Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Say Bye to the Sands

Demolition crews began tearing down the Sands Casino yesterday making way for a Pinnacle Entertainment Inc., casino. The cute Lucky 7’s slot reel was torn down along with the yellow chips.

The Sands is close to no more.

In all likelihood, this casino is going to be best on the boardwalk. Then again, this isn’t saying much. (cough cough cesspool cough Taj cough).

The Sands was such a dump that Pinnacle plans to celebrate its destruction. The casino’s implosion is set for sometime in October (no date set) and a grand firework show will be held afterward.

I can only imagine that the poker at the Pinnacle is going to be on par with the Borgata. The Pinnacle, though not opening for at least another three years, has plastered billboards across Atlantic City. As a casino company, they have to know that poker draws people into casinos and there aren’t many who know how not to play other games than poker.

I’m expecting something grand. I hope I am not disappointed.

Monday, July 30, 2007

All you need is a vest

Someone at Harrah’s (actually I know, I just don’t want to name names) thought it would be a great idea for the poker dealers to wear black vests with their “spice” colored, polyester shirts.

These are tuxedo vests with the WSOP emblem on the breast. The vests are hideous and worse hot.

The dealers were so uncomfortable after one hour of wearing them that a shift supervisor put the kibosh on the vests Saturday night. Apparently, all but one person at Harrah’s (the unnamed person who thought it was good idea) felt these vests were the perfect fit to the Harrah’s poker room that is losing business.

Because vests will make the room more money. The vests draw bigger crowds and create more action on the games. The vests also offer incentives and are friendly enough to invite players back to the casino again.

Vests are the answer to everything.

Or, the answer to nothing.

Friday, July 27, 2007

News from the Trop

The are so many rumors surrounding the Tropicana poker room that I decided to find out what is real. After hearing more rumors once I got to the Trop, it took a while to figure out what was true.

I was hearing bad things about the Trop ever since Columbia Sussex took over the casino in January. In fact, the problems are so bad at the Trop (and not just the poker room) the industry’s largest labor union is considering opposing an operating license for the casino.

The Trop has laid off over 700 people in the past six months, which has had an effect on the poker room.

The poker room has gotten rid of its monthly invitational. The invitational was one of the best things going on in the city when it came to poker. It was a free roll for players who played a certain number of hours a month. In lieu of the free roll, the Trop is hosting Mad Cash Mondays. According to their site, Mad Cash Monday is held on the last Monday of every month. Every half hour, they will give away $200 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Players must qualify by playing 20+ hours (cash games only) in one month to receive one entry. Players with 50 hours or more will receive two entries. Winners must be present and claim prize within 15 minutes. Unclaimed prize will be added to the next drawing. Drawn tickets are re-deposited for multiple chances to win.

Also, all daytime tournaments have been canceled, which started last week. In addition to cancellation, the tournaments are now capped at 100 people per event.

Many full-time poker dealers have been laid off and the room is left with a bunch of part timers just trying to make money, not worrying that none of them gets benefits. This is what I have learned.

Now, we get to the rumors. The first rumor was that the Tropicana is building a new poker room. It was supposed to be a 38-table room with shuffle machines at every table. The truth is that there were plans for this room, drawn up and everything. But once the Trop started scaling back the room was scrapped.

The rumor is instead they plan on closing down the high-limit side of the poker room and integrate the No-Limit players with the rest of the card room (God forbid!) because slot machines rule all.

Everyone had different opinions as to why this was happening, but no one was happy. There was speculation that Columbia Sussex is trying to “flip” the casino. It lays off people, has fewer games in the poker room (after all that doesn’t make money) and then will have less of an overhead. Then, generate more money and make it look as though the casino is prosperous and they can sell at a high price.

In the Tropicana, poker has become an afterthought. The game makes the casino the least amount of money, so the owners don’t care about it. They are going to do anything to save money, including not having a bathroom staff.
Picture: That woman actually mopped the bathroom. I swear she did. Damn it. No one is gonna believe me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Catch the Cheater Catcher

Check out this story in The Press of Atlantic City, by Donald Wittkowski.

Steve Forte is an acclaimed cheater catcher when it comes to the casino world. He has made a pretty good (and I mean really good) living at showing casinos how to catch cheats. He's made books, videos and even helped with the movie 'Rounders.'

He was arrested on June 7 in connection with a high stakes private poker game being run out of hotel rooms in the Borgata. Him, and three other men, would lure big games players up to the room for big cash games. There were private surveillance cameras set up that allowed someone to view the hole cards. That person then relayed information to the "shills."

This all happened around the time the Borgata had their big poker tourney, which had a prize pool of $1.7 million. Some people are spreading rumors that the tourney was compromised saying the scam artists tapped into the live video feed. However, this tournament wasn't a World Poker Tour sponsored event and was not taped for television. There were no cameras involved.

This is the shady world of poker. Every one trying to catch on to the fever and frenzy. The Borgata had nothing to do with these games, but I find it hard to believe people don't know what is going on in the rooms.

While there are many different casinos and an vast array of people coming in and out of them all day long, the poker community is very, very small. I can walk into any card room and any time in Atlantic City and know at least three people, certainly more.

Dealers always hear the gossip. Many times even help fuel it. I find it difficult to think that no one in the poker room knew about this.

I didn't know and for two reasons: 1. I'm not a big stakes player. 2. I don't enjoy playing at the Borgata.

I actually returned to the Borgata after a six-month hiatus during the big tournament. I figured the cash game would be fun while everyone was in tournament mode. (I was right).

Gambling is a shady business. It brings all kinds of cheats, crooks and robbers out. Some are dressed like well-meaning businessmen and you don't know what you lost until you are roaming the streets of Atlantic City trying to find bus fare home.

Don't trust anyone. Don't lend money to anyone. Play in the environment of a public card room where there is at least some comfort of security. Don't fall for trying to get the quick buck.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Frank the Hat Back From the WSOP

As the World Series of Poker ends, the Atlantic City regulars are making their way back to the resort. The first one I ran into is Frankie “the Hat,” known to the Harrah’s regulars.

He was giddy, to say the least. Frank was excited about his trip where he came back with more money than he went with. He went into the WSOP on a natural high. He was on the winning of end of the Bad Beat Jackpot at Harrah’s only a week before leaving. Then, at a WSOP circuit event, he took third place at Harrah’s for a little less than $7,500.

Frank went out there with an attitude of ‘beat me if you can.’ He took it to every table and even cashed in two tournaments while in Las Vegas. He took 16th in a seven-card stud hi/lo 8/OB ($5,714) tournament and 39th in seven-card stud tournament ($3,612).

He rubbed elbows with some of the best and popular poker players around, but he wasn’t impressed with many of them. Frank respected their play, but there was only guy he truly enjoyed being around.

“Scotty Nguyen was the man,” Frank says. “He was the coolest guy. He gave you high fives, shook your hand. He never got mad at anything.”

Frank, who was has been known to get angry at tables, could take a lesson from a WSOP champion

Monday, July 23, 2007

Visiting Poker Player Gets Stuck at the Trop

James Shust, who was whisked away from the poker room at the Tropicana by his girlfriend on July 12, was stuck in an elevator for nearly three hours, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

Three hours.

And you know what kind of treatment he got in that time? None.

He rang the alarm three times and no one came to the speaker. He called the front desk on his cell phone and the woman who answered told him the engineer and elevator company were on the way and then hung up on him. She didn't give him reassuring words and try to comfort the man. All she did was hang up on him.

Apparently, the Trop is making cut backs around the entire casino, including friendliness.

So for getting stuck for three hours, having no one talk to him to let him know his fate, the casino offered $1,000. Real sweet. Really. After all, they have laid off hundreds of people because they have to save money. I guess The Quarter, which is packed every day, doesn't do enough business for the hotel.

I bet Shust and his girlfriend dropped that much money just playing at the Trop and that's all the casino can offer as retribution.

If they weren't the only casino in town that offered $3-$6 stud, I would never play there.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harrah's Jackpot Hit

Harrah's Poker Bad Beat Jackpot was hit on Thursday in a $2-$4 limit game. Anytime the jackpot hits on 2-4 game, it seems like almost a waste. The jackpot was for about $19,000 and the dealer didn't even crack $1,000 in tips.

That's pretty terrible if you ask me. On top of that, one woman had just sat at the table and went to the bathroom before a hand was dealt. The hand that was dealt while she was in the bathroom was the bad beat hand. One guy gave her $20.

The way the jackpot works is that if aces full of jacks or better is beaten, you win 50 percent of the jackpot. The winner of the hand gets 25 percent and the rest of the table split the remaining 25 percent.

Odd rumors: I heard two rumors tonight that either incredibly crazy or terribly crazy. One player told me that he heard there was a fake bomb found at Showboat. A car was doused in gasoline and had wires sticking out of it to make it look like a bomb.

The other rumor I heard was that an actual bomb was found at Bally's. This I heard from a Harrah's dealer. That's all I have on that. And since this is only a blog I can post any rumors I hear.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A.C. Pro takes down Stud Championship

Chris Reslock is definitely one of my favorite poker players in Atlantic City. Granted I haven't talked to him often, but when I have he has always been nice and friendly to me. I did a story on him last year during the WSOP when he was out in Las Vegas. I would post that story, but I think it's property of my newspaper.

However, I am happy to report (late) that Reslock, 59, took down the World Championship in Seven Card Stud on June 8. He beat a field of 180 players for a $258,453 prize. Even better is that bracelet, his first. He won a ring in 2006 by winning a WSOP circuit event at the Showboat in December.

Reslock, who likes to play at the Taj Mahal and Borgata, has an interesting backstory. Before playing poker he had a number of jobs that don't even resemble anything to do with a felt. Reslock was a taxi driver, a job he loved. He met new, interesting people and loved the social aspect of it.

However, driving a taxi around Atlantic City didn't pay the bills. Neither did harvesting wheat and barley or picking fruit, both jobs he held in the past.

Reslock had a successful WSOP this year. Besides winning the stud championship, he took 15th in the H.O.R.S.E. event ($88,800) and 26th in the World Championship in Omaha High-Low 8 or better ($12,502).

photo credit: Pokerwire. Chris Reslock after winning the seven card championship.

Change in scenery

After going back and forth and trying to figure out what I wanted to blog about, I figured blogging about poker in A.C. is the way to go.

I need an outlet to write about poker. In my "real" job I do write, but not about poker. TPTB won't let me write about one of the topics I love the most.

This is my unofficial outlet. The place where I am going to put as much information about poker in Atlantic City that I can. What will it do for me or you? Who knows. Hopefully, make me a little less crazy and you that much more informed

I am around the poker rooms enough that I get a chance to talk to many people. I hear bits of news and gossip along the way. So I will pass on any information I can about the Atlantic City poker scene. If I miss anything, let me know.

If you find something interesting, let me know about that too.

A bit of a warning: lately I've been caught in a seven-card stud delight and can't stop playing.
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