(First pic: Middle section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, 1990s. Pic two, 2017 )
"Atlantic City, NJ. October, 1996. I'm 22 years old, a senior at New York University. On a random Saturday afternoon, I walk into The Sands' high roller pit... and mentally gird myself for what's to come.
I approach a table which has two empty slots. Suddenly, the gentleman to my left barks to no one in particular 'You'd better know how to play! We're here to make money!' Something of a hothead back then, the embers begin to burn at the back of my neck. Possible responses include:
A. Smile. 'No worries, Sir, I can play.' B. Scowl. 'Mind your business, shitbag.' C. Sneer. 'I've forgotten more about this game than you'll ever know.'
D. Hysterical laughter. 'Good luck, pal.'
I settle on Choice D. The table mostly stays the same for the next FIVE HOURS, despite unbelievable swings in each direction. Four ppl re-buy more than once. The angry guy to my left -- who quickly realizes I know exactly what I'm doing -- hits a bunch of huge splits and double downs and is up well over a grand.
Finally -- ahead a measly $30 -- I stand to leave... but can't resist nodding at my adversarial seatmate. He reaches over to shake my hand. 'You can play,' he says, as we shake. I grin. 'You have no idea.'
I make my way out of the room, pondering how I've managed to come out ahead, despite seemingly getting blasted, shoe after shoe. Overhear one of the floorbosses, chatting with a Pitboss. To this day, clear as a bell: 'That redhead's the best player I've seen in years.' They turn to look at me. I wink back, as their convo is easy to translate: I'm 'in the computer' and won't be allowed to play unimpeded any longer.
Although the Sands is long-gone, I'm still a marked man at AC's blackjack tables. Another reason I only play poker these days " #Blackjack #BlackjackForBlood #Poker #TexasHoldEm #NewYorkUniversity #The SandsAC #ResortsAC #NYUClassOf1997 #ResortsAtlanticCity #BallysAC #Borgata #Level2Count #CardCounting #AngryKid #GTFOH #PersonaNonGrata #BevsGym #GoldenNuggetAC