8 Hours in Atlantic City – Quick Version

I was in Philly for business and decided to try Atlantic City.  My meetings ended at 10pm so the original plan was to head out to the shore late and get on an afternoon flight back home.  You’ll see my trip didn’t go as planned.

I bowed out of drinks with the work gang and jumped in the rental car heading 76 East at 10:15.  I was excited on the ride out and was thinking that AC could be a good alternative to Vegas since it is only a short flight and drive combo.  Once I saw AC around 11:30 my thoughts started to change.

I hate to pile on the AC hating going around, but man it is just depressing driving in and when you see it you immediately understand one of the main issues – logistics.  In Vegas I can walk to dozens of casinos and the weather is typically reasonable.  In AC the casinos are very far apart with winter weather that will tear your skin off which means you are essentially trapped wherever you booked your room.

I had a free room from Bally’s so I was locked into the Bally’s/Caesars complex.  I’m a huge fan of Total Rewards and I’m not a hotel or casino snob so I had no real complaints about the aging properties themselves.  The dealers, front desk staff, and people I met around the place were all very friendly and helpful.

My main complaint was with the overall feeling inside the casinos.  I know AC has always tried to position itself as Vegas East, but to pull that off there needs to be more of a community feeling.  I didn’t feel like I was in this trip with everyone around me, it felt like we were all just there.

Anyway, back to my trip.  I got to the casino floor at midnight, couldn’t find an open table in either Bally’s or Caesars so played one shoe at a $25 table and called it a night.  At 5:30am I got up and headed back down, which worked great since open seats at any level of play were available.  I played a little at $50, $10, and $25 tables.  The dealers and staff were all very nice and not surprisingly there were a few odd characters wandering the halls at 6am.

Big negative – no surrender available – this limited my play since I knew overall it would be harder to work my system and come away a winner.  Overall the play was fine, and I ended up down $50 after 2 hours.  I decided to head out early since I wasn’t feeling the vibe and didn’t want to risk real money without any mojo.  I hit the road at 8:15 and made the 10:15 flight out of PHL.

My takeaway is that AC isn’t Vegas East and never will be, it is a collection of Regional Tribal Casinos in one city.  On the plus side it was a fun, cheap and quick diversion in the middle of the work week and now I can safely say that Vegas is the only place that I need to play.  I’ll break down more of the observations in future posts.

Atlantic City Here I Come

All we hear recently about Atlantic City is how bad things are, casinos are closing, people are losing their jobs, and the city has lost its luster.  With all the bad news I’m not sure what to expect when I roll into town in a couple of weeks.

I have a business trip to Philly in early December and as I was researching the casino choices in Philly I wasn’t getting very excited about my options.  It didn’t really hit me that AC was only a short <90 minute drive away until I looked at my Google map.

Once I saw the map it clicked, and sure enough my friends at Harrah’s Total Rewards were nice enough to have a comp room waiting for me.  So now when I visit the City of Brotherly Love I’ll be heading to the coast immediately after my meetings.

I’m very curious to get a feel for the town, the people and the attitude I encounter in my short trip.  I’m excited since I haven’t been there in over 20 years and even if this isn’t the heyday for AC I still have a feeling there are good times and good blackjack to be had.

I’ll file a report in about 2 weeks to let you know what the city has to offer.

What Happened to Atlantic City?

Back when I was in college a friend and I were driving up the east coast and took a minor detour to check out Atlantic City.  We actually changed clothes in the Taj parking garage to make sure we looked presentable enough for the casino.  I’d venture to guess that if I walked into any AC casino now in a shirt with either a collar or sleeves they’d call me a high roller.

Okay, maybe its not that bad, but with the influx of new casinos in the area over the past decades and the many pending casino applications in New York state and Massachusetts we may be witnessing AC’s swan song.  It is a shame in some respects and in other ways it is probably fitting for a locale that just never could find its way to living up to the potential of becoming Vegas East.

Harrahs is likely closing another one of its properties in AC over the next year and the other existing properties are either struggling, selling at a loss, or outright closing.  It seems improbable with the relatively close proximity of huge gaming populations in NYC, Philly and New England, but the Monopoly board might be your best Boardwalk investment at this time.

My personal opinion is that transportation is their biggest hurdle.  If you live in NYC or are visiting you likely don’t have full time access to a car and so you need a way to get to AC.  At the present time an easy alternative just doesn’t exist.  You can take a bus, but unless you are 80 years old and have a oxygen tank that doesn’t present a tantalizing option.  On the other end you could rent a helicopter or town car, but if you have that kind of money you likely want to go somewhere a little more upscale.

The next time I go to NYC for work I’m going to try and work in an extra night for an AC side trip to see what happens.  I’ll keep you updated on what I see and if there might still be some light left in those AC lights.