Poker at the Taj

I like games. We played a lot of them in my family when I was growing up, both board games and card games. I don’t recall who taught me to play poker, but it was probably my dad. All I knew was five-card draw, then, and my brothers and I would play for fun, no real money involved.

Once I had my own place, I would sometimes host poker games for friends. We usually played for pennies, and there was a lot of fooling around, plenty of crazy wild-card games that make it hard to know if you have a good chance of winning or not.

When I started working in the production department at DC Comics, there was usually a friday evening poker game at someone’s house or apartment in the city that I played in once or twice a month. Again, the stakes were low, nickel and dime, and all kinds of games were played, with and without wild cards. It was as much a social scene as a card-playing one, and no one took it too seriously. Paul Levitz often hosted at his apartment, in his bachelor days, and guys from Marvel, Archie, and probably other companies came too, so there was definitely some shop talk. Len Wein and Marv Wolfman were regulars, and I remember Marv used to bring newly released comics to read when he wasn’t in a hand.

Once I married and moved to south Jersey, I got away from that, and hadn’t thought much about poker for years until I started watching games featuring Texas Hold-em poker on TV, a variation I don’t think I’d heard of before. It looked appealing, and I soon got the itch to try playing again. Ellen bought me a little hand-held poker game that I had fun with, and I started playing online, mostly with play money.

Though we live close to Atlantic City, I hadn’t been tempted to gamble in the casinos there. We went to concerts occasionally, but the casino floors always seemed rather depressing. Then about two and a half years ago, Ellen wanted to go to an ice skating competition in Atlantic City (ice skating is her hobby), and suggested we get a room there and stay for a long weekend, since the competition was over four days. I agreed, and decided I’d try playing poker at one of the casinos. After doing a little research, I thought the Taj Mahal poker room was the best choice for me, at the time it was the only one with no smoking.

We went for the weekend, both going to the evening skating events, but during the day Ellen went to watch the skaters practice, and I played poker. Those first three times I played (Limit Texas Hold-em), I won each time, and by the end of the weekend had covered most of our trip expenses. I thought this was a pretty fun way to make some extra money!

Alas, though I do win occasionally, it’s been downhill since then, and I’m well behind overall. I play there about once a month with a bankroll of about $100. I’ve played small tournaments a few times, but I usually stick with low-level Limit Hold-em games. That way, even if I lose, it takes a while, so I get more entertainment for my money. And it usually is fun and entertaining.

Today I decided to try No-Limit Hold-em for the first time. Things started out great, I won the first hand I played, and won another about ten minutes later. At that point I was up about $100. If I had quit then, I’d have come home a winner, but I doubt there’s a poker player in the country who could quit after 10 minutes. I’m certainly not one.

I held onto my profit for quite a while, but was finally drawn into a hand where I thought I had the best of it with two pair, and got beaten by three of a kind. That put me down for the day, and it got worse. I did come home with some money, but not that much, about $30. That’s how it’s been going lately. The best result I’ve had in a long time was in San Diego last year, where I played in Jim Lee and Scott Dunbier’s annual charity tournament. I finished in fourth place, winning the coveted “Guppy” trophy (I’m so proud!). I was looking forward to playing this year, but had to cancel as I had a conflicting event I really wanted to attend. Ah, well, I probably would have lost anyway.

Hope springs eternal, though. Maybe someday I’ll hit it big. Until then, I’ll have fun trying.

One thought on “Poker at the Taj

  1. Eric Hansel


    I played a little no limit this week on a cruise..played well…then I went to the black jack table and got rid of all of my money. I also live in NJ…always interested in a game.

    Have Fun!


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