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by Frank and Alene Scoblete


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Spring Has Sprung

Now the good weather is slipping in and the Queen of Resorts looks to the spring and summer seasons with hope and, yes, a little dread as well. Despite the fact that the new Revel Hotel and Casino has been given a jolt of over a billion dollars to complete its building and the fact that Landry’s Golden Nugget is about to take over the Marina with a planned 150 million in renovations, the outlook for some of the other casinos is decidedly not good. In fact, the outlook for all of the casinos is not that hot either.

Hilton is in big trouble and you might find a cut-rate deal for this property. Keep in mind that the Marina sold for a thrift-shop price of a mere 39 million. Hilton would probably sell for about 75…if that. Tropicana is so-so in the finances department and the other two Trump properties are not world-beaters either. Resorts Hotel and Casino is still sliding even though it is trying to capture the Roaring 20’s.

How can Revel, when it opens, expect to make a profit? Based on viewing the massive property, we are talking about a mega-nut to just break even. It might do all right in the first few months but then, like Borgata, even it will be hit with the cloudy, foggy climate pervading the rest of Atlantic City.

Question: Even with 150 million in renovations, can the Golden Nugget turn the Marina around? Even when it was the Castle, it was not the hottest spot in AC. We love the property but it might be a millstone for any owner. We’ll see.

Gamblers just aren’t flocking to AC the way they used to. We’ve written about this several times in the past and everyone is aware of why this is happening – the economy and the casinos springing up in Pennsylvania.

However, warm weather is a wonderful time to come down to the shore. Late April and May are our two favorite months, closely followed by October and November. Do take the time to walk the beach and enjoy those ocean smells. In these months, there are not as many sun-worshippers and there are long stretches of beach, especially when you get past the casinos that will be deserted.

The casinos might be having trouble, but you can enjoy everything despite that. The water is there; the great food is there, and the casinos are there too. The casinos having problems doesn’t mean that the players are having problems.


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


I’ll keep it simple this month. The last of the all S17 casinos in AC has fallen. For quite a while, three casinos remained all S17. Then several months ago Tropicana converted many tables to H17. A couple months ago, Trump Plaza introduced H17. Finally, Borgata has converted many tables to H17.

Therefore, the following casinos have some S17 on their main floors now; Hilton, Tropicana, Trump Plaza, Resorts, Trump Taj and Borgata. Hilton and Resorts only have a couple and the ones at the Taj are eight deckers.  The six Harrahs casinos and Trump Marina are all H17 on the main floor.

I have a recommendation for the AC casinos whenever they replace their blackjack felts. The new felts should just make it easy for us and include maps to all the PA casinos, which are all S17 and allow late surrender!

Hope this helps,


Dear Frank and Alene:

I enjoy your reports and I also know that Atlantic City does not really have that wide a range of different games as does Vegas or some other areas of the country. Basically, you have six- or eight-deck games with a smattering of those rotten 6-to-5 blackjack games and those "buy" one-dollar games. You do keep us entertained with your comments.

Keep up the good work.

Paul De.


Dear Frank and AP:

I have always enjoyed going to the Marina. I like the fact that you don’t feel as if you are in Grand Central Station. You get a nice feeling there and you get to know the casino and the restaurants more easily than at the bigger properties. I just hope the Golden Nugget doesn’t bring in the paranoid contingent from Las Vegas that has made that property a waste of time to play in.

Davis J.J.


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Here are our ratings for blackjack for April 2011. 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: The deepest cuts in AC as we write this; about 75-85 percent as of a couple of weeks ago. Could be a happy time for card counters. 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. Crews are friendly. Craps games are quite good. Three stars: * * *

BORGATA: The 6-deck games are now almost everywhere again and the penetration is a decent 75 to 80 percent. When we were there a mixture of S17 and H17 was found. Didn’t see any $5 games. This is a happening place and caters to a swinging young crowd. You’ll enjoy the night clubs and the beautiful people. Three stars: * * *

CAESARS: You can expect about 70-75 percent penetration with most of the dealers which is decent. 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 just as most of the regular floor does. 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: Hitting on soft 17 is the norm, but we heard this might be changing soon. Penetration is between 70-75 percent. We have fond memories of this place but we have avoided playing here since a pit boss named Francis went animal-crackers on some Golden Touch dice controllers. Maybe we’ll actually play on our next trip instead of walking through and looking. A 20 million renovation is planned for this historic hotel. Can this place rebound from its recently sad past? Who knows but we are happy with the new attitude. Two and one half stars from a zero a while back: * * ½*

HARRAH’S: We don’t know why Harrah’s is hated by inveterate players, although it is an empire. Many folks call this company the Evil Empire, as in the dark side of the force. This is Darth Vader’s casino corporation. They hit on Soft 17 on all games and the penetration is about 70 percent. Two stars: * *

HILTON: Wild swings in penetration with more eight-deck games throughout the casino. Penetration is between 70-80 percent depending on the dealer. Place is in trouble. The hitting of soft 17 brings this place down a peg as well. 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. For craps, we are dealing with 14-foot tables and a couple of 12 footers. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *

RESORTS: Still getting complaints about the lack of lighting in this casino. Resorts has decided to go with a "Boardwalk Empire" theme for its casino. That means everyone will mimic the roaring 20’s. The BJ games are about the same as they always have been. Penetration on all games is about 70-75 percent which is not bad considering this is AC. Decent craps games. Two stars: * * ½*

SHOWBOAT: No change from last issue. Slots dominate this place now. The blackjack has deteriorated considerably with little penetration – maybe you play 60-66 percent of the shoe. All games are hit on soft 17. Go elsewhere. One star (for cleanliness and rooms): *

TROPICANA: No change from last issue. Now the place is H17 on all games except those outside the high roller room. Still has some good penetration, maybe 75 percent; sometimes excellent penetration of 80 percent. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *

TRUMP MARINA (Soon to be the Golden Nugget): Could have the friendliest pit personnel and dealers in all of Atlantic City. Okay, we agree that the high roller room action is at the top of Atlantic City now with all games standing on soft 17. But they also have those rotten games where you pay 25 cents for $1 blackjack. Yes, those low-limit commission fuelled games are total rip offs. Floor games now have $5 minimums during the week with 8-decks, H17. Excellent penetration as well. No mid-shoe entry on the high roller room six-deckers but you can jump in and out on the eight-deckers. Will Landry’s, the new owners of this property, keep the good and get rid of the bad or will the company just clean house and bring in their own people? The Golden Nugget in Vegas gets very mixed reviews; very, very mixed. Craps tables are 12-footers with 5X odds and good crews. Three stars: * * *

TRUMP PLAZA: Trump Resorts should have sold this place instead of the Marina. You now can "buy" your way into a rotten game by paying 25 cents for $1 blackjack. This place has fairly good games but something has to be done with the dark casino and the low-life scum slithering through it. Maybe the time has come to raze the place? Six-deck games are back outside the high roller room. The penetration is 70-75 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 down to arrogant and ignorant. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *

TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: As with Marina and Plaza, you now can "buy" your way into a rotten game by paying 25 cents for $1 blackjack. 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 premier place to play any more because it is a great place to stay. 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. Three stars: * * *

THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Look for three starred casinos (we now have a few) and if you are a high roller, check out the Marina.

Best Craps in Atlantic City: Trump Marina

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

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