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Winning in Atlantic City on a Budget
A warm weather break when visiting New York City

An easy day excursion from New York

Want to spend a day sightseeing and ocean swimming and getting a tan—and spending either nearly no money or all of the funds that you have?

Well, Dr. Voyageur has a deal for you in Atlantic City.

Even if you're not into casinos, Atlantic City has a surprisingly nice beach not far from New York City.

The beach and the famous boardwalk make this a fun trip on any warm day.


Travelling to Atlantic City

Travelling to Atlantic City from New York costs almost nothing—as little as $5.

You just have to take a Greyhound "Lucky Streak" express from the Port Authority bus terminal in Times Square.

Fellow travellers are a motley crew that ranges from young singles out for fun to little old women almost professional gamblers who should be wearing green eye shades.

For the price of a return ticket, you receive a roundtrip bus ticket AND a generous voucher for cash back and other incentives to be redeemed once in Atlantic City. For this, you need to be 21 years or older. (If not, see below.)

Don't buy your ticket online. Instead, head to Greyhound at the Port Authority bus terminal (41st and Eighth Avenue) for this special. Any subway to Times Square brings you there.


You have a choice of stops

Greyhound will drop you off along the boardwalk and beach or in the marina area.

As of this writing, you have a choice of the Atlantic City Hilton, Bally's, Caesars, Resorts, Sands, Showboat, Taj Mahal, Tropicana, or Trump Plaza casinos along the boardwalk.

Bally's, Caesars, and the Taj put you in the centre of the action, and they are some of the nicest places there. You probably have seen the Taj on the "Apprentice."

Or, you can be dropped off at the Trump Marina, also a nice casino hotel.

The Trump Marina puts you near the awesome Borgata, the most spectacular casino in Atlantic City. The Borgata serves up great entertainment.

However, the Marina area is a bit of a walk or a surprisingly expensive taxi ride to the main portion of the boardwalk.

If you're not 21, you can either buy a regular Greyhound ticket, or use New Jersey Transit, which also offers inexpensive fares from the Port Authority. New Jersey transit also offers trains to Atlantic City from Philadelphia.

The Atlantic City bus terminal is two blocks from the best part of the boardwalk and beach.


Staying in Atlantic City

Avoid Atlantic City hotels on weekends—especially warm weather weekends—unless you can get a good deal.

Hotels.com Atlantic City tells the story. You're better off staying on weeknights.

Especially if you're driving and want a cheaper place away from the big casinos, you can also try Hotwire.com, where you pick the neighbourhood, quality, and price, but not a specific hotel for extra savings.

Iif you're arriving by bus or New Jersey Transit train, stay near the big casinos on the boardwalk or at least near the Borgata on the Marina, because taxis are very expensive from outlying areas.

Staying overnight gives you better access to casino show tickets.


Get a "frequent player" card

Once in Atlantic City, you are under no obligation to spend your Greyhound "Lucky Streak" cash back grubstake at the casino that gives it to you, but in fairness Dr. Voyageur always does.

When you exchange your voucher for cash, make sure to obtain your casino's "frequent player card."

These go by various names at different casinos, but basically they are plastic cards issued to bond you to a specific casino by offering incentives for your continued patronage.

Before playing a slot machine, for example, insert this card into the machine, which tracks your play.

When playing poker or another table game, show the card to the dealer.

It is relatively easy to gain free meals, drinks, room stays, prizes, increased winnings, etc. by using your card.

When you return home, you may receive incentives to return to Atlantic City, such as free hotel rooms.

And, if you use your frequent player card two days in a row, that tells the casino that you have real potential to lose money. Don't be surprised if you get an offer for a free overnight stay for your next trip.


Safety

For your safety, do not wander more than two blocks inland from the boardwalk day or night. Stay with other travellers and you should be safe. Take a taxi if you must venture away from the beach/boardwalk or marina areas.

Allowing legal casino gambling in Atlantic City has been an attempt to revitalize a very deteriorated city. Much remains to be done inland from the beach and marina.


Dining in Atlantic City

When you get hungry, Atlantic City offers many choices in all budgets.

You'll find top restaurants, but most of us enjoy snacking on the boardwalk and visiting casino buffets.

Casino buffets are much maligned, and often for good reason. But, casino buffets can be terrific bargains and great meals, if chosen well.

The secret is to dine at the buffets at the first class and deluxe casino hotels, as long as these have budget prices. Usually the same executive chef who oversees the deluxe dining rooms will supervise the buffet menu and cooks. Moreover,, high quality provisions will be used to prepare the buffet dishes at the better hotels.

For Dr. Voyageur, this has been true at the Taj in Atlantic City, Caesars at Lake Tahoe, the Reno Hilton, the Mirage in Las Vegas, etc.

The buffets at Caesars Palace and the Trump Taj Mahal on the Atlantic City boardwalk outshine most other casino buffets that the doctor has tried.

For example, the Taj buffet is not gourmet by any means, but it is very good. The "American" food is better than the Asian. The price varies by the time of day, but it is never expensive, even in the evening. However, you may have to queue a half hour or longer to get in.

The Trump Taj Mahal, the most distinctive hotel in Atlantic City, attracts many people of Indian descent who want to experience this usurper Taj. For the most part, they appear amused.

The other great eating experiences in Atlantic City are the small pizza stands along the boardwalk, which lines the beach in front of the casinos. Take one that does not look too modern.

The boardwalk food is not gourmet or perhaps even clean by McDonald's standards, but the quality of the food is generally higher than that found in most tourist areas.

After all, these stands are patronized by crowds from New York City and Philadelphia. They know good pizza.

Dr. Voyageur grazes from food stand to food stand in a state of contentment. Look for fresh lemons being used in the old fashioned way to make lemonade, etc.


Enjoying the beach and boardwalk area

You willl like the beach below the boardwalk.

It spreads out wide enough in most places so that you do not feel very crowded. There's usually nice surf and a gentle slope going out to sea. You can walk quite far out into the ocean. This urban beach is kept quite clean (for a busy urban beach).

During the summer and early autumn, the water temperature, influenced by the Gulf Stream, is much warmer than in southern California.

You can change into your swim suit in a stall in one of washrooms at one of the casino hotels that front the beach.


The main boardwalk area

The casino hotels are worth a visit, even if you do not gamble.

There's often free entertainment in the lobbies—sometimes quite good—and the atmospheres are fun to experience.

The doctor's favourite strip of beach and casinos goes south from the Taj, his favourite boardwalk casino, to the large pier (damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012) near the Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino, the somewhat more sedate sister of the one in Las Vegas.

In this area we find the Convention Centre, home to the Miss America contest.

Caesars, by the way, has one of the finest casino restaurants in Atlantic City, the classic Las Vegas-style Temple (as in Roman Temple) Bar and Grill.

At the former Sands Hotel now torn down on this strip, Frank Sinatra give his last full concert.

Sinatra, who was born in New Jersey, got his big name start in Atlantic City long before casino gambling became legal. That does not mean that there was not major gambling going on in what was a Mafia controlled environment.


Getting around

If you get tired of walking along the Boardwalk, trams are available, but they are slower than foot traffic.

The very expensive taxis in Atlantic City will take your money quicker than the most greedy slot machines.

Atlantic Avenue, the first major street inland from the casinos, has very inexpensive bus service up and down the casino strip. Stops are marked.


Winning in Atlantic City: Dr. Voyageur's foolproof system

Dr. Voyageur prides himself on his positive attitude.

"I can do it; I can do it!" is his lifetime motto.

But, he like you must face facts.

Those big casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and elsewhere have been built in anticipation of the loses from millions of tourists. All that free entertainment and low-priced food and drink is being subsidized by the massive loses of those who visit.

No "system" beats the house—beats the casino—over a period of time.

If you wish to gamble, set a modest and firm limit on what you will spend, and honour that limit, as Dr. Voyageur does.

If you should happen to win while playing within this limit, pocket your winnings, and exit. (Casinos will issue a cheque for your security, which is cashable at any bank where you are known. You don't have to walk around with cash.)

Tip the casino floor person who handled your winning transaction on your way out.

Exiting at this point is the one winning system, although some people refuse to believe this. This has worked for a still-solvent Dr. Voyageur, and it will work for you.

All best wishes for wonderful travelling, and good luck in Atlantic City!


Go to >> Surfing the Big Apple: Orienting Yourself to Enjoy New York City

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