Nonetheless, Friday morning around noon, crifmer and I drove to Atlantic City. Not only I had never been there before, I had not been down the Parkway much beyond 287, so the whole drive was new ground. I now have a better sense for the location of Keansburg, Matawan, and a whole host of other towns I'd heard of but not been able to place. Strange place name of the weekend: Cheesequake State Park. Is Cheesequake what happens when your Brie vibrates?
We got there a little too early to check in. So, we walked up and down the boardwalk, looking at the hotels and casinos, kicking pigeons, and dodging strikers. Yep, the majority of Atlantic City's hotel and restaurant workers (but not the casino workers) were on strike. Made for interesting travel. I also have this strong aversion to crossing picket lines, thanks to growing up in a town where teachers seldom had contracts and went on strike twice in the time I was in the school system. Fortunately, it was more like picket groups than picket lines, and more a case of walking around than crossing a line. They weren't really too militant, just trying to promote awareness, for the most part. I still feel a little weird about it, but I'll live.
During the course of the walk, the following happened: We wandered through the Tropicana, and I won fifteen dollars on a (nickel) slot machine with a lot of very silly sheep. johnstevensaul called C, becoming the first in what turned out to be a list of people to say "You're where? With who?" I developed a nasty blister on my heel, which surprised me, because these aren't new shoes. And C had to stop to call his friend A when he saw a sign for midget indoor car racing. It wasn't till much later that I pointed out to him that it was probably midget cars, not midgets driving cars. It hadn't occurred to him.
By the time we made it back to Caesars (no apostrophe, I checked), it was check-in time. After little sleep, 2.5 hours of driving, 1.5 hours of walking, and the aforementioned Horrible Head Cold (which was responding to Sudafed, but I didn't have enough with me to stay medicated the whole time), I was completely wiped. I lay on the bed and stared into space for about an hour, while C explored the room and watched both casino tutorials on the TV. Then we found dinner, at the buffet in the hotel.
After dinner, we went down to the casino floor for real. We played slots for a bit - it's about the only thing I like to do, since I'm no good at anything that requires skill. I actually won about $50 on one of them, putting me at a net of about $30 in my favor. Then we wandered for a bit, while C decided where to settle in. This was when I suddenly became incredibly popular. I could have sworn I'd mentioned that I was away for the weekend, but perhaps I didn't, as demongrey and amy_pearlman didn't remember it and felt the need to contact me.
I watched C play roulette for a while, which went poorly. When he settled in at a blackjack table, I went back to slots for a while, but (as expected) my early luck had run out, and I reached my entire acceptable loss a little faster than I'd planned. I stopped back upstairs to freshen up, then joined C at a different blackjack table and watched him play. I learned a number of things:
1. I'm not sure why I had thought that only people playing were allowed to sit at the tables and order drinks. Perhaps it's a custom from somewhere else that I'd heard and assumed was universal, or perhaps it is the custom but they didn't care because it wasn't busy.
2. A gambler's superstition is an amazing thing. So is the absolute belief in conflicting superstitions. There is no rational basis for most of it, and you can't point out the fallacies in the logic because they don't want to hear it.
3. On the other hand, I believe the one about the luck of the table changing when the dealer changes, because I watched through four changes and it really did seem to hold true.
4. Blackjack dealers are BORED. I watched Tsiao, who had two shifts at Chris's table, pretty closely. She was doing something after each hand, moving the unused clear chip dividers from slot to slot in the chip tray, and after a while I was pretty sure she was just counting hands dealt. It wasn't in binary; after knowing demongrey this long, I would have picked up on binary even faster. Nor was it a simple system in any base, as far as I could tell. Eventually I asked; she seemed embarrassed that I'd caught her at it, and she explained the actual use for the dividers. When pushed, she admitted that yes, she was counting hands dealt. She also stopped doing it then.
5. There's a cute little gizmo built into the table so the dealer can check for blackjack without revealing the face-down card at all. I think that's really nifty. On the other hand, it means that the dealer also knows what the hand is worth. Again, with Tsiao, after a while I began to see a pattern to her body language to the point that I was reliably guessing high or low from the way she positioned her hands. I really hope, for her sake, that either I'm wrong or that I'm just extraordinarily perceptive, because that's the kind of thing that would get a dealer fired if they got caught at it.
I was watching the other dealers as well, not just Tsiao, but she was there the longest, so I just noticed more things with her.
Anyway, I got tired and went up to bed around 11. C stayed down a good bit longer; I think he came upstairs about 1.
In the (late) morning, we just checked out, had some lunch, and headed home. I got back to my apartment about three on Saturday. Ironically, that's when I started to feel a little better. Figures. I spent the rest of the weekend just relaxing and concentrating on improving my health. Seems to have worked - I'm still taking the Sudafed, but at longer intervals, and I'll be off it by Wednesday at least, maybe even tomorrow. The cold has already started to move into my chest, which is both a good sign and a bad one - but I'm keeping fingers crossed and planning to move it right on out from there. Willpower, it's all about sheer force of will.
C and I talked a lot about gaming, in the "not getting enough" sense. I do get into games more often than he does, of course. Time and availability are, as always, the problems. He's been making plaster tiles for Warhammer Quest dungeons; we discussed that they could also be used to build something like the Thieves' Tournament.
This got me to thinking - the previous weekend I'd been in a conversation including blackfog about the problems with the last few Tournaments, and how some of them could be easily fixed. So, question for gamers: would anyone be tentatively interested in playing a Thieves' Tournament, that wasn't being run by MK, at some point in the future (probably at least 3-4 months from now)? Because C could build a damn fine board. And I think I might be willing to try to put it together and run it. And we've both had some ideas about it already. But I want to know if there's interest before I put any real work into it...