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Casinos in Atlantic City have taken full advantage of increased interest in Texas hold’em by expanding their tournament schedules, spreading more games, and improving the appearance of their poker rooms. Most offer a similar poker experience, and unless you want to play very high limits or an obscure variant, you will be able to find your game of choice anywhere. Since information about tournaments and cash games is available online, I’m here to provide some personal experiences on four different casinos to help you better make a distinction among them.
Taj Mahal – The Taj, as it’s commonly known, has one of the biggest poker rooms in all of AC, meaning that several different games and limits can be spread. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always allow you to jump directly into a game, as I’ve often encountered significant waits at the poker room. Worse still, when you finally get to your table, you’ll usually find the social atmosphere lacking, as the Taj is frequented by gaggles of seniors, both men and women. Though not particularly skilled, many of them play tightly, creating smaller pots. I believe that they have recently replaced their old chips, which is a positive, as a fellow player once described them as ‘having been smuggled into the casino up someone’s butt.’ All things considered, I tend to avoid the Taj Mahal, unless I want to play Pot Limit Omaha, which is more popular here than at other casinos.
Showboat – My first tournament cash took place here, so it holds a soft spot in my heart. This is important to you because the $65 tournaments at Showboat offer you possibly the best play per dollar in all of Atlantic City. Players start out with a lot of chips – I believe it was 100 big blinds – and the blind levels are 20 minutes each. While it’s not the World Series of Poker, this structure gives skilled players a fairer chance at cashing than many other live tournaments, which turn into all-in fests after the first couple of blind levels. If memory serves, the Showboat also has very comfortable seats around its poker tables. The biggest drawback – and it’s a small one – is the location of the poker room, which can be difficult to find. If you are down towards the end of the boardwalk and you are not sure where to play, I would highly recommend the Showboat.
Borgata – One of Atlantic City’s newest and most luxurious casinos, the Borgata also boasts the swankiest poker room, spreading some of the highest limit games around. The room consists of 85 tables and is known for its attractive female waitresses who actually provide quick and convenient service. Yet despite its positive attributes, I have actually had relatively poor experiences at the Borgata in two visits. Both times, I had to wait for quite a while (at least 20 minutes) to get a seat at a 3-6 table. One of these times I nearly witnessed a fight at my table, which was actually pretty entertaining. On my other visit, I had an entire tray of drinks spilled down my back; while most casinos would have comped me a room or at least given me a free shirt, the boss merely offered to get me another beer. Thanks buddy, this should help make my sopping wet seat infinitesimally more comfortable. Furthermore, since people must specifically make a trip to the Borgata due to it’s location, instead of merely stumbling upon it while on the boardwalk, it often has a higher proportion of skillful players, potentially lowering your win rate. The quality of the room and service are enough that I would come back, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get there.
Tropicana – Ah the Trop, glory of glories! This is, hands down, my all-time favorite poker room. There is sometimes a long wait for a table, especially at 11 AM when there are only two or three games running at the limits I want, and the waitresses are not nearly as attractive as those at the Borgata, but it all comes together to provide the best overall poker experience. The players are gregarious but mostly terrible, meaning that they’ll have smiling conversations with you as you relieve them of their chips. Tropicana offers a ‘pink chip’ game, which is limit Texas hold’em played with chips worth $7.50. This game is full of action and dead money, as the pots frequently fill up with those pink chips. Additionally, the dealers are a friendly bunch, and you’ll find yourself forging miniature relationships with each of them as the day passes. Tropicana’s biggest negative is that it sits in relative isolation on one end of the strip, although if you are taking the bus there from NYC, they offer the best cash back offer. If you can only go to one casino to play poker, make it the Trop.Share on: