Playing poker for a living while trying to maintain a normal family life can present some challenges. As much as I enjoy playing on a somewhat regular schedule at Parx, inevitably after a few weeks of the same routine I feel the urge to travel somewhere or find some way to switch things up. I think it’s my way of reminding myself of the flexibility that my job offers and keeping things fresh and non 9-5 like (or in my case 11-7 like). However, traveling with a wife and two little girls is both very difficult and expensive. If you check out my wife’s blog here, you can read a bit about everything that goes into taking these trips. A little side note, her blog has to have the best name of any blog involving poker out there: Raising the Nuts in a Family Pot(Our friend Jay came up with the name, gotta give him the credit). As you’ll see once I finally get the “My Poker Story” blogs done, we have been away from home constantly over the last four years. In fact, since Ava was born in September 2008, the longest amount of time we’ve spent at home without going somewhere was a little more than two months. Having recently returned from Florida and with no plans to travel until Vegas in July, we decided to take advantage of a couple of free nights at the Borgata.
I drove down to Atlantic City by myself around one on Tuesday and checked into our room. I met my friend Jason and we drove over to Revel to meet up with our other friend, Lou. For those of you who don’t know, Revel is the newest casino in Atlantic City. It cost 2.4 billion dollars to build and took quite a while after a bunch of issues with financing. Monday was the first day it was open to the public but it is still in the soft opening phase with the “premiere weekend” scheduled for May 25-27. The first thing we noticed when we got on the elevator in the parking garage was the casino is located on the 6th floor and the Hotel is on the 11th floor. The layout of the place is unlike anything I’ve seen in any hotel/casino. You can take a look at some pictures here. Frank, the poker room manager, was nice enough to give a tour of the entire property. The Revel is going to be THE place to go this summer in Atlantic City. It is not really a gaming destination, it is much more of an entertainment complex. They are a resort with a casino attached to it. Their business model is different from every other casino in AC. They do not comp rooms (you can use your comps that you earn to get rooms though) and there is only one rewards card level.
The poker room is very interesting. It is located above the main casino floor kind of in the middle of nowhere. There are 37 tables and the room is in an L-shape. The three of us started a 5/10nl game and we played for 4-5 hours. All of the dealers and floor people were extremely friendly. In fact, walking around the casino everyone that we made eye contact with was sure to say hello and ask how we were doing. As I mentioned before, they are still in the soft opening phase so there are a lot of kinks to work out. The lighting is very dark and a couple of the dealers were very inexperienced. I don’t think the room will ever get a very large volume of traffic or consistent 5/10nl games. I could see it being a good place to play on weekends in the summer when the place is packed with drunk tourists but I think the best they can hope for is maybe one 5/10 game on the weekends and a couple of 2/5 games. I hope I’m wrong though because I’d much prefer to play there when I’m in AC over the Borgata simply because I hate the Borgata’s chips.
Jody and Jason’s fiancee, Amanda arrived around 8 for dinner. Earlier in the day I had asked a floor person if they could make us a reservation at Lugo, the Italian restaurant at Revel. He walked away for a bit and when he came back he informed us that we didn’t need a reservation. Unfortunately, when we went down to get a table they told us they were booked for the night. Lugo was the only nice dining option available so we went back over to Fornelleto at Borgata where we enjoyed a delicious meal. I forgot to mention that our girls were staying with Jody’s mom for the night so we could enjoy the night out. After dinner, we registered for Wednesday’s tournament and then went over to B Bar for a few drinks. When we sat down, Jody picked up the drink menu and was cut on her hand by a small piece of glass. It wasn’t a big cut and she was just bleeding a little bit but Amanda said she should show it to the waitress. The waitress went and told the manager who then had to call security. Next thing we know, four (yes four) security guards showed up with all kinds of first aid stuff. It was hilarious. She received two band aids and had to sign a form saying she didn’t need medical assistance. The manager was nice enough to comp our first round of drinks though so it was all worth it!
On Wednesday morning, Jody drove back to pick up Ava and take her to gymnastics while I played in the $560 buy-in opening event of the Borgata Spring Poker Open. There was a ridiculous amount of people there, a total of 1,041 entrants. I had three interesting hands that I will post here and then post the results later. For everyone who doesn’t understand poker hands, you can just skip to the next section if you want 🙂
1) At 100/200, with everyone in the hand having over 100 big blinds early position player raises to 450, middle position player calls, I call on the button with 78 of spades and both blinds call. The flop is Jx 10x 5d and everyone checks to me and I check. Turn is 9d giving me a straight. Everyone checks to the player in middle position who bets 600. I make it 1850 and everyone folds back to him. He thinks a while, asks the dealer to spread the pot (more on this later) and calls. River is the 3d and he pretty quickly bets 5,000. I have 22k behind, I do what?
2) At 250/500/50, an older gentleman with 25k limps under the gun which wasn’t out of the norm for him. The kid next to act who had just lost most of his stack the previous hand goes all-in for 2500, three people fold and I have 77 with about 18k total. I do what?
3)At 400/800/75, I raise utg +1 with AhAd to 1600 with an 11k stack. The big blind who I had battled with throughout the day calls. The flop comes 874 with two clubs. He checks, I bet 2600 and he calls. The turn is an off suit 6. He bets out 3500. I have 6500 total remaining. I do what?
I battled as best I could with a short stack but eventually shoved 88 with about 14 big blinds and ran into JJ and that was that. I was really disappointed with the dealers once again at Borgata. This was about the 5th tournament series in a row that there were several incidents at my table. This time all incidents involved full time Borgata dealers. I’ll talk in more detail about two incidents below; the other two dealers were just extremely rude and had very bad attitudes and you could tell that their negativity instantly affected the table. The other two incidents were:
1) In the first hand listed above, when I made the raise to 1850 and the action was on the other player the dealer was kind of just looking off into the distance away from the other player and not paying attention at all. The other player motioned to bring the chips in because he couldn’t see the amount that I raised because the chips were kind of in a heap. I separated the 600 that he had bet so he could see it more clearly and the dealer then turned to me and said something like “What are you doing? I know you are excited about this hand but don’t touch the chips” I agree that I shouldn’t have to separate the chips because that is her job, but she wasn’t paying attention to do her job! Even more frustrating was the fact that she said I was excited about my hand which is absolutely ridiculous. A dealer should never be commenting on anything regarding a players emotions especially while they are in a hand.
2) This hand was hilarious. In a 5 way limped pot, the small blind led out for 1500 on a 5s 5x 2s board. The big blind and the UTG player called. The turn was the As, SB checked, BB bet 3500, UTG called and SB called. The river was a 2 for a 5s 5x 2s As 2x board. SB led for 3500, the BB shoved for 10k and the UTG player shoved for 50k. The SB quickly called off his 50k stack with 105 for the full house and the BB showed a 2 and mucked and the UTG player showed A2! Immediately following the hand, the dealer began commenting on how bad both of the other players played their hand and how he couldn’t believe neither of them had a 5. He continued to talk about it throughout the rest of his down as well.
I got knocked out just as Jody was returning for the night with the girls. We went for some hibachi at Sakura in Mays Landing and then retired early for the night. It is always tough to get the girls to bed staying in hotel rooms. Cameron is not a fan of the pack and play and Ava is always a pain to get to bed. Fortunately, they both fell asleep pretty easily. We had breakfast in the morning before Jody took the girls home while I played the $$350 + $50 + $100 bounty tournament. I didn’t play particularly great but I was trying to build a big stack early with the smaller starting stack and quicker structure and I basically just didn’t win any hands. I met up with my friend Dan and his buddy over at Revel for some tacos from the taco truck there. I actually ran into a friend there who has very good knowledge of the casino industry and he was not a fan of Revel. He thinks they will succeed in the resort aspect of things though and that Harrah’s is going to get killed and basically might as well just shut their doors now. I can’t say I disagree with him on that.
I got home around 6 pm and blew some bubbles outside with Ava and Cameron and then Ava helped me make pancakes. I’ll post the Friday Five either late tonight or early tomorrow morning, sorry for the long entry!