July 12, 2003

Yep, more gambling. Took a quick ride down the Parkway to check out the Borgata, Atlantic City's first new casino in 13 years. Located away from the main boardwalk strip, on the marina, the Borgata easily fulfills its not-that-difficult task of being the swankiest casino in AC. With a "wagon-wheel" design and muted earth tones, the casino is reminiscent of the finer qualities of Connecticut's Mohegan Sun and the Bellagio in Vegas.

There was a definite buzz in the air, with the casino floor crawling with Guidos (the new hipsters) and the music system was playing tunes by such rarely-heard-in-casino artists like Radiohead and Belle & Sebastian. I was having a fine time just walking around the casino floor, which is good, since the blackjack dealers were apparently playing some sort of special no-dealer-busts-allowed form of the game. The slot machines work on a much-publicized "no coins" system, where the machines print out vouchers that players cash in at several centrally located machines. I'd explain this further, but I never actually took any money out of a machine.

The design of the poker room is especially similar to the Bellagio: attractive, roomy, comfortable chairs, though unfortunately at least 10 degrees too cold. The poker room, along with the race book, is located downstairs away from the main casino, which I liked but others at my table thought was too isolated. The staff was obviously still getting used to the new space, and there were a number of annoying glitches. The dealers' trays were almost empty and fills were extremely rare, while at the same time the cashier windows weren't selling chips, meaning that players basically had to buy from other players (and let me tell you, there's few things that make you feel worse than losing a big hand and then having to immediately pull out your wallet to buy your chips back from the winner).

The staff also seemed to have difficulty handling the computerized waiting lists, starting a new must-move game (meaning that players "must move" into the main game when seats become available) while our main game had two open seats. Frequent calls to the floor to bring new players went unanswered, though this lack of communication will hopefully be remedied as time passes. And, of course, a lot of these small problems are more than offset by the extremely hot waitresses.

Rumors that the room (and the casino as a whole) was to be a haven for high-limit players were untrue, at least during these first few weeks. There were several 3-6 and 6-12 games in the room, while constant calls to get higher-limit games going seemed to go unheeded. Of course, it takes a while for a room to build a high-limit clientele, and these players might be sitting out a few rounds until all the glitches are worked out; word is that the Taj Mahal's room will be most hurt by the Borgata.

Allen Baruz is more of a trendsetter than me, so check out his Borgata notes from last weekend. I didn't check out the decor nearly as closely as he did, largely because I'm a filthy degenerate, so that might have to wait until Little C-Za goes down to AC with me.
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