Atlantic City Diaries, Chapter 12: The Killers at Borgata and the Gambler’s Fallacy

Posted: August 12, 2013 by rorypatrick in Atlantic City Diaries
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Well, the BEST SUMMER EVER is hitting the home stretch, so I figured it was time to check back in with the greatest city you can go to if you take exit 38 off the Garden State Parkway.  This time, we were off to see one of my favorite bands, the Killers, playing at one of the casinos I’m least familiar with, the Borgata.  Sure, they played the night before at Prudential Center, which is much easier to get to and the tickets were much cheaper.  But what fun is it going to Newark?  All my memories of the Prudential Center involve watching Devin Harris lead the Nets to 20-ish win seasons.  Whatever – this isn’t the god damn Newark Diaries!  Anyway, yadda yadda, and OB and I are at Port Authority…

1:00PM – I’m telling you, the time is right for someone to come in and usurp Greyhound’s stranglehold on buses from New York City to Atlantic City.  The price for Fridays has been raised up to $44, which is really taking a bite out of the value of the ride.  Also, Greyhound has now instituted a policy where you can only go to the gate area if you have a ticket.  While this does crack down on the number of bums meandering the facility, it makes it really inconvenient if you buy tickets for a friend, knowing that said friend will be showing up later (a situation that happens to me all too frequently, as you may recall from Chapter 9).  So we are paying more money for worse service, but there’s really no better alternative at the moment.  Basically, Greyhound is the Netflix of bus lines.

2:00 – Aboard the bus, I am drinking like a fish.  Unlike last time, when I was nursing a hangover, I am ready to party, fully prepared for all the negative consequences – terrible gambling decisions, lack of memory inhibiting my ability to write this diary entry, vomiting and pooping at the same time, etc.  OB is not intimidated, however, making my drinking efforts look amateurish by downing a water bottle full of Jim Beam.

(Just a side note with my man OB: he is returning to Atlantic City for the first time since July 4th.  In 2012, he went down to Revel on July 4th, and won a staggering amount of money, which led to the circumstances of Chapter 4.  This year, he went to Showboat, but kept the winning alive.  He now has a handler at the Boat of Show, and the room and our meal would be complimentary.  It should also be noted that I was not with him during any of his large wins, but I have been present at all of his large losses.  Yeesh.)

Anyway, on the ride down, we had one notable conversation about statistics.  OB mentioned learning about the “gambler’s fallacy” in college.   In layman’s terms, it basically means that past random events do not predict future events.  For example, if I roll a 7, it isn’t less likely that I roll a 7 next time – the odds remain the same.  Surprisingly, OB tells me that he thought his professor was wrong, that it WAS less likely.  Unsurprisingly, he told me that he had to take statistics three times in college.  I do my best to explain the fallacy again, and he reluctantly accepts my argument, but I hear lingering doubt in his voice.  How this man has won more money in Atlantic City than anyone else I know is, literally, one of the biggest statistical anomalies.  It’s a case that would probably make Nate Silver throw up his hands and go “Fuck it, I quit!”

5:00 – We arrive in Showboat, check-in, and continue drinking while waiting for our third member, Polar, to arrive (unfortunately, this trip happened without Finn and Keith).  While we have free access to the buffet, OB decides to order a smorgasbord from room service – a surf and turf, nachos, french fries, a bucket of beers, etc.  I settle for a crummy cheeseburger.  Polar arrives, we drink more, and head downstairs to gamble a bit before going to Borgata (you have to get the gambling out of your system fast, as per rule 3 of how to have the perfect Atlantic City trip).

At the blackjack tables, Polar and I tread water, while OB is all over the map.  He places large wagers on both the main bet and the side bet, which is a “3 card poker” type bet where your cards and the dealers up card have to create a poker hand.  He ends up hitting three of a kind, which pays off 20-to-1 and makes OB a very rich boy.  On that note, we head to Borgata.

7:00 – We get to Borgata and explore the concert venue.  It is all general admission, standing room only, and we know that the Killers won’t be on stage until after 9:00.  So we have two options, either stay there, standing in a crowd, and paying for drinks, or go down, gamble, and get free drinks.  Oh, you know me too well.

Since I don’t normally play at Borgata, I lack a player’s reward card.  It makes me feel dirty gambling without it, since it is direct violation of Rule 2, but I was drunk enough to throw caution to the wind.  I did fairly well, and was dealt one memorable hand: the dealer was showing a weak card, perhaps a 5 or 6, and I was dealt two 8’s.  So, I split.  And get another 8.  I split again, and, of course, I get another 8.  A split one more time, now having four hands, all starting with 8.  The dealer starts to dish out the second card for each hand.  First, I get a 6, 14 total.  Crummy, but I have to stay on it.  On to the next 8, which also gets paired with a 6.  Well, OK, two crummy 14s, but my luck will change on the next hand, right?  The next card….you guessed it…a 6.  I now have 3 lovely 8/6 pairs on the table.  The last 8 gets a 10, so that’s…something?  Anyway, despite my misery, I am still technically alive, and await the dealer’s cards.  And, just to be a good guy, the dealer ends up busting.  I end up walking away with roughly $100 more, and going to the concert.

9:00 – The Killers bust out of the gate with “Mr. Brightside,” an incredibly strong opening number (it is arguably their biggest hit, and a song they normally close with).  They run through all their modern classics, spanning all four albums, and toss in a couple covers as well (such as “I Think We’re Alone Now”).  Having been from Las Vegas, they seemed at home in the casino atmosphere.  Casinos are generally tough places for performers, as the audience is usually full of two types of people – the insanely drunk or the comped people who don’t really care about the band.  However, for this concert, the audience seemed completely engaged for the entirety of the show – there weren’t any lulls where there was a massive run towards the bathroom.

If my review seems shorter than normal, I apologize – this was probably my drunkest moment of the night.  It was a fantastic concert, and I was celebrating it in full force – I sang to nearly every song, danced around, and occasionally had my shirt open.  I was an absolute embarrassing mess, and was loving every minute of it.

11:00 – Exiting Borgata was a clusterfuck – a sea of humanity poured out of the theater, and were trying to get down one escalator.  I was fine, but I could tell OB was feeling claustrophobic – being in large crowds gives him the tendency to wig out.  I implore him to grab my hand, as one would with a small child, but he steadfastly refused.  Predictably, he gets separated from Polar and I.  We scramble, trying to figure out where to meet, and eventually say we’ll meet up at the cab line.  OB finds us in the cab line, and I ask him how he’s doing, and he barks “I’M FINE!” in the way that only not fine people say it.  OB is fuming, but what better way to cheer a person up than gambling?  It was back to Showboat.

12:00AM – Upon arriving at Showboat, Polar, OB, and I split up and hit three different blackjack tables.  The Showboat must have read the previous Atlantic City Diary, as they now offer several $10 tables on a Friday night.  This is clearly working, as more people are out playing.  I hit a $10 blackjack table and sit down next to some fresh-faced rookie gamblers, having a discussion about when they should split 10’s.  I couldn’t let this conversation continue in good faith, and interjected my opinion (that you should never take away a pretty much guaranteed win).  For the time we played together, I dazzled them with my in-depth knowledge of completely fundamental blackjack strategies.  Eventually, Polar comes to me and says he wants to head over to the House of Blues area, and I leave the table.  In my time there, I doubled up, winning another $100, and impressing a bunch of random strangers.  “There he goes, the greatest blackjack player in the world” is the conversation my drunk mind imagined that they had as I left.

1:00 – OB, Polar Bear, and I hit a $10 table at the House of Blues, and it lived up to its name.  From the moment we sat down, the dealer came out swinging.  I was playing fairly tight, but OB and Polar Bear were trying to battle back viciously, but to no avail.  This dealer was not going to relent.  While playing, however, I truly got to see OB’s blackjack “style,” and, since he’s a good friend, I’ll be kind and describe it as “unorthodox.”  I saw things I couldn’t unsee, likes 9s being split again a 10, and ace/deuces being double-down on inappropriate hands.  Still, I must re-iterate that this man has won so much money in Atlantic City that he has a personal handler at this casino.  However, tonight, the gambler’s fallacy held strong, and OB had to tap out.  I’m convinced that I’m bad luck – he’s always loses when I’m there, and always wins when I’m not.

2:00 – I’m still hanging around playing at the House of Blues, and I have no idea why.  I’ve lost about $150, I’ve got $50 more that I clutching to, hoping for a rally.  It never came, and I walked away $200 lighter.  Now, astute readers may realize that I’m now back to even, but not drunk Rory – drunk Rory thought he was completely out of money.  Drunk Rory sulked away, but checked his wallet, and saw a bunch of money he never knew existed in there!  Success?  Success!  So, back to the blackjack tables he went.

3:00 – Gambling slows time down completely.  Sitting at a blackjack table, you could swear an hour has passed, but when you look down, it is only 15 minutes.  Anyway, I’m beginning to sober up, and I’m realizing I’m at the part of the night where those still gambling aren’t having fun.  It’s become tedious at this point.  But, I am winning – I’m back up over $100, but feeling exhausted.  Unfortunately, OB has gone to bed, so I’d have to deal with his snoring, which is not an entertaining prospect.  I feeling like staying out and playing until I’m back to even, but I meet up with Polar (who is pretty much out of gambling money) and go upstairs for a bit.  I complain about OB’s snoring, but say I’m just going to lie down for a second and then go back and gamble more.  I end up passing out in 10 seconds.

9:00 – I awake before the other boys, and decide to take a morning constitutional around the casino.  I always liked exploring hotels, and finding weird things.  For example, I found a plaque dedicated to Isaac Hayes, clearly made when Hayes was alive, and having his name spelled as “Issac”.  So, they have had at least five years to fix this, but I don’t see it being done any time soon.

Also, while I was wandering around, a pit boss came up to me, and gave me a driver’s license.  He told me that they were sorry, that they forgot to return it to me after I gave it to them to make a rewards card.  However, this never happened – I was not the guy in the driver’s license photo.  “Oh,” said the pit boss, “well, I guess all white people look the same.”  I’d be offended, but he’s right – we’re all Ben Affleck.

OB and Polar get up around 10:30 or so, we check out, and hit a bus at Bally’s.  And that pretty much wraps up the summer of 2013 adventures in Atlantic City.  I gotta say, looking back at my posts last year, the summer of 2012 definitely beats it – the Orion Music Festival, Summerland, a crazy limo ride, and Louie CK is a murder’s row of awesome entertainment.  But we had Third Eye Blind and the Killers with both very strong performances.  So, you win this round, 2012.  However, life should not be a competition – you should live each day in the moment, and not arbitrarily compare it your past.  Plus, this autumn will be the BEST.  AUTUMN.  EVER.

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