuke to high heaven.  OB tries to stuff the scalding hot sandwich in his mouth, his hand shaking the whole time, nearly breaking into a sweat.  Some may call it an impressive feat, but those people must have a very low threshold for being impressed.

On the bus, we are immediately treated to an argument between passengers.  One guy is playing a video game very loudly.  A man shouts from the back, “Could you turn it down?”  The offender retorts, “Mind your own business!”  The complainer explains, “I’m on the damn bus!  This is my business!”  Nice.  The man continues to play his video game, albeit at a quieter yet still audible level, then turns it off, and eventually borrows Keith’s newspaper.  What a guy.

During all this, my girlfriend and I are sitting out on the typical “drinking on the bus down” festivities, due to the previous nights activity.  OB, however, is engaging what I like to call “pregnancy drunkenness” – he’s drinking for two.

5:00 – We arrive at Showboat, with OB two flasks lighter.  I haven’t been to Showboat in a while, but the bus center has taken on a distinctive cheese smell.  Like all the world’s problems, this problem too can most likely be traced to the Earl of Sandwich.

Keith and OB have rooms next to each other, so they go up together to the Orleans Tower.  As my girlfriend and I check-in, I inquire to see if there is a room available on their floor.  The person checking us in is very polite, and taps away vigorously on the keyboard, searching for rooms that fit our criteria.  Unfortunately, she can only get us a room in the NEW Orleans Tower.  That’s fine, we say.  However, little known fact: the NEW Orleans Tower and the Orleans Tower are, you know, the same tower.  We’re a five-minute jaunt from Finn’s room.  Gotta love that customer service you get in Atlantic City.

While my girlfriend takes a nap, I go and pregame with the gentlemen.  However, before we can gamble or drink more, it is decided that we are all starving and need something to eat.  We don’t want to do the buffet, and Scarduzio’s is too expensive.  So what do we decide on?  A little mom-and-pop joint called Jonathan Rockets.

Keith Stone: While OB and I were walking to the room, we happened upon a rambunctious family that was having trouble deciding where everybody should stand for a group photo. OB settled the argument by walking right into the middle of the shot and becoming part of the family. Now they can tell everybody about their crazy Irish cousin.

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When we arrived at the room, the real drinking began and we were joined by Finn and Polar. For some beautiful reason, Polar had with him three Million Dollar Man tuxedo T-shirts, so OB, Polar, and I threw them on, and began laughing like only Ted DiBiase could. Because I am an idiot, I decided to wear my shirt for the night of gambling, and that, ladies and gentlemen, was the beginning of the end.

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7:00 – All six of us are together, waiting in an interminable line for Johnny Rockets.  Keith makes frequent sojourns to the boardwalk to relieve his boredom, while Finn explores for other places to eat.  We wait there for about 20 minutes, with the line not moving at all.  With the whole group not only hungry, but itching to gamble and drink more, we decide to hedge our bets by putting in a request for a table at the House of Blues restaurant across the aisle from JR’s.  Things do not look promising there either, as we are told it would be a 45 minute wait.

OB & I decide to make a wager on where we’d be seated first: Johnny Rocket’s or House of Blues.  I take the Blues, OB takes the Rockets.  Nearly immediately after this wager, the line for Johnny Rockets begins to move.  OB is now looking at the menu and deciding what drink he wants me to buy him.  Then after only a 15 minute wait, the buzzer from the House of Blues starts ringing.  OB has received his comeuppance!

7:30 – We are seated at the House of Blues by a great waiter named Charlie.  He brings us out our drinks (which were all beers, with the exception of OB’s electric lemonade), and we give three cheers for Charlie.  I had an excellent mushroom burger, but really anything would’ve tasted fantastic at that point.  It is worth noting that OB has his second sausage-and-egg sandwich of the day, this one at a much more normal temperature.

9:00 – OB, my girlfriend, and I start the gambling night slowly: we hit the Wheel of Fortune slot machines to use our bus vouchers.  OB warms up the machine for us by turning his $25 into $0.  I step up to the bat, and turn my $25 into $75.  Finishing it up, my girlfriend takes her turn.  After about 8 spins and breaking even, she hits a big spin and wins $60, walking away from the machine with a little over $80.  But the real MVP of the Wheel of Fortune slots is Keith.  When you are about to spin the wheel, you get a 10-second countdown.  And Keith counts along like it was New Year’s Eve, 1999.  If you aren’t ready to explode by the time the Wheel is spinning, Keith hasn’t done his job right.

Here’s an easy way to figure out how big of a gambler you are: with the bus ticket costing $37, and the voucher being worth $25, how much did I win?  If you are a conservative gambler, you’d say $38 ($75 winnings minus $37 for the bus ticket).  If you are a moderate gambler, you’d say $50 ($75 minutes the $25 value of the voucher).  If you are a crazy gambling addict, you’d say $75 (hey, a bus ticket is a bus ticket!  You gotta get down to Atlantic City anyway.  This is found money!).

MKS: I, of course, disregarded every bit of gambling sense when I sat down at an empty table with OB and Finn manned by a dealer named Young. Young is a Stoic Asian Dealer, or S.A.D. if you will because he will make you sad when he takes all your money. I don’t know what it is about these guys but I’ve always felt that one’s success at blackjack is completely correlated to the amount of fun the entire table is having. Forget about strategy, just have a good time. The S.A.D. of course does nothing to promote this.

But yeah, I felt the bug and ignored the warning signs. It was death by a thousand paper cuts. There wasn’t one or two killer hands but before I knew it my pile of chips was gone. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than leaving a blackjack table in Atlantic City empty-handed while a S.A.D. is staring you down and you’re wearing a Million Dollar Man T-shirt. Nothing.

I’ve never been a big slot machine guy but have always been a pro at counting down from 10. Whether it’s the last 10 seconds of the Super Bowl or how much longer I can satisfy a pretty lady until I, um, can’t anymore, there’s no better feeling in the world than hitting zero. I’ll prove it to you guys. Ready? 10!!!!! 9!!!!! 8…..

10:00 – Showboat is a horrible bitch.  I hate gambling there – some of my worse losses have been there.  Last time I seriously gambled at Showboat, I lost $200 on blackjack.  Anyway, Showboat is slowly writhing my friends’ wills to live, so we decide to head to Bally’s (where OB has some gambling vouchers, as well).

As we walk the boardwalk, I’m very happy to see that Atlantic City was alive and bustling.  My two trips to Atlantic City this year have not involved the Boardwalk at all.  Furthermore, at a party a couple weeks ago, someone was telling me a disheartening tale of his friend getting mugged outside Tropicana.  I mean, I always knew Atlantic City was a shithole, but not that dangerous of a shithole (at least, not more dangerous than other places in South Jersey).  However, this weekend it was vintage Atlantic City – groups of drunken friends beating each other up with inflatable bats, singing drunken songs, and flirting with other groups of drunk people.  Looks like the new marketing gimmick is right: New Jersey is stronger than the storm (hashtag STTS!).

(On a side note, how weird is that “stronger than the storm” slogan?  It’s weird that it is directly referencing the tragedy to get people to come back.  It would be like if, post 9/11, New York City changed its motto from “I Heart NY” to “Come visit New York because FUCK BIN LADEN.”  I have a feeling Chris Christie was a driving force behind the STTS marketing).

MKS: 7!!!!! 6…..

10:45 – We arrive in Bally’s, and OB immediately burns through his free credits, before finding the legendary KISS machines.  Just goes to show: don’t sit down at the first slot machine you find.  The KISS slot machine and OB are like lost lovers: when you see them together, you can’t imagine them with anyone else.  OB wins about $100 on the KISS slot machine, gives it a gentle caress, and then heads to the legendary Wild Wild West.

MKS: OB=Gosling

11:15 – We arrive at the Wild Wild West, and it is packed.  “It’s the Johnny Rockets of bars,” quips Finn.  After too long, we get our $2 beers, and OB hits another Wheel of Fortune slot machine.  As OB gets another countdown to spin, we begin the “10, 9, 8” chant, but something doesn’t seem right.  Keith has disappeared.  I go to look, and see that both Keith and Finn has been entranced by the Coyote Ugly-esque dancers on the Wild Wild West bartop.  And I must say, it is quite a show (compared to watching a drunken OB lose money).

The Wild Wild West was in prime bachelorette party season, as we saw two to three groups of drunk girls going wild wild.  Some girls were wearing “fuck me” heels, but the truest sign of the DTF girls were those dancing on the beer-splattered floor with no shoes at all.  I was wondering why some of the single guys weren’t trying to chat up some of the drunk ladies who were clearly jealous of the bride-to-be.  OB answered, “To be honest, I’ve just been more focused on gambling.”  This answer was so succinct and to-the-point that I immediately felt like an idiot for asking.

MKS: Well, and also they weren’t drinking wine.

12:00AM – My girlfriend and I split from the group to pick up some spiked milkshakes from the Johnny Rockets at Bally’s.  This JR experience does not go much better, as it takes 30 minutes to make 4 milkshakes.  In the meantime, the rest of the group meets us outside.  As we were still waiting for the shakes, Keith got entranced by the siren call of the Bikini Bar across the boardwalk.  We get the milkshakes and begin to head back to Showboat, and we abandon Keith behind.

MKS: Did Rory mention that the place was called Bikini Bar? 5!!!!! 4…..

12:30 – We make a quick detour into the new Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville at Resorts.  I honestly don’t see what all the hoopla was about.  It’s a bar, it’s got the Jimmy Buffet decor, and that’s about it.  It was hyped up last year as the next big thing that could save the Resorts casino, but I honestly can’t see myself spending much time there.  Now, put a couple $5 blackjack tables around the bar, and we’re talking!  There’s no problem that can’t be solved with $5 blackjack tables.  I should run a casino.

MKS: I caught up with the gang in Margaritaville. Somebody handed me a LandShark beer. Thanks somebody! I started drinking but people started leaving. Despite the crew insisting it was legal to walk with a beer on the Boardwalk, I’ve had my share of criminal issues in New Jersey, so I had to play it safe. I put the beer in my pocket and headed to the Showboat.

1:00 – We’re back at Showboat, and I’ve officially gone too long without gambling.  Keith and I decide to gamble together, and we go to House of Blues Party Pit to hit up some $15 blackjack.  And boy oh boy, the tables are rough.  They suck Keith’s $60 in an instant, and the $100 I start with is dwindled to $25.  I walk away from the table, intent on cashing in my paltry green chip.  But, as I’m walking to the cashier, I say “Fuck it” to myself.  Since I’ve been writing the AC Diary, I’ve yet to take a terrible beating. Maybe this will be the first time, but there’s only one way to find out.

I double back to the Party Pit, grab another $60 from my wallet, and sit back down at blackjack.  I’m seated next to a woman in her late 40;s or early 50;s who is quite a mess.  She’s drinking white wine, dropping her purse, and has her chips spread out like someone dumped a box of Oreo’s on the table.  And, as fate would have it, she was the teammate I needed in showing Showboat who’s boss.  In an intense series of hands, I earn back the money I lost in my previous run, plus $10 for looking so damn good while doing it.  I cash out, having had the gambling thrill I needed for the night.

(On yet another side note, there was a completely empty $15 blackjack table at the Party Pit, with a dealer standing there all alone and looking sad.  This is simply unacceptable for a Saturday night in Atlantic City.  Every blackjack table should be packed.  You are paying a guy to stand there and do nothing.  This is why I will keep re-emphasizing the need to have lower table limits.  It’s been a problem I’ve been talking about since the first AC Diary.  If you can’t be the best high-end casino, be the best low-end casino.  Being in the middle will get you nowhere.  I said it before, and I’ll say it again: There’s no problem that can’t be solved with $5 blackjack tables.  I should run a casino).

After my run, I go and watch OB lose a little more money on the KISS slot machines, and head to bed.  I really wish I had the stamina to pull a strong Atlantic City showing, but Friday is catching up with me.

MKS: You know it’s bad when a drunk chick is a better teammate than you. Early on with Rory, I was dealt two 8’s against a 5. I split those and got another 8. Another split later, I was looking at two 18’s and a 17. Here was my big comeback. I prepared to unleash my best Million Dollar Man cackle as I raked in the chips, and then the dealer dealt herself a 20. Busted. It was like Wrestlemania IV all over again.

Being a loyal soldier, I stuck with the guys as they sat down for another round of blackjack. Of course, nobody could stop winning. OB was winning most of all, but that doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing. Like clockwork, he decides to put a small mint on a random hand and gets a 14. The dealer gets a 10. This is where it all starts to go downhill, right? Miraculously, OB gets a 6 while the dealer gets a 5 and then busts. Fearing he’s going to bet his winnings on another hand, I keep telling the kid to go upstairs. He doesn’t listen and keeps betting, albeit with smaller amounts.

And then, OB does the craziest thing I’ve ever seen him do. He takes his chips, gets up from the table, and says he’s done. It was beautiful. Of course, in my head, I kept wondering what kind of trouble he was going to get himself into now. About a half hour later, Finn, Polar, and I head to my room to keep the party going. Somebody gets in touch with OB who’s apparently just been chilling in his room. I’m still in disbelief. Then, the man himself appears and informs us that he just had a spontaneous romantic tryst with a chick he met at the KISS slot machines who was born during the Nixon administration. That’s the OB I know and love.

10:00 – I wake up, visit the room where Finn & Keith stayed, and heard tales of what I missed.  We head down to the floor, and find OB (who hasn’t slept).  Finn and OB go their separate ways, and, after breakfast, my girlfriend, Keith, and I do something I never thought I’d do in Atlantic City: go shopping.  That’s right, I visited the Tangers Outlets.  And, I must say, they have some good deals.  This was always my mom’s go-to maneuver in Atlantic City – gamble a bit, win money, then blow it at the shopping centers.  While I wasn’t in the shopping mood, my girlfriend did pick up a dress that was marked down from $100 to $30.  Another $70 win for her!  I, meanwhile, bought new socks. If you’re gonna run a casino, you have to have nice socks.

MKS: 3!!!!! 2!!!!! 1!!!!! WHEEL!!!!! OF!!!!! FORTUNE!!!!! SPIN THE WHEEL!!!!! SPIN THAT SHIT!!!!! Told you it was fun.

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