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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I lost a bunch of money, but swiped a fork

Originally Published April 24, 2005 in the Trip Reports section of the Las Vegas Advisor message boards.

Let me be the first to report back from East Coast Spring Member Fest 2005. I just returned from Atlantic City where I met with the largest group of Las Vegas Advisor members ever to gather in east of the Mississippi river. For the record, we were just north of Mississippi Avenue. However, a subset of today’s group will be heading to that street, which never achieved the fame of its Monopoly board brethren, tomorrow when the LVA takes over White House Subs.

Today, we conquered the Borgata Buffet, where I spent three hours conversing with old friends and meeting some new ones. That was the highlight of the trip, as the gambling side of my foray into America’s Playground was not successful at all. I am in the midst of what stockbrokers would call a “correction.” I call it ….. well, it wouldn’t be appropriate to repeat what I call it, but let’s just say I have been on a prolonged losing streak. It has been more than a year since I have had a profitable trip to Atlantic City or Las Vegas and today was no exception.

There is hope for the future, though, since I have now stocked up on Lucky Glitter. You see, while I left a good deal of money behind today, I did leave Atlantic City with some of noahcat’s nectar of good fortune. I applied some today and it provided a brief boost in my play, but quickly succumbed to the greater power of my gambling slump. However, my new diet will consist of a dab of glitter with breakfast each morning, and (as I suggested during the meet) I will begin brushing my teeth with the glittery goo. So, if any of you see me during the next few months then don’t bother telling me that there is something stuck between my teeth. That is part of my plan.

I made this plan sometime after I realized my previous plan, just handing bushels of money to Boyd Gaming and MGM-Mirage, was a miserable failure. I started today playing $1 9/6 JoB, playing for a short time on my initial $100 buy-in. While playing, noahcat spied my LVA t-shirt, greeted me warmly, and went off in search of Cindy and Flip. She said Márcio had arrived safely, though without much rest during his travels. I will let him provide the details, but between the nightmares of the child sitting next to him on the plane and the jam-packed bus ride from New York it was a wonder he could stay awake during our meet.

Unfortunately for me, there was still time before the meet and I decided to try $2 9/6 JoB. You know everything that people say about not chasing your losses and trying for that big score. They’re right. Well, usually, though I can point you to a couple $5 9/6 JoB machines that have bailed me out of worse trips, but I will concede that playing above one’s bankroll is a bad idea. As usually happens with bad ideas, bad fortune followed and I quickly pissed away another couple hundred dollars.

That was enough to drive me to wander the casino looking for other LVA members. I found no one lingering outside the buffet, but did find Flip, actually, I think he found me first. Oddly enough, his pockets were not laden with huge wads of cash from Royal Flushes, so I expect he is saving that for tonight, but he was friendly as ever and was kind enough not to remind me of the success of the New England based sports franchises during this past season.

After depositing another $20 in various nickel slot machines, but watching noahcat build $20 into $100, we headed for the buffet to meet everyone. I had the pleasure of sitting with nevadaned, rcwkent, Márcio, and KennyA. The rest of the crowd at my table was fortunate enough to be out of range of my voice, so they did not have the pleasure of my witty banter. Others went so far as to sit at another table, as the Borgata buffet isn’t really equipped to offer a table for 15-20 people. We were visited by lvtravel, who had arrived at the buffet early, and pillacho, who was occupied somewhere in the casino when the rest of us were ready to eat. Come to think of it, I don’t think Cindy actually ate ANYTHING while she was with us during the meet.

The meal was pleasant, but does not compare with the quality of the company, as our east coast LVA members again proved to be “good people.” I have yet to meet a single member during one of these meets who has been anything but great company, while offering their own unique insights into the world of gambling, Las Vegas, and other casino destinations. Today was no exception. The only disappointment was that with such a large group I had little chance to talk with some of the members, including Nancy + Dennis (nancyd), David (brooklyndavid), and Kenny + Lynn (Ken8631), and I’m not even sure if Bill (ascites) or jenaphir made it to the meet. That’s just how big these meets are getting. If you missed this one then you blew it. We better see you next time we get this group together.

After three hours of brunch/dinner/conversation, Dick (rcwkent) and I were the last from our group to leave the buffet. Allowing time for the main courses to digest allowed us to make one last run at the deserts. Following that, we proceeded to video poker, where we passed by nevadaned playing his usual $0.50 9/6 JoB machines near the B-Bar. Dick had tried his luck at some $1 9/6 JoB just outside the entrance to the high-limit area earlier in the day, so we each took a shot at those again. I managed to lose only $100 here, thanks to the unusual combination of four of the same cards. I had not seen this particular hand in so long that I was beginning to doubt if anything above a full-house was even possible, however 4 Jacks came to my rescue. Unfortunately, my powers as a good luck charm did not help Dick, as it appears I can only pass luck onto those seated to my left. A man sitting next to me proved this by hitting 3 four-of-a-kinds (and 2 full houses) in less than 20 minutes. His only mistake was not playing double bonus, but how was he to know that he was dealing with forces much more powerful than any mathematician can explain.

I said goodbye to Dick and Ned, then searched in vain for Flip, noahcat, Cindy, or any remnants of our once mighty army of LVAers, but they were nowhere to be found, so I departed the Borgata and started my casino-parking garage exercise program to work off some of what I ingested earlier in the day. Whenever possible, I use the stairs to get to my car in a casino parking garage. I don’t particularly like elevators anyway, and I think I actually get to my car faster this way, but it is also a nice break from my normally sedentary lifestyle. Especially, at my first stop, the Trump Marina, where the path from the bottom of the parking garage stairs to the casino takes you through the bowels of the garage itself, emerging in the casino lobby, and then up another two-storey flight of stairs, before you finally reach the jungle of slot machines that contribute to the lavish lifestyle of The Donald.

The trip to Trump Marina was purely for business, specifically, to close out old business. A couple years ago, B.B. (Before Borgata), the Marina was my Atlantic City home. It occasionally offered a good crowd to play blackjack with and always boasted the second best video poker inventory (behind only Caesars) in town. Today, in these A.B. days, I find little reason to play at the Marina, except for their periodic “free slot days.” However, I had been holding onto one $100 chip from this casino and I feared that someday they might change their chips without me realizing and I would have been left with nothing more than a pretty picture of The Donald’s girlfriend. Now, it was a pretty picture, mind you, and it also had a cool effect that it actually looked like she was dancing when you tilted the chip back and forth, but it was getting kind of depressing to think that The Bob had as much chance of spending the night with this young lady as The Pope did (at least without putting his Papacy in serious jeopardy). Besides, it probably would have been a little creepy to keep this little $100 memento of someone else’s girlfriend lying around. Of course, most importantly, I just wanted the $100.

I took the $100 and ran, heading for some other old haunting grounds on the Boardwalk. When I first started gambling regularly, after reading Frugal Gambler and Comp City, and after joining the LVA, I had identified Caesars as offering the best slot club and best video poker in Atlantic City. This was pretty easy to identify at the time, since John Robison had done the research to prove this, so I made it a point to visit Caesars every time I was in town. I didn’t really plan to play today, but wanted to scope the place out in case I decide to re-establish myself with The Empire. I also wanted to pick up a Connection Club card, to replace my Emperors Club, MVP Club, and VIP Club cards from the Caesars Atlantic City casinos. I also visited Bally’s and left my $100 from the Marina with an old friend. That old friend being what may be the world oldest active video poker machine, a $1 9/6 JoB upright in the middle of the video poker room at the Wild Best. Before Bally’s installed the bank of 9/6 JoB progressives and before it absorbed the Claridge, this was its only $1 full pay machine, and I used to play it quite often, so I was a little surprised to see it still grinding along. I wanted to let the folks at Bally’s know that I was still alive in hopes of restoring my status for their weekly “Park & Ride” vouchers, so I do have some hopes of recouping this investment. I also left Caesars with some hope for the future, by hitting a four-of-a-kind on the quarter 9/6 JoB progressives that lurk underneath the escalators that lead to Cleopatra’s Garden of Slots.

I would just like to take a moment to thank those who have made it this far with me. In person I prefer to speak briefly and to the point, but in writing I sometimes have a tendency to ramble on, turning a relatively uneventful few hours of my life into an exponential amount more wasted time for anyone who makes this mistake of reading along in hopes of some dramatic conclusion. So, for those readers who are still waiting for that to happen I will let you in on a little secret. I just am not prone to do anything dramatic. I am a law abiding (except for the speed-limit) citizen who tries to go through life without making things difficult for others. That doesn’t lend itself to zany antics or anything that would warrant the amount of time you have already invested reading about my Sunday, April 24, 2005. However, unlike me, today is your lucky day, as there is some payoff at the end of THIS story, but I need your help.

Those who noticed the title of this adventure my be asking yourself, “What about the fork he mentioned,” or “When is he going to talk about the $#@(* fork?”. Well, fret no more. I will now explain.

Before departing the beautiful Borgata buffet I seem to have mysteriously acquired a fork that bears a striking resemblance to those that appear on each table inside the buffet. Actually, the acquisition of the fork was not mysterious at all, since it was my plan to pilfer this piece of flatware in honor of one LVA member who could not make this meet. However, I must now ask for the assistance of my fellow members to deliver this fork to justmare. I will not be in Las Vegas until late-June at the earliest or possibly not until mid-to-late-August, so I would like to start a bucket-brigade-like chain of LVA members to pass along the fork until it reaches Mare’s hands. We all know how fond she is of buffet forks, so I am looking for and LVA member who can meet me in Atlantic City and can start the fork traveling west. Who will step up and take this utensil to Sin City?