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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 Desert by the Sea

Even if you are not a frequent Atlantic City player, step one foot in the city and you know something is wrong. The casinos have little action. Tables are closed, and the few that are open, seem lackluster. The weekends appear just fine but even such appearances can be deceiving in terms of money made. It’s a dry, dry time for profits, and the prophets say those past profits are gone forever.

Thousands of casino workers have lost their jobs. Remember when the biggest issue in Atlantic City was the smoking ban? Now, the city would welcome the Smokers Association of America if it meant getting back the action it once had. The unemployed dealers would welcome having smoke blown in their faces because even that is better than no job at all.

The economy and, more important, the casinos across the state in Pennsylvania have started to sap the last of the lifeblood from what once was the Queen of Resorts. AC isn’t America’s Playground anymore either.

The talk is that three casinos might shut their doors, although these casinos deny the truth of such rumors. Resorts Hotel and Casino has been sold while still hanging on a financial cliff; Claridge is supposed to undergo a 20 million dollar renovation but it is a shaky property. Trump Marina and Trump Plaza are experiencing earthquakes. Tropicana is still facing a tsunami. Hilton is scrambling.

If and when large properties close, the worst thing happens to a city, the rotting hulks of those properties remain. The city looks as if it is dying when large but dead properties litter the landscape or, in this case, the oceanscape. In fact, such hulks usually actually mean the city is really dying. On the sands of Atlantic City will be written the death of what was once the second best casino town in the country. We remember how awful the old and empty Playboy casino looked as it rotted away on the shore. We picture three more.

It is going to happen. The Pennsylvania casinos will not go away. New York is seriously considering casinos in Manhattan. People who went to Atlantic now have plenty of other places to go.

The sands of decline will cover this town and Atlantic City’s new nickname will become "The Desert by the Sea."

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.

Dear Frank and Alene:

I would like to report on Borgata.

I know they have some 8-deck games but unlike the rest of the city they do not hit soft 17. Also, they have a whole pit of 6-deck games besides the high limit room. As far as craps, unlike what you have been reporting, they have four 12 footers which are located at the entrance to the b-bar, and a 10-foot table, which is the first time I have ever seen one of those. That is in the high limit room by poker.




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Here are our ratings for blackjack for October 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: 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: 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. They have added 8-deck games, although some 6-deck games still remain This is a happening place and caters to a swinging young crowd. 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: A 20 million renovation is planned for this historic hotel. 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: Darth Vader’s casino corporation. 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: No new news. But 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.

The Best Craps in Atlantic City: Bally’s

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

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