The Hard Rock in Atlantic City opened in June 2018, one of two new casinos opening after a period of decline in Atlantic City that saw five casinos close over the course of a couple of years.
The Hard Rock opened in the former Trump Taj Mahal, and in fact my first visit to Atlantic City as an adult in 2015 was spurred on in part to want to check out Atlantic City before things declined further, so I got to see the old Trump Taj Mahal prior to its final closure.
The transformation into the Hard Rock Atlantic City was quite the makeover, and while you can envision at a high level what things were where in the old Taj Mahal vs. the Hard Rock, the change is quite complete and comprehensive. Let’s talk about the various aspects of the property and what to expect.
Slot Machines & Video Poker
The casino floor is pretty solid, although they started with largely all new machines so the end result is that the only older games you’ll find on the floor are ones available on newer machines.
The casino floor has evolved quickly, with a lot of the more quirky games disappearing pretty quickly in favor of more standard fare such as more Lock it Links and so on. I’m sure this was done for financial reasons but it makes the gaming floor feel a touch less diverse.
Atlantic City’s non-smoking rule covers 75 percent of the casino floor. I didn’t notice too much smoke and likely they upgraded the filtration of the casino as part of the upgrades.
I’ve had some really good runs on small budgets at Hard Rock – I feel like you get good play for your gambling dollar here.
They also have a pretty good sized video poker section, although their selection isn’t as exciting and diverse as I would prefer. The pay tables are a step above what you’d find at Caesars’ properties as a general rule (there are a few full pay machines that drastically lower the comps at Caesars properties though).
Ordering Drinks at Slots like a BOSS
This casino, like some others in Atlantic City, let you order drinks right on screen, using the BOSS system that’s rolling out at some casinos (including more recently at Tropicana down the boardwalk). I happened to be at this casino on opening day, and things were all out of sorts, but within a day or two they already had things much more under control.
Nowadays the order placement shifts to drink being delivered fast, but it seems like it takes forever from that point for it to arrive. It seems slower than other properties, like the Caesars ones, that have drink ordering on screen. It sometimes seems slower than from the time you order from a server at other places, but that presumes you can find the server.
Like the Hard Rock Hollywood, table games seemed to be popular here – in fact that’s been a particular bright spot for Hard Rock Atlantic City since opening. The table minimums seemed pretty much in line with what you would expect for Atlantic City. There’s a good diversity of table game choices, including many of the common carnival games.
The table games take up most of the middle of the main casino corridor that connects from the boardwalk to the car drop-off/hotel lobby section. It seems like more recently (albeit before the closures due to COVID-19) they’ve even pulled a few more table games into the casino floor. Tables definitely to very well.
High Limit Slots
The High Limit area is a pretty small space adjacent to the casino floor, with entrances from the floor itself and on one of the outer walkways. There were signs posted on my most recent visit requiring a higher level card to enter, but I don’t know if that’s always been the case.
There’s a bit of video poker and some slots, maybe 50-75 machines at most. A lot of the standard bearers for High Limit are in there, your Wheel of Fortunes, Lightning Links, and so on.
Their comp system seems to follow the lead of other Hard Rocks, and frankly many tribal casinos – there’s no point counter to let you know where you stand, but you earn comp dollars and tier credits as you go. They tweaked their system after the first year; for awhile you just earned the comp dollars and points at the same pacing, but now you earn tier points faster.
This seems to match the current situation in Florida with their cards there, but it’s not precise as to what you need to do to tier up other than hit a number. How many dollars of coin in is not addressed, like it is at places like Borgata, which is on Mlife, or the Caesars Rewards properties. Tropicana is also a bit clearer given the way points accumulate, although it’s expected they’ll fold into Caesars Rewards after the Eldorado acquisition of Caesars is complete.
I’ve stayed at the Hard Rock twice, and the room both times was quite contemporary and comfortable. I stayed in the South Tower both times, and had a really clean, well designed room that was among the more comfortable I’ve enjoyed in Atlantic City.
I’ve seen a North Tower room and it isn’t quite as impressive, but both will be comfortable options for a visit to the property.
It’s on the northern end of the boardwalk, connected by overhead walkway to Resorts and Showboat (not a gambling property at the moment) and within a quick walk of Ocean. You can walk further down the boardwalk to reach Bally’s, Caesars and Tropicana.
Being close to two other casinos, and down the boardwalk from three more, puts it in a pretty solid position if you like to swing around to different properties to gamble.
Other Aspects to the Property
Because they had a tier match that I took advantage of at opening, I had their top card for the first year, and was able to avail myself of their lounge, which was beautiful and well appointed.
I have also had multiple meals at their Fresh Harvest Buffet, which I think is among the better buffets out there, both for price and overall spread reasons. It’s not overly stocked with choices but the ones they have are decently selected.
I like their food court-type area on the second floor, particularly the fact that they’ve partnered with some Atlantic City institutions to fill out some of the choices. This provides some affordable eating options. They have a great Hard Rock Store (don’t they all) and a decent, but overpriced, essentials store. (Many of the essentials stores are overpriced, but about $4 for a 20 oz. Diet Pepsi seemed to be pushing it.)
Hard Rock Atlantic City has become one of the casinos I like to be sure I visit each time. At this point I’ve spend decent time in all 9 casinos, but I seem to have more fun at Hard Rock vs. some of the others.
I like the on-site amenities, the location, and the overall vibe – this feels like a fun place to me. It’s not as elegant as some of the other properties, but its modern take on a casino floor is a nice counterbalance to many of the other, aging properties as well.
If you make a trip to Atlantic City, Hard Rock should be on your list of places to visit.
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