Bally's was the fourth poker room in my tour of all of the Atlantic City rooms. It is next in line on the boardwalk after Caesars Atlantic City and before Resorts.
Bally's is not a superficially appealing room. First of all, it's hard to get to, almost as if the casino wants to hide it away. It's tucked away in back of the race book on the sixth floor of the casino. Nothing but the race book and a keno lounge is up there. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as there isn't the typical noise of slot machines or craps-table shouting to distract the serious player. But the room is also neglected… the lighting is very poor. The tables are arranged haphazardly and awkwardly, around and behind an intrusive board that obscures a player's view of other tables. The bathroom is also bizarre – a maze-like array of mirrors and stalls. The poker room itself is non-smoking, but there's smoking right outside the room and it tends to waft in.
Even so, the room management tries to do the best with a bad situation. They offer free non-alcoholic drinks and snacks that include, unique among poker rooms in Atlantic City, hot dogs (free for Diamond Club members, $2.50 otherwise). They also give players $1/hour in comps – good for food or for a room. There is regular tableside food and beverage service, though the food service tends to be fairly slow.
The poker room has twenty tables; that's not to say, though, that it's a very big room. Though my last visit was on a Saturday afternoon of a holiday weekend, when one would expect a poker room to be at its busiest, only seven tables were going when I arrived. Three were limit hold'em; three were no-limit hold' em; one was stud.
The room is a low-limit poker room but with some interesting variations in the standard fare. In addition to the standard $2/4 limit hold'em, Bally's offers a $1/3 no-limit game, with a buy-in of $100 to $300. Also unusual in Atlantic City is $1-5 spread-limit seven-card stud with a $.50/player ante. Other places that spread this level of stud tend to spread it with no ante.
I played the no-limit game. It was a mix of older regulars and somewhat younger, but still not youthful, tourists. No one seemed very experienced at no-limit, with a couple of wild players present and the rest sedate and timid. The two guys sitting next to me were waiting to get into the stud game. They mentioned that late at night there was sometimes a $2/5 no-limit game – but they never played such high limits.
The stud game was filled with senior citizens. I didn't see a player who looked under seventy. The limit tables had a mix of players, racially and demographically, but there were few if any players in their thirties or twenties. That's very unusual these days. Most other casinos in Atlantic City were full of youngsters who looked barely old enough to play legally.
There's a bad beat jackpot for hold'em as well. You have to have quads beaten to qualify. The room also boasts regular tournaments. They had a no-limit one going off at 2:00 PM the Saturday I was there. There's a regular schedule of weekly tournaments as well, but you're best off to call in advance to see the latest lineup of games and tournaments, since these things change regularly.
The staff has been exceptionally friendly and accommodating to me when I've visited. They do this in spite of appearing overworked. Most are seasoned veterans who know their trade well.
The attached property, the Wild West Casino, used to run constant sit-and-go tournaments. This no longer is the case, as it was shut it down in early fall of 2007. Bally's did not elect to pick up the sit-and-goes in its room. As far as I know, there are no regular sit-and-goes in Atlantic City (unlike at Foxwoods, which runs them constantly, 18 hours a day).
All told, the room had a sort of an old-fashioned, off-the-beaten-path charm to it, with its combination of dusty tables and older clientele. As a mid-limit stud player, I doubt I'd come by here much. But if I wanted a soft spot for low-stakes no-limit action, this would be a good place to develop my basic chops before I started to take on the tougher action in some of the other rooms. Even so, I might not be able to stand the lack of good lighting for very long. And I'd have to keep an eye on my diet – unable as I was to resist the temptation of free hot dogs while I played.
Bally's Casino Atlantic City
114 S. Indiana Ave
Atlantic City, NJ 08401