Posted by Mosca
May 27, 2012

Stopped at gunpoint by the Ohio State Patrol (long)

I had to drive from NE PA to Indiana, to pick up my daughter from college. Because we had to haul all her stuff back for the summer, I needed a van, so I borrowed one from work. The night before we left, I grabbed a tag, and filled out temporary registration info, and picked out an '11 Grand Caravan (nice van, even being a Chrysler product).

It's basically a 500+ mile trip on I-80, through PA, OH, and IN; maybe 9-10 hours, stopping every 2-3 hours to stretch. Traveling out Thursday was uneventful, other than it was chilly and rainy. We loaded her up Friday morning after her last final, and after stopping to eat we were on our way around noon.

It was a beautiful day for driving, 70* with no wind, and not a cloud in the sky. We crossed into Ohio around 2PM, and around 2:30 we were looking for the next rest stop. Motoring along with the cruise set at 74 (speed limit in Oh is 70), Mrs said, "Cop ahead."

"It's OK, I'm not speeding, and anyhow that Jetta just passed me." And sure enough, I looked in the rear view and the cop pulled out. "Looks like he's getting pulled over," I said.

Except it didn't happen. The cruiser took up position right off my left flank, and tracked me. I slowed down, from 74 to 70; the cop slowed down. I slowed down to 65; the cop slowed down. "Ahhhh, hell." I said to the girls. "I can't believe it. I'm going to get ticketed for going 74. What a ticky-tack state!"

The cop tracked me for about 5 miles, and then I looked in the rear view, and flying up from waaaaaay back was one of those Hemi Charger pursuit cars, all black with the real skinny light bar, headlights flashing and light bar blinking. "Ahhh, backup," I thought. "They must be going after that guy, she was waiting." But as soon as he got up in place, they both pulled in behind me, the first car threw on the lights and siren, and I pulled over immediately. "Son of a bitch," I thought. "I really am going to get ticketed for 74!"

I turned off the ignition, and put my hands on the wheel like a good citizen; rule number one is to maximize your chance of talking your way out of it. But they were both out of the car, and yelling at me! Huh? What kind of stop was this? I put down my window, and they were yelling, "PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE WE CAN SEE THEM!" I looked in the rear view, and I couldn't hear them, but the officer from the first car, a woman, was motioning me to get out. I got out, and started walking back, thinking that this wasn't like any other traffic stop I'd ever been in, and I noticed that the guy from the Hemi had a riot shotgun pointed right at me. And they were yelling, "TURN AROUND! TURN AROUND! PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD AND WALK BACKWARD TO US, SLOWLY!"

Holy shit.

OK, now I was really confused. But I figured out that my best course of action right then was to turn around, put my hands behind my head, and walk backward to them, slowly.

When I got there, the first officer, who did all the talking the entire time, said, "Okay. put your hands behind your back. Do you have anything sharp, and weapons, anything that could hurt me?" And she proceeded to pat me down, and of course I had nothing. "Okay, turn around, put your hands in the air where we can see them." Meanwhile, the other guy had the shotgun leveled at me.

"I need to tell you," I said, "I am confused, and scared as hell that you are going to mistake my confusion for noncompliance. Please, don't tase me. If you tase me you will kill me, I have a heart condition." They didn't say anything, they didn't change expression, nothing. The officer said, "Do you have ID on you?"

ID! "Yes," I said, and I reached for my wallet. IMMEDIATELY the shotgun came up to attention! "Slowly," she said. I got out my drivers license. She took it.

"Where are you coming from?" She asked. I told her, picking up my daughter from college.

"Is that your family in there?"

"Yes, my wife and my daughter. Can I ask, what is this about? I am really confused."

"Who does this van belong to?" I told her, Nationwide Car Sales. "Do you own the dealership?" "No." "Do you work there?" "Yes, I do the financing."

"You really don't have any idea why we stopped you, do you... The reason is, when you passed through the Westgate, they snapped a photo of your license plate, and it's been reported as stolen."

"WHAT? I grabbed a tag out of a stack of tags! We've been using these tags daily, there's nothing wrong with them!" And just then, over the speaker clipped to her lapel, the dispatcher said, "Plate number is registered to Nationwide Car Sales." Ahh. Finally, something is going right.

"Okay, now I understand," I said.

"It's a dealer tag. I've seen it happen before. If I really thought this car was stolen, you'd all be out here on the ground, face down and handcuffed. But sometimes a plate is reported stolen, and some states replace it with the same number. I need to ask some questions, I'm going to call Nationwide Car Sales."

"Can I put my hands down now?" I'd been holding my hands up for about 15 minutes. As soon as I said that, the shotgun came right back up to attention.

"No, that's OK, keep them up where I can see them for now," she said. She went back to her car, and talked to someone for a couple minutes. Ringo kept the shotgun on me. He looked like he was itching to make the newspapers.

She came back and said, "OK, you can go back and sit in your car, I have to make some more calls."
"Can I have my license back?"
"No, I'll hold onto it for now."

I went back to my car and told the girls. "I knew it!" Said my daughter. "I thought you were just being an asshole when you put your hands in the air," said my wife (always the sense of humor about things, her).

Just then my cell phone rang. It was John, the GM, the guy I run Nationwide with, and the guy who is in charge of a lot of the admin stuff. I told him what happened.

"Yeah, I just got the call. I'm on my way over to the police station now to sort it out. We renewed all the plates, and reported the lost tags. I had Dawn check the numbers with the state... the guy at the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department switched the lists, and reported all the good tags lost or stolen, and renewed all the lost ones!"


Just then, the trooper came up to my window. "I have John on the phone now, would you like to talk to him? I asked.

"No, I'll call him myself," she said. And then she asked me questions: Address of the business? Phone number? Dealer number? Who owns it, and how can I reach him? (I didn't tell her that, that would be death. I told her that I worked there for 5 years and I've seen him 3 times, which is a little bit of a stretch but mostly true.) Then she took the girls' IDs, and went back to her car.

Meanwhile, the whole time Ringo has that shotgun pointed at the van.

We sat there. Remember when we got pulled over, we we looking for the next rest stop? Yeah. It was coming up on an hour now. I looked in the rear view, and saw her talking on the radio to someone, then waiting, then talking, then throwing her clipboard on the dash, then waiting, then talking...

Finally Ringo lowered the gun, got in his black Hemi Charger, turned off his lights and floored it out of there. I took a deep breath and let it out. Finally.

But we were still sitting there, waiting. It was now coming up on 4PM. There were only a few things that could happen now. From best outcome to worst:

* She could let us go on our way. That would be cool.

* She could let us go on our way, but give me a ticket for an improper registration. That would sort of suck, but I could understand.

* She could be waiting for a tow truck. She might be a real stickler for the rules, and figure that she couldn't let us continue without a valid registration. That would REALLY suck, because then we'd be in god-knows-where-Ohio, with no idea what to do next, and no idea when we'd get home.

And that last one, that would really suck because our daughter was leaving for a service trip to Peru in a week, and needed to have a lot of doctor's appointments and such filled in the next week, and all her stuff was in the car.

Finally, she got out of her car, and walked over to the passenger window.

"I figured something like this," she said. Talking to my wife, "If I really thought this was stolen, you'd have all been out on the ground handcuffed, face down."

"Mrs laughed. "Well thank goodness for that! We'd have been crying and crying!" And finally the officer smiled.

"Here's what I did. I couldn't get anyone from the station to tell me anything. So I took the 'hit' off your plate. DON'T GET STOPPED. If you get stopped, they'll run the tag, and it will come up stolen again. I didn't file a report, so this incident won't show up, and you'll have to go through this all again. But at least no one will be looking for you now. You can go on your way now. Drive safely."

"I appreciate your professionalism," I said (yes, I really said exactly that). "I thought I was going to get ticketed for 74, and then I was confused as hell, but once I could see that it was going to get sorted out I felt a lot better. Thank you for being so professional. I have no problem with how it went down... I'm just not happy that it happened to be ME." She smiled, but didn't answer other than to say, "Have a good drive, sir." "And you stay safe, officer!" said Mrs Mosca. And we parted.

And that was it. The next rest stop was 28 miles. We drove at 70/71mph. We made it to the rest stop, then made it home by 11PM, two hours past our target time of 9PM, but safe.

All in all, I have no complaints about how this was handled. I want the police to catch the bad guys. I have no problem with plates getting photoed and checked; if I have the right to photograph the police, they have the right to photograph a license plate displayed publicly. And a stolen car, that is the type of thing that could result in a bigger bust: drugs, kidnapping, other robberies, anything. Stuff happens.

But I will tell you this: I have had a gun pointed at me twice in my life, once by a cop and once by a criminal. Both are equally terrifying.


Tiltpoul May 27, 2012

I had a friend have a similar issue come up with Ohio police (I live in Ohio). They can be complete jerks, and I have respect for what they do, but to hold you at gunpoint for that long is simply unacceptable.

BTW, the speed limit in Ohio is 65, not 70.

FleaStiff May 27, 2012

But the computer said ... .

You are lucky no one with your name and birthday was wanted as a felon, or no one transposed a digit on your drivers license or something.

After all, its "policy" to hold middle aged couples and their college-aged daughter at gun point.

The Data Quality for NCIS is abysmal.

And once you are in the computer, you never get out of it.

odiousgambit May 27, 2012

Good story! Yes, you were lucky the cop wasn't a stickler for the rules and didn't impound the car. My thankfully limited experience with female cops is that in fact they are sticklers. Having your family with you probably factored big.

Seems like it might be an era of losing track of speed limits. To my surprise I recently was told there is a section of I-95 in VA where the limit is 75 [not indicated in that link- two trustworthy people asserted this though].

JohnnyQ May 28, 2012

Well, now you have a good story for years to come.

You are probably luck the stop was done duing the


Can you imagine how difficult it would be (from

their perspective) to try and see everything and

stay in control during a stop at night ?

teddys May 28, 2012

Terrifying experience, but at least the cops were professional. Could have been worse...

Ibeatyouraces May 29, 2012

I hate turnpikes, especially 80/90 in Ohio. I'll do whatever it takes to avoid them.

I would have taken the longer route of O2 until it passes the toll road and meets up with 90 and other roads if necessary.

bigfoot66 May 29, 2012

I think it is interesting that she sees a family in a van, figures it is probably a paperwork error, but still points a shotgun at you nonetheless. I think they ought to cool it with the shotgun unless you did something wacky.

Posted by Mosca
Apr 20, 2012

Borgata and Revel, 4/18 & 4/19

Every have one of those trips where it seems like everything you touch turns to money? I just did.

We left after work on Wednesday, I had 2 nights free at Borgata. After a quick stop for fast food, we made it and were checked in by 9:15 PM. We were in a Classic room, the standard Borgata room. I tried for an upgrade, using a technique that has worked before, but no such luck. Here is the technique, though:

Me, walking up to the desk clerk: Hi, hello! (Look at her like I recognize her) Say, how long have you worked here?
Her: (only one of two choices, either a long time or not very long)
Me: You look exactly like the person who got me that free upgrade the last time we were here; man, that was great!
Her: Thank you! Yes, I see that; no, that wasn't me, though. But let me see if I can get you that again... Oh, sorry. There are no suites this time.

It's worked about half the time. I don't know if anything else would work as well, but what I like about that is that the desk person offers. If she doesn't, it's still an easy transition to asking if it's available. Anyhow, it didn't work. However, it didn't matter. The room we were in looked like it had recently undergone renovations. The old tube TVs have been replaced with 46" Sharp LEDs, and carpets looked new. And Borgata bathrooms are great, with all that glass and marble!

We freshened up and hit the casino. Mrs went off to the slots, and I sat down at 4 Card Poker, where nothing seemed to go right. I bought in for $300, and hit a pair of Aces... and the dealer turned over a flush. Two hands later, my two pair got beat by a dealer straight flush. When I got down $100, I stopped and went to Pai Gow Poker.

I played pretty even, then made an against the grain play by breaking up a flush to keep a higher low hand than 8-4, which lost. Then on the next hand, I was inattentive and didn't play my best low, playing AAJxx/Kx, instead of AAxxx/KJ; that one cost me as well, I pushed instead of winning. I didn't like losing, but what I really didn't like was looking like an idiot. From there I played OK, but after an hour or so I was down another $100, so with my last $100 for that session I went off to look for Mrs Mosca.

She was sitting at a "Mermaid's Gold" penny slot with a counter that read 56789. "WOW," I said.
"You wouldn't believe it," she answered. "I lost everything; I was ready to cry. I took $80 from the MAC machine, and on the first $20 in I hit a bonus, and then it just kept going from there." "How much are you up?" "I lost the $300, and $40 of this is from the MAC, so about $200."

Cool. So I sat next to her, at the other "Mermaid's Gold" and put in my last $100 for the night. And at $3.50/spin, I was getting nothing, and I was down to $3.65, hit "repeat bet" to take the counter down to fifteen cents, and I hit a "MERMAID BONUS"... $130. A couple spins later, I hit another bonus, then some other stuff, and 30 minutes later I had $480 or so. Honest to christ, it was like the thing was broken. I looked over at MJ's machine and she had a little more than I did, so we both decided to go either up to $500 or no lower than $450, and we cashed out at $452 (me) and $453 (her). One more losing spin for either of us would have gone under, after all. It was a little after midnight. At that we called it a night.

The next morning we used our comps on the buffet, then got the car and went to look at Revel. I agree with the person who wrote that signage is very good; the Revel signs are big and prominently placed. It took maybe 15 minutes to get there from Borgata, on a Thursday morning with some middling construction underway.

We think Revel is absolutely stunningly beautiful. Maybe a bit sterile, but still amazing. Where Borgata is themed gold and bronze and copper, Revel is blue and silver with streaks of red. Revel looks dark, but I never had a problem seeing anything. Of course, it is very clean; it's new! The non-smoking is obvious. I'm thinking it isn't going to be a problem; the place was packed and those who were there didn't seem to mind that they couldn't smoke. All the employees were cheerful and helpful.

Ever the glutton for punishment, I tried 4 Card Poker again, bought in for $300, and got pretty much the same results. I hit a couple middling hands to make some table time, but after 10 bets I was down $100 again, so I colored up and wandered around. I saw the roulette tables.

Roulette is a game I never play. I don't like it. I have trouble getting a feel for it, I don't sense the rhythm of it, I don't like the odds, I don't like having 500 $1 chips that feels like having $10000. But the dealers were really pretty, so I sat down at a table, alone. I changed my 2 blacks for a dozen or so stacks of turquoise, and tossed chips randomly around the layout. After a couple spins, I found that I was comfortable picking 4 numbers at random and betting $3 on each of them. So I started picking primes. I started with 1/2/3/5, then I played 7/11/13/17, and so on. And about 45 minutes later, I cashed out a little over $600. I still don't like roulette, but that was pretty cool.

I found Mrs, and she'd lost about $100 at slots. I sat next to her, and lost some with her, between $100 and $200, call it $150ish. It was OK, though, we both hit some and missed some, and got some machine time. It wasn't like a death march. I got tired of it, though, and found a seat at a blackjack table, and at $10/hand I ground out a $300 profit over 3 shoes; the $150 I lost at the slots, plus another $150. Not a bad afternoon at Revel! Up $450.

Back at Borgata, we had dinner reservations for 5:30. It was 3:30 when we got back, so we went up to the room for a nap. Dinner was at Wolfgang Puck's American Grill. We ordered off the prix fixe menu. That is one of the best restaurant deals in town, any of Borgata's prix fixe offerings. Excellent food, crisp service, nice convenient setting, you can't ask for more at $39 per person.

After dinner we went back to the Mermaid's Gold, but someone must have called a slot tech and had them fixed, because they were acting like slot machines again instead of like ATMs. I blew through $100, and Mrs the same. We wandered through the slots, and tried some Mr Cashman Jail Breaks; got some little bonuses, and I hit 5 bulldogs, but ended up the same, -$100 for me and -$50 for her. Same thing happened at the .25 Wheel Of Fortune; those were the coldest WoF I've ever seen, I lost $50 and cashed out, she didn't play them because her bankroll was starting to dwindle.

We split up, I went back to Pai Gow Poker and she went looking for whatever slots caught her fancy. I played PGP for about 90 minutes, to dead even; I bought in for $300, and, playing $20, was down as much as $80 and up as much as $100, and cashed out for 3 blacks. Nothing really remarkable happened, one hand I played a King high paigow to a win over a Queen high paigow.

One more try at 4 Card Poker, ended the same way as all the others except at the end I tried betting 25/25 instead of 10/10 or 15/15; I lost an extra $50 that way, bought in for $300 and left with $150. This was not looking good. I couldn't find MJ, so I figured she'd busted out and gone to the room to watch the end of American Idol or something. I sat at a slot machine, Dublin Dollars, 9 lines/5 cents/5 per line; $2.25 per bet. about $25 in, I got Dublin/triple shamrock/triple shamrock... $450. BOOM. I cashed that sucker in. Walked over to Let It Ride Bonus, bought in with $300 and put down $10/10/10 and $10 on the 3 card bonus... first hand, KKK. BOOM. Over the next 10 hands, I won another $150 or so, and cashed out $850 when they swapped decks.

I figured I should check with MJ, but she wasn't answering her phone; maybe she was upstairs dozing off. I thought to myself: "If everything is going well, I really ought to drop $100 in the $5 WoF." 2nd spin, SPIN. $500. BOOM.

I went up to the room, but she was not there. So I went back down and looked around, and found her at a Wizard of Oz slot, and she was NOT following the Yellow Brick Road. I sat next to her, and I did not follow the Yellow Brick Road, either; flying monkeys swooped down from the machine and stole $100 from me. We moved on, and I lost another $100 at the penny slots, and she was busted out. "I'm done," she said. "I'm not," I said, so she went upstairs and I went over to the blackjack tables, where the minimums at 11PM were $25 and seats were tough to find. I found one at a table, though, and quickly found out why: there was some nutcase at 3rd base who was playing stupid, splitting 10s, not hitting 16 against anything, etc. I didn't care, but the other players kept leaving because the dealer kept hitting 19, 20 and 21 from 13, 14, and 15, and the like, they thought the guy was screwing up the game. I kept my mouth shut, though, and after the first shoe I was up $25. After the second shoe I was up $125, and then on the 3rd shoe I had one of those whack runs where every double down won, where I was making 21 out of 13, 14, and 15, where all my splits won. I ended the shoe up $350; I won back the $200 I lost playing slots, plus another $150. Everyone else was still grumbling about the 3rd baseman. I cashed in.

Total for the trip: I brought $800 and change, call it $840. I counted $2398 in the room at midnight Thursday. Figuring out tips and incidentals, I won $1600, betting mostly $10-20. All I can say is, it's about time. This morning, we got in the car, gassed up and hit the road, and I was back at work by noon today!


teddys Apr 21, 2012

Great trip report. BOOM.

rdw4potus Apr 21, 2012

Congrats! Great trip report, too.

Tiltpoul Apr 22, 2012

Enjoyed the trip report... I'm hoping to make it out to AC in June.

RaleighCraps Apr 22, 2012

Way to go Mosca! Runs like that are fun. Always makes me want to bottle it up and save it for another time.

Posted by Mosca
Jul 23, 2011

gave the casinos another shot last week...

My sister lives in Ocean City NJ, and she invited us down for a couple days. I've lost the urge for gambling pretty much, but Mrs hasn't, and my dad and his girlfriend like the cards and VP, so I loaded up the car and we headed down for 3 days at The Borgata.

The hotel:

We had two comped rooms in The Water Club, which were very nice. TWC is 3 years old and still has a nice new feel to it. Decor is a bit spartan but still very elegant, with flat panel Sony TV, 400 thread count sheets, a full wall window, rainhead showers, and huge absorbent towels. If you think about it, there's not much else that you need from a hotel room at a casino. You touch the bed and the bath, you see the window and the TV. Everything else is irrelevant. Nice job, Water Club. Oh, and the elevators are fast. We used valet parking; $5, same as the garage, + the tip. Service was reasonable, not better or worse than any other valet parking.

The gambling:

The first day, Tuesday, was my downfall. We got there around 4PM, checked in, and hit the casino. I ran through my $50 free play plus $100 in a $5 WoF (the ones by The Borgata front desk). I hit a couple spins and netted out $205 ($305 on $100 out of pocket). Then we hit the tables, and I got killed. It didn't matter the game; we tried BJ, LiR, Caribbean, PaiGow Poker, and 4 Card, I lost $200 at BJ in about 30 minutes betting $25, and another $400 at the other games in the next 90 minutes, winning maybe 3 hands. The cards were on a death march. I had a straight beaten at 4 Card by a flush; I had a full house + pair beaten at Pai Gow by 4 of a kind and higher pair! We had dinner reservations for 7PM, but we went and ate at 6PM just because no one was winning. After dinner we played PaiGow Poker, and had some little luck, I won back about $50. My dad was doing a bit better; he'd broke even at BJ, didn't play Caribbean or LiR, had a pair of three of a kinds back to back at 4 Card plus a string of small winners, and was up about $50 at PaiGow Poker, total up about $500.

Second day, we spent the afternoon at my sister's house, visiting. It was hot-hot-hot, so we stayed in the air conditioning. She has a new dog, a Czechoslovakian German shepherd; man, what an impressive dog. My other sister was in from Chicago; we ate well, and laughed, and talked, and played with the pups, and left late afternoon... so, for the afternoon session, we all were even! That evening Mrs and I had dinner plans for Harrah's, so we dropped the others off at The Borgata and headed over. We didn't like Harrah's, to be honest, even though it seems to be a pretty nice place. We played a couple slots, ate at Dos Caminos, and left. Back at The Borgata, my dad and I held our own at PaiGow poker while the girls dropped at slots and VP.

Third day I came back, a little bit. I got smoked at the cards again, then won my way to even, then got smoked again, then hit $500 at the $5 WoF. For the rest of the day I played even, my dad lost $200, and Mrs lost the rest of her bank plus another $200 I gave her. I finished up $150 for the day and down $400 total for the trip, my dad finished up $300 for the trip. His gf lost whatever she brought, I didn't ask how much; Mrs Mosca lost what she brought + another $200, again I didn't ask.

Regarding craps: I didn't play. All the tables I saw were $25, and I only brought $2000. The game moves too fast for $25/$2000, IMO.

The food:

Tell you what, we had one pretty outstanding meal at Wolfgang Puck's in The Borgata. Sunday-Thursday they run a prix fixe special until 6:30PM, $39 for 3 courses. Two of us had beef short ribs, one had free range chicken and another had seafood ravioli. All were excellent, service was prompt and professional.

prix fixe menus for all participating Borgata restaurants

Wednesday night's meal at Dos Caminos was also excellent, not quite as good as Puck's but I'd go back. We shared excellent fresh guacamole, chicken tortilla soup, and chicken taquitos; Mrs ordered a shrimp quesadilla and I had skewered steak. It was a lot of food, but we'd ordered to sample and didn't finish anything. The view was truly spectacular; the restaurant is right on the bay, and the entire wall looks out over the water.

Dos Caminos menu

Thursday we had breakfast at Borgata's buffet, using our comps (voted best buffet in AC, and I agree); we skipped lunch, and had dinner at the casual Metropolitan, tucked back in the corner by the Asian games, again using our comps. The Met was OK, I'd call it east coast diner food. It wasn't outstanding, but it was good. (A word on comps at Borgata; they appear to be instantaneous. Slot and VP are rung up as you push the buttons, table games as soon as you leave the table. Nice.)

Final verdict: We got a total of 4 nights in a nice hotel comped, plus 2 casual meals. I didn't win, but I didn't get killed. Mrs Mosca got kind of killed, I think. (She needs to learn how to play the table games; yes, you're betting $10 a hand minimum, but each hand takes about a minute; on the slots she's betting $1 or so a hand, but she's betting that 20 times a minute. But she doesn't get it.) Will I do it again? Sure, why not? Will I seek it out and plan it on my own? Nah. It was fun, but so are lots of other things. I'm not against it, but I'm definitely over it.


odiousgambit Jul 23, 2011

>Will I seek it out and plan it on my own? Nah.

sounds like you will be "coming along" on these things anyway. If you want to cut back, but not quit, could work for you!

midwestgb Jul 23, 2011

Great report. We also ate at Pucks and Dos Caminos in early June and had great food/service as well!

FleaStiff Jul 23, 2011

4.93 house edge





1.00 (assumed for BJ)

But you did not play:

0.10 percent house edge craps.

Mosca Jul 23, 2011

Flea, with the Borgata pay table, LiR is 3.5% and 2.16% for the bonus bet; Caribbean has an element of risk of 2.55%; Pai Gow is 2.73%, 4 Card is 3.39% with 3.89% for the Aces Up. No, they aren't craps. But $500 (I took $2000 for the trip, actually my session banks were $500) doesn't go far at a $25 craps table with full odds. That could be gone in 10 minutes. I had 3 days to play. If they'd had a $10 table, I'd have played. But I've done that, sat down at a $25 craps table and watched my bank vanish, and it can be breathtaking. And sickening, I forgot to say sickening, too.

I had this discussion with someone else, and he turned it into an argument, but I remain steadfast: The goal isn't to win, it is to have fun. And no one can tell anyone else what is fun, that is a personal thing. If I wanted to MAKE money, I would have gone to work those days. Winning beats losing, but playing also beats working. For me, if you work at play, you defeat the purpose of playing. I'll accept less odds for more fun.

teddys Jul 25, 2011

Sounds like fun, Borgata came through. Have you ever considered pooling bankrolls with your traveling companions? I do that sometimes with friends. It allows you to have a good time gambling and not worry about losing too much. You have to have an agreement beforehand, though, and mostly play the same games at the same bet size. Doesn't work for everyone.

I agree $25 is way too much for craps. I would say $25 for blackjack is too much for a $2K bankroll as well. (Although I have bet that much with a short BR, it's not fun to lose 50 units in a session, which has happened many times).

teddys Jul 25, 2011

I would stay away from the carny games myself but it's clear you enjoy them and understand the house edge, which is fine. Any way we can convince you to just bet the minimum on them?

Mosca Jul 28, 2011


I would stay away from the carny games myself but it's clear you enjoy them and understand the house edge, which is fine. Any way we can convince you to just bet the minimum on them?

Nah. I know what I'm doing. When they're going good, they're a lot more fun than the lower edge games. You can streak out pretty good on a carny game. And that's the point. If I were in a casino every week, that's one thing. But for once every couple months, it's really no big difference. I play, I laugh, I dine, and the world turns.

Posted by Mosca
Apr 14, 2011

Another good Borgata visit

We just got back from an overnight Wed/Thurs visit. I got a chance to put some miles on the new car (2011 Maxima, with lots of gadgets all over), and we got a chance to take advantage of some offers, and I got a midweek day off, so... we went!

We drove down from NE PA in one hella rainstorm, that pretty much lasted the whole trip. Thankfully traffic was light. We hit Philadelphia at about 6.... bad time. If you know Philly, then you know we were going to have to cross through town on the Schuylkill Expressway/I76 during the bumper to bumper hour. The information sign said "Time to I676/Center City = 32 minutes" Ugh; off peak time from where we were all the way through Philly to the Walt Whitman Bridge (Delaware River & New Jersey) is about 20 minutes. We decided to continue south to I95 then go northeast to the Walt Whitman, which can be a crapshoot because that could also be jammed... but it wasn't. We were across the Walt Whitman and in New Jersey in about half an hour. From there it was clear sailing down the AC Expressway! It was actually a good thing it was raining; I tend to get leadfooted on that stretch of road, but the rain kept my speed under control, and there were a couple speed trap "caterpillars" (where there are 3 cops in a row, picking off people who think because they just saw a cop it's OK to speed up).

Checkin was swift, we were the only ones in line at 7:30PMish. Our offer was free room, an Aria suite, on midweek days in April, May, and June, up to 4 nights per month. The Aria suites are end of the hall, huge trapezoidal rooms with a floor to ceiling window-wall overlooking the city or bay, depending on which side you get/request. The bathrooms are marble and also huge, as large as many rooms at other casinos (larger than the rooms at Resorts, for example), with separate shower and tub, separate toilet area, and a large double sink. The bedroom/livingroom has full couch, 2 easy chairs, and a huge flat panel TV. The flat panel is worth remarking on because I understand that the regular rooms have tube TVs; that's kind of a strange thing for such a nice place, but The Borgata was built at an awkward moment for that change in technology. They'd have to toss several hundred perfectly good tube TVs to update! But I digress. We dropped our bag, gave terrorist fist bumps for luck, and headed to the floor.

Mrs plays slots, and she had $65 in slot play. I play tables, but I guess I play enough slots next to her that I get slot play instead of match play; I had $90. I always play my free slot play in the $5 Wheel of Fortune; I hit for $300, which was a nice start to Wednesday night. Yeah, I usually lose the free play, but I'd rather have the quick shot at the big hit than 15 minutes of bleeding at a penny machine. Mrs Mosca lost her free play in one of those Mr Cashman things, because it had a bulldog on it and we lost our bulldog a couple months ago. She should have made the lost/lost connection, I think. Anyhow, I played next to her for a while, and we played something called "Dublin Dollars", a 9 line 5x nickel machine. Hers wasn't hitting, mine was and I won another quick hundred. She stayed there and I went to the tables. Luck and probability being the unrelated entities that they are, I lost my winnings plus another $100 playing the low edge games of craps and blackjack, and Mrs Mosca came over to the tables grinning from ear to ear and holding an $800 slot ticket. She sat down at the machine I'd left, and hit two "triple shamrocks" back to back, each one paying 1250 nickels on all nine lines (a full shamrock fills all three reel positions). This was very cool, because she almost never wins. We played another half hour or so, and went upstairs about 10:30.

It was really raining like a son of a bitch; we turned the lights off and watched the storm and the lightning from the window wall, which was really impressive, the rain just ripping sideways in the wind. About 11:45 it stopped, and we turned in.

Thursday morning, I got up and, flipping channels on the big screen, found October Sky. You gotta love that movie. The plot itself is kind of hackneyed, but some of the characters are so beautifully nuanced, especially Chris Cooper as John Hickam. We laid in bed and cheered as Homer shot off rockets and won the science fair! Sometimes you just have to take advantage of a nice room, after all. It's not just a place to park between gaming sessions, if you don't want it to be.

We got ready, checked out electronically, left a red chip next to the keys at the entrance, and headed down to the buffet, which was comped. It's not such a bargain if you drop the $16.95 each, but it's one hell of a breakfast for free. There's nothing different, but everything is high quality. You know what, there was one thing different; Roma tomatoes: stewed tomatoes with Parmesan, basil, and bread crumbs. Good stuff, if you like tomatoes.

I wasn't up for the slots, but I love Mrs so I sat with her for about an hour. She lost a little, I lost about a hundred then won it back with a couple lucky spins, I think I got a "Mermaid Bonus" that got me even. I couldn't take it any more and went over to the Pai Gow Poker, which Raleigh Craps got me kind of hooked on. I got a few good hands early and in a row, including two Full Houses that scored fortune bonuses, and it looked like lady luck was shining my way! Betting $20s, at one point I was up overall almost $200. But time will out. After a couple hours on the table, I decided to cash out, down $50 (for the trip). I have to remark, before I did that the house busted out FIVE other players before me. That woman was a highly skilled Pai Gow Poker dealer! Seriously, she did some suckouts on the one guy. He had full 4s over Js, she had 6s over Qs. Stuff like that. I don't blame him for being disgusted. (I had AA big, KK small; go figure.)

By this time (about 2PM), checking in with Mrs Mosca she had pretty much seen her bankroll get whacked... she was down to even for the trip (but still having fun). The Pai Gow dealer had told me that the Caribbean Stud bonus was up over $200k, so I moseyed over and played 15 hands, and did OK, winning about $350 while betting $10 ante/$20 raise. I was lucky enough to hit a couple trips and several two pairs with dealer qualifying. The lady across from me got a full house.... dealer did NOT qualify. That's why I hate that game. I cashed, and went to the Dublin Dollars slot that we'd won on the night before, and called Mrs. That slot was acting like it was broken or something. I kept hitting little wins, $20 here and $30 there. I worked $100 up to about $250 that way, then lost back down to $200, cashed out and went over to play some Let It Ride Bonus, with the 2.13% house edge on the Bonus bet. Betting $10s across, I hit a few nice hands early, and kept pairing a pay card on the first turn, and quickly was up another couple hundred... before the ceiling collapsed. The nice lady at the end of the table scored FOUR ACES, with paired aces on the board and paired aces in hand, and everyone got paid... and then it was like the decks slammed shut. No one seemed to be able to hit. I looked at hand after hand of "card salad", mixed numbers and suits with no chance of anything. Finally down into my stake, under even, I started betting the greens... even though I KNOW that it isn't true, I figured that SOMETHING has to change! (Of course it doesn't. Numerous times I've sat down and lost $1000 betting quarters, without winning a single hand. I've lost it playing 3 Card, I've lost it playing Blackjack (but not without winning some hands). It happens. ) Anyhow, nothing changed, hand after hand of 9d/5s/2h, stuff like that. I was down to my last bet with the chips on the table (still had about $400 in my pocket), and I had to pull out another $100 to even out the bet... and I turned over 2c/3c/4c. BaBOOM. I let the first bet ride to see 9d, pulled the second back and took the $950 net win.

Another guy at the table mentioned to me that I'd been chasing that hand, and I agreed; I had been. I figured I had $1000 to lose for the trip, and although I'd rather go home with all of it, hey: if I wanted to break even I could have stayed home and rented a movie. If I wanted to come out ahead I could have gone to work instead. But even if I lost what was on the table, I still had $300 in my pocket and I was done, I was satisfied, I had my fix. If I'd lost that hand I was going home with the $300.

Since I didn't, I kept playing. I scaled my bets back to $10 across, and luck returned to normal, and I got some wins on flush bonus bets, and some trips, and of course lost some, too, and cashed out at 5:30PM up $550 for the trip. DING! Winner, winner. Chicken dinner!

Mrs and I met up, we had dinner reservations at Fornelleto. Very nice. Mrs ordered an artisanal pizza (whatever; it was good though, fresh mozz, sausage, and red pepper). I had osso bucco raviolis that were just sublime. We split a classic tiramisu for dessert. Comps covered $60 of $100 (including drinks and a salami/cheese plate). If you go, skip the salami and cheese, it was really good but not worth the $30.

That was it. Car, drive, home. No rain. When we got on the PA Turnpike Northeast, I turned on the XM to catch the Buccos, who were tied 0-0 in the top of the 6th with both pitchers working on no hitters. But Correa walked a guy, Alvarez mishandled a bunt, then somebody hit a single and Fielder hit a 3 run home home run and before I could get into the groove of the game it was 4-0 Brewers. I sighed.

"It's going to be a loooooong season," said Mrs Mosca. True that.


teddys Apr 14, 2011

Nice report. I like how you tried a lot of different games. Makes for a more interesting story. Sounds like they treated you well there, too.

Mosca Apr 15, 2011

Thanks, teddys. I forgot to mention Mrs Mosca ended the trip up $100, so we were a double winner! Yes, we were treated very well, not just on the offers but by the people at the Borgata as well. In our last 3 trips going back about a year, we've always felt like valued customers. And we're not high rollers by any means; I bet either $10 or $25 per hand, depending on my bankroll, and Mrs brings between $300 and $500 to play in the slots. If they ever had an attitude problem, as has been reported, I've never seen it. For my money it's my favorite place to play.

gambler Apr 15, 2011

Another great trip report! Whenever I can't get to a casino myself, the next best thing is reading about someone else's trip. Thanks for sharing and keep posting!

Posted by Mosca
Feb 22, 2011

Lutefisking with my Uncle Al, 1963

Man, I sometime sit here, far away from my home, and I think about all the great times I had as a kid....

I remember the first time my father took me lutefisking, when I was 8 years old. It was the opening day of lutefisk season in Western PA, Feb 11th 1963, lutefiskerfirstday.

I was trembling with excitement; I barely slept at all. We had spent the entire week before tying lutefisk flies and winding our reels with lutewire. I had my lutepole well oiled, and my father had his old BAR loaded with .30 cal tracer rounds.

At 4AM, my father knocked on my bedroom door; my brother and I jumped out of bed! We had slept in our long underwear and overalls, and all we had to to was wolf our breakfasts of grits and johnnycakes as we pulled on our coats and mittens and boots; we helped each other wrap our leggings, and we completed our ensembles with the traditional pink taffeta tutus and honking red clown noses... how we had yearned to don the ceremonial garb of the lutefiskerman, and now the time had finally come!

We carted our equipment and tackle down to Dad's Studebaker Lark wagon, and as Dad hooked up the jumper cables from the Country Squire to the Stude, my brother Jimmy and I secured the acetylene torches and the portable arc welder in the back. Finally the Stude clattered to life, and we drove the backroads to my uncle Aloysius' house. There he stood in his driveway, bald, the ugly red axe scar behind his left ear, holding his Lewis Gun, proudly alert in his pink tutu and clown nose and leggings... and as we drew closer we could see, through the thick cloud of cigar smoke, his rosy red cheek makeup, the mark of a Lutefiskerman First Order!

Aloysius crawled into the rear of the Studey and let out an ear-splitting whistle. Around the corner his lutefiskerdogs came running, Markie and Wilson. The two dogs were known around the patch as expert lutefiskerdogs, not unusual for AKC bred Yorkies; the ony better breed for lutefisking is the Basenji, and Basenji are notoriously skittish in the cold, so for Aloysius it was Yorkie all the way. Markie and Wilson (or Mark and Will, as we affectionately called them) had been raised from pups to go wild in the presence of lutefisk. I'd heard tales of Mark and Will jumping into the water and doing backflips as large schools of lutefisk swam near shore! (Later, a movie was supposedly made about Wilson, called "Good Will Hunting"; I haven't got up the nerve to see it, though, thinking about that little doggie always makes me cry.)

We drove down along the Mighty Monongahela River, laughing and singing lustily along to the radio as it played traditional lutefisk music; "O here we go a lutefisking", and "I love to go, a lutefisking" (these songs were later bastardized into "The Wassail Song" [whatever THAT is, probably something disgusting like spiced fruit and brandy] and the absurd "The Happy Wanderer" [yeah, dude, wander around with your knapsack all you want, you ain't got no lutefisk tho]). We finally got to Dad and Aloysius' secret lutefisking spot, down by the USSteel Clairton Works, where the water from the battery quenchers discharged into the river, next to where the slag barges were moored, where the heat from the acid kept the ice from forming at the outlet tube. It was bitter cold, no more than 8*, but we were so excited that it felt like midsummer. Jimmy almost tore his tutu on the door handle as he raced for the shoreline to set up his pole; Uncle Aloysius tossed his whiskey bottle into the ice and laughed maniacally as he discharged the BAR toward the river, and the tracer shells ricocheted among the barges in the pre-dawn darkness. It was magical. We felt the love, like real family does.

My Dad and Jim yanked the arc welder and the torches from the car, and they started to work cutting up the nearest barge and welding the pieces into a lutefiskerform (the traditional platform on which all respectable lutefiskerman sit as they lutefisk). Im the gloaming across the river I saw a security guard point at us and shout something; Uncle Al let loose a whoop and a burst of .30 from the Lewis, and we were left alone and in blessed peace. I looked around me then, as the day slowly dawned, and marveled at the beauty of the spot where lutefisk gathered to frolic; the frozen rat carcasses, the globs of coal tar littering the river banks, the old tires and broken glass... I'd never seen such a pastoral marvel. It was like being inside one of those ten thousand piece jigsaw puzzles, you know the ones, with the paintings of the impossibly beautiful scenes from some imaginary world!

So then we hunkered down to lutefisking. Dad always said that if you want to catch a monster you can't use a minnow for bait, so we had tied lutefisk flies the size of bullfrogs, the size of rock cornish game hens (we'd read about those in Look magazine), the size of baseballs, some of the largest lutefiskflies I'd ever seen... until Uncle Al reached down into his pants and pulled out what looked to be a basketball, it was so big! He brought it over to us, giggling madly like the escaped mental patient that he was, and as he got closer we saw that it was a huge lutefly, or better said, luteFLIES! Uncle Al had spent the entire previous year sitting on his back porch staring at the insect strips dangling from the porch ceiling, and now we knew why! As the flies had become trapped by the sticky glue of the strip, Uncle Al had been carefully collecting them with tweezers and putting them in the crisper section of his old Crosley refrigerator, thereby keeping them nice and meaty, just for this day; and now, he had taken one of Aunt Marnie's stockings and carefully crafted an orb of fly carcasses, enmeshed in nylon, for our lutefiskefirstday!

We stared slackjawed as he jammed the lutelure over the barbs on the grappling hook. "Dis be how da pros do dis," he said sagely, with a raised eyebrow and a hiccup. Jim and I couldn't even speak, we were so in awe of the power of my uncle. Dad, meanwhile, was so proud, his boys lutefisking, with him, on lutefiskerfirstday! He opened his flask and took another long hit of whatever it was that made him so happy on those days that we could get him out of bed before 3 in the afternoon.

Uncle Aloysius finished securing the lutefiskeflyball to the grappling hook, and then hitched the hook to the wire rope with the 4-bolt clamp; he looked at it for a minute, then spat, and let out about 50 yards of slack from the winch next to the long metal lutepole holding the line. He took the lure over to the Stude, and jammed in inside the back window; then he rolled the window up until thewire was trapped inbetween the window and the frame. "Watch this,", my Dad whispered, quivering himself with excitement. "Al figgered this'n out all by hissef."

Al got in the Studebaker and put it in gear, and started driving sloooowwwwwwwly away from the river. As he drove, the slack came out of the line. He drove a little farther, and the lutefly came up snug against the back window of the Stude. He drove a little farther, and the lutepole started to bend. He drove a little farther, and the lutewire started to stretch. He drove a little farther, and the wire streeeeeeetched a lilttle bit more, and my Dad started to snicker, and then started to laugh uncontrollably, because he knew what... BANGZZZZSZZZZIP! The back window BLEW out of the Stude, the pole snapped upright, the wire SHOT out across the frozen river, and the lutefiskefly went SOARING in a great big beautiful arc across the rising sun, landing right smack dab in the middle of the biggest ice floe on the mighty Monongahela, almost a hundred yards away! Uncle Al staggered out of the car, laughing so hard I thought he was going to die, he was turning almost black with laughter then breathing in HUGE amounts of air with that asthmatic wheeze of his; my dad couldn't keep it anymore, he was crying and laughing and rolling on the ground. You'da thought both Uncle Al AND he were certifiably insane, and maybe they were, y'know, maybe they were; after all, they were lutefiskermen, teaching kids to be lutefiskermen!

"Oh aitch ee double hockey sticks, Aloysius, let's set up the artillery; you don't want these little minnows thinking that lutefisking is like a circus, do ya?" Dad said, as he reattached his rubber nose that had fallen off, and he and Uncle Aloysius set up the .303 Lewis gun and the BAR to wait. I started to say something, and the grownups SSSSSShhhh'd me, so we sat there and waited in the 8* cold dawn, in our tutus and clown noses and mittens, the glass from the back window of the Stude sparkling among the rat carcasses as the ice floes in the river moaned and groaned as they shifted. And we sat. And we sat. And we sat....

Suddenly Markie's ears perked up. Will started barking. I'd never seen them like that! They both were jumping up and down, turning in circles, whimpering, running up to the water and running back to us! Dad and Al looked at us, at the dogs, and then at each other. They smiled, and Al said, "You ready, Felton?" (My dad's name was Felton. He invented felt, and the past tense of the word "feel", but you probably figured that out from his name.) And Dad answered, "Shut up and lutefisk, Al..." and just then, the biggest... the biggest THING I ever saw, before or since, came SMASHING up through the ice! I had to invent the word LEVIATHAN to describe it! It was huge, and it was gray, and it quivered like jelly! It had thousands of tiny little bones all through it, and it had no eyes and no mouth, no discernable features at all, really! It lunged toward the lutefiskfly sitting on the ice floe!

I instinctively reached for the lutefiskpole, figuring to egg the monster on, then hook it and reel it in to us, thus capturing the first lutefisk of the season; but Uncle Al shoved me down and out of the way, as he and Dad opened fire on it. They raked the lutefiskeflesh mercilessly, the rounds whacking into it like bbs into jello, and pieces of lutefiskemeat tore off and littered the ice like in a bad slasher movie. A deafening roar rent the sky as the lutefisk flopped about, writhing, looking for safety. Suddenly I felt sick; this wasn't what I had expected! This wasn't sporting at all! The firing stopped, and the air was full of the smell of cordite and lutefiskeflesh. I wanted to run somewhere; I wanted to go home, to my bed and my dimestore comics, anywhere but this, this lutefiskekillingfield! I looked around; Jimmy was in the car, crying. I stood there, transfixed, as Dad and Uncle Al shouldered their weapons, and started moving towards the river with their lutefiskesacks, to harvest the rewards of their spree. My dad walked over and put his arm around me, and straightened out my tutu. "So, son, now you know. Or, at least now you THINK you know." I looked at him. His eyes were watery, and glazed over. "Son, you think this is bad. But now... now we have to EAT it."


teddys Feb 23, 2011

Post-modern literature? Nice job.

Toes14 Feb 27, 2011

What is a lutefisk? Never heard of it.

teddys Sep 23, 2012

Lutefisk is a dish made of fermented fish, popular among Scandanavian and Scandanavian-American populations. Here, Mosca is using it as a literary device...