Atlantic City has a long and interesting history that would take more than a single article to describe. From its days as a resort town to the east coast’s gambling paradise to its ultimate decline. In recent years the city has seen many casinos close down as the boardwalk has lost its appeal. But there is one part of the city that is prospering – the Marina district.
Separated from the main strip of boardwalk casinos, this area has grown in recent times, primarily due to the emergence of the Atlantic city’s largest and most profitable casino – The Borgata. A towering skyscraper that glows with a purple hue at night, it offers one the best experiences of all the city’s casinos and it is only growing, recently opening The Water Club, an ocean view resort with a giant two story spa near the top of the huge building.
The Borgata shares the Marina with two other casinos – The Golden Nugget (formerly Trump Castle) and Harrah’s, owned by Caesars. I have stayed at Harrah’s many times and it is a good alternative to the Borgata and slightly less expensive.
Harrah’s was the first casino to be opened at the Marina district and has been operating there since the mid eighties, although it has since been renovated to compete with the Borgata.
At night, the main tower of Harrah’s lights up and turns into the largest LED display in the world, continuously playing a multitude of different digital images. Both casinos have their own perks and they are both relatively close to each other so visiting both is easily done.
These casinos offer everything you could want for a quick, fun and relaxing getaway to escape your daily routine. And it’s only about a couple hours drive from NYC.
The Marina district casinos offer you a very Vegas like experience and have everything from shows and concerts, clubs and pool parties, restaurants and shops, and, of course, countless games to choose from. There are no windows and everything you need is right there on the premises, meaning you are in your own self sufficient world without ever having to leave. This of course creates a time bubble and there is little to help you tell the difference between day and night.
But hey, that’s the point right you came here for a quick getaway so lean back and relax as you enjoy as many drinks as you like, all complementary as long as you are playing or it looks like you’re playing, just remember to tip the waitress a dollar (or a casino chip) per drink.
And there are lots of games to choose from!
These casinos usually have over 3000 different slots to choose from, with themes ranging from the classic to the bizarre. I find this a good place to start – but only for a short while. Take a seat, order a drink and take in the vibe of the whole place, and then move on to play a little Blackjack and Roulette, which is always fun and part of the traditional casino experience.
But my absolute favorite – and in my opinion the main reason for going to Atlantic City, is Poker.
Sure, you can have a game with your buddies or even play online without ever leaving your house – but you will never recreate the exact atmosphere of playing Poker in an organized setting with friendly dealers, each with their own personalities – of having inside jokes with complete strangers from all over the world as you have interesting conversations with people who you may not know, but are connected to through this one game.
A game not based on luck, but on psychology – it is about studying your opponent, seeing the patterns, the little inexplicable facial ticks that can make or break a hand. Watching the table, watching the cards and waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Poker is less about luck than about patience. It’s about selling the best five card no necessarily having it. Betting is like playing chess, which each move having the possibility for a checkmate.
In Poker, patience is key. It’s all about patience!
Now the game of Poker in question is Texas Hold ‘em. If you have ever seen the movie Rounders, starring Matt Damon, Edward Norton and John Malkovich – in a truly iconic role as a Russian mobster and owner of an underground NYC Poker club with an accent so ridiculous that it is truly unforgettable – you will know what I mean. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to check it out as it truly breaks down the magical qualities of the game.
Rounders was the film that really got me into this game and was pretty much how I learned about Texas Hold ‘em and its philosophy. This is the only game when you are not playing against the house, but against other people, opponents from all over just as yourself. You play against the human not the machine. This social aspect of the game is what is so attractive about it. It is closer to chess than to blackjack.
And if you are a rookie, don’t worry as the dealers are there to guide you to make sure you have a fun experience. Even if you are not a gambler, I urge you to take a hand at Texas Hold ‘em Poker and you will have an experience like none other – but check out the movie beforehand.
Enjoy yourself – eat and play but don’t go if you simply want to win money – you can win money and get lucky but be ready to lose and accept it as part of the fun, like paying in an amusement park or an arcade – enjoy a quick getaway – have fun and unwind and have a relaxing experience playing poker in a unique setting. A perfect little getaway from the mundane.