Posts Tagged ‘Showboat’

2014-07-04 11.32.28

Ah, good old Showboat.  The boat of show.  Showy showy boat boat.  Am I stretching out this opening with pointless gibberish because I don’t have much to write in this chapter?  Perhaps.  Or am I afraid to say goodbye to the preeminent casino from my youth that has recently announced its closing?  Probable.

Growing up, many family vacations were spent in Atlantic City, as touched upon way back in Chapter 1 of the Atlantic City Diaries.  Due to it being on the lower end of the price spectrum, the Showboat was generally the place where we stayed (and is generally why I have frequented it many times in these diaries).  However, back in the mid 90’s, Showboat was among the more hustling and bustling casinos.  They had a world-famous bowling alley, a piano player was set up in the lobby, and a live jazz band roamed the halls.  Unfortunately, they’ve been systematically removing all the “fun” elements from the casino over the last decade and, by the end, it was just another generic casino in Atlantic City with a few scant elements of the “New Orleans” theme.  Hell, even when I started gambling down there, they used to give out Mardi Gras beads, but I guess even those were deemed too fun.

Now, I know the Showboat was still profitable, but I would advise against casinos trying too hard to reach out to the “sophisticated gambler.”  It is a very hard market to crack into, as you can see with Revel being brought to its knees.  Only Borgata seems to have done it successfully.  If I may play Monday Morning Quarterback for a moment: Showboat would have been best served by going in a completely new direction.  It seems that too many casinos are either trying to be high end (Caesars, Revel, Borgata) or just throwing up their hands and saying “Fuck it!” (Resorts, Trump Plaza).  I think Showboat could have tried to market itself as a “family friendly” casino.  Casinos are generally sketchy places, but if they had more security and kid-friendly activities, they’d be the only game in town for all gambling-addict parents.  Sure, it’s a new idea, but if there’s anything Atlantic City is short on it’s new ideas.  It’s why I love the direction the Wild Wild West is taking: the Mountain Bar was a hit, and they’ve added more fun “college” type activities around the bar, such as a new stage, beer pong tables, and a mechanical bull (and, finally, they brought back the table games!).  Keep in mind, I have no experience in running a casino, and could be way off base.  But still, I wrote it, and you read it, so that has to count for something.

Anyway, I had a trip planned to go down to Showboat this past Thursday, which, unfortunately, was only one day.  As a man who loves nostalgia, I’m glad I had any time at all to go and say my goodbyes to the Boat.  Also, I had to scratch the gambling itch – nearly three months had passed since my last outing, and we were getting deep into the summer without a trip to AC.  So, let’s start with the bus ride, which, despite taking it dozens of times, never fails to give me something new to write about:

7:00PM – Hooboy, where to start?  The bus smelled like pee.  There were newspapers on the floor outside the bathroom, like they were training a dog to be housebroken.  The air conditioner in the back didn’t work.  The bus driver pulled over on the highway, moved to the back, and tried to open the emergency hatch in the roof, thinking this would cool the back.  He couldn’t open it.  There were still newspapers on the floor, outside the bathroom, not masking the pee smell in the slightest.  On every turn, the bus shook; I’m not sure if it was bad driving or the suspension on the bus was shot.  This bus was clearly one day away from retirement.  Also, there were fucking newspapers on the floor outside the bathroom.

8:30 – After checking in, my fiance and I head to Scarduzio’s for our last supper.  Joining us tonight: OB and his ladyfriend, Polar and his ladyfriend, and a newcomer to the Atlantic City Diary universe, Drew, accompanied by his ladyfriend as well.  Steaks are served all around, and I enjoy a prime rib of cartoonish proportions.  The thing would have tipped over Fred Flintstone’s car.  I usually stay away from Scarduzio’s because it can be a bit pricey, but OB has the dinner covered.  Not only that, OB is a man who never skimps on the tip, but is disappointed that the waiter doesn’t come over and shake his hand afterwards.  Note to all waiters: should you ever serve OB, make sure to shake his hand at every opportunity.

2014-07-04 03.31.15

11:00 – I’ve bitched about gambling at Showboat repeatedly in these diaries, but I had to gamble one last time.  I play blackjack next to OB for a bit, and both of us tread water.  I take a breather, get some drinks, use the bus voucher with my fiance (to little success), and head back to the tables.  I manage to win a few bucks, but OB takes a beating.  The problem at the table: we had a screamer.  Now, mind you, I love an enthusiastic blackjack player.  However, this guy was just a screamer, and he only screamed one thing: “ACES!”  If you are going to scream, you gotta mix it up, and commit to screaming all the time.  All Mr. “ACES!” does is give us a splitting headache.  After OB took his licking, we headed to his room in Revel.

12:30AM – It is now July 4th, so we decide to put on some patriotic tunes and order up room service.  Unfortunately at Revel, they refuse to bring up alcohol to your room after 11.  Is this a joke?  No wonder they are going out of business.  I understand closing a kitchen, but they seriously can’t have a staff member open a fridge and bring up a bottle?  So I travel back to Showboat to get the bottle of vodka I brought, OB took care of mixers, and the Revel staff brought the cups.  You read that right: Revel will give you cups for free, but they refuse to take your money and give you alcohol.  I will shed no tears when Revel closes.

3:00 – After reciting Bill Pullman’s speech from Independence Day, we head back to Showboat.  My fiance and I are a little bit incredibly drunk, and we decide to call it a night.  My fiance goes to get a late night snack at the Earl of Sandwich, and I have to stand down the hall to escape the awful smell of that place.  The Earl of Sandwich has a sickening burnt cheese smell that grinds against the soul of my nose.  And then, to bed.

And….that’s it?  Really?  Yes, nothing else of note happened on this last trip to the Showboat.  Much like the actual casino, the trip ended too soon.  God speed, Showboat.  I will always have the memories, but it is time for both of us to move on.

2014-07-04 03.31.27

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The BEST AUTUMN EVER begins in Atlantic City with something completely unexpected.  This entry contains a shocking lack of both gambling and alcohol abuse, replaced with a startling amount of healthy activity.  As you may have guessed by reading the headline, Keith and I participated in the 55th annual Atlantic City Marathon!

Well, to clarify, we ran the half-marathon, but together, we ran the full one.  Whenever I had to clarify that, it always reminded me of the “very proud, minus” line from Arrested Development.  Conversations went akin to this: “Oh wow, you are running a marathon, what an accomplishment.”  “Well, actually, I’m running a half-marathon.”  “Oh… what a half-accomplishment.”

Now, Keith is a regular runner.  He is the only man I know who has woken up from a night of drinking and gambling and immediately went on a jog on the boardwalk.  He is even participating in the New York City Marathon in two weeks.  Yours truly, on the other hand, am not a runner by any stretch of the imagination.  I mainly disliked running because I’m both slow and easily distracted.  Doing one thing over and over for two hours would, on paper, drive me crazy.  In fact, as I write this, I am taking breaks every 15 minutes to either check football scores, play games on my tablet, practice the guitar, or stare at the wall.

Furthermore, I also hate “running culture.”  If you look at any running website, you’ll find corny positive-attitude slogans posted everywhere.  “You are lapping everyone on the couch!”  “You have a strong spirit!”  “You’re the best…AROUND!  Nothing’s gonna ever bring you down!”  While these cliches may inspire others, they just make me roll my eyes.  They seem desperate, insecure, and delusional.  Here’s my motivational phrase: running is putting one foot in front of the other at a quick pace, and it will make you healthier.  That should be all the information you need to make the choice of whether to run or not.

I signed up for the half-marathon because a family member signed up for the full one, and stupid old me thought: “How hard can 13.1 miles be?”  I started training this June, and immediately regretted this decision.  I intentionally made no references to it in the previous AC Diaries because I was not sure this post would ever be written.  But, without a running partner or a specific training plan, I eventually built up my distance (but not my speed: my first mile run took me 10 minutes, and my 10 mile run took me 100 minutes).  Training gave me these two breakthroughs about humanity:

1. People walk strangely.  In my training, I was running from my apartment, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and back.  I can’t count the number of times people will just randomly stop walking in front of me, or just drift to the left when I try to pass them.  Seriously, pay attention to your walking some time, and you’ll realize how hard it is to keep yourself going in a straight line.  Also, I ran over the Brooklyn Bridge about eight times during my training, and I’m sure I appear in roughly 2,376 tourist photos.  Sorry, couple from Australia, but I can’t break my flow!

2. Fat people are amazing.  First, imagine your dream life.  Are you sweating, with your knees and feet aching like hell?  Or are you relaxing on a beach, eating ice cream, and surrounded by beautiful women?  Fat people may not be at the beach or surrounded by beautiful women, but they have the “eating ice cream” part down.  They are closer to living the dream than you are!  And imagine the guts it takes to be fat.  Everywhere you look, people are demeaning you, saying you are not only ugly, but you’ll die soon.  And these brave lardos ignore all medical advice and go for the ice cream!  It’s damn impressive.

Anyway, this is the longest amount of time I’ve spent in Atlantic City consecutively (from Friday to Monday), so let’s begin this journey:

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mail.google.com

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!”

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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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This past weekend, I made a trip to Atlantic City with a few goals. First, I’d like to introduce my girlfriend to the city I both love and loathe. Secondly, I wanted to get my rock on at the Orion Music Festival. And finally, I wanted to write this to share with you lovely readers. Let’s get going!

FRIDAY

The day began as usual: taking the bus from Port Authority to the casino. I was with my girlfriend and frequent gambling cohort, OB. This time, all of us were staying at the Resorts in a comped room for Friday night, then paying to stay in separate rooms (me and the lady in one, OB in the other) at the Showboat on Saturday night. The Greyhound bus from New York City always provides you with deals. For about $35, we got a round trip ticket to the city, as well as $15 for slots and $15 for food in Resorts. In addition, we brought some adult beverages onto the bus to get the party started a bit early. While this isn’t legal in any way, as long as you can keep your shit together, nobody will really mind. So you caution, folks. I don’t want anyone reading this, getting drunk on the bus, then causing a scene and blaming me. While driving down does provide a better sense of freedom – blasting your music, setting your own times, not being forced to sit next to anyone with questionable hygiene – the bus is just too good a deal to turn down, at least in my mindset, where I’d rather spend money on the tables than on gas and tolls.

The bus ride down was fairly incident free. It rained the whole time, which was a bit ominous, but the weather reports assured us sunshine throughout the rest of the weekend. When we got to Resorts, we had a bit of an incident where they gave us a room that looked like it had been vacated about 12 minutes ago. Now, after spending three hours on a bus, this was a bit frustrating – I just wanted to drop off my luggage and get the party started. However, it worked to our advantage, as we got a slightly bigger room. It was roughly 6PM by now, and we decided it was probably time to load up on food for the long night ahead of us. The $15 food voucher had a bunch of restrictions, so we decided to just play it safe and use it on the Resorts buffet.

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