Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Borgata in Atlantic City (gambling, entertainment)

I haven't been to Atlantic City in years, but since I've been going to casinos more frequently these days, decided to give it a chance as they're comping me rooms during the summer. Went for a quick one night stay with a friend.

The nice view from the 43rd (top) floor

The view from our room on the top floor was about the only thing I liked about my visit. And it wasn't even that I'm pissed that I lost money or something like that, I was actually up slightly for the trip.

One of my main complaints is that I just don't like all the little charges here and there. I don't know if this has always been a Borgata thing, or if it's basically just an MGM thing that happens at all their properties. Let's start from the beginning. Parking is not free. At least I have a comp for free parking. I get to my room and I see that the wifi password was written on my room number packet. I'm about to sign on when I decide, "let me just look through the terms of service". There it is, wifi charge. Screw that. I'm barely in the room, not paying for wifi. Then when I check out, it turns out that my room comp does not cover resort fees. So I use my express comps to pay for it. Honestly all of this is bullshit. I've been getting comped to nearby casinos all summer, and NONE of them have charged for parking, wifi, or resorts fees (although this last one may be a NJ thing).

Well, if the casino is a good time, a few extra charges here and there isn't a deal breaker. Except the casino wasn't great either. First of all, the place is big, not well-organized, and not well-labeled. I spent a lot of time getting lost and just walking. The seats felt old and even where there wasn't any smoking that stench was still hanging around. One thing I found really annoying was that I couldn't even play one hand without them taking my player's card and logging it. All I wanted to do was play one hand and use up my match play before dinner, and it ended up taking like 5 minutes.

This whole bigger, older, and slower thing was evident in the poker room too. The poker room is huge, but with primarily open seating, felt a bit chaotic. The tables and chairs felt old and worn, while none of the USB chargers I tried at my table worked. There is no rake here, players pay for time. While to a lot of players that sounds great, what happens is there is no incentive on the casino's end to speed up the pace of the game. I was there for probably 7 hours and in that entire time there was only one dealer who dealt at a speed equivalent to the other casino poker rooms I've played at the past couple of months. Sure, I probably paid less in time than I would have in rake, but not getting as many hands in makes the game a lot less enjoyable (and profitable).

The sports/racebook was super crowded, practically standing room only as all the main sitting areas (with personal TVs) were filled with old men and their daily racing forms. It's clearly designed (the way it looked that day anyway) as a racebook and I can't imagine it being a good place to watch big sporting events. Although if you're a horse racing degen who's betting 10 races per track across 5 tracks it's probably a really good time.

Again, a large part of my dissatisfaction is probably just personal preference. I view gambling as an entertainment/service industry and I feel smaller, more local businesses are better at that. I'm not thrilled with MGM buying more and more properties and their corporate nature, although they do send me plenty of comp offers now and then.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

What Have I Been Up To? (rambling)

Hello to anyone who still visits this blog or stumbled onto this blog!

Noticed that I haven't made a post in over a year, so let's do a quick catch up. I hope to get back into writing a bit more, but I don't eat out as much as I used to, and those food posts really were the main driver of the blog.

I've cycled through a few hobbies over the last 5 years.

At one point I was watching every new season of anime (averaging 6+ shows per season, 4 seasons a year), but I've cut down to about 2-3 per season now. This season I'm watching Hinamatsuri (I started with the manga, it's fantastic) and Uma Musume (I'm really not into idol shows or [insert fetish/animal] girls, but I have fond memories of the racehorses named, and PA Works has managed to turn a throwaway game adaptation into a decent anime)

In 2015 I discovered the fighting game community, and have been watching the majors regularly on Twitch. The scene is getting more and more exposure, with the last two EVO main events being broadcast on ESPN2. A huge tournament (Combo Breaker) just passed, and there's two more major events in the near future (CEO in July and EVO in August) that I'm looking forward to watching. I'm just a stream monster and don't actually play the games, and currently I enjoy watching King of Fighters, NRS games (Mortal Kombat and Injustice), DragonBallFighterZ, and occasionally some Street Fighter V.

I no longer work in Manhattan, so I find myself less often in the city. This has also meant that I've eaten out less, but I do plan on picking that back up a bit, especially for nice fine dining restaurants, and maybe that will get me more motivated to post reviews again. In fact, there will be a food post on Le Coq Rico accompanying this post!

I've also gotten back into watching wrestling (WWE). I grew up watching it, although I was never a huge fan. I remember watching it in college during the height of the attitude era. But I find the product much more compelling now, especially the in-ring product. While it's not a competitive sport, the athleticism on display is often astounding, and much more entertaining than watching Stephen Curry jack threes. I'm a WWE Network subscriber and watch every PayPerView now. They also have some decent original programming.

I still play very little bridge, although I've been getting a bit of an itch to get back into it more. It's difficult since you still have to find a good partner. However, more recently I have been getting back into playing poker. I was always an online player back in the day, but I've recently found live poker cash games (low stakes, no pressure) to be quite enjoyable. Between playing poker and the occasional stint at the table games, a few of the local casinos have been sending me comped room offers, so I expect to be playing even more in the near future.

Speaking of comps, I was invited to the VIP Grand Opening of Resorts World Catskills. They threw a welcome party and had Jerry Seinfeld as their opening weekend headliner. Here are some pics from the welcome party

They even had celebrities, and apparently I missed Neil Patrick Harris. But I did catch LT and Phil Simms telling gambling stories while smoking cigars out on the balcony, so that was cool. Jerry Seinfeld was enjoyable. I really liked his opening act, Mario Joyner. Jerry mixed in some old guy curmudgeonly complaining in with observational stuff, all in that whiny voice of his. His energy was really good. Overall a good show and the place was packed. In the end, Jerry Seinfeld will always be a New York legend and fans still flock to him.

I've Been to Le Coq Rico A Few Times (food)

I don't eat out much in the city any more, but the last few times that I have done so have been at Le Coq Rico. It's a very nice fine-dining lite restaurant that costs a good amount more than your typical NYC neighborhood French restaurant, but a bit less than a restaurant like the NoMad (which I need to revisit although there's less of a draw now that James Kent has left the kitchen). The owner/chef Antoine Westermann is a former 3 Michelin Star holder who gave back his stars, did some consulting, then opened Le Coq Rico in Paris focusing on quality poultry. It's been 2 years since he opened the NYC branch of this wonderful restaurant. Everything I've had has been very good, though some dishes are better than others. Highly recommended. Here are some dishes from multiple visits.

A beautiful mix of warm salad, cold leeks, a nice Hollandaise sauce, and some (not overpowering) acidity from the vinaigrette. Simple yet tasty starter.

Probably the best value on the menu, with two of everything so you can share. I love offal and giblets so this was perfect for me.

Probably my favorite thing on the menu, a phenomenal dish that is classic French cooking at its core. Tender, flavorful squab meat accompanied by some force meat, foie gras, wrapped in cabbage and cooked in pastry. Absolutely rich and delicious.

If you're questioning whether one chicken will feed 4, please note that the restaurant focuses on older birds and their chickens probably average near 7lbs. This was a nice dish and very homey. However, I don't think it's special enough that I would order it again at the price.

Very delicious duck. The only thing that's missing for me is crispy skin. I prefer duck skin that's crispy to the point of being lacquered, and this didn't have that. But it's not a deal breaker since the meat had great flavor.

Another signature of the restaurant, and another French classic. Here the meringue is one huge fluffy ball that's extremely light and airy, surrounded by a rich creme anglaise and dotted with candied almonds for crunch. I've gotten it every visit and it wows.