Poker Town East
There was a time when Atlantic City was the east coast's premier playground for the wealthy and fabulous. But with the advent of commercial air travel and the appeal of more exotic locales, the self-proclaimed "Queen of Resorts" fell into decline. Abandoned by all but a few hardy Philadelphia beachgoers, Atlantic City and the state of New Jersey took a monumental gamble by legalizing casino gambling as a tool for urban redevelopment. Trying to compete with its big brother in Vegas, poker was approved by the casino control commission in 1992. Since then, few have been able to deny the astonishing success of poker in Atlantic City.
But don't confuse the A.C. poker scene with neon revelry of Las Vegas. Poker here is serious business. Atlantic City poker players are east coasters through and through, demonstrating a grind-it-out style; the poker equivalent of smashmouth football. Las Vegas players employ a contrasting, subdued approach. Maybe it's because, back home in Middle America, they "seen that there poker on the TV," and decided to go to the Bellagio.
Dilettantes need not apply in Atlantic City. Its proximity to New York and Philadelphia is one of the reasons for its poker success. They have been playing serious poker in these east coast cities longer than you've been alive, whoever you are. When poker in A.C. was approved, many people couldn't drive out there fast enough. This is where you can enjoy legal rooms without the worry of cops closing down your game.
In Atlantic City you have many choices, but if you want to play with the big boys there's only Trump Taj Mahal and the Borgata. If you're any good, you'll play at both. The Taj has the only Seven Card Stud presence in the city and they always have 1-5 through 20-40 games. On weekends, they have 75-150 and higher with the occasion 300-600 game if you've got a bankroll to match your balls. You won't find this Seven Card Stud action anywhere else, in or out of Atlantic City. The Taj also hosts loose 50-100 or 100-200 Hold'em games every weekend as well as daily sit and go tournaments. They also have two daily tournament and free poker instruction for beginners. New Players who sign up and participate in a complimentary lesson will receive a free souvenir and a little beginner's luck.
The Borgata has adopted the poker scene in Atlantic City and brought it to the next level. You won't find a more comfortable room, accommodated with plush leather chairs, plasma TVs, not to mention some of A.C.'s most beautiful cocktail waitresses. The Borgata's new 85-table room, opening this spring, will feature many no limit games including a daily 40-80 Hold'em games as well as 80-160 and 150-300 games.
They will also have sit and go tournaments Sunday through Thursdays in addition to regular daily tournaments. The hotel is now drawing many of the world's greatest players to its regular high-stakes tournaments. "Frankly, the only place I will stay in Atlantic City is the Borgata," says 2004 Borgata Poker Open winner Daniel Negreanu. "As for the poker room, it's upscale and well organized. The tournament room we play the WPT events in is magnificent. It is the best place to play poker in Atlantic City.