Guest Blog Post: Taj Mahal Memories

With the news that Trump Taj Mahal is closing after Labor Day, listener @snickers99poker sent us some of his memories of the property. We thought you might like to read them (shared with his permission, of course).

On Wednesday, August 4th, I learned through the Due For A Win Twitter account that Trump Taj Mahal casino announced that they will be closing after Labor Day. I’m a big fan of Atlantic City (not as big as Kyle and Craig … who is?) and the news was disappointing.

Since I take trips to both Atlantic City and Las Vegas, I’m a Caesars Entertainment person so I can earn and redeem rewards in both places. When in Atlantic City, I usually stay at Harrah’s and haven’t set foot in the Taj in years. But the news of the potential closing reminded me of my two favorite Taj Mahal memories.

I grew up in South Jersey, just outside Philadelphia, and eventually moved down to Cape May County to pursue a radio career. Gotta start somewhere, right? Well, I started my career there and ended my career there. Don’t get me wrong … it was a blast. Some of the best times of my life. But I eventually decided to be an adult and get a real job. This had nothing to do with me being unable to grow my career to outside of Cape May County, radio market #241 when I was there. Purely coincidental.

I ended up getting a job as a computer operator at Resorts International Casino and Hotel. By the way, one thing I learned while working there was that the initials of Resorts International Casino and Hotel spell RICH. They’ve since dropped the ‘International’ part, ruining a good story for me. And Resorts and the Taj Mahal are more related than you might realize, but I’m not going to get into that.

At that time if you worked for a casino, you were not allowed to gamble there. But you were allowed to gamble at other casinos. As you got higher in the corporate structure, you weren’t allowed to gamble at any casino. But I didn’t have to worry about that. I’m guessing that’s still the case but don’t know for sure.

So my first favorite memory of Taj Mahal was taking $2 and a couple times a week during my lunch hour, I would walk over to the Taj and play nickel slots. Always the same Wild Rose slot machine. This was before penny slots took over everything. Once the $2 was gone, I was done. Sometimes I won, usually I lost. But it got me out of the computer room and I got to walk around the gaudiness that is the Trump Taj Mahal. Walk through the doors that connect the two casinos, past the buffet, and down the escalator with the huge chandelier hanging above me. Sometimes I’d walk around the stores on the second level and wonder who actually bought that stuff. Or I’d buy lottery tickets when the jackpot grew.

My second favorite memory happened after I had left my Resorts job and moved to Pittsburgh. I still go to Atlantic City a couple times a year and during one of my trips, I stopped at the Taj Mahal poker room. This poker room was a must stop back in the day. Long before poker was popular, the Taj Mahal poker room was there. And you could pretty much get any game going. The dealers didn’t take any guff, the chips were dirty as hell, you didn’t know if the guy next to you was in the Philly/AC mob … and it was awesome. And of course, there are scenes at the Taj poker room in “Rounders.” It was like going to Binion’s back in the day before they moved the WSOP to the Rio. Even if you didn’t play there, you had to at least go in and smell the history.

I played there only a handful of times but my favorite memory of the poker room was the first time someone threw their cards at me. Actually, I think it’s the only time. Your standard 1/2 NL table, and this arrogant little punk sits down. You know how in the movies, they sometimes portray a rich jerk as a young guy, short hair, obnoxious, smug, better than everybody attitude? That was this guy. Oh, and he knew everything about poker, of course.

Everybody was licking their chops, waiting to take this guy’s money because we saw he was an ass. And sure enough, he’s losing and telling us all that we all stink and he can’t believe he was losing to us. Sweet. Keep that tilt factor up. He’s in seat 9 or so, I’m in seat 3 or so, so we’re across the table from each other. I didn’t get any of his money until I got pocket jacks. I forget the full story (it’s written down somewhere but I couldn’t find it) so some of this story might not be totally correct. But all that matters is the end. I think he kept betting into me and I was pretty sure I was ahead the whole time so I just kept calling. By the river, I had a huge hand, we get it all in, he confidently flips up his hand with his smug little smile saying ‘of course I win!’ I flip up mine, have him crushed, win, take the pot. He stands up, yells at us again about how bad we are, and flings his cards across the table at me. It was awesome. He stormed out after that. Good times.

And those are my two favorite Taj Mahal stories. Oh … I took my Dad to see Jeff Foxworthy there and was surprised at how much I liked the show. But that’s another story.

I think I’m heading back to AC later this month and I will probably try to get over to the Shore side and walk through the Taj one last time.

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