Jmarch79
Jmarch79
Joined: Apr 24, 2018
  • Threads: 3
  • Posts: 232
July 3rd, 2018 at 8:04:04 PM permalink
Hello - I moved my trip report here to the Trip Report section and removed it from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino / Ocean Resort Casino thread. I thought we'll keep the Hard Rock / Ocean thread for information and property updates. Pictures will be in this thread.
Jmarch79
Jmarch79
Joined: Apr 24, 2018
  • Threads: 3
  • Posts: 232
July 3rd, 2018 at 8:08:29 PM permalink
Below is a very detailed trip report for Grand Opening Weekend at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Resort Casino Atlantic City.

If you just want to skip to the cliff notes, those bullet points are towards the bottom of this post.

I double booked the weekend at Hard Rock & Ocean. I’d be staying at Hard Rock and I put my friend and his girlfriend at Ocean. Both stays were booked through hosts I had previous relationships with and there wasn’t any pressure to play heavy (this trip anyways.)

I arrived first at Hard Rock. It was around noon and I figured it would be too early to check in. So, I went to go upgrade my card. The line at the Wild Card Services Center was massive – and it remained that way all weekend – I was told 2 to 4 hour waits most of the time. I saw a line for Rock Royalty and told the woman manning that entrance my host was trying to have my card ready for me, and she very nicely allowed me to go on this much shorter line that had about three people in front of me. The upgrade took two minutes and we were good to go. For upgrading to Rock Royalty, I was given $150 in free slot play, $80 comp dollars and another two-night stay. (I would like to give Hard Rock some credit; due to the very long line they had attendants handing out bottled water for those waiting.)

I then went to the hotel front desk and to my surprise, no line at all. By far this was the friendliest experience I’ve encountered checking into a hotel. The attendant was extremely personable. She said there was one room ready on the 9th floor of the South Tower or she could give a call when something higher opened. I don’t come to AC to look out the window, so the 9th floor it was. (The South Tower is the former Taj Tower and the North is the former Chairman Tower if you were familiar with the Taj.) The room was very nice. They truly gutted the entire tower. It was exactly what you’d expect from Hard Rock. Two nitpicky items: the top shelf in the closet was completely covered in sawdust. Also, the elevators were still being worked on. I’d say I waited an average of 7 minutes each time to get on one of them.

Overall first impressions of the Hard Rock: impressive! You can tell they spent $500 million in this place. It has a huge wow factor and you would never believe this was the former Taj.

We headed over to Ocean to get my friends checked in. I was told to check in at VIP, which is a little room by the elevator lobby. The systems were down and they were unable to check us in. This was around 1:30PM. No biggie, we dropped off their bags and headed to get a bite to eat. There was a huge line for a players card here too. I went over to the credit office since I opened a line there and they were able to print my Black card.

We had a quick lunch at Distrito Cantina (AKA the taco truck) and it was awesome. Extremely fresh, and the margaritas were strong but drinkable.

Around 3PM we returned to check-in. The system apparently just came back up, but they were running slow. The lobby was jammed. VIP had about 6 guests in front of us waiting to check-in. Not bad – or so I thought. We were finally able to get them into the room by 4:30. For those of you keeping track, that was an hour and a half standing there to check-in. I will say the staff was extremely apologetic. I went upstairs to check out the room and it was exactly the same as when it was Revel – they didn’t touch a thing. They had a south facing room on the 24th floor. I know I said I don’t come to AC to look out the window, but WOW – the view doesn’t get old from Ocean.

They were going to relax for a bit and get ready for the night and I went downstairs to play. We agreed to meet at Hard Rock at 10PM. The layout of the casino floor has vastly improved. They have a great Asian gaming area, the high limit table games area overlooking the ocean is back, the Royal Jelly party pit – everything just flows nicely. The blackjack games are all 3:2, for which they should be applauded. All games except one pit in front of the Ocean Premier Card desk and in high limit hit soft 17. (The pit on the main floor was $25 and $50 during the day and $50 and $100 at night. High limit was $100, $200 and reserved games.) You can double on any two cards, split three times to four hands and double after split. Surrender was not available. Craps was 5X odds on the floor and 10X in high limit. Mini baccarat minimums were $25, Midi baccarat at $50, Pai Gow Poker was $25 and Pai Gow was $50.

The first game I settled into was a $50 minimum on the main floor and was S17. I bought in for $2K. The dealers were extremely friendly as were the floor people. The first three shoes were pretty choppy but I was treading water. Things picked up and we were having a great time. My tablemates were a fun group. To my surprise at Ocean they have no bottled beer through the server. I showed her my Black card and that was supposed to get me a bottle, however she said there was none in her service bar. I found it to be really weird for a property on the caliber of Ocean to not offer bottled beer. All tables offer the match the dealer side bet (3-1 unsuited match, 14-1 for suited) and most have the Super 4 progressive bet – even in high limit, which I find tacky. I look down at my phone and see I have 15 missed calls. I then look at the time and realize it’s 11:15. Oops. I guess I was supposed to meet my friends over an hour ago. I book a respectable $800 win in this 5 hour session. I would have booked a much more impressive $3K win had two $1K bets went the other way. By the way, they’re not sweaty at the Ocean at all.

Markers at Ocean are done on a little tablet, which is great. Very quick and easy. It should be noted that most of the tables at Ocean I saw were hand shuffled.

I run over to Hard Rock to get ready while my friends got a quick bite at the Hard Rock Café. They said it was jammed and it took close to an hour for two apps to come out. We reconnect around 12:30. The line even with tickets to get into Tiesto at Daer Nightclub at Hard Rock was so long to even think about waiting in. We decide we’re going to head over to Bally’s Wild Wild West for some drinks and to check out the band. Bally’s though was an awesome time – maybe too much fun. I head back to Hard Rock and they head back to Ocean around 2:30AM.

I check out the high limit room and all the games were either $200 or reserved – and every table was packed.

Blackjack conditions are as follows at Hard Rock: In high limit, 6 Decks, BJ pays 3:2, S17, DA2, DAS, Split 3 times to 4 hands, No RSA, LS, NMSE. Outside of HL, the games have the same rules except they allow for MSE and are H17. The exception is one pit on the main floor with higher minimums is S17 and NMSE. There is also a pit of CSMs. Most pits I saw had also had ASMs. It is very cool that every game at Hard Rock is 3:2 and they offer late surrender on ALL games here.

I bought in for $3K at a $50 8 Deck S17 game. While I was playing the first shoe, the floor came over and said next shoe this game would be $100. They wound up moving the entire pit up to $100 and $200 games. The shoes were very up and down, but I was hanging in there. All games I saw had the Lucky Ladies side bet and most offered the Super 4 Progressive. Something very interesting was they offered the much looser pay table for Lucky Ladies – something no other casino in AC offers. It’s still an incredibly high house edge, but good for Hard Rock for giving the players better odds when they definitely didn’t need to. (House edge with their pay table is 16.73% compared to the typical AC pay table that is 24.05% on 8 decks.)

I finally head to bed around 6AM down exactly $1K for the session. I used the surrender option when I was supposed to and the other players at the table definitely weren’t a fan. Oh well…

Saturday morning we met up at the Hard Rock Fresh Harvest Buffet for breakfast. With the trade up to Wild Card Rock Royalty, you’re able to get two into the buffet for $10 in comps each. So it was $20 in comps for 2 of us and $30 for the third. The buffet was very good, but the selection was quite limited. We came back for a late lunch before leaving Sunday and had the same opinion. The food was very good – there just wasn’t much of it. For comparison to say Borgata or Harrah’s, you have about a fifth of the available options here – maybe even less than that.

We then headed to the Hard Rock Beach Bar and spend the next five or so hours on the beach. The setup at the Beach Bar was very nice – cabanas, drink service, lounge chairs, umbrellas and towels just made for a great day. They were definitely a little overwhelmed as it did take some time to actually get drinks.

My friends went back to Ocean to get ready and I did the same at Hard Rock. We had tickets to Pitbull at 8PM at Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena. They were also hosting a pre-show dinner in the Seminole Ballroom, so we decided to meet there at 7. Well, let’s just say Hard Rock knows how to throw a banquet dinner if what they did Saturday night is any indication of that. 9 ounce filets, Alaskan king crab legs, lobster tails, absolutely delicious mushroom risotto – the list can go on and on. We were extremely impressed.

After dinner we headed down to the arena. There was a bit of a line but it moved quickly. I did like that security was using metal detectors – better safe and waiting an extra minute to enter. Let’s just say the host hooked it up very nicely with the tickets. We were put in the VIP area of the standing room only floor and we right in the front of stage left. Any closer and we would have been on stage. It was really an excellent show and awesome venue. Only complaint if I had to give one is maybe a few extra concession stands. The lines for drinks were very long. And $15 for a Jack and Coke is a bit excessive.

After the show we headed to the Rock Royalty lounge for drinks. Apparently the air conditioning was down for the floor so they weren’t charging the comp dollars to enter the lounge. +EV. Vinny the bartender was awesome. Dropping a c-note on the bar and he was our best friend. We ended up closing down the lounge around 1:30. Note: the current players lounge at Hard Rock for Rock Royalty members is in a temporary ballroom location. The actual lounge will be open in a few weeks and will be in the former Plate American Café space if you were familiar with the Taj.

There is another VIP lounge at Hard Rock called Plum. It is located right next to the noodle bar. If any of you are familiar with the Seminole Hard Rock properties in Florida, Plum is there too. It might be the best players lounge in the country. Cooked to order high-end food, premium open bar and just darn impressive. I’d love to tell you the AC spinoff is just as good, but I couldn’t get in. They did confirm it is for X-Card members. As suspected, there is a secret level above Rock Royalty called Xclusive (but commonly referred to as X-Card.) It is by invite only and they were only giving it to people with at least 100K credit lines for the opening.

We went downstairs and I ended up on a $100 game again. The place was completely jammed packed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a casino so busy. All the craps tables were $25, $50, $100 and $500 and all completely full. Lowest carney game was a quarter. CSM BJ was $25 and $50 and people were two deep. Well, I got there around 2AM and didn’t get up from that spot until 10:30AM. There was one amazing shoe at some point but over the course of the next few hours my profit dwindled away. The dealers were extremely friendly and just seemed proud to be working for the property.

I went up to the room and I know I had a 4PM checkout, so that was fine. I guess my host never relayed that info, because once an hour housekeeping was knocking on the door. I finally made a call down to the front desk and they left me alone…we met up around 4 and did the buffet before we left. As I mentioned earlier, the food was great, it was just a small selection. I will say, I typically avoid buffet pizza, because well – it’s typically gross. The pizza here though was of very high quality. I was impressed.

The time has come to leave. We sadly headed home and reminisced about the awesome trip.

Below are some general thoughts on each property and some things about the gaming conditions and players club at each property:

Ocean Resort Casino:
- Just as beautiful and impressive a property as Revel was. They fixed some of the layout problems and it looks great.
- Sportsbook is still under construction but they had temporary betting windows setup by the bar. Should be ready by mid-August.
- Service was overall very good. The team seems excited to be a part of this property.
- Upgraded cards are only valid for 3 months – expiring September 30th. You are however earning 3X tier points until September 30th. To reach the gold level you need 3,000 tier credits, platinum 15,000 and black 75,000. From what I was told, each dollar of theoretical loss = 3 tier credits (9 tier credits until September 30th.)
- There are two VIP lounges at Ocean. One is the Premier lounge and the other is the Black Card Players Lounge. Premier is open to platinum and black tier members. The Black Card Lounge is only available for black tier members. Platinum members are charged $10 in comps per person up to two guests. Black tier members and one guest get in for free.
- They have fast pay jackpots available if you visit the credit office and sign up for it. When you hit a taxable jackpot you use the touchscreen, enter your pin and the amount is just added to your credits. At the end of your trip you pick up your W2-G’s at the cage. Not to sound cheap, but I tend to be overly generous to the slot attendants, so having this saves me a bunch. I’ve only ever seen it at the Seminole Hard Rock properties in Florida and at the Cosmo in Vegas, so it’s nice to offer it in AC. I hope they add it to the Hard Rock AC too.
- The club crowd still loves this place. There was a mile long line on the boardwalk Saturday afternoon for the HQ2 Beach Club.
- The Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly party pit has girls dancing in g-strings on catwalks and on the bar. While I enjoyed the view, I don’t remember ass cheeks being exposed in its previous incarnation. Decent blackjack rules and girls dancing in front of you seems +EV if you ask me.
- Video poker pay tables were all over the place. I did not see any full pay, but heard they had full pay jacks at the $5 level in HL. They had video blackjack at the bar (in single deck and double deck options) but it’s an overall bad game. Blackjack pays even money, but they at least had the options to split, double on 9-11 and surrender. Most places that have these machines just have the option to hit or stand. I ran my free play through it and cashed out the exact amount of the free play.
- Self-parking is free all summer long. Valet was $15 unless you had a Black card, which made it free.

Again, overall I wish I spent more time at Ocean, because I was impressed. Next trip (which may be as soon as this weekend if my schedule will allow) I will spend a night there. The rooms are awesome, the “resort-feel” is distinctive for sure and the service is accommodating.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino:
- You can tell they spent every bit of $500 million completely gutting this place. The Hard Rock brand and theme throughout the property is incredible. I’ve always been a fan of their brand and I think this property exceeded my expectations.
- There are still a few things to be completed here. The Sugar Factory restaurant still is under construction. The pool was closed as they are finishing it up, but it is supposed to open Tuesday, 7/3. Finally, as mentioned previously the permanent home for the Rock Royalty Lounge should be complete in a few weeks.
- Upgraded cards are valid through 5/31/19. This is much more generous than Ocean. If you upgraded to their Elite level, you will need to earn $250 comp dollars by then to main your tier. If you upgraded to their Rock Royalty level, you will need to earn $1000 comp dollars. No one could give me a straight answer on how much coin through earns a comp dollar or if it is based on theo. I can tell you I played about 3.5 hours on Friday and 9 hours on Saturday with a $150 average bet and earned $203 comp dollars. (You can track how many comp dollars count towards tier progression at the kiosks located throughout the property.) I would say that is about what I would have earned at Borgata and felt it was fair. I’ve learned though as a table games player, a good relationship with a host is worth a ton and most of your comps come on the back end.
- The VIP lounge is available to Rock Royalty Members plus one guest for $10 in comps each. Rock Royalty Members may also visit the buffet for $10 comps each if they prefer.
- Most video poker I came across was actually pretty good and of the 98%+ payback variety. Even at both the lobby and Hard Rock Café Center Bars where drinks are comped while actively playing.
- Parking was free over the weekend. I heard they would be charging $10 for self or valet unless you have at least the Elite card, which will make it free. I’ll confirm on my next visit if someone else doesn’t first.

Overall, I spent much more time at the Hard Rock, as that is where I was staying. I truly enjoyed the overall experience. Being a fan of the brand, I knew I would most likely enjoy this place a bit more, and I did. If you’re a music fan, this is the place for you. The good gaming odds and generous tier match and comps make it an even better value. They’re off to an awesome start and I am very much looking forward to my next stay there. There were a few kinks, but very few – which leaves me very optimistic about the future of this place.

I think the openings of these two properties are going to be great for Atlantic City. I was very excited to check them out and it seemed the people I spoke with also had with a positive impression of both properties. Only time will tell what is actually in the cards for this town, but I am going to bet on good things are to come.

Pictures are below and grouped by property. Sorry this wasn’t too wordy, but it’s my first attempt at a full on Trip Report and there was obviously a lot to cover. Feel free to post any questions or comments and I’ll reply to them. Thanks for reading.
Jmarch79
Jmarch79
Joined: Apr 24, 2018
  • Threads: 3
  • Posts: 232
July 3rd, 2018 at 8:12:39 PM permalink
Pictures of Ocean Resort Casino Atlantic City











Jmarch79
Jmarch79
Joined: Apr 24, 2018
  • Threads: 3
  • Posts: 232
July 3rd, 2018 at 8:19:06 PM permalink
Pictures of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City






















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