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On Fish

by Andrew Brokos |  Published: Jan 09, '13


I suppose the Atlantis resort is an appropriate place for a poker tournament, because the whole place is built on value betting the shit out of rich fish. Everywhere the trappings of luxury convince people to fork over absurd sums of money for silly baubles, bad food, and tacky experiences.

But not I! As usual, I loaded my bag with my own food to limit my enslavement to the Atlantis’ establishments. I don’t mind going to an expensive restaurant occasionally when the food and company are both good, but I’m not looking to get gouged on every meal. This time I brought five just-add-hot-water rice bowls, peanut butter, jelly, bread, two boxes of granola, coffee (which is actually available free in the rooms, I just wanted better coffee), my new Aeropress, plastic utensils, two boxes of granola bars, and several other snacks.

To save space in the bag, I took the bags of granola out of their boxes before packing them. Somehow one managed to split open in my bag, so there was granola all over everything, but cleaning that up was still less of a hassle than trying to find a quick and decent meal in this place at any price. Miklos went to a grocery store yesterday and brought back some milk that we’re now storing in our ice bucket (can’t risk displacing anything in the mini bar since they use those sensors that charge you automatically).

Of course that cut my cereal supplies in half, but thankfully PokerStars is hosting a series of seminars that include free breakfast! Yesterday morning Vanessa Selbst and Barry Greenstein talked about learning mixed games, and today Shaun Deeb and Jason Mercier explained the basics of Open-Faced Chinese Poker. The presenters only get half an hour, so there’s not a lot of depth, but it was interesting to hear a long-time veteran of the game like Barry talk about how he survived so long as a pro and why he thought being able to play many games well was important. The food wasn’t bad either.

After yesterday’s seminar I stopped by the tournament room to wish well to Miklos and a few others playing today. The first guy besides Miklos to arrive at his table was enough for me to say that his table was already better than mine, and they just kept coming. That was all based on stereotyping, but Miklos has since confirmed that it is indeed a very good table, so I was pretty jealous of that. He finished Day 1 with a stack just shy of average and as of now is still in the hunt on Day 2.

On the plus side, I got to spend the better part of the last two days outdoors. The first thing I did was lie on the beach and listen to the vendors harass the tourists: “Hello honey. Want hair braids? Jewelry? Be a real Bahama Mama?”

“Jet ski! Are you ready?”

“Real Cuban cigars! Smoke them now or later.”

I must have had a good don’t-fuck-with-me face, because none of the vendors approached me. I did, however, overhear a woman falling hook, line, and sinker for a story about a very popular catamaran tour. Tickets were $60, and though it was sold out for today, she could put down a $10-per-ticket deposit to reserve a seat for tomorrow’s tour. It occurred to me that perhaps I should point out the foolhardiness of handing $20 to a stranger on the beach in exchange for this supposed reservation, but then I thought about how I would feel if someone walked over to my poker table and told a fishy opponent to fold to my value bet.

Time to go check out the cash games…


Andrew Brokos is a professional poker player, writer, and teacher. He is also an avid hiker and traveler and a passionate advocate for urban public education. You can find dozens of his poker strategy articles at and more information about group seminars and one-on-one coaching at

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of


almost 9 years ago

I would love it if someone could please tell me the point of this article????


almost 9 years ago

The point is that Andrew is a smart guy and great writer who regularly and consistently blogs on all sorts of topics, personal and poker-related. No reason to chime in with a bit of snarkiness just because one of his many, many posts was not to your liking. Keep them coming Andrew!


almost 9 years ago

@Eddie5: First, it's a blog and second, Andrew is the only person apres-Black Friday, that consistently posts good material on this site.


almost 9 years ago

Thanks for the kind words, guys. Sorry the content wasn't to your liking, Eddie. I did post earlier this week discussing a few hands from my one and only day of play in the PCA Main Event, if you're looking for poker content that might be of more interest to you.

The literal answer to your question is that in this post I meant to draw a comparison between the way the Bahamas tourist industry, both the big hotels and the independent operators who work on the beaches, "value bet" treat their customers and the way professional poker players treat a fish at the table. Interesting many very good poker players turn into fish when given the opportunity to blow absurd sums of money on silly "luxury" items.


almost 9 years ago

I have stayed there before with my wife and daughter and the "meal plan is a complete scam" It doesnt include a ton of the restaurants and with the ones that are included, the prices are very very high.

The reason the price of the included is relevant is because they bill you after for a 15% gratuity that is not included in the meal plan. The 15% is almost equivalant to actually buying the meal at a normal restaurant.

Just my thought on Atlantis.


almost 9 years ago

When our Carnival cruise stopped at this island, we booked a room at the hotel next door (dont remember name) for the day and purchased day passes for Atlantis. The food by the main pool was reasonably priced and ate well enough. Of course we were not there long term so not sure how we would react to a longer stay. We needed the room so our child could nap in peace, you don't need a room to buy a day pass but it was discounted through the hotel, which made the room expense more attractive to our 'plan' for the day.

I totally agree that there are plenty of 'fish' when it comes to these types of resorts. We visit Disney (FL) on a regular basis and it is amazing the number of people who don't research/plan their trips to get 'max value' and are unaware of the 'house' advantage. I truly believe there is a business in Disney planning for my wife to take up .. maybe in a couple of years when both kids are in school all day!!

Atlantis, just like Vegas, survives on offering 'excess' and as long as people are willing to pony-up it keeps the average cost for us frugal folks down a little bit.

Agreed Andrew, that most, if not all of us, can play the role of the 'fish out of water' when taken from our normal comfort zone. The fish have to be drawn in somehow to take the bait .. show me a huge water slide bottoming out in a fish tank and I might just want to become part of the 'school'!!

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