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ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT─ July 2010

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. 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.

"Goo-ga" Comes to Atlantic City

There was a time when Atlantic City catered to those 50 and above – high rollers of the first order or persistent determined slot players. The slot aisles were packed with players, and the jingle, jangle of the machines left a lasting impression in your memory banks. Big money and big crowds were there seven days a week.

It is no secret that in 2008, 2009, and 2010, Atlantic City is in deep, deep trouble. Each month brings more horrifying evidence that the Queen of the Sea is closer to becoming the Chicken of the Sea. Weekdays, the casinos are almost empty and there are times when no one is playing at a blackjack table and whole aisles of slot machines look like those old western ghost towns, only missing some sagebrush blowing in the wind.

The worst hit has come because the Pennsylvania slot hordes have remained in their home state where new machines await them in new casinos. Now, table games are making their arrival in Ben Franklin’s territory too. The real electricity of East Coast gambling is certainly not striking AC.

So what is AC going to do? It has decided to actively, passionately, and desperately go after the "goo-ga" trade. That trade, young adults looking to score and acting for all purposes as if they are on a television commercial about young adults looking to score, is the best hope for bringing in some cash – especially in the summer months.

Just walk along the Boardwalk and you’ll note many outside "entertainment" areas on the clean sands of the Atlantic. The lure is simple: "Have some booze, check out the broads or the he-men lollygagging on the beach, and please, please give us some of your money!" The AC nightclub explosion continues and the biggest push is to get those "youngins" to come in and drink and play the games.

We do hope the "goo-ga" trade actually helps to lift AC out of the doldrums. However, we’re betting it won’t.

Our Readers Report

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: fscobe@optonline.net

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. I also give them a free subscription to my private web site at www.goldentouchcraps.com.

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.

****************

Dear Frank and Alene:

You can’t make this up. I was playing at one of the "evil empire’s" casinos and the pit boss walked over and said to me, "I know what you are doing. You can’t fool me." I had no idea what he was talking about. I am not a card counter (yet) and I was having a hot session. What I was doing was merely winning and this guy thought that somehow that was wrong in his casino. I think I will avoid that joint in the future.

Ted

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Dear Frank:

Read your new blackjack book [Beat Blackjack Now! The Easiest Way to get the Edge] and started playing Speed Count a few days later. It is really the easiest way to play. I’d like to than you and Dan [Pronovost] and Henry [Tamburin] for bringing this great way to play to the public.

Mark

****************

The Jon Report

Dear Frank and Alene,

Not much new this month down at AC, so I thought I’d discuss what the loss of s17 six-deck games really means. Many players might be thinking, "Okay, so I have to play h17 eight-deck games, so what? I’ll make less money but I’ll still be winning. Just a little more slowly, right?" Well, this might not be completely true.

Let me compare what would be considered a great game: six decks, s17 with only one deck cut off (85% penetration), with a not so great game: eight decks, h17 with two decks cut off (75% penetration). The latter is the most common type of game found on the main floors of AC right now.

Let’s assume that you and your spouse have agreed that you get $5,000 of play money, and if you lose it, then you’re little card counting adventure is over. Now let’s see what happens when you play the two games. It’s the summer and we’ll assume you have to play a $25 table. You won’t find a six-deck table for less at any time now anyway. You have also decided to use a 1 to 8 spread.

If you play the six-deck s17 game, you will make $24 per 100 hands and have a 56% chance of going bankrupt at some point. However, if you play the eight- deck h17 game, you will make $2 per 100 hands and have a 93% chance of bankruptcy. This is the true problem with bad rules and poor penetration! You make so little money that there’s a good chance that a bad run comes along before you build up your bankroll and you are wiped out!

What if you start with $10,000? Six decks – 31% risk of ruin. Eight decks – 88% risk of ruin. Win rates per 100 hands remain unchanged.

What if you start with $20,000? Six decks – 10% risk of ruin. Eight decks – 78% risk of ruin.

You see the real problem with bad games is not just the win rate. The real problem is you never make enough money before the inevitable unlucky streak comes (AND IT WILL COME) and then you lose your entire bankroll. Now there are still things that you can do with h17 (and s17) tables such as: get up during negative counts, find lower limit tables and spread your bets like mad, backcount and jump in when you have the advantage … and so forth.

What you do not want to do is sit down at an eight deck, h17 table with 75% penetration through all counts and think that you’re really playing a winning game. The casinos are smart (sort of). They want people to think blackjack is beatable. They also know how to offer a sort of, kind of, beatable game. So, if you do not play a good game (good rules or good style), then you are unlikely to really win.

Hope this helps,

Jon

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**************************************************************************

All the ratings of casinos are based on the blackjack games.

Here are our ratings for July 2010. 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.

Rating system:

***** = Excellent

**** = Very Good

*** = Good

** = Fair

* = Poor.

BALLY’S PARK PLACE: 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 but it is dealer dependent. All 8-deck games except for the high roller room action. The hitting on soft 17 is now a fact all over the place. Crews are friendly. Hotel has declined a lot. Craps games are quite good. Two and one-half stars: * * ½*

BORGATA: Sad to see this place becoming just another Atlantic City casino. It had the Vegas feel – somewhat – but now they are taking a page from the rest and down the hill it goes. As Pennsylvania gets ready to bring in blackjack games, Borgata and other AC casinos are fiddling with their games to make them – excuse my French – suck. The penetration is decent, about 75 percent, but the heart beats with sadness as we watch the beacon of Atlantic City blackjack go up in smoke. 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 or if you see Patricia DeMauro, the woman who set the all-time longest throw of 154 numbers, at the table. 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 but to us these folks on swinging on fumes. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *

CAESARS: No change from last issue. You can now 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. Six-deck games in high roller room have 75 percent penetration. The craps games here are good with 12-foot tables. The tables are high so smaller controlled shooters should wear their "special shoes." Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *

CLARIDGE: No change from last issue. If they are open when you go there you will find penetration is still about 70 percent. There are early mornings when no blackjack tables are open. One star: *

HARRAH’S: Our letter writer about referred to this company as the ‘evil empire." That has now become the common appellation for Harrah’s properties. One star: *

HILTON: The bad news is that the penetration is a ludicrous 50 to 60 percent on those double-deck games which might not be there as you read this. There are some $10 tables with H17 but the $25 tables was S17. Thanks for small favors. BJ pays 3 to 2. No mid-deck entry. Wild swings in penetration on other blackjack games and many more eight-deck games throughout the casino. Penetration getting worse even as you read this. Place is in trouble. The hitting of soft 17 brings this place down a peg as well. 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 70 percent. For craps, we are dealing with 14-foot tables and a couple of 12 footers. Two stars and one-half stars: * * ½ *

RESORTS: No change from last issue. This place is "this" close to closing. The first to be opened in AC might be one of the first to sink in the sea. The blackjack game has added a new feature – you can play for $2 up to $5 but you have to pay a 25-cent fee per hand. Why not just write the casino a check and forget about playing? Otherwise the BJ games are about the same as they always have been. Two stars: * *

SHOWBOAT: Oh, yes, this place is also owned by "the evil empire" otherwise known as Harrah’s. The blackjack has deteriorated considerably with little penetration – maybe you play 60 percent of the shoe. Go elsewhere. One star (for cleanliness and rooms): *

TROPICANA: S17 for this casino? No more. Now the place is H17. Still has some good penetration, maybe 75 percent; sometimes excellent penetration of 80 percent. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *

TRUMP MARINA: Six-deck games in high roller room and eight-deck games on the main floor have penetration at 80 percent mark, but you won’t find any dealers going much deeper. Still if you can afford the $50 and $100 minimums, the high roller room’s games are good with S17. They offer surrender which they now advertise – asking for surrender was a trick in the past that Marina used for ferreting out card counters. Floor games are mostly $15/$25 and up, 8-decks, H17. No mid-shoe entry on the high roller room six-deckers but you can jump in and out on the eight-deckers. Craps tables are 12-footers with 5X odds and good crews. Two and one half stars: * * ½ *

TRUMP PLAZA: No change from last issue. The pit is paranoid and so hit and run only. That paranoia seems to be a move-over from the craps tables where the casino manager has continuous strokes when good shooters descend on his casino. This place has fairly good games but something has to be done with the dark casino and the low-life scum slithering through it. Six-deck games are back outside the high roller room. The penetration is 75 percent. No mid-shoe 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. The dealers range from professional to friendly. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *

TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: Here is something that is starting to trouble players. There have been four or five incidents where severe violence has been committed in this casino or in the casino garage – some ending in death. A nickname is developing – underserved we should say – that you risk your life if you play at the Death Den. Sad to see this idea catching on. Now they are hitting soft 17 except in $25 or higher games. 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.

Two and one-half stars: * * ½*

WILD, WILD WEST: No change; no gold-rush either. The silver rush is over too. This place is over as well. Seems like more often than not on "off" hours there are no table games in this place. 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 fool’s gold. Penetration is about 75 percent on all games. For craps this is a fun place to play with one 100X odds table. I remember when this place had many more tables. Crews are very friendly. One star: *

THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Toss a coin but avoid any casino rated under two and one-half stars.

The Best Craps in Atlantic City: Bally’s

The Best Hotel/Casino in Atlantic City: Borgata / Taj Mahal

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