He was naked. In the handicap stall. In the men’s room. Sitting on the toilet. At Bally’s in Atlantic City. You could see in the stall because the door was not flush. He was Asian. Naked.
The great dice controller Jerry “Stickman” and I were on our Odyssey in Atlantic City. The Odyssey is a single day where we pool our money, and go to all the casinos on the Boardwalk (now just five of them as opposed to the 12 in AC’s glory days), where we play one hand of Pai Gow Poker, two hands of blackjack, two hands of mini-baccarat, $40 in a $5 slot machine (one credit per decision) and we each take the dice two times at the casinos whose tables fit our criteria — we have to get our spots and we want 12-foot, standard-bounce tables. If we can’t get that we skip playing craps.
Naturally, except for craps, we are not playing with an edge at any of these games. We don’t wait for high counts in blackjack or find tables where we can get the edge banking at Pai Gow Poker and there is no way to beat mini-baccarat. We don’t bet much at these games, just $25 on each decision. Obviously, there is no edge to be had at $5 slot machines. So in games where no edge is to be had, our tactic is to play very, very few decisions and pray.
At craps we go with our normal bets, obviously far bigger than the bets we make at the other games. This trip we ended at Tropicana where we had a great meal at Carmines. This Odyssey also allows me to scout out the various casinos to see what’s what.
Did we win? Yes. Just barely at the games where we had no edge thanks to a hit on the last slot machine we played. That’s short-term luck. And the power of prayer.
In craps we both had consistently good rolls so skill won out on our Odyssey.
In fact our almost-week in Atlantic City saw me shooting damn well, consistently hitting repeating numbers (which is a wonderful thing). We basically played at 6 am and 9 am with a break in between for breakfast. We did not play evenings or afternoons (except once each when a table was open).
And what of the awesome Stickman, the great, amazingly great, the dice controller with the perfect throw? He wasn’t as consistent as I. Poor lad. All he did was explode several times for monster rolls tickling the 50 mark! It was a dream trip, that’s for sure. Up from the first session and building each session from there. (Let me caution you: It doesn’t always go that way.) Great games; great conversations; great meals. A player’s dream trip.
And then there was this naked guy in the bathroom at Bally’s.
The moment we entered Bally’s from the Boardwalk, there on the stairs leading to the casino were three drug (heroin) addicts, two guys and a girl. I knew them (generically) from my life in New York City. Droopy eyes; sneers from the guy who was most awake; with the girl — totally zonked leaning on his belly — with the second guy blinking to stay awake.
Jerry “Stickman” recognized them too — Memphis had been good schooling for him in this world peopled with the zoned-out dregs of society.
In the casino, which was somewhat crowded, there they were, leaning against the walls, maybe every hundred to two hundred feet apart, the “salesmen.” The druggie would go to a salesman, tell him (they were all men) what he wanted, and then pay the salesman who would use his phone to call the “distributor” who was somewhere else in the building or outside the building.
The salesmen were throughout the casino. In the lobby too and in the portico where you crossed over into Caesars – brazenly standing right there – yet we saw none of these guys in Caesars.
It was then we headed for the restroom; going through the lobby which was empty except for a salesman waiting for orders. In the bathroom was a maintenance man trying to fix a stall door.
Inside the bathroom, we talked:
“Trump Plaza has moved here,” said Stickman.
“Yeah,” I said. “The outer world is closing in on the Boardwalk casinos.”
“Will the casinos last?”
“I really don’t know,” I said. “Resorts looked pretty crowded.”
“Bally’s is becoming the dumping ground from the Trump Dump.”
“Except Bally’s casino is bright and inviting; although some of the wrong people have accepted the invitation,” I said.
Trump Plaza had become known as the Trump Dump and it was always inhabited by the druggies. Its closing was cheered by many casino players who would no longer play in a casino where so many hazy creatures slithered along.
Then I saw the naked guy in the bathroom. He was in the handicap stall; just sitting there. He was Asian and he stared down and then lifted his head and stared straight ahead, then down, then straight ahead — over and over.
I didn’t know if Stickman had seen him. He was at the urinal and I tapped him on the shoulder.
I whispered, “There’s a naked guy in there.”
He whispered back, “Yes. Let me finish peeing.”
“Sorry,” I said and headed out of the bathroom. I passed by the maintenance man who was feverishly trying to fix the stall door.
“That was weird,” said Stickman as he left the bathroom.
“What do you think that was? He loses not only his shirt but also the rest of his clothes?”
“I don’t know. This place is really bringing in the wrong crowd,” said Stickman.
“If this were Vegas they might be able to throw out the drug crowd. I don’t know if they can do that in Atlantic City.”
Stickman nodded. I shook my head.
My God, a naked guy in the bathroom of a casino that had so many of the wrong types seemingly thriving.
That might be more of a herald of Atlantic City’s demise as anything else.
[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from Amazon.com, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]