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Trip Report – Atlantis Trip #3

Trip Report – Atlantis Trip #3

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As you may recall from my first ever real post, I have a bit of a history with the Atlantis.  Due to my idiotic performance last June, I have been asked back to the ATL quite frequently, as apparently their casino appreciates the presence of morons.  This time they stepped up their game and offered to pay for our flights as well – the mark of a truly atrocious previous gambling performance.  Given the shitty weather in NYC, was a no-brainer to head for the ATL on their dime.  A quick Sun-Wed trip (we layabouts have pretty flexible schedules).

I know the question that everyone’s dying to know the answer to up front: did I maintain my streak of seven consecutive vacations started with both a) casino personnel at least casually mentioning contacting Security, and b) getting close to fisticuffs with someone thirty or more years older than me (all this mixed martial arts business prevents me from also going after much smaller people, you never know who can break your elbow these days)?  Rest easy – the answer is, predictably, “yes” on both counts.

It’s always a tough choice on the flights: do you go for the 6:40 AM out of JFK and get there by 10:00 AM, but tired as shit?  Or go for a little later flight?  We always opt for the 6:40 under the assumption that you’re just going to be laying by the pool anyway.  And that you can sleep on the flight.  But that sleep is actually only worth about 15 cents on the dollar, so it’s a risk.  To make sure that we would be super sleepy, we decided to stay up drinking wine until 2:00 AM.  Smart start.

4:10 AM  Alarm goes off.  Fuck showering.  Fuck.

4:25 AM  In cab.  Fuck.

4:55 AM  Arrive at JFK.  Ugh.

5:07 AM  Through security.  An hour before boarding.  Played it way too safe.  Starving.  

5:15 AM  First gamble of the day – go with a philly cheesesteak for breakfast.

5:20 AM  Stomach on shaky ground.

5:30 AM  Stomach cloud passes.  Philly cheesesteak was the right call.

5:45 AM  Proof that SO does not read this website: she asks if I want anything.  “Get me a Whatchamacallit.”  She comes back with a fucking Clark bar.  Where was a Clark bar on this list?

Okay, no more minute-by-minute, there were zero problems getting there.  I specified that we must be picked up by a dark green limousine, preferably a shade of “well-ripened avocado.”

 

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Notice how there's no booze on the limo? Not baller.

 

We were checked in to our room at The Cove by 10:45.  It’s so friggin easy to get to the Bahamas.  Room on sixth floor might lead to floor inferiority complex, but less time wasted on the elevator.  Let’s hit the friggin pool.  

Afternoon included one beer, two loops on the lazy rivs, and a nap.  The Cove is the more expensive, adults-only part of the Atlantis (but sadly no one rocks the toplessness).  The pool there is pretty awesome, with decent music looping (except for one dreadful Enya-esque series).  You see lots of vaguely familiar looking people.  I’m pretty sure I saw a fairly famous music producer, just not famous enough that I know his name (Timbaface Dash, or somebody).  We decided to take a legitimate nap before eating so that we wouldn’t crash too early, then hit up some Nobu.

Atlantis Nobu had been pretty disappointing before compared to the NYC original.  The ATL Nobu has one key advantage though – it’s in the friggin casino!  And you can eat at the bar area with no wait.  Done – rock shrimp (with straight creamy, spicy sauce – fuck that ponzi scheme sauce), edamame, yellowtail (sadly not the wine, the fish) jalapeno, some sushi.  Total time elapsed/wasted eating: 40 minutes.

Momentary moment of horror as we proceeded to the craps tables – they were gone.  What???  They had actually just moved to the front of the casino, and now had a total of seven tables.  Sweet.  If you have never played craps, you are missing out.  In my esteemed opinion, it is the best game to play in the casino, by far.  Community game – unlike blackjack, where it’s very likely there will be 1-2 winners and multiple losers at every table, most craps players play in a manner where they all benefit from positive rolls. Everyone roots for each other and there’s generally lots of screaming, yelling, fistbumping and (my signature move) biceps kissing.  It’s interactive, you actually get to roll the dice.  It’s fun for couples as it’s well known that ladies are better dice rollers.  And the community of players sticks together; you’ll chat with all kinds of random folks the next day about good rolls, etc (you probably won’t recall ever having seen half of these people, depending on how many drinks you’d had the night before).

An important decision for me was what would be the cocktail of choice.  I have banned myself from Red Bull & vodka – the deleterious effects of Red Bull actually cause me more physical damage (and calf cramps) than the vodka.  This drink needed to be able to stand up to a lot of repetition since it wasn’t 10:00 PM and the casino stays open til 4:00 AM.  Much to Bat Rastard’s dismay, I went with the cranberrytini – it’s tasty, helps keep you hydrated during long sessions, and wards off urinary tract infections.  Win, win, win.

 

Getting our gamble on
Getting our gamble on

 

 

I started with a couple hundred dollars and got up about a grand.  By 1:00 AM was feeling the effects of dozens of ‘tinis and marginal amounts of sleep.  Super drunk old guy comes up to the table stands next to me and starts playing the Don’ts.  If you don’t know craps, this just meant he was hoping that people would lose.  It’s perfectly fine to bet the Don’ts, but you have to keep quiet about it as generally everyone else loses when you win.  Yelling for a Seven (which will cause the table to lose) is strictly forbidden.  This guy was fucked up and had like $45 on him.  I told him he better be quiet if he’s playing the Don’ts and he said he’d just follow our lead.  He also kept trying to give me money even though I had 20x his stack.  Whatever.  Eventually he forgot what he was doing and went back to the Don’ts and even yelled “Seven!” in my ear when I was rolling.  Then I told him I was going to beat the shit out of him, which got the pit bosses involved and a lot of shit talking.  I should’ve taken it a bit easier as he was drunk as shit, but we had the following exchange.

Me:  Fuck you, fucker, hopefully you win that $15 so that you can double your life savings.

Him:  I’ve got more than that, I’ve got $103,000 saved.

Me:  Ha-ha!  I’ve got that much in my checking account you broke-ass bastard!

This is funnier to me now because it was a complete (but completely hilarious) lie.  But it was a sweet burn and we decided to call it a night at that point.  No need for Security.  I ended up $500 and SO ended up about the same.

On Monday, it rained.  This was pretty good, actually, as we were hung over as shit and got to the pool late.  One extremely excellent thing about The Cove is its outdoor blackjack and craps tables.  As it was intermittently raining, I decided to check the dice action.  There was a 25 year old kid playing for larger stakes than I’d ever seen – $2k on the Hard Eight (a bet with a huge house advantage, but pays 9x the original wager if it hits) and thousands more on basically every other possible bet on the table.  He looked like he was on at least a 36 hour bender and it was only 1:00 PM.  He was betting $500 for the dealers AND the cocktail waitress.  He dropped $35k in thirty minutes, then took off.  Apparently he just got married and both he and his wife had been winning almost every bet imaginable (she put $200 on 7 in roulette, which hit for $6k; he won $55k the night before playing the same insane style of craps).  Cool, I feel a little better about my gambling problem.  Win $1,000 at this session, up $1,500.

Monday might is a repeat of Sunday night, except no fighting.  Nobu, craps, vodka cranberries.  I had a roll of the dice that earned a standing ovation.  SO rolled well all night.  I made an ill-advised move to another table after a downswing.  Took out a marker.  Bigger downswing.  Headed back to first table.  Won it all back.  Barely standing after like four dozen v/c’s (but my urinary tract is awesome!), closed down the casino.  Hooked up the chicken nuggets from room service for the second straight night.  I’m up $2k, SO is up $1,500 (pretty incredible – she started with $100).

Tuesday was a very nice day and we got back down to the pool by 11:00, which was strong since we went to sleep at like 6:00 AM.  I was repulsed at the thought of alcohol.  I spent some time in the pool, but the water was something like 99 degrees, it felt like swimming in lukewarm olive oil.  Had to go up to check the markets – grabbed some dough from safe just in case.  I’m enticed by the outdoor craps game – the newlywed stops by again to drop about $10k in five minutes.  I go on a heater just before closing the table at 6:00 PM.  Up $3,000 total now for trip.  SO is sick – I think she has alcohol poisoning or congenital lameness; she thinks the bacon cheeseburger did it. 

This is where I faced a crucial decision point – go back to the casino for the third night?  Or pack it in and enjoy a nice night at the hotel?  Shockingly, I decided on the latter (mainly because the thought of another ounce of alcohol made me wretch mentally).  I think since starting this blog a month ago I’ve really grown both as a person and as a person who enjoys gambling and drinking.  I’m turning into a real moderator.

We got up early on Wednesday and enjoyed a couple of lazy river laps and some pool time before the avocado limo returned.  Three days is far too short, next time we will go for five with a timeout day on day three.   I left out some of the good stuff like Murray’s Deli (seriously, the best bacon I’ve ever had), the super-non-fun-sounding “shallow water dolphin interaction” (translation: photo op where they try to sell you some $32 pictures with Macai the dolphin) and our laughable decision to buy goggles so we could swim some laps every day.  Anybody want to buy two pairs of googles?  New in box?

Verdict?  It ruled. Free mini-vacation and we came back with extra $4,500.  

My 3 Most Ridiculous Attempts at Entrepreneurship

My 3 Most Ridiculous Attempts at Entrepreneurship

As mentioned in previous posts, I have a bit of a gambling nature.  This, combined with my inherant laziness, has led me down the “easy money” primrose path on many occasions.  While some of these certain money-losing ventures (gambling, day-trading net stocks just before the bubble burst) were fairly commonplace, the foolish efforts below are particularly embarassing.  I will not count my attempt to corner the local Whatchamacallit market, as that was more a test of the concept of demand elasticity (result: very elastic).

 

#3.  Advice from a Naval Officer 1-900 Number

This thankfully never got off the ground, therefore it only merits the bottom spot here.  The mid-90s were the heyday of the 1-900 number: if all these morons were going to send $2.99/minute to Miss Cleo and other psychics, what would they pay to speak to a sentient, responsible adult that might be able to offer some actual thoughtful advice?  I went as far through the motions as going to AT&T and getting the information on the 1-900 numbers and asking some colleagues if they were in for 1 hour shifts.

Then somebody pointed out that there are likely liability considerations (if not the obvious moral considerations).  Getting sued seemed like a pain in the ass, and then there was the likelihood that I’d throw in the towel early and be forced to change it to something more lucrative, like a chat line for beastiality enthusiasts.  This brilliant idea faded fast as i realized i would be gone for half the year and this kind of operation couldn’t run itself.

 

#2.  How to Win at Blackjack Pamphlet

I have kept this pretty quiet for over a decade, I’m not sure anyone ever knew about this.  First off, there was no pamphlet.  I put an advertisement in the National Enquirer offering said pamphlet for $5.  I wanted to get a sense for how many morons were out there.  It turns out there were an equivalent number of moronic buyers as sellers: 1 (a disabled kid from Iowa with a ratty $5 bill).

This was stupid on several levels.  One, I am without question one of the worst gamblers in the history of the casino industry.  I get phone calls from casinos I have NEVER BEEN TO begging me to come play there.  I was the one writing the pamphlet??  I did have a sweet Zenith desktop computer from 1990 (running what must have been Wordperfect 1.0 Beta) and I assumed I could just crank out the pamphlet (complete with winning “strategy”) if there was a lot of demand.  I think I paid about $150 to place the 2 line ad in the “marketplace” section.  My overwhelming assumption was that only stupid people read that magazine (full disclosure: it was in my house every week when growing up).  I failed to also consider that the people who religiously read that rag are almost always flat-ass broke.

 

If you are enthralled by Rush Limbaugh's drug problems, you probably don't even have time to implement a guaranteed blackjack program
If you are busy following everyone else's problems, you probably have little time for a surefire blackjack program

 

So i ended up with $5.  I sent it back to the poor bastard.  I should have kept it to teach him a lesson about life: just think how much more it would have cost him had I actually sent him my secret method to convert $500 into -$2500?  

 

#1.  Sing & Snore Ernie Speculator

You are probably not destined to be a great entrepreneur if you concoct the same make-a-quick-buck idea as Dwight Schrute.  All these great ideas came to me in around 1997; this one thankfully worked it out of my system for good.  Tickle Me Elmo was a phenomenon in 1996; people were paying like $1,500 for that furry bastard.  Despite not having a high-powered MBA at that time, it was still apparent to me that that was a nice margin on an item that retailed for $28.99.  So no problem, right?  Just figure out the hot item in 1997 and, boom, 5000% profit.

So Tyco (Tyco Toys, not to be confused with Kozlowski’s amalgam of non-complementary businesses) was putting out another talking plush doll, but featuring beloved Sesame Steet character Ernie!  Of fucking Bert and Ernie fame!  That was a complete no-brainer, even for someone like me who was, uh, a little removed from the whole little kid scene.  So I went to Toys-R-Us and bought every fucking one they had (I think 20-25) about a month before Thanksgiving.  First (and importantly), I confirmed their return policy, in case there were any (unlikely) complications.  Ironclad – you can return for any reason as long as they’re in the box.

 

 

You screwed me you sleepy little bastard!
You screwed me you sleepy little bastard!

 

 

This plan was beyond fullproof.  I remember playing golf with a buddy on Black Friday, watching CNN just before we teed off.  Sure enough: S&S Ernie was the hit toy sensation of the holiday season.  Flying off the shelves.  Fist fights breaking out in stores.  I was so filled with smugness that when I sprayed my tee shot into a house off the first tee, I had little concern for potential broken windows.  I was about to have a sweet $20k+ windfall!    

My roommate (a nervous nellie who’s all growed up now!) was concerned about people coming to our house to make the pickups.  Apparently he had toy dolls confused with the Baltimore narcotics trade; generally people buying Sing & Snore Ernies aren’t strapped when they go to complete the transaction.  I went to another friend’s apartment to check out this new computer auction thingee called “eBay.”  Market looked a bit soft – people listing for only $300-$400 and didn’t look like many were selling.  Hmmm, since I didn’t have this new “internet” technology at home (pron addicts typically were earliest adopters) eBay was out of the question.  I would have to go the classified ad route.

By nature, I am not a greedy person.  This is evident in the many stock trades where I sell the moment I’m up $3 (after commissions, of course.  Losers I will hold until my dying breath).  So I decided to price these bad boys to sell: $100. The classified ad cost, I believe, $90.  It was early December, time to move some Ernies.   And the calls started flooding in.  Well, I got one call (might’ve been the same fucker who bought the Blackjack pamphlet).  He wondered if the price was negotiable.  Hell, no.  Hold your ground.

By mid-December I started getting a smidge nervous, as there were more ads for Sing & Snore Ernies than for Automobiles in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  It never occured to me that all that initial demand may have been driven purely by greedy, children’s-Christmas-wishlist-depriving morons like myself.  Instead, i thought that maybe the market would turn.  Hold.  Hold.  Hold.

(I used this exact strategy in 2000 with net stocks, sometimes with the added twist of “averaging down.”  I ended up with a margin call greater than my “equities” (CMGI, ICG, PUMA, etc) were worth.  That’s always fun – please send us $3,000 to bring your balance up to zero.  I need to sell an investing pamphlet as well)

I have learned many lessons in life – some academic, some school of hard knocks, some wisdom passed down from the old sage characters in action movies.  But probably the greatest lesson I have learned is this: if you’re returning two dozen toys you couldn’t sell to Toys-R-Us late on Christmas Eve, then you are a dickhead.  The absolutely venomous looks of contempt/hatred you will earn from everyone who witnesses the despicable act will have you showering fully clothed in your bathroom like a rape victim on Lifetime.  

I have been kicked out of bars, restaurants, hotels and casinos in many different countries (although rarely through fault of my own).  I have woken up outside my apartment or hotel room for no apparent reason multiple times.  I have done many stupid, irresponsible things with my head held high (unless I was fighting a taxi driver, then you generally want to keep your head down).   But I don’t think I’ve ever been as humiliated as when I returned those Ernies.  I learned a valuable lesson that I hold close to this day.

Fuck you, Ernie.