Blood type: AC+
One of my mother's journals described how she and my father used to visit Resorts in Atlantic City for blackjack, back when rules were highly favorable to players:
"Several times a week Mike and I left our little son with a babysitter, rode the chartered bus with our unborn daughter to the first casino in Atlantic City and played blackjack until dawn. We were like machines never varying from the system, playing with no emotion and no hesitation."
My dad remembers taking breaks for oyster stew and clam chowder.
"It was a candy store," he recalls winning about 75-80% of sessions. "They were giving money away to people who played perfect strategy and counted (even a little bit)."
The morning I was born in Philadelphia, doctors told my dad to go relax because I would be fine but wasn't going to be out of the intensive care unit for a bit. So he went to Resorts in AC to play another session.
"It was New Year's Eve after all...and you needed a new pair of shoes," he said.
So I guess AC is in my blood.
In recent years, I've been in AC less frequently because of my role as a PokerStars Ambassador. In between chess trips and events, I've gone to places such as the Bahamas or Monaco for EPTs and to Toronto or Jerusalem to play online.
So I was thrilled when Stars announced its opening date, March 21, and just 60 miles away from my house in Philly. In perfect synchronicity, PokerStars partnered with Resorts, where I played my first American Spin N Go during the soft launch.
At the PokerStars Meet and Greet the same day at the Landshark Grill, I chatted with some of the very first PokerStars NJ players, who had plenty of questions about game liquidity, account setup, and tournament schedules.
One of the most interesting people I met was Stephen Kmet, who recently appeared on the Biggest Loser along with his wife Jacky. I used to watch the Biggest Loser for Jillian's heartfelt rants and diet and fitness inspiration. I introduced Stephen to Lee Jones, who also transformed his life via weight loss about five years ago. When Lee found out Stephen got second, just missing the $250,000 grand prize, he asked "But How Much Did You Lose?", the quintessential poker query.
133 pounds was the answer.
Stephen, who brought cards and chips on set, said that his experience with poker helped him develop survival strategy. He paced himself.
"I didn't want to lose too much weight on a particular week," he said, which might target him for elimination, or make it harder metabolically to lose as much weight the following week. Stephen describes himself as a very serious amateur poker player who works on his game constantly and is excited to get back on PokerStars.
It was also great to catch up with two of my best girlfriends from poker, Jamie Kerstetter and Katie Stone. Of all the people I've met through poker, some of my favorite are right here.
My dad is excited to get back into action himself, and plans to visit Resorts this week, where I'll help him reactivate the screen-name "CageyVeteran."
Go to http://www.pokerstarsnj.com/ to find out more and open your own account.
Jennifer Shahade is the MindSports Ambassador for PokerStars