This is a diary of my trip across the US with my daughter to start her freshman year at college in New York — and my return trip, too. Read all the entries here.
I leave Atlantic City and head towards Philadelphia, where my wife and I lived for about 20 minutes a quarter-century ago. In that time, and in several visits before and since, I’ve seen every part of the town I wanted to visit, so there won’t be any sightseeing this time. Instead, I’m going to stop at Parx Casino, where I’ve heard great things about the poker room. Matt Glantz, who I had dinner with a couple of nights ago, has signed an endorsement deal as poker ambassador for Parx. He’s brought some of the high-stakes games from Borgata to Parx, and tells me there’s always good action.
The poker room at Parx is in a separate building from the rest of the casino, on the second floor of the racetrack grandstand. The horses only run on the weekends, so it’s a little slow as I arrive on Wednesday afternoon, but I take the escalator up to the second floor to find a huge space with 60 poker tables and plenty of games going. Unfortunately, there’s no PLO, so I put my name on the list for the $10/10 no-limit hold’em game and get the floor guy to start a list for $5/5 pot-limit Omaha. He says that game probably won’t go for several hours, but he has a seat open right now in a $2/5 no-limit game.
I sit down and it becomes quickly apparent that Parx is a well-run room. They have personnel with carts to sell chips to players at the tables, the dealers are efficient and nice, and the floor people are on top of things. I play for a few hours, then pick up and go to check into my motel room (there’s no hotel in the Parx complex, so I’m staying at a Comfort Inn less than 2 miles away). After checking in, I realize I haven’t eaten since breakfast, so I find a local restaurant that’s advertising half-price meals tonight. It’s packed, but I take a seat at the bar, where the service is good and the food is fine.
In the mood for more poker, I head back to Parx, where there’s a seat open in the $10/10 game. I like the fact that they play it with $10 chips and matching blinds, which makes the game go faster. Around 10:30pm, there are finally enough PLO players to start that game. There aren’t any real fish at the table, but a couple of guys who play too aggressively, and I take advantage of that. Around 2am, we’re down to five players, so I call it a night with a nice big stack.
As I cash out, I feel a little uncomfortable walking across the large parking lot carrying my bankroll in my pocket, so I ask a security guard to escort me to my car. That’s not a commentary on Parx in particular — many casinos offer this service, and I’ve taken advantage of it several times, particularly in places I didn’t know well.
The first time I made the request was a couple of years ago at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, when the idea of walking through the darkness at 3am to the space I’d parked in when the sun was out made me a tad nervous. That night, I spotted a sheriff’s deputy near the front door and asked if there was someone who could walk me out. He stood up (taller than me, and I’m 6’4″), put his hand on his gun, and said, “I’m your man!” He then took out his flashlight and led the way, stopping me when we got to my car so that he could make sure there wasn’t anyone hiding in the back seat. Talk about full service protection.
This time, the Parx casino guard (Curtis) doesn’t have a gun, but uses his walkie-talkie to notify dispatch that he’s escorting me to the parking lot. As we step outside, I see a security patrol car headed in our direction. Curtis explains that they heard his call and this was standard protocol — that officer would keep an eye on us, too, until I drove away. When I get in my car, I thank him, he says good night and waves to the other officer, and I head back to the motel.
Miles thus far: 1,440.