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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Fluck Me! I've Started a New 4 to Royal Streak

Originally published in the Trip Reports section of the Las Vegas Advisor message boards, based of a April 13-14, 2007 visit to Atlantic City.

They say you can't please all the people all of the time, but I don't know who they are and whether they bother to read my trip reports, so I'm gonna give it a shot.  For those who want the quick overview of how the trip went, read the Executive Summary and other lists at the top of the report.  For those who want colorful prose, read something that Ken2v wrote.  He's a real writer.  However, if you want some of my rambling nonsense, then look beneath the bullets.

Please be warned, I wrote this under duress in a great hurry.  I don't do brief, but I was told that I needed to write a report of my Diamond Lounge mooching days might be over.  Thus, I present narrative report unedited, and will be way to long and wordy for any sane person to enjoy it.  Having said that, I expect most of my LVA friends will get a kick out of it.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


  • Winning money is fun!
  • Relaxing baths = winning
  • Keeping accurate records of losses help you to be realistic about whether you are "lucky" or not.
  • There's always an LVA friend in Atlantic City when you need one.
  • In general, in appears that LVAers overestimate their ages.
  • Harrah's customer service lived up to its billing this weekend.
  • The Trump properties were less prepared for the smoking ban than Harrah's, but still did a reasonable job.
  • Resorts did not do a good job of indicating smoking and non-smoking sections, nor did they offer brochures explaining where to look for them.
  • Resorts offers free plastic cups to those willing to steal them.
  • High Definition TVs are cool.
  • Man-eating elevators are bad.
  • Returning chips to strangers at a Craps Table can cause more problems than it solves.
  • Beware of flying dice at the Borgata.
  • The Showboat mixer I received was the chintziest casino promotion ever.



GAMBLING


  • Casinos Played In = 3 (Showboat, Borgata, and Caesars)
  • Casinos Visited = 8 (above + Trump Marina, Bally's, Trump Plaza, Taj Mahal, and Resorts)
  • Total Winnings = $1,603.00 (including $33 cashback from Showboat and $50 slot rebate from Trump Marina)
  • Estimated Coin In = $13,700+ (over 2 days of play)
  • Winnings from Slot Machines = $20
  • ]Estimated Coin In from Slot Machines = $140
  • Winnings from over 100% Return Video Poker = $980
  • Estimated Coin In for 100+% Return Video Poker = $80
  • Losses from 9/6 JoB Video Poker = $220
  • Estimated Coin In for 9/6 JoB Video Poker = $11,720
  • Winnings from other under 100% Return Video Poker = $720
  • Estimated Coin In for other under 100 Return Video Poker = $1,750
  • 4 to a Royal = 10 Times (3 times on $1 machines, 6 times on 50 cent machines, and once on a quarter machine)
  • Royal Flushes = 1 (quarter Royal on All American machine at Caesars)
  • 4 of a Kinds = 15 (7 times with Jacks and Deuces, though never on a Deuces Wild Machine; only had four 7's once)
  • Low Quads on $1 DDB = 2 (2's with no kicker for $400 and 3's with an Ace for $800)



HOTELS


  • Hotels Stayed In = 1 (Showboat)
  • Showboat Hotel Bill = $13 ($11 in fees + $2 in phone calls)


DINING


  • Free Meals = 2 (Diamond Lounges at Showboat and Caesars)
  • Meals Paid For = 1 (Canal Street at Showboat)



THE REPORT

Oh, the things I'll do for a promotion.  It was Friday the 13th and I was planning test my luck in Atlantic City.  Not the brightest thing in the world, at least if you're even mildly superstitious, but I know there's nothing to those silly myths.  However, just to be safe, I was wearing the same pants I wore the first day in Las Vegas when I started my last trip with a couple nice hits to come out ahead for the day.  I don't know if they're official "lucky pants", as I'm still testing their ability to deliver positive results, but early returns are promising.

Unfortunately, my plan to get an early start on my brief vacation wasn't working out quite the way I hoped, and that was the first of many things that didn't work out quite the way I had envisioned them.  As it turns out, that wasn't really a bad thing.

Speaking of work, I was still there as the clock ticked close to 6:00 PM.  After hoping to be on the road around 4 PM, I knew that the drive to the shore would be a little less pleasant than if I hit the road as planned.  This was mostly my fault, as I did not get much done during the day (when I shouldn't have been wasting time reading reports from Flipfest) and I still didn't finish as much as I would've liked, but knew it was time to get moving.  I still held some hope that I might arrive in time to play a poker tournament when I arrived at the Showboat.  Of course, hitting the road during Friday rush hour is never a winning proposition when you have someplace to go, and last Friday was no exception.  No accidents, but heavy volume meant that it took quite a while to even get to the highway and things didn't move much faster until I drove around folks arriving to watch the Phillies and crossed the Walt Whitman Bridge into New Jersey.

The decision to drive to Atlantic City straight from work was proving to be a good one, as I realized that I was going to be very hungry when I arrived in town.  I also realized that I had left my Harrah's slot card in my backpack, which was in the trunk of my car.  Since that card was my ticket to free parking at the Showboat I decided to stop at the visitor's welcome center in the middle of the Atlantic City Expressway to retrieve my backpack where my card was stored.  This also gave me a chance to snag a handful of freebie magazines, though I couldn't get the full compliment of these, since the inside of the visitor's center was closed.

After merging back into Expressway traffic and scooting along the AC Connector across town, I reached the Showboat parking garage, where there was no one waiting at the booths that marks its entrance.  This allowed me to believe for a moment that the casino might be unusually quiet on this Friday evening, but that illusion was quickly shattered when I joined the line of eight cars looking for parking spaces after I flashed my slot card (all Total Rewards members currently park free a Showboat, though that policy changes more often than most Showboat guests change their socks).  No worries, however, as all the cars in front of me continued up the ramp and I was able to make the contrarian move of turning right away from the ramp and looking for spots on the first public parking level (3), where I found a "compact" spot that my mid-sized Pontiac Grand Prix can usually squeeze into.  However, the SUV in the other "compact" space next to this one meant that I would have to look elsewhere.  That quickly proved to be a good thing when I saw the reverse-lights on a car further along the same row of vehicles that I just tried to fit into.  After that car left, I quickly slid into their spot and was perfectly positioned close to the stairs and elevator of the Showboat garage and ready to get my night in the casino started.

Unlike Caesars Atlantic City, Showboat actually dedicates a separate line at the check-in counter for Platinum guests.  However, unlike Bally's and Harrah's Atlantic City properties this line tends to be woefully inefficient.  As I stood in line I kept checking the Gold Card line to see if it would be quicker to dart over there, since there was only one clerk working the Platinum check-in.  Sometimes, if the Diamond line is empty the clerks will call one of the Platinum riffraff over to their line, but enough Diamond guests needed to be serviced that this was not an option.  The two men in front of me were complaining about the slow service, as one kept walking around looking for someone to complain to.  He seemed to find someone willing to listen at the Customer Service desk, as the employee behind that counter summoned him and his friend over there, presumably to check them in.  That worked well for me, as it moved me closer to the front of the line, and cut my wait time to around 15 minutes.

When I did reach the counter I was greeted by a surprisingly friendly and efficient employee, who took the time to find me a room on a high floor, though she told me that it was a handicapped room with two double beds and asked if that was ok or if I would like a king bed on a lower floor.  She explained that the biggest difference in the handicapped room was the design of the bathroom, primarily that there was no vanity next to the sink.  I wanted to best view I could get, so that sounded ok for my one night in town.  We agreed I'd check out the room and come back if there was a problem.  The clerk then went on the hand out the coupon sheet that some Harrah's properties sometimes give out in Atlantic City, though she actually took the time to tell me what the coupons were for.  Of course, I already knew this, but it was a nice courtesy nonetheless.  I was even more impressed that she handed me a map of the casino floor and reminded me that the smoking ban was to take affect on Saturday night after midnight.  Showboat also made announcements over the PA system throughout the day on Saturday, which seemed like a wise move to minimize the number of unhappy customers when the ban took affect.

On the way to the Bourbon Tower elevator, which is just off the casino floor about halfway from the front desk to the Boardwalk, I walked around a man with long dreadlocks and shabby faded camouflaged clothing that didn't look like it had been washed in some time.  Thus, I was a little unsettled when he got into the same elevator as me, and even more so when he asked me to push the button for a floor number that didn't exist.  I was a little relieved when he said he was going to the "show", which he told me was Jah Works.  I didn't know what that meant (though I later discovered it was a reggae show and everything sort of made sense at that point), but I did know that the House of Blues concert hall was on the second floor, so I directed this gentleman there and continued upward to my 21st floor room.

The room was fine.  The beds seemed comfortable, the new high definition TV looked cool (I would have to figure out some excuse to watch TV later tonight), and the bathroom was acceptable.  I'd like to see a "normal" Bourbon Tower room to compare this with, but this would suit me fine for the evening.  My immediate need would now be to satisfy my hunger.

It was close to 8:30 before I decided I would settle for something from the Canal Street CafĂ©, the snack bar near the parking garage entrance to the Showboat.  I wanted soup, but didn't see any sandwiches I wanted, so I ordered "New Jersey" (basically New England) clam chowder, a personal pepperoni pizza, and a soda.  At first, the woman behind the counter thought they didn't have clam chowder, but she checked "in the back" and gave me a thumbs up when she walked out with a fresh vessel of the soup I ordered.  She gave me my soup and soda, along with a handful of packets of crackers while I waited for my pizza.  It's nice when they don't skimp on the crackers, as this gave me a snack for later in the room.  The whole meal set me back $14, since I'm hoarding my Total Rewards credits.  For what, I don't know, but I didn't feel like using them for this meal, so I paid the inflated snack bar rates, and had an adequate meal.  The really good news was that I read in one of the freebie magazines that there's a pretty good chance Jimmy Buffet will come to Atlantic City in late June.  NOTICE TO MY LVA FRIENDS: I'll be calling in lots of favors to get tickets to this show.  This is like noahcat and Manilow, except Jimmy won't put anyone to sleep (unless you count the ones that pass out drunk).

Now it's time to let the games begin.  Off to the casino, stopping to check my cashback on the way, where I found I had $33.  Wow, I didn't even remember playing at Showboat last month, but after checking my records I did have a decent day's play and seemed to have taken some advantage of their 3X cashback March promotion.  So, I was already ahead before dropping a dime into a machine.  Of course, I decided not to start with dimes.  Actually, I decided to start with dollars.  A big hit right away would really put me in a good frame of mind, so I decided to take a shot with $1 9/6 Double Double Bonus (DDB).  I put $40 into a machine in the House of Blues casino and quickly lost it, with my best hand being three 2's.  Oh well, so much for the cashback, so it was on to my "serious" play, which would be on 9/6 Jacks or Better (JoB).  I stayed at the same machine and switched down to the 50 cent denomination, where I was able to run a little over 1,000 through the machine, earn 105 base Reward Credits, and win back the $40 I lost playing DDB.  Not many intermediate hands (straights, flushes, or full houses) during this session, but quad 8's, Jacks, and 7's kept me ahead of the game.  Unfortunately, my 4 to the Royal streak reached 40, with three more close misses, each coming in spades.

I could have stayed and played for longer, but I wanted to use the restroom and thought this would be a good time to head back to the room and relax for a few minutes.  I figured that if I actually had a room on a Friday night that I ought to take advantage of it, and a bath seemed like the right thing to put me at ease for the rest of the evening.  However, my relaxation was to be delayed for longer than I expected because none of the elevators to the Bourbon Tower were running.  They were all on the first floor with the doors open, but a little fire hat light on the control panel was turned on and none of the buttons would work.  Someone from security soon appeared and notified the confused masses that an alarm had been triggered because someone was smoking and set off a smoke detector.  The man from security was communicating with someone else using a walkie talkie and told us the elevators would be running soon.  He was correct.

However, this wasn't the end of my adventure with the elevators.  Two other men shared my car when the elevators started working again, and both got off on the 8th floor.  As one was leaving, I pressed the "Door Close" button and thought that I almost crushed the second man off the elevator, because the doors shut immediately and didn't bounce back open when they touched his arm.  That was odd, but it was even stranger when I reached the 21st floor and the doors didn't open at all.  I tried the "Door Open" button and the doors flinched but never actually opened.  I decided to try going up to another floor, pressed "22" and felt the car rise a floor, but the doors didn't open there either.  I pressed 21 again and felt the car drop a floor, but still no doors opening.  Well, this was not good.  I wasn't planning to spend an extended period of time standing in an elevator this weekend.  At least I could move up and down to different floors, even if I couldn't actually leave the confines of my little box.  With this in mind, the ground floor seemed like the best place to be stuck, so I pressed "1" and was now back where I started, but still didn't have the opportunity to leave the elevator.  I tried the "Door Open" button a couple more times and noticed that I could see daylight (well, actually, casino light) through the opening, so I decided to hit the button again and try to wedge myself between the doors.  At least someone would see my dilemma and I wouldn't have to wait too long for help if my plan didn't work out.  Fortunately, I was able to force my way through the narrow slit of opportunity that the elevator presented me with and was back in the elevator lobby, but still faced with the problem of getting back up to the 21st floor.  I hit the "up" button and decided to take a shot with another elevator, though I decided I would pass the opportunity to ride the car I just slipped out of should that door open again.  It didn't, and I was soon back in my room.

It was 10:00 and I found my excuse to watch the fancy TV in the room, as the Phillies were playing, though trailing 8-6 late in the game.  I snapped some pictures of the room, while watching them blow an opportunity to make a comeback with a hit, a walk, and another hit when Shane Victorino was thrown out a home plate with no outs.  Brilliant move there, sending him home with no outs.  That was enough baseball, so it was off to the bath to read the complimentary Casino Player that was left in my room.  It always seems appropriate to read this magazine in the vicinity of the toilet, particularly in a Harrah's property.

I returned to the casino refreshed around 11:45, ready to boost my Harrah's ADT (Average Daily Theoretical, to those who haven't studied the Harrah's lingo).  I'm trying to limit my play at Harrah's properties to fewer longer sessions, which should make me appear to be a bigger player to those who study ADT.  So, my goal for the night was to earn around 400 tier credits (~$4,000 coin in).  I'm willing to bend on this goal if things aren't going well, and of course, I'm willing to keep playing if I'm winning and still feeling good, but that was my plan, and I pretty much stuck to it.

I decided to take another shot at a big payout, with $40 through a 9/6 Triple Bonus machine.  I hit one full house and had four to the Royal in Diamonds, but ended up losing my buy-in for this pot-shot.  I decided that I don't like the Kings or Better payout for Triple Bonus, so I'll probably avoid this game in the future, but I've said that before and forgotten it.  Maybe putting it in writing will help.  On a positive note, I continued my trend from earlier in the evening, by winning back my $40 playing 50 cent 9/6 JoB, though this time I did so without a quad.  A bunch of straights and flushes, couple with smaller paying hands (2 pair and 3 of a kinds) put me ahead after 102 reward credits.  I was starting to get goofy, humming "Here come the quads" to myself in some odd Beatles meet Barenaked Ladies-like tone every time I held a pair or 3 of a kind.  I don't usually sing to myself while playing, but I was this close to doing the ECLVA dances for decent hands while no one was watching.  It was time to get up an walk around for a little while.

At this point I'm still even (ahead if you count the $33 cashback), so it was time for another potshot.  I looked around and decided I wanted to play Spinpoker, but every Spinpoker machine in the casino was occupied.  Super Times Pay (STP) had the same problem, so I took a shot with quarter 9/6 DDB Multi-Strike.  These are good quick hit machines.  You either hit big or go broke real fast.  I lost $60 and decided that didn't work out right, so it was back to half dollar 9/6 JoB, where I earned another 109 reward credits before cashing out a $20 loser.  This broke the trend of me winning back my losses playing JoB, but I was ready to wander again.

This time, I stopped at a penny Jade Monkey slot.  Since Harv was not present, I soon drew three green monkeys with 5 credits per line and activated a bonus round.  I ended up with 16 free spins and hit three monkeys again during the free spins to earn 16 more free spins.  By the time the bonus round was done I had earned 4,025 credits.  Sure, they're just pennies, but that's a nice hit on a slot.  Trouble was that I kept fouling up when to cash out an ended up playing my credits down farther than I wanted to.  I switched to 3 credits per line and hit another bonus round with 10 free spins, the payouts doubled, and a "bonus prize", all of which netted another 2,200 credits after I drew 3 more monkeys to again retrigger the bonus.  Wow, this is my all-time record for bonus rounds on a slot machine, and I hit one more while playing credits down to an even number, but that was only 375 credits.  After the dust cleared, the monkeys gave me an extra $20 more than I dropped in.

Next shot was a quarter Joker Poker machine with a progressive over $1,100 for a five of a kind.  I lost $20 here before moving back to the House of Blues casino and trying another $40 on the $1 9/6 DDB machine.  That resulted in nothing but losses, in a short session with nothing better than a couple pairs, before I decided to take another shot at JoB.  I put another $100 in and played the 50 cent Jacks machines for a little while, lining up four Jacks once, but only one flush and no (ZERO) full houses or straights meant that this money didn't last real long.  This wrapped up my "serious" play for the evening, but I still wanted to take a couple more shots before bed.

I decided to try $100 in the $1 9/6 DDB, but that didn't last much longer than the $40 I tried earlier, so I moved over to a Spinpoker machine, as it was finally late enough for one of them to open up.  These were all Joker Poker machines, which I don't really know the strategy for, but I figured that Jokers were good and I should try to draw 5 of a kind.  At one point I lined up four 10's with no Joker and hit a few hands, but ended up losing $20 playing nickels.  This was going to be my last play of the night, but I had taken out $40 before I realized these were nickel machines, so I still had an extra $20 that I planned to play and didn't want to but another 400 credits on a game I didn't know too well, so I felt that I should take one last longshot at the $1 DDB.  As you would expect, I was on the verge of losing my money very quickly.  I had four to a Royal in Hearts, but I wasn't destined to earn any $4,000 payouts tonight.  However, I did hit a series to Jacks or Better hands on my last $5 to play a couple extra hands until I drew three 2's and filled in the fourth for a $400 hit to close out the evening.  That was cool, as it put me up $73 for the night and gave me the home run I was looking for (and that my Phillies couldn't hit when they needed) before bed.

On my way back to the room I passed a craps table where I saw a green chip roll onto the floor and come to rest.  No one was looking in that direction, so I picked it up and decided to be honest and ask the table if anyone lost a chip.  I thought there was some chance that no one would know where it came from and I'd get to keep it, but if that happened I could do so with a clear conscience.  One of the boxmen said he thought the chip belonged to a woman standing to my left as I approached the table and inquired about the found token, but she hesitated for a moment.  During her period of uncertainty, a tall thin man with light black skin and a handful of red chips said it was his and snatched the chip from my hand.  Some confusion followed, as I asked the woman and man if they were sure this was right.  The woman said it was probably hers, but wasn't going to fight over $25.  The man said he knew he lost a chip, and asked the boxman, "Miguel, do you wanna call upstairs?" a couple times.  One of the suits at the table said he didn't want to get involved with chips that were "out there" (off the table) and then tall man started walking away, somewhat agitated, but still talking about calling upstairs.  I walked with him, trying to encourage him to do the right thing, and saying that he knew that truth.  I didn't accuse him of stealing the chip, but did lead him back to the table, where I left the situation and headed for the elevator, after taking a circuitous route in the unlikely event that this somewhat unstable and potentially volatile character might have been unhappy with me in some way.

I returned to the room at 2:45 and found another excuse to watch TV, as High Stakes Poker was finishing up on NBC.  This high-definition is really cool.  I didn't know Shana Hiatt had freckles.  Well, she was off the air at 3:00 AM and I was asleep by 3:15.




I was conscious at 11:15 AM, but not quite ready to wake up yet.  By 11:45 I realized that I better get moving if I was going to be out of the room by 1:00.  Breakfast consisted of leftover crackers from the night before and a bottle of water that had frozen when I left it in the refrigerator over night.  I called Harv (harv29) to find out if he was still planning to come to town to claim his Trump Marina cashback, but only reached his voicemail.  I had planned to tell Catherine (bigfus) what Harv's plans were, but not knowing that I called her anyway to see where she was headed.  I caught her on the way out the door of her house and we agreed to meet at the Showboat when she arrived in town.  I snapped some pictures out the window, primarily of what appears to be a new Bally's-like tower rising from the neighboring Taj Mahal, took a short bath and then shower, and was leaving the room a minute before 1:00 PM, when someone from the hotel knocked on the door to ask if I was checking out.  He arrived pretty much exactly as I expected, an hour after the published checkout time.  Being that it was an hour after the published checkout time, there was no line at the front desk and I paid my obscene comp fees and dropped my overnight bag in the car before returning to the casino.

Catherine and I planned to meet in our "office" in the House of Blues section of the Showboat.  This is where all the 9/6 JoB machines are at The 'Boat and where I'll do 95% of my playing, even if it this area wasn't designated as non-smoking gaming space.  I played 50 cent 9/6 JoB for a while and was up $60 after hitting four Queens, 3's, and 6's, along with a boatload of full boats, while also drawing four to the Royal in Hearts.  I cashed out after 128 reward credits, and tried another $40 in $1 DDB, and hit a flush, but nothing else.  Back to half dollars and 9/6 JoB where I quickly worked my way up $140 with a series of flushes and full houses, coupled with quad 9's.  I also drew four to the Royal in clubs, just for good measure.

I took a break from Jacks or Better with Double Joker Wild and Joker Poker machines, both a quarters, and quitting both when I worked back to my original $20 buy-in.  With no sign of Catherine yet, I switched back to 50 cent 9/6 JoB, where I lost $100, despite being dealt quad 10's.  A total of five straights, flushes, and full houses were not enough to keep me in the game, but the timing worked out reasonably well, as Catherine arrived, along with Judy and Dennis (judykq), who were in town on a junket that was scheduled to depart from Harrah's to take them home at 8:00 PM.

Catherine was hungry, and the breakfast crackers didn't really hold me over too well, so I was happy to enjoy the free food courtesy of my Diamond friends at Showboat's Pelican Club Diamond Lounge.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, and vegetable beef soup, along with some tasty deserts made for a pleasant meal, while we all enjoyed the free premium drinks.  I had a couple tequila sunrises, since this was my breakfast, while Catherine and Dennis enjoyed Bloody Mary's, and Judy had a glass of wine.  It was great to finally have a chance to sit down and talk with some LVA members who I had seen before, but never really spend any time with.  Judy claimed to have just celebrated a milestone birthday, but I think she may have misread her age, as she appears much younger than she thought.

Well, the Diamond Lounge was great, but with a couple people who's trip was coming to an end it was time to get them back where they wanted to be, to the casino.  I stopped off to pick up my free gift from Showboat, a hand mixer which I thought would come in handy in the kitchen until I discovered it was the cheapest piece of crap that a casino ever tried to hoist on me.  My sister had sturdier toys in her "play" kitchen growing up.  I read on the packing about the "powerful" motor that runs on two AA batteries.  Fortunately, there's no way that motor could actually be "powerful" running on two tiny batteries, because any force applied to the tiny mixing appendages would snap them like twigs.  Maybe because they're about the thickness of twigs.  In any case, at least I'm ahead for the trip.  If they want to pay me to take this crap off their hands then I'll take money from Harrah's any time.

I caught up with Judy, Dennis, and Catherine back in the House of Blues casino after claiming my prize and we soon found machines together in a bank of slant tops with 9/6 JoB.  After playing at Harrah's, where the only 9/6 JoB are uprights, everyone was relieved to play somewhat comfortably at The 'Boat.  The man sitting at the far left of the bank of machines was playing quarter DDB and hit a series of quads, but kept working his way up instead of down toward Aces, 2's, 3's, and 4's.  He kept hitting them, though, and I kept encouraging him to get back to the little quads.  At least he seemed to be having a good time, and when he sat down he looked like he needed to have a good time, so it was also nice to see him cash out over $400, instead of pouring it back into the machine and being REALLY unhappy.

I was doing OK myself, as I hit quad 5's and was able to demonstrate the quad dance for Dennis and Judy.  Judy caught on fast, as she soon hit quad 6's and took a shot at the Batman/Pulp Fiction dance herself.  Dennis had quads of his own, but I don't remember him dancing, and Catherine got beat up while the rest of us were taking our shots at the Showboat's bottom line.  I hit quad 6's of my own and then four 2's.  Couple that with a bunch of full houses and I was up $100 when I decided to call it quits.  However, everyone else was still playing, so I dropped another $40 in for another shot at $1 9/6 DDB.  This one worked out even better than before.

While Judy had earned a "dancing hand" I told everyone I had her beat, as I was dealt two 3's, and filled in the other two along with an Ace for an $800 win.  No one had noticed that I switched to dollars or that I switched to DDB until they saw the credits racking up.  My work at the Showboat was done for the day.

Catherine told Judy and Dennis about the Borgata Black Label upgrade for Harrah's Diamond Card holders, so they decided it was worth a trip over there for $100 in free play.  They each had Diamond cards, so they each had $100 in free play and ended up cashing out around $150 after roughly 45 minutes of 50 cent 9/6 Job, near the B-Bar.  I played the same game and cashed out $20 ahead, despite not hitting a quad and being the worst kind of Jackoff, barely missing a $2000 Royal in Hearts.  I took another potshot with my monthly $20 in free slot play with no luck before we drove Dennis and Judy back to Harrah's to catch their shuttle bus to the airport.

The bus was due to leave at 8:00 PM and it was about 7:55 when we arrived, so I offered to pull in front of the bus to prevent it from leaving, but there were enough people waiting to board that this proved not to be necessary.  We said our goodbyes and headed next door the Trump Marina.

Both Catherine and I had played at The Marina during the $50 slot rebate day during March and this was the last weekend to redeem our loss rebates.  Doing so was easy, as I printed a voucher from a kiosk and Catherine led me to the cashout machine.  Finding a playable machine was more challenging, as the $1 All American machine that Catherine wanted to play was occupied by someone who didn't look like she was leaving any time soon.  We scouted the High Limit Room for another All American machine, and the rest of the casino for anything decent to play, but nothing looked good, so we stiffed them, but not before I asked the question why anyone would play 6/5 JoB if the same machine offered 6/5 Bonus Poker?  Now, you could argue that no one in their right mind would play either game, but if you're doing to play a Jacks or Better game where all the other payouts are the same, then why wouldn't you play the machine that paid extra for quad Aces, deuces, threes, and fours?  Don't people even look before they play?  Ugh.  It's not my problem, but when people don't use their brains it bugs me.

Catherine wanted to play at Caesars, which seemed as good a place as any for our next stop.  I hadn't played there in a while (last October, I think) and they have enough 9/6 JoB that I should be able to find a machine.  We stopped at the Diamond Lounge to live the high life for a while, sipping premium drinks (I went through a long island iced tea, margarita on the rocks, and Bailey's this time) while enjoying the Boardwalk and ocean view.  These places really can be a great place to chat and relax in the middle of casino mayhem.  If I had a room for the night then I might've gone really nuts with free drinks, but both Catherine and I needed to drive home later in the evening, so we cut ourselves off and headed to the casino, a little buzzed, but not drunk.

Fresh off my Las Vegas trip, with ample games offering over 100% return I was interested to see Catherine's All American machines, since they offer the best return in Atlantic City.  I guess I had never really paid attention to the paytable for this game, nor had I studied the oddball strategy.  It's not really a game to play with a buzz.  You either need your full brain power to play the correct strategy or should be so blitzed that you don't give a damn.  In my current state, my brain was so taxed trying to decipher the strategy card that Catherine had been so kind to provide me and I felt so bad that she was helping me with every hand that I was hoping that I could lose all my credits quickly and move on somewhere else in the casino.  Catherine wasn't getting any significant play in and I was playing so slowly that I was going to kill my ADT playing this game without practice.  That is if my head didn't explode in the meantime.

I was holding the cards I thought seemed right and then checking the strategy card for verification.  I was doing ok, when I held the Jack and Ten of Spades, throwing away another high card in the process.  The inflated straight flush payout makes this the right play and Catherine confirmed this by reminded me that, "Jack Ten is valuable."  She wasn't kidding it was valuable, because my machine starting dinging and the valuable credits racked up while Catherine looked around to figure out where all that noise was coming from.

Well, it was coming from MY MACHINE, as the rest of the high Spades filled in for an All American Royal.  It wasn't the $2,000 Royal I've been looking for, but after the $800 from DDB it's pretty damn close for the day.  Well, that was it for All American, as I wasn't going to keep up that pace ($20 in, $1,000 out) all night, so I left Catherine to play in peace for a while and tried some $1 9/6 JoB, which only succeeded in cutting into my winnings and making it more likely that Caesars will invite me back.  I did start a new four to the Royal streak, with only one Club missing from an even bigger payout.

After I was done playing, I walked next door to Bally's to see if they had maps of their smoking and non-smoking sections.  They did, along with multiple "suits" at every entrance/exit ready to inform anyone who didn't know about the new smoking regulations.  Seemed like a good plan.

While at Bally's I also ran upstairs to grab free poker magazines from their poker room, though I only found one newspaper and didn't see and copies of Card Player.  I guess I can't complain about lost freebies, but that was a little disappointing.  I still had time to walk over to Trump Plaza to see what machines they had designated as non-smoking.  They did not have the extra security around the floor that the Harrah's properties had deployed, but did have a map of their new casino layout, which was helpful.  All the machines I like to play were in the smoking section, which was also a little disappointing for me, but not really any different than what I'm used to.

Back to Caesars, where Catherine wondered where I had been for all that time and then both of us went back to Showboat, where she accompanied me to Resorts and Taj Mahal to see how the smoking ban was working in those casinos.  Resorts stationed a couple extra slot attendants around the casino, presumably to help people find smoking sections, but did not have clearly marked machines.  The Taj put stickers on individual machines to indicate whether they were smoking or non-smoking, however, their video poker inventory still stinks, even if much of it will be free of cigarette smoke.  And, that pretty much wrapped up the trip, except for scooping up a bunch of plastic cups that Resorts was foolish enough to leave on the vacant temporary bar outside their showroom.

We returned to the Showboat, where Catherine showed me where to find the quarter 9/6 Double Bonus Double Jackpot machines.  I was one high Spade about from hitting an 8,000 credit Royal, but then called it a night.  We returned to the parking garage and skipped town before the deluge was set to begin.  It seems that me ending my Royal drought brought some sort of plague on the region, as we shouldn't have to worry about any water restrictions this Spring or Summer.  There will be no drought.  In the casino or otherwise.