Twice a year, Harrah’s offers a $60,000 freeroll tournament for regulars who have logged upwards of 150 hours of raked poker in a three month period. At almost the halfway point of the qualifying period, I have less than 20 hours to my name, I headed down on the first snow less East Coast morning to change all that.
I haven’t been to Atlantic City on a weekday in a long time; I’ve been doing daytrips on Saturdays with my friends who have jobs and playing slots online.
The weekday poker scene at Harrah’s is a whole different vibe. The freeroll encourages the regulars to do all their grinding in one poker room. I recognize almost half the crowd. There’s the silver haired man who smokes those fake cigarettes advertised on late night TV. He looks like the Hollywood version of a Vietnam vet. When he calls my middle position raise from the Big Blind, I know my nines are in trouble…even before I see the ace on the flop. He knows me too though, and he’s happy to follow my lead and check it all the way down. His kings win the pot. There’s the black guy who only comes here to get hours for the freeroll; he’s some kind of African royalty if his rants at the floor guy are to be believed. He also has a knack for taking my chips in spectacularly dirty ways. So, that he stacked me with a turned set of fours against my flopped top pair of kings, didn’t surprise me in the least. I don’t take poker seriously until the second or third buy-in anyway. And then it’s off to play slots.
By all rights, the Harrah’s poker room should have a window. It’s set right off the boardwalk, well, *a* boardwalk to be precise, since Harrah’s is on the Bay side of Atlantic City, near the Borgata. Instead, the burgundy room is adorned with enlarged photos of previous WSOP Circuit winners.
During the summer months, the smokers disappear past the bathrooms, through the glass doors and indulge their oral vice with waterfront views and then race back inside to catch the next hand.
I play in Atlantic City regularly and Harrah’s is as close as I come to having a “home casino.” The room is split into two sides. The largest part, about the size of a ballroom, has about twenty tables for cash games. Harrah’s spread most everything, ranging from $2/$4 limit to the newly instituted Stud 8/OE mix game. The smaller section is reserved for the daily tournaments. Those buy-ins range from $40 for the 10:15 AM tournament to $105 for the night games on the weekends. I’m a cash girl junkie myself, so I mostly grind at the 1/2 game waiting for the bust outs to fill the table with their bad beat stories, tilt and fistfuls of chips not to mention all the online slots.
Today’s offering from the tournament Gods included the Village Idiot, so named because he’s dumb and spreads his chips evenly around the table in a lengthy string of awful calls, which are accompanied by equally awful explanations of said calls. Case in point: After rivering two pair to snap off pocket jacks, he says
“Oh Gosh! I had 94 and I called $15 preflop! I didn’t even really notice that you raised! Although I would have called anyway because anything can win in this game, you know?”
Oh yes. And when he paid off my flopped boat on the KsKh9h (I had pocket nines) because he was chasing the flush with his Qh2h. I nodded sympathetically with him when he lamented that he “couldn’t get away from that hand no matter what I bet!”
The dealers at Harrah’s are probably the best in Atlantic City – although they’ve lost a fair chunk of their staff to the new casinos which opened in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The waitresses come frequently, there’s a great food court and you can usually get comped rooms for a couple of nights during the week.
If you know which players to steer clear of (mostly me) it’s a great place to play!