By Matt Goldstein
How to Valet your Cadillac, Chill Poolside in a Cabana, Curse too Loud, Eat & Drink all the Pecan Pie & Cognac in the Borgata VIP Room, Never Pay for a Meal, Drink, or Ringside Seat, and Catch a Thief Robbing Your Room that Turns into an Outrageous Mugging
WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE: This is a story of violence, debauchery, alcoholism, degenerate gambling, robbery, cognac, Jack on the rocks, poker pros, Cadillacs, and pecan pie. The players? Matt Goldstein, an internet boxing journalist. Jimmy James, a mixed martial arts expert and ringside reporter. Adam Goldstein, older brother of Matt and aspiring poker pro and Art, a skinny black haired Albanian poker player from NYC with a heavy accent. I don’t know Art or his last name and never met him before Saturday morning. All I know is that his nickname is “I’m going to f’n crush you!”
It all started at the Friday night weigh in when Sergio Martinez and Paul Williams faced off in front of the scale. It was probably the greatest weigh in I have ever seen. There was no yelling, no cursing, and no trash talking by either fighter or camp. It was simply about the fighters and one of the best stare downs ever. Both fighters, Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez, had looks of unbeatable confidence, but Sergio Martinez particularly had an evil stare. With a rock hard face but slight smile, there was something there that said Paul Williams picked the wrong guy to fight. There was something that said Paul Williams was in a lot of trouble. It was an omen of what was to come. The man was evil! Myself and Jimmy James shot the weigh in, interviewed both Chris Arreola and Paul Williams, and then headed to the press room to post the interviews for Boxingtalk.
After our work was completed at the weigh in we decided to valet the Cadillac, check into our complimentary room in the new Harrah’s Waterfront Tower, and eventually make our over to the Borgata VIP louange for high rollers. You see, when you know guys like Art and Adam who play poker six days a week, everything is comped. EVERYTHING! Valet, hotel rooms, top shelf open bar, all you can eat anywhere you go, etc.. You even get free tic-tacs. It all seemed to go downhill from this point. The Borgata VIP room is a bar and buffet with couches and leather recliners that you can take naps on, watch projection screen TVs and chill. It’s dark like an old school jazz club.
Jimmy and I were eating dinner when our waiter approached our table and asked, “Sir, are you enjoying your prime rib?” “Absolutely”, I responded. “What would you like to drink?”, he asked. “I’ll take a Remy Martin. Jimmy, and you?”, I ask. “Jack on the Rocks” Jimmy responds. After the prime rib, hanger steak and shrimp cocktail, I went back over to the buffet and where there were three pieces of pecan pie left, so I had no choice. I took all three. “Three pieces of pecan pie?”, you ask. Well, it’s the best pecan pie I ever had so GFY! About five or six drinks later we closed the VIP room, went back to our room and cracked open a bottle of Gentlemen’s Jack Daniels and poured it on some ice. There’s no point in paying $15 per drink on the casino floor when it’s only $25 per bottle. So we take our drinks and walk into any bar and club we feel like.
Sometime later that evening Adam takes us into the high stakes Borgata poker room and shows us two players colluding on a $25,000 hand. Adam says loudly that the players are cheating. It seems as if he is not aware of how loud he is or that everyone can hear him. He’s just trying to explain the game of poker to Jimmy and I. This is Adam’s m.o..; loud, proud and obnoxious as hell. A few hours later, Adam and Art were at a 2-5 no limit poker table in the Borgata. Art was playing some hands with another player that he knew was a donkey. After this donkey of a player makes a horrible call with Ace, King off and catches Art bluffing, taking a semi big pot, this guy says, “I like playing with you. You’re Albanian right? I’m Russian, we’re like brothers.” Art replied in the cool and vicious Albanian accent, “If we were brothers why are you making horrible calls and trying to take my fucking money? I’m going to fucking crush you!” The donkey basically shits his pants and Art proceeds to takes $1000 dollars from the guy over the course of the next 20 hands. At this time Jimmy and I were totally hammered after about five or six Jacks over ice. We both are on the verge of passing out in the room mumbling something about how the Clash used that Jamaican Ska/Reggae sound and changed rock & roll history.
Sometime around 8 am Adam and Art walk in the room. “Matt, meet Art. He can sleep with you.” I don’t know who this Art guy is but he’s not sleeping with me. Forget that. I jump in a different bed. Adam & Art hit the room like a goddamn tornado and start yelling about all these crazy poker hands. We don’t understand the lingo or whatever they are talking about and Jimmy yells loud and sarcastically back, “What happened in the next hand?” It was implication for Adam and Art to go to bed and STFU so we could sleep.
The next morning I wake up first and drink every water bottle in the room. The bad feeling you get when you are hung-over is mostly from dehydration so drinking a lot of water is a must, especially if you’re planning another binge in a few hours. So I drank all the water and had that feeling like I was going to throw up, but it only lasted a second so I can’t complain. At about 12 pm and I wake Jimmy up and we head down to the Harrah’s Diamond Club for another comped buffet and open bar. I drink a glass of water in about 8 seconds. The headache is gone. It’s almost time to start over.
Then I get a call from my boy and PR man Marc Abrams of 15 rounds and Go Fight Live who asks me to attend a press conference for heavyweight title challenger “Fast” Eddie Chambers. I gear up, grab the Cadillac and go across town to Caesars. Jimmy stays behind and heads to the indoor Harrah’s pool, one of the hottest spots in all of Atlantic City mind you. Adam & Art are still sleeping of course. When I get to Caesar’s Marc tells me, “Eddie will be here in 10 minutes.” A half hour later Marc says it again, “Eddie will be here in 10 minutes.” Another half hour goes by and Marc says it again, “Eddie will be here in ten minutes.” At this time I am really annoyed because Jimmy is poolside with a Heineken reading a book about a bare knuckle fighter named the Guvner who used to make money in backroom brawls for the mob and intimidate the IRA. I am sitting in the press room for absolutely no reason wondering if Adam will notice the Tic Tacs I bought on Caesars card. Eddie never showed but it’s no big deal. Fight time is nearing, so I log onto Marc Abrams laptop and place some 3-4 college football bets for J. James. Marc starts yelling at me because he thinks I drink too much at the fights. A girl who works for the promoter, Goosen-Tutor, cuts in and says, “At least your articles will be interesting.” You’re God damn right they are!
I get back in the Cadillac and head back to Harrah’s. The valet’s do this thing where they leave mini bottles of “Caesar’s Purified Water” in your cars cup containers. For a binge drinker like me, this is a necessity. I find Jimmy at the pool and contemplate renting a poolside Cabana for $300. Ya know, because why in the world would one opt to chill in a lounge chair for free by the pool when you could pay a lot of money to sit about two feet away. We abandon the Cabana idea however, there is not enough time. One more Heineken and we need to hit the showers and ready for dinner and drinks.
When we get to the room, Art is still sleeping and Adam is very groggy wondering around. The lights are off and the curtains are closed. It’s almost 4:30 pm and pitch black. I open the curtain, turn on the lights and tell Art to “wake the fuck up!” When I get out of the shower Art tells me about his friend who won the NY Golden Gloves twice and is turning pro this year. I give Art my card and tell him that his friend can call me anytime for some press or to call me if he is looking for a lawyer to look over his contracts. Then Art tells me about the kids trainer who’s son was a world champion who had the deadliest uppercut in boxing. I asked Art the fighters name and he did not know. “All I know is that they call him Uppercuts!” It’s starting to sound like Mike Tyson aint shit. I asked if the trainer is Cus Damato. The joke goes unnoticed.
It’s less than 5 hours before HBO goes live, time for dinner and drinks. Me & Jimmy hop in the Cadillac to head cross town for Caesar’s and start bumping the Belly version of However Do You Want Me by Soul II Soul. Punk Rock and Gangster Rap, that’s how I roll. We arrive, another comped buffet and open bar at the Caesar’s Diamond club, which destroys the Diamond Club at Harrah’s but is nowhere near as smooth as the Borgata lounge. Two Amstell Lights to start with dinner, sausage and peppers and what not, followed by serious question from Jimmy. “Is that a brownie with hot fudge on it?” “Why yes it is” I reply. “Yes it is.” Two seats open at the bar, and I scurry to save them. I walk over, put my lap top bag on one bar stool and put my camera bag on the other and walk back to the dinner table. It’s a pretty ghetto move but very effective.
I go back to the table, finish my brownie and we head over to the bar area to watch some college football. The bartender Anthony comes over and asks what we would like. I say “A Hennessy,” of course. Anthony proceeds to pour a glass of Hennessy out of the soda gun. I don’t know what it is, but that aint Hennessy. Jimmy James asks for some kind of coffee with a liquer in it but doesn’t really know of what the drink would be called. “I got something for you,” Anthony says. This 75 year old bartender with the wise mouth walks back over to us with coffee and whip cream on top. He hands me the Cognac out of a tap, 3 shots. He also hands me the coffee drink thinking it’s for me as well. I sip it. Real dumb I ask, “Is there Amaretto in this?” Anthony replies, “Aint no foolling this guy!” Old ass Anthony rolls his eyes in a joking manor as to make fun of me. This guys tip grows with every joke, even though at first I thought he was for real.
Fight time is nearing and Boardwalk Hall is calling. One more drink is all we have the time and ability for because the 3 shots of Hennessy have me lit. “Anthony, can I have another Hennessy, but just make it half as much this time,” I say. “You got it buddy,” he says, pouring almost 3 shots again. Even when I want to refrain from binge drinking I can’t. Now I get worried because I don’t want Marc to yell at me for being drunk at the fights. Also, the PR guy who runs the events, Ed Keenan, will be watching. He’s always watching me. Ed’s a nice guy, but very serious. Anthony lets us know he’s open until 11 pm and wants us to come back. The old guy loves the jokes and tips, almost $2 per drink.
We arrive at the fights, get our credentials and head inside the theater. My friend Jose Martino from Boxeomundial has a spot closer so I take it. He’s in Florida and cannot make the fights and gives me the blessing over the phone to take the spot. (The first fight in Atlantic City I ever covered, I met Jose Martino. We went out that night and got hammered and have been chilling ever since.) Jimmy grabs two beers and the Quintana-Feliciano fight starts.
Surprisingly, Feliciano drops Quintana early and was looking to be a great matchup. Carlos Quintana caught Jesse Feliciano with a big shot and cut his right eye from one end of the lid to the other. The crowd could barely see the cut and started booing, but when Jesse got out of the ring I walked up to him and asked if I could see the cut. I got right under his eye and examined the cut closely. It was horrible! His eye lid could have been ripped off with one more shot. I hope it heals up for the guy so he can get a deserving rematch. Quintana TKO3 Feliciano.
I spot Pete Rose walking into the theater from across the room. My buddy Kurt Wolfheimer convinces me that it’s not Pete Rose and that I was seeing things. But after a while we see a lot of people coming up to him so we figure it’s just not any regular guy in a velvet sport jacket and ostrich skin baseball cap. Yes, an ostrich skin baseball cap. I think Greg Leon bought one of those before, a Yankees cap I think. The dude is outrageous, what can I say. “Pete, do you mind if me and my buddy take a picture with you?” “Go ahead and take the fucking picture guy.” WOW! What a dick! That’s awesome. He really is a crazy psycho degenerate jerk. We get the pictures and Jimmy swears Pete Rose looks happier in his picture. WEAK!
The next fight is Anthony Thompson vs Chazz Witherspoon, a good heavyweight scrap. Both guys mix it up and land bombs, but Thompson controlled the action from the beginning with his long reach. Thompson landed the big and most effective shots, hurting Chazz early and the Philadelphia native could not recover. Thompson started bombing on Witherspoon in the 9th and has the St. Joe grad really hurt. Chazz refuses to quit but his corner jumps up on the canvas and throws in the towel. It’s sad that Witherspoon’s corner had to jump up on the ring for the 2nd time in a little over a year but they must be commended for protecting their fighter. They seem to care more about his well being then the next possible fight paycheck. Thomspn TKO 9 Witherspoon.
We switch from beer to cognac now so we don’t have to pee during the main event. That happened to me during Gatti-Mayweather and I was begging for an early knockout. It was an unbearable 6 rounds for me, and not because the fight was so lopsided. But I didn’t have a credential for that fight so it was bombs away at the beer stand.
HBO goes live and first up we have Chris “the Nightmare” Arreola vs. the unheralded but brawling Brian Minto. It’s a lopsided brawl and Arreola drops Minto 4th. Brian Minto gets up and throws bombs at Arreola and lands a few big shots. The crowd goes crazy but Arreola stops the freight train with a devastating overhand right and Minto cannot beat the count. Arreola TKO4 Minto.
It’s time for the main event. Jimmy and I put $25 each on Sergio Martinez. This is not because we heavily favor Martinez. I thought it was an even fight coming in and knew that the betting line would be off. Paul Williams is listed as -400. -400? Are you fucking kidding me? Sergio Martinez is one of the slickest and skilled fighters in the world. There is absolutely no way Paul Williams should have been a 4-1 favorite coming into this fight. Especially since his one loss was to Quintana because he was out boxed. Martinez is a much slicker better version of Quintana. This is a classic matchup. The long reach and big punching power of Williams, much like Tommy Hearns, and the slick skilled boxing style of the much shorter Sergio Martinez, much like Sugar Ray Leornard. It’s a no brainer. We put money on Martinez at +330. Plus, Sergio Martinez is evil. He’s kind of like Damien from the Omen.
Martinez is dropped in the first round by what looked to be a Williams left. The knockdown was mostly from balance. Martinez rises to the canvas and drops the bigger Williams with a huge left hand. Williams looked shook up but gets up and continues the round. From that point on the action was toe to toe, ebb and flow. This was the greatest fight I have ever witnessed in person. If these two were not my favorite fighters going into the fight, they are now. Even until the last round, both men fire away unwittingly. The fight ends and we go to the scorecards; 115-113 by Lynne Carter, 114-114 by Julie Lederman, and a very insane 119-110 by Pierre Benoist. This scorecard was so crazy, that by the time we got to Caesar’s post fight, we heard there were protests by Iranian students in Tehran claiming fraud and asking for Pierre to step down. Those are just rumors though and I cannot reveal my source. Paul Williams MD12 Sergio Martinez.
It turned out to be the greatest $25 I ever lost. We rock the post fight presser, interview Chris Arreola, talk to Dibella, Goosen and Martinez and watch the Thompson camp go crazy on Arreola. Of course Arreola responded by cursing them all the fuck out. It was classic.
It’s about midnight and time to go to the Toga Bar! Myself, Barlieb and Abrams head down the boardwalk a couple blocks to Caesars. We pass the NJ State Athletic Commissioner coming from the other direction and I jokingly yell at him, “Did you have something better to do then go to the post fight press conference?” I don’t think he heard me, but Marc yelled at me again to behave.
We get to the Toga bar and try to pick up some women for Marc. There are also exotic dancers behind the bar in the middle of the casino floor. That’s weird, never seen that before. I’d complain but who’d listen. We also got word that Adam and Art were crushing the poker room at the Borgata. In the title of this article I lied about not paying for any drinks. There are no comps at the fights (they should change that) and the Diamond Club is closed by the time we get back to Caesars. We head of to our usual post fight spot, that Bally’s hotel lobby bar. There were promoters, journalists, fighters and me making a total ass of myself, but I’ll never tell about that one. We got it in to say the least. It’s time to part ways with Marc and we head back to Harrah’s.
Jimmy and I go to the room, fill up our glasses with Gentleman’s Jack and head down to the bar. It’s about 3:30 am now and we are surrounded by prostitutes. Listen, if you are male, and ages 21-50 and at a casino bar in Atlantic City, you will be approached by a prostitute within 15 minutes. That’s a fact. It’s just how it is. So these two hookers sit down next to us, the one next to me about 30, tall skinny and African American. I ask, “Is that your boyfriend,” knowing the whole time the tall skinny African American guy walking around next to her is her pimp. “Who, him,” she says. “That’s just a friend.” I say, “Is that a snake skin neck tie he is wearing? And where the fuck did he get that button down shirt with the matching collar?” It was subtle, but excessive none the less. Jimmy got mad and made the hookers leave. We keep drinking and it’s just more Jack Daniel’s after more Jack Daniels. We crash at about 5 am and I text Marshall Kauffman how much alcohol I drank. He texted me back that I’m crazy. Adam and Art come in at about 7 am and crash.
It was over I thought. That was it. That was our weekend. Adam and I wake up at about 11 am and he said he wanted to go to the front lobby to see if he could switch his total rewards card. As we were leaving the room I asked Adam if he had his room key. He said “Yeah, but just leave the door cracked open with the latch.” I say OK, and leave the door cracked like when you go to get a bucket of ice. Jimmy and Art were still sleeping inside. Adam and I go downstairs to the rewards desk for a few minutes and come back up to the room. It was no more than 10 minutes.
When we get back to the room and walk in, there is some girl pacing back and forth saying, “This is my room. Where is my boyfriend?” She was about 30 years old, long black hair tied back, 120 lbs with jeans and a hooded sweatshirt on. I thought for a minute we walked into the wrong room but then saw the mess and the bottle of Jack Daniels and knew it was our room. “Did you just check in” I asked, thinking we over stayed our welcome and were supposed to have checked out already. She replies “No.” and I said that we had been there since Friday and she was definitely in the wrong room.
As she is walking out the door I suggest she call her boyfriend but she replied that she didn’t have a phone. She gets a little further down the hallway and I tell her to go to the front desk and give her boyfriend’s last name, they’ll ring the room for you. She says OK and goes on her way. I walk back into the room and Adam says, “My watch! My watch is gone!” I burst out of the room at full speed and fly down the hotel hallway. The girl is standing there waiting for the elevator. “You fucking whore bitch! You just robbed our room. Empty your pockets bitch!” She replies, “I don’t have anything!” I can see the pouch in the front of her hoodie bulging with stuff. “Empty your fucking pockets right now bitch!” She pulls her hands out of the hoodie pouch holding a bunch of stuff saying, “I don’t have anything!” I don’t look at her hands because I am still concentrating on the bulging front pocket. I am treading very carefully here because I don’t want to get accused of assault or sexually accosting some girl. At this point I was pretty sure she robbed us so I went for it. I stuck my hand in the front pouch of her hoodie and the first thing I feel is a watch. I scream down the hallway, “Adam, is this your fossil?” “Yeah, that’s my watch” he screams back. Then I just go crazy, I pulled $400 in poker chips out of the pocket, and start smacking shit out of her hand. I look up and see her holding another watch; it’s a Swiss Army watch. “That’s Jimmy’s watch you fuckin bitch!” I see a wallet in her hand and grab it, open it. It’s has Jimmy’s license.
Five minutes earlier this girl snuck into our room, bent down right next to the bed where Jimmy was sleeping with his face right on the edge of the bed, and she lifted his wallet out of his jeans on the floor and takes his watch right off the nightstand, just inches from away from him.
Back at the elevators I hand my brother the chips and he gets on an elevator. Jimmy and Art wake up from all the commotion and I hand Jimmy his wallet and watch back. He is visibly annoyed. She tries to get on the elevator with my brother and he says, “You’re not getting on the same elevator as me bitch!” He leaves, another elevator comes and she tries to get on. It has about 5-6 people on it. Now, I don’t want her to leave because we are not finished searching her pockets. I also don’t want the people on the elevator to think I am assaulting some girl so I start yelling, “You robbed our room bitch! Empty your pockets now!” I yelled it over and over and would not let her past. She had no chance getting by me. My shoulders are huge and she was no match. No one on the elevator said a word, shocked and confused they let the door close and continued going down. She finally empties all of her pockets and I smack all of the shit out of her hands so she couldn’t run away with it. The maids are on the phone calling security at this point and I grip $156 cash from her hand. The girl is visibly broken and scared she is going to get arrested. Art says, “Just let her go, we got everything back.” Ya know, because shit like this happens to Albanians from NYC all the time. Security is on their way and we feel bad and just let her go. We tell the maids to forget about and go back to the room. Me Art and Jimmy are back in the room and Jimmy is PISSED! “I don’t like commotion waking me up first thing in the morning,” he says. Commotion huh?
I call Adam and ask where he was. He replies, “I just cashed the chips.” I asked, “Were they your chips?” He said no. I asked if the $156 in cash I took off the girl was anybodies and they all said no! We got robbed, mugged the robber and came out on top $556. It was all timing. If we missed her by 5 more minutes we could have been down 2 lap tops, a mini DV camera, a digital camera, an Ipod and a couple cell phones, plus everything she had in her pockets. Instead, we came out of the incident with $550 cash that she probably lifted from another floor 20 minutes earlier. Adam thinks that the girl follows the maid service around from floor to floor and walks in the rooms where the leave the doors open, pretending it’s her room. It’s a different crew on every other floor so they might never notice her twice.
It’s now Sunday afternoon, about 12:15 pm. We gather our stuff, check out by the TV and head down stairs to the Diamond Club. Before we leave, Jimmy dusts off the remaining 3 shots of Jack left in the bottle. UGH! He just woke up 15 minutes ago, no breakfast, shower or anything. What a fucking champion! Off to the Diamond club! That’s right, an all you can eat buffet with open bar. “Jack on the Rocks please,” as Jimmy is on the phone with his girlfriend Shana having her place football bets for him, telling her the crazy story that just happened. “I’ll take a mimosa,” I say as we crush two plates of free buffet food. The waitress warned us once for cursing. We were truly sorry but we were just very excited from the recent incident. The waitress came over and started yelling at us again for cursing. This time she was out of control and very demeaning. First off, this is a room full of degenerate gamblers, nobody cares about cursing. Second, if she would have just spoken to us nicely, we would have left her a tip. And that’s how you stiff a waitress at the Harrah’s Diamond Club!
Are there some things in this story that were embellished like a good movie? Maybe. Were there some things that I left out to save you from yourself? Absolutely. There are just some things I can’t tell you. You’ll never know about the attempted fraud, the identity theft, or the chubby girl in the Borgata VIP room who lifted up her skirt. You’ll never know about how Adam got us lost going from the Borgata to Harrah’s even though they are right next to each other and there are signs that take you there in a straight line. Not to mention you can’t miss Harrah’s because it has a glowing neon American Flag down the side that’s bigger than a football field that you can see from Ocean City. And we’ll never know if Adam and Art actually won even though they said they crushed two poker rooms. Oh yeah, and those pecan pies were really small.
Now it’s over. We order the Cadillac through a digital machine that scans the valet card for Diamond club members and watch some of the football game on a flat screen at the valet area waiting for them to bring the car around. Me and Jimmy are going home, back to Lafayette Hill and Blue Bell. Back to my wife, back to his girlfriend and our 9-5 jobs. I gotta get home, watch the 2nd half of the Eagles game and start uploading footage and writing boxing articles. I gotta be at work Monday morning at 7 am with a level of stress that cannot even be imagined. I gotta hit the gym Tuesday evening hard as hell to shake off those pecan pies and brownies. I gotta lose 15 lbs before softball starts in March or I’m going to be a bag of shit on the field. I gotta start rehabbing from my shoulder surgery. I gotta start doing nicer things for Carolynn like bring her flowers and take her out to dinner. I want to start a family. I want to teach my kids about baseball and WWII. I’m hoping to catch the replay of Fareed Zakaria on CNN so I can watch him breakdown the war in Afghanistan. We’re going back to our normal lives and local bars. I’m wondering if I drink too much, eat too much, spend too much money and am simply out of control. Well, maybe I don’t spend that much since the weekend only cost me $50 in tips and gas. Shit, I’m even getting paid for some of this.
We separated from Adam and Art at the Diamond Club. We were heading home. Adam and Art were heading over to the Borgata to check in. They’re going to do it all over again in a few minutes. Their probably at a 2-5 table right now, ruining some tourists night by felting the whole fucking table of chips. Fear and Loathing in Atlantic City… How to Valet your Cadillac, Chill Poolside in a Cabana, Curse too Loud, Eat & Drink all the Pecan Pie & Cognac in the Borgata VIP Room, Never Pay for a Meal, Drink, or Ringside Seat, and Catch a Thief Robbing Your Room that Turns into an Outrageous Mugging.
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