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Playing Poker at the Trump Taj Mahal

I came home with some of Donald Trump's money this week. Fortunately, he probably won't miss it much.

Kristen and I went to Atlantic City this week to visit my sister, whom recently moved there with her husband. As many of you know, I am an avid poker player, but haven't ever had the opportunity to play Texas Hold' em in a casino. To date I'd only played in charity poker tournaments locally and hadn't done extremely well.

We arrived in Atlantic City Sunday night. We stayed at the Resorts on the Boardwalk. The hotel is a great old hotel turned casino in the '70s. I'm a little bit of an architecture buff, and enjoyed the building more than most of the pieces of garbage in Atlantic City.

I remember a few years ago, shortly after 9/11, when every resort city in America was scrambling to get tourism re-fired. At that time, the casinos were offering dirt cheap rooms and relying on slot machines to generate profits. Well, times have changed. Weekend rooms average $200-$300 per night. There are cheaper casino hotel rooms, but every one was booked.

Weeknight rooms are another story. The price drops by half on Monday through Thursday. I knew I wanted to gamble a bit, so we took a couple days off and went Sunday through Tuesday. The Resorts was about $110 per night including all the taxes and valet parking.

I'd always wanted to play poker in a casino, particularly at the Trump Taj Mahal. I'm not sure why the Purple Casino has always intrigued me, but it does. I wanted to play in a Texas Hold'em tournament on Monday, so Sunday night we walked next door to check it out.

I'd remembered the poker room as being a large hall divided into three sections; Keno, Off-Track Betting, and Poker. Apparently, the poker craze has hit the East Coast as much as Las Vegas. Now the Keno section is about 30 chairs bolted to the floor under the number board. The Off-Track Betting section is about the same size, and I didn't see more than five or so people at either area.

The poker section is absolutely packed with dozens of tables seating 8-10 players each. The room is absolutely abuzz with activity. Poker completely dominates the huge room now.

The first night, I played well and was up about $100 when I called it a night. The tournament wasn't quite so lucky. I was up in chips early. We started with $5,000 in chips, and I reached about $13,000 by the first break. Of the 69 people who started, about 30 remained at the break. We were approaching the three hour mark when my luck had run dry. I'd gradually dwindled to about $7,000. I wasn't out, but my stack was small compared to many.

That's when I picked up two pair on the flop and a loose cannon caller. I threw everything in, and couldn't believe he called with only an inside straight draw. Another player called with a pair of sevens. I couldn't believe my luck, the inside straight needed a seven too! There were only two sevens left in the deck, and I was about to triple up!

You guessed it... F***ing River! A 4% chance is apparently still a chance.

I officially finished 20th. Only nine get paid, so I was down $165.00 Monday.

Tuesday I found my groove. I got at a table with quality players. We were playing $5/$10 limit. I played well, read well, and ended up around $300 to the good.

After subtracting my hotel bill and a couple meals, I figure my mini vacation with Kristen cost me about $50.00. Thanks, Donald.


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