ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT─ March 2009
by Frank and Alene Scoblete
Alene Scoblete is the CEO of Paone Press, which sells gaming books and tapes at discount prices. She also writes for www.scoblete.com. Her husband, Frank Scoblete, is the #1 best-selling gaming author in America. Frank’s books and tapes have sold over a million copies. His newest book isThe Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution. His newest DVD is Golden Touch: Beat Craps Using a Controlled Throw! For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406 or write: Frank Scoblete Enterprises, Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. Frank’s websites are www.goldentouchblackjack.com, www.goldentouchcraps.com and www.scoblete.com.
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Is Atlantic City Closing Its Doors?
by Frank and Alene Scoblete
The three Trump casinos (Taj Mahal, Plaza and Marina) are in deep, deeper and deepest trouble respectively. The whole Trump casino operation, no longer owned by Trump, is bankrupt, and there is serious talk that if these casinos can’t be sold or enough money can’t be borrowed…well, that’s the sound of the door slamming shut.
The talk is that the Marina is being sold to Jimmy Buffet’s company, another awful prospect. Have you ever been to Buffet’s Margaritaville at the Flamingo in Vegas? Loud music. Louder drunks wearing balloons on their heads. Women who have seen better days – even the young ones – and men who have seemingly seen no days. Endless loud Jimmy Buffet videos playing on monster video screens on all the walls with his fans going ape-shit dancing under them. The worst thing? The fans attempt to sing along with all the songs. Try eating dinner with particles of wet food splattering out of the mouths of Buffet’s singing fans, whizzing by your head as you duck to avoid the pieces – it is vomitous. A "water show" that is all wet in the worst way. You could call this a reasonable approximation of hell.
Picture that at the classy Marina? Lord, help us! But if the sale goes through, and it is a less likely thing as we write this than it was a month ago, AC will go down a notch.
Resorts is in deep do-do too-too. The former Sands spot looks to have become a permanent dusty lot. Hilton is in trouble; so is Tropicana. New building projects have been delayed, scaled down, or canceled. Not good.
But rejoice! Harrah’s is hanging in there. These casinos have become the slot queens of the Queen by the Sea. The table games leave a lot to be desired, except at Caesars where they are passable. Very sad state of affairs and we don’t see any help coming soon. And, get this; there is new talk about outlawing smoking! That will help a lot not.
Jump to the future.
Atlantic City of 2012? Could you imagine only the Harrah’s properties open, along with a struggling Borgata? If you go to Atlantic City, just picture all the casinos looking like the old Playboy or World’s Fair property. The log line for 2012 AC will become: "Let’s go back to being a slum!"
Our Readers Write
If you wish to contribute your reports or observations, we need to receive them by the 24th of the month for the next month. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have many readers who send us their reports on various aspects of Atlantic City and we do have some that give us reports just about every month – so we have decided to give them the fame and glory (as opposed to "fortune and glory") of their own columns.
You will note that our correspondents tend to have somewhat different views. Always it is up to you to decide which games you want to play by scouting them for yourselves.
The Jon Report
(Jon gives us great reports almost every month when he visits AC. You can use his reports, mix them with ours, put a dash of the other letters and you will get a good idea of what is going on in Atlantic City.)
Dear Frank and Alene:
Well, AC’s troubles seem to deepen. Trump is in bankruptcy, Resorts is facing foreclosure, Revel is slowing construction, and Tropicana ownership is up for grabs. Sadly, Harrah’s seems to be in good shape. Not much new from what I have seen at the tables.
Trump Marina: Eight decks. 75% penetration. H17. $5 games available. Plenty of open seats.
Claridge: Eight decks. 75% penetration. $10 games always available. H17.
Ballys: Eight decks. 70 – 80% penetration. H17. Another place without many open seats.
Wild Wild West: 70 – 80% penetration. H17. Many lower limit games here.
Caesars: 70 – 80% penetration. H17 on most of main floor. S17 on $25 and $50 tables outside high roller room.
Well, it was a busy February as you can see.
Bubba from Boston
Dear Frank and Alene:
I haven't sent you an update from my trips to Atlantic City in a while so here it is:
I went for three days this past week and to my surprise on Sunday and Monday the casinos were packed due to the holiday but still a pleasant thing to see.
Caesars: Great Place to stay; clean and well kept. Blackjack has friendly dealers with room on $25 and $50 tables. Great place to use Golden Touch Blackjack. They hit on soft 17 but still did very well and no heat from anybody. Dealers cutting off only 1-1/2 decks, machine shuffled. I think this deserves an upgrade.
Ballys: Casino has a lot of low lifes around tables and slots; security is around but not the most pleasant place to play. They are hitting on soft 17 and cutting off 2 decks. Not a great place to play.
TrumpTaj: Casino clean but a lot more low-lifes hanging out which I never saw before. Conditions in $25/$50 are good standing on all 17's, good action great place to use Golden Touch Blackjack. Deserves an upgrade if you play on $25 and up.
Hilton: Casino is well kept and has good action if you hunt for it. Only certain tables have standing on all 17's. Others hit on soft 17 so you have to read the felt on every table. I think this casino deserves an upgrade because you can get good action. A good place to use Golden Touch Blackjack.
Showboat: Use to be my favorite casino, now only a big slot palace, buses bring people all day so casino is packed. The boat has sunk! Stay away from tables.. that is if you can find any open. My friends stayed here, rooms are now getting worn out probably due to all the bus action they get.
I hope this helps, I am big fan of yours, keep up the good work.
Bubba from Boston
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We’ve decided since many of our Golden Touch Craps dice controllers are now Speed Counters subscribing to this site; we are going to give a quick rundown of the craps games as well. We haven’t played in all the casinos in AC so we would appreciate it if you could email Frank with the table minimums, the odds bets, and anything else you think we might want to use (table lengths very helpful – if you just say "big" we will assume 14-feet as they are at Borgata). If you send us info we will give you a free month on our members-only board that has over 5,000 paid members. Email address is email@example.com.
All the ratings of casinos are based on the blackjack games.
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Here are our ratings for March 2009. We thank many of our readers for helping us to stay as updated as possible. There may be some disagreements in ratings among our correspondents but all these reports are based on individuals’ experience. A word to the wise: it’s always best to check out the casinos for yourselves.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: Going downhill faster than a meteor. Night time is not the right time if you want to play at Wild Wild West – they now send you over to Bally’s. This place is packed with fewer blackjack tables than in the past. A lot of carnival game players here. This used to be a premium property but it now seems to be a Harrah’s after birth. No mid-shoe entry in high roller room and on a few of the main $50 tables in casino. Mixed reviews about how deep the penetration is but we found it in the 75 percent area. All 8-deck games except for the high roller room action. The hitting on soft 17 is now a fact all over the place. For craps players, this is a good casino for the game. All tables are now 5X odds, with a range of minimums. Crews are friendly. Tables are somewhat high so short shooters get your platform shoes. Some correspondents disagree with this statement but we are guessing they are all over 6-feet tall! There are many more carnival games than ever before. Looks like Three-Card Poker rivals blackjack! Hotel has declined a lot. One and one half stars: * ½ *
BORGATA: Heading down the tubes as well. Casino now has eight-deck games, so goodbye attempting to bring that Las Vegas veneer to AC. Penetration is around 70 to 75 percent on all games, including the six deckers which still make up most of the casino. Craps has long tables, 14-footers, and very bouncy, and not worth playing unless you like to see dice flying off the tables or gaze upon beautiful cocktail servers ducking out of the way. Go elsewhere for craps, except for Taj which has mimicked Borgata’s craps tables. This is a happening place and caters to a swinging young crowd. Okay casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Three stars: * * *
CAESARS: No change from last issue. Down, down, down the BJ games go. So many more tables hitting soft 17 now. That brings this casino down a big notch. Directly across from Caesars is The Pier, which is a pleasure to walk through – a must see attraction in AC with some of the finest restaurants and views [see our main article in this issue]. Caesars itself also has excellent restaurants but you have long walks to find them. Cheerful place and worthy of the name it bears. Hotel/casino rating is A. They are going deeper at blackjack too but that H17 detracts from this somewhat. You can expect about 75 percent penetration with most of the dealers. The main floor of eight-deckers has some of the upper-limit tables ($25 and $50) with no mid-shoe entry. All the games in the high roller pit are also no mid-shoe entry with $100 and higher minimums. Table game action has improved and that is very noticeable in the blackjack pits – which are all 8-deck games. Six-deck games in high roller room have 80 percent penetration, as do the eight-deckers on the main casino floor. The craps games here are good with 12-foot tables and friendly crews. The tables are high so smaller controlled shooters should wear their "special shoes." Two stars: * *
CLARIDGE: Dump. We just can’t get excited about this place after having several really bad experiences at both craps and blackjack tables. One star: *
HARRAH’S: No change from last issue. Harrah’s has ruined more good casinos in this country than hoof-and-mouth disease has ruined more things having "hoofs" and mouths. Hitting soft 17 now. Penetration now ranges somewhat below the 75 percent area. Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry in the high roller room of 6-deck action, with the rest of the casino being 8-decks. But we must warn you; this is a big slot place. Sadly, Harrah’s properties in Las Vegas and in Tunica are getting awfully bad reports about how some of the boxmen treat customers who practice a careful shot at craps and there is overwhelming paranoia at the blackjack games as well. So beware when outside AC. Harrah’s prefers slot customers and all their casinos tend month after month to be adding more machines. One and one-half stars: * ½ *
HILTON: This place is about to walk into the ocean and drown itself. This could become the site of a new George Romero zombie movie as many of the zombies are already playing in this place. Wild swings in penetration on blackjack and many more eight-deck games. The hitting of soft 17 brings this place down a peg. Resplitting allowed except aces. High roller room is 6-decks; rest of the casino is 8-decks with a few $25/$50 6-deckers on occasion. No mid-shoe entry on the six-deckers. High table minimums, especially on weekends, a lot of $25 tables, rare $10 tables. Penetration about 75. Okay casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. For craps, we are dealing with 14-foot tables and a couple of 12 footers. Three stars: * * *
RESORTS: Might be going, going, gone before you know it. Getting a little better with blackjack though. But more tables are hitting soft 17. Not really worth playing. Two stars: * *
SHOWBOAT: No change from last issue. This used to be a great hotel-casino. Now it is a great hotel and forget the casino. Another Harrah’s disaster. High roller room got some good reports but the rest of the casino is becoming one big slot machine. Harrah’s has changed this into a slot joint. Where are the table games? Had been one of the best and now is one of the worst blackjack games in AC. Great rooms; good restaurants and that about sums it all up. One star: *
TROPICANA: Numero Uno in AC! That is, if it stays in business. Not hitting soft 17 and so we go up somewhat in our rating. Also is offering four-deck games. This is now the best place to play in Atlantic City. Penetration is around 75 percent, sometimes more depending on the dealers. Not enough tables open and sometimes the better games are the ones whose tables are closed. Four stars: * * * *
TRUMP MARINA: Please do not sell this place to Jimmy Buffet. We have nothing against Buffet as a person or performer, but we don’t want to see this place become the "balloon on the head" capital of the East Coast. Empty during mid-week. A nice casino that just can’t seem to find itself. Rooms are clean; hotel is well kept. On blackjack they are hitting soft 17. Six-deck games in high roller room and eight-deck games on the main floor have penetration of 75 percent mark, but you won’t find any dealers going much deeper. Games are mostly $15/$25 and up, especially on weekends. No mid-shoe entry on the six-deckers but you can jump in and out on the eight-deckers. Craps tables are 12-footers with 5X odds and with good crews. Whatever paranoia that was reported in the past seems to be gone. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
TRUMP PLAZA: If this place closes, where will all the low-life scum sucking creeps go to hang out? Major disappointment in the center of the Boardwalk. Blackjack? Paranoid. Craps? Paranoid! I don’t think the management really understands their games or what it means for the casino to have an edge. Just about all six-deck games with somewhat low penetration of 70 percent, depending on the dealer. No midshoe entry on games outside high-roller pit but you can find $25 (a few) to $50 minimums on these. Allows resplits, except aces. All tables are $10 and higher. Craps tables are 12-footers. Very friendly crews but a dark casino with a real big smattering of low-pants wearing steely-eyed low-lifes. Two stars: * *
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: We used to love this place. We actually still love the place. Great crews; great pit bosses. Used to be the best casino for games in AC and now isn’t even close. In fact, for blackjack and craps it has gone downhill to the bottom. Now they are hitting soft 17. First they screwed up the craps tables so the dice go flying off the table every third roll and now they have decided to give the blackjack games a wicked colonoscopy with barbed wire. Great hotel and great restaurants and great entertainment. Also, generally great dealers and pit personnel. Too bad it isn’t the place to play any more. One star: *
WILD, WILD WEST: Hey, isn’t the West dead? The gold rush is over. This place is over too. Another Harrah’s wipe out! All eight-deck games with H17 – insane. This is a part of Bally’s Park Place and Harrah’s is looking to sell this complex like a pan of fools gold. Penetration is about 75 percent on all games. For craps this is a fun place to play with one 5X odds table and one 2X odds table. I remember when this place had many more tables. Crews are very friendly. One star: *
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Tropicana
The Best Craps in Atlantic City: Resorts
The Best Hotel/Casino in Atlantic City: Borgata, Taj Mahal
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