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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 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, and

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! (And so is a bunch of others, too!)

You heard it here first – that is, unless you heard it before you heard it here. The Russians are thinking of buying the former Sands Hotel and Casino site from Pinnacle Entertainment for a 70 percent discount off what Pinnacle originally paid.

The hotel was demolished several years ago but nothing has been done with the empty lot, except to gather beer cans and other debris. Pinnacle just couldn’t throw the switch to get this property built. The failing economy and the incredible loss of patrons throughout the Atlantic City market doomed the Pinnacle project. So now a conglomerate of Russian businessmen are "this close" to making the deal that might put this property back on the casino map.

There is one little wrinkle in the plan – the Chinese are also interested in the site. So we might see a bidding war between these former communist allies.

Of course, there is the usual talk of the Trump Marina being sold but it never seems to come to fruition. Now, the talk concerns the moribund Trump Plaza going on the block.

Dennis Gomes to Buy Resorts

Dennis Gomes, a former law enforcement agent in both Nevada and then Atlantic City, has agreed to buy the struggling Resorts Hotel and Casino, pending approval by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. Gomes has been an executive at 14 casinos and he is confident that he can return Resorts to its former glory. We’d be happy if he just brightened up the place.

And what of blackjack?

Some casinos, recently Trump Marina and Resorts, are charging a 25-cent fee for all bets that are $5 or less. So, if you bet $5, your expectation is to lose 2.5 cents to the house edge PLUS 25 cents as a fee for betting so low. So why not just bet $6 and the expectation is to lose 3 cents to the house edge and NO CENTS to the nonsense of paying a commission of 25 cents?

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:

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

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

Dear Frank and Alene,

DEALER PLAY OF THE MONTH:  I’m sitting at the table and the dealer is showing a face card. He checks for BJ. Rats, he’s got blackjack. The dealer collects all the cards and I go to place my bet. Huh? There are chips there already. In fact, everyone has bets out already. The dealer begins to deal the cards. No one flinches and I wonder if I put chips out without even thinking about it. I quietly lean over to the guy next to me and ask if the dealer forgot to collect the bets. His response? "That’s what just happened."

I only saw three notable changes this month. The Ballys, Wild Wild West and Claridge properties are cutting much deeper. Almost all dealers were cutting off only one and a quarter to only one deck. Many dealers only cut of one deck. This is 87% penetration.

Hilton has also done renovations. They have created more room on the main floor by removing some slot machines and some table games.

Trump Marina is now offering $1 blackjack games with a 25 cent ante per hand. Bets over $5 have no antes.

Last month, Governor Christie discussed plans to save AC’s casino industry. The governor also talked about making AC more family friendly. In part, I disagree with this. AC is better off as an adult play place. However, what if just one casino focused on taking the family business. This could be a successful model for one casino. Here are a few ideas for the struggling Hilton.
Let’s be honest, the Hilton cannot be a Harrah’s Casino with its hip pool scene.  The Hilton cannot compete with the upscale Borgata and the Borgata Babes.  Hilton will never appeal to the crowd visiting the gaudy Trump Taj to catch a glimpse of their "Angels." 

What the Hilton does have is the best beach in AC, a reasonably classy looking hotel, and they are basically separated from the rest of the casinos. So what market should they be looking to reach? Families!  Many families come to Atlantic City. If you read online vacations websites, there are always posts about the best place to bring a family in AC.

So how does the Hilton bring in families? Here’s what I would do. Wall off the entrances to the casino and create entrances that don’t allow you to see the casino floor from main hallways. Look at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls as an example. Don’t worry, the gamblers will still find the doors but families can walk through without their kids being exposed. Many families will like this. Keep the pool open late! Most casinos close them early. Open an indoor / outdoor mini golf course. Open an indoor water park, like some hotels do to attract customers. This could be a great draw in the winter. The basic idea is to create reasons for families to stay at the Hilton. Make the Hilton a family entertainment center.

Las Vegas generates over half its revenue from non-gaming attractions. AC generates a much smaller percentage of revenue from non-gaming attractions.  The Hilton needs to act like a hotel. It cannot rely on the revenues from the casino floor to survive. These revenues can supplement its survival but they cannot sustain it. Give families reasons to come. Charge them for the rooms, mini golf, water park, meals and whatever attractions you create. Of course, when mom, dad, grandma, grandpa or Uncle Bob take a break and visit the gaming floor, this will just be gravy.

Hope this helps,



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Here are our ratings for September 2010. They are based on blackjack games. 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: They are going deeper into their shoes so this might be a good time to check this casino out. 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. Craps games are quite good. Three stars: * * *

BORGATA: No change from last issue. 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: Welcome back to the blackjack world! Casino is now penetrating deep into their 8-deck shoes. Can this place rebound from its recently sad past? Who knows but we are happy with the new attitude. Two and one half stars: * * ½*

HARRAH’S: One star: *

HILTON: No change from last issue. Wild swings in penetration on 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: Going, going, gone? Will Dennis Gomes buy this place? 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: No change from last issue. 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: Those low-limit commission fuelled games have arrived. Complete rip-off of blackjack players looking for $5 and under games. 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: Will this place be sold? 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: No change from last issue. 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: The penetration has gone deeper lately and this is a very, very good thing. Crews are friendly. All games are 8-decks. Two and one-half stars: * * ½*


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



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