Casino Bars Rule: Fling, at Isle Casino & Racing

Night Watch is a regular feature about bars and clubs by nightlife columnist Tara Nieuwesteeg.

The Isle Casino & Racing in Pompano is seriously like Disney World for degenerate adults.

Seriously, you lose entertainment-and-booze filled hours in a casino and walk out to find it's already dark (or light, whichever the case may be). So when my buddy Beard was having a bitch of a bad day, I told him that I had the perfect remedy: casino time.

When he wasn't so sure that gambling and drinking were appropriate ways to deal with bad feelings and general depression, I innocuously told him about the $1-drink happy hour.

We were Pompano-bound in minutes.

Fling: After a small struggle with the woman guarding the entrance to the gambling floor (she didn't seem to believe my ID was real), Beard and I traipsed across the Technicolor casino carpet to Fling, Isle Casino's center-stage bar.

It had a distinct hotel-bar feel, and, despite being in the middle of the casino, was shielded from the commotion by way of expert interior decorating. Sure, we could still hear the whirring and ding-ding-dinging of slot machines, but we also could make out "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac playing softly in the background, not to mention the subdued conversation between one geriatric gambling addict and the next.

The leather furniture was classy, and the carpet (designed to look like giant pond-ripples) was downright distracting. The long, sleek black bar boasted a handful of video poker machines, each carefully positioned directly in front of a bar stool. Behind the bar was nothing except a handsome, black-clad bartender and an ass-load of glistening liquor bottles, all catching the bizarre colors and lights that exist only within the casino habitat.

"So, what's this happy hour consist of?" I asked the bartender.

"$1 domestics, drafts, wells, and wines," he said. We sandwiched between two stooped, grey-haired men, who were methodically feeding dollar bills into their respective video poker machines, and ordered Bourbon and Cokes. Beard began fumbling in his wallet.

"So, is this cheap drink deal a sign of the economic times?" I asked.

"Not really," the bartender said. "I think they're going to take the deal away some time next year, anyway. And there's a bunch of restrictions, too."

"Like what?" I arched an eyebrow.

"Well, you can only have two drinks per hour, for starters." Beard looked up.

"That's barely enough to get a buzz!"

"People try to get around it, by ordering drinks from girls on the floor, and then coming back here," the bartender said.

By now, Beard had shoved $2 into his video poker machine. The little video screen on mine was displaying the words, "Play me--just one play could change your life." Yeah, by making me more broke.

"This is five-card draw," Beard explained. "Deuces are wild, and I have a two--see? So I'm going to hold these two eights." The screen flashed. "Four of a kind!" Beard said, jabbing a finger at the screen. "I won a dollar! Suckers!"

Approximately 45 seconds later, the machine had taken many of Beard's dollars and I was about ready to check out the next bar. As we stood, a large man in an orange Hawaiian shirt stopped us.

"Are you going to play bingo tonight?" he asked hopefully.

"No," I said. "We're planning on going up to the track bar."

"Oh," he said. "There's harness racing going on right now; you'll like that."

"Will I?" I blanched slightly. I'm not big on the racing industry. This might be because I live with a retired racing greyhound.

" might," he said. "It's when the horses sit in carts and people pull them. The horses whip the people if they don't go fast enough."

"Wow!" I said.

"That's not what that is," Beard admonished. "Don't get her hopes up. We'll probably pop in the steakhouse first."

"Oh," said Hawaiian Shirt. "Yeah, that's a good place--it's a little, um, classier, though..." He trailed off and glanced conspicuously at Beard's untrimmed facial hair and mop of curly hair smashed beneath a Yankees cap.

"Noted," I said, grabbing Beard's arm. We bade farewell to the bartender, who was giving dating advice to an 80-year-old man.

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