AC Update- August 2011
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 arewww.goldentouchblackjack.com, www.goldentouchcraps.com and www.scoblete.com
THE THREE KINGS OF ATLANTIC CITY
by Frank Scoblete
I really needed to get away for a vacation and some serious playing time. I’d been working too hard on two books that so far were not jelling but my deadlines for articles had all been met for May. I needed a rest and tackling the casinos with my two friends would be just the kind of rest I needed.
So I joined Jerry "Stickman" and John "Skinny" in Atlantic City for a (three of the Five Horsemen) get-together. The Five Horsemen is the name of our advantage-play craps team; joining Stickman, Skinny and me are Dominator and Nick@Night. The latter two had gone to Las Vegas the week before and were unavailable for this trip as I was unavailable for theirs.
On Monday, Skinny drove me to AC in his beautiful, eight-trillion dollar Mercedes. He is a good chauffer and this time I did not demand that he wear his uniform and cap.
We met Stickman at 1 o’clock that afternoon and went to lunch where we discussed how we would attack the AC casinos at three games: craps, blackjack and Pai Gow poker – the three games at which we could get an edge.
I also wanted to do what I called "The Odyssey," where the three of us would play craps at every single casino. We’d start at the extreme southern end (Hilton) and go to the extreme northern end of the Boardwalk (Showboat) and then head over to Harrah’s and the new Golden Nugget which had just changed hands from Trump Marina. The only casino we’d skip would be Borgata whose craps tables we were already familiar with.
Tuesday would be "The Odyssey" day. But today was Monday, so we planned our attack.
Unlike trips to Las Vegas which take the three of us all day from New York, New Jersey and Tennessee (6AM to 2PM for me) and knock us for a loop, we intended to play that Monday since none of us were tired. Stickman had flown in from Memphis the night before and had stayed in a Philadelphia hotel where he ate turkey bacon until he started clucking and plucking his feathers. My car service drove me to Skinny’s house and Skinny is only about an hour-forty-five minutes to AC.
We have a terrific host who comped each of us gigantic suites containing a bedroom, dining room, living room and a monster Jacuzzi.
After lunch we went to see the craps tables. One was empty and we took our spots, Skinny at stick-right one; Stickman at stick-left two and me at stick-left one. Skinny took the dice first and rolled in the teens, his dice were hitting numbers all over the board and the best way to bet on him was the way he was betting on himself, Come bets with full odds. Of course, I didn’t do that and instead went with Place betting the 6 and 8 for $150 each. I won some money but nowhere near what Skinny won. Stickman followed my route.
When Skinny had finished rolling, Stickman and I simultaneously said, "We should have used the Come on him."
Now it was my turn. I immediately placed $300 on the 6 and told the dealer that the bet was "off" until I established a point. I then Place-bet one-dollar on each of the numbers for the dealers and told them that I controlled those tips. Both Skinny and Stickman tip on each of their turns the exact same way since the casino where we play will pay the dealers two-to-one on the wins, giving the dealers an actual edge over the 5, 6, 8 and 9 and making the 4 and 10 a break-even wager in the long run.
I put down a $15 Pass Line bet and got the dice. My point was a 9 and I put $100 in odds behind it. When you have $15 as a Pass Line or Come bet in craps games with 5X odds, you can usually push the house with odds of $100 on the 5 and 9 (which translates into 6.67X odds), and $125 on the 6 and 8 (which translates into 8.33X odds). However, the 4 and 10 are both $75 in odds (5X odds). I believe the Captain was the first player in Atlantic City to push the casinos to offer better games than advertised, just as this pushing of the odds situation is not advertised by the casinos.
I always set the 3-V and have done so for over two decades. My SmartCraps software scores indicate clearly that I have a strong edge over the 6 and an almost as strong edge over the 8 when I use the 3-V. I am a good on-axis shooter and SmartCraps has clearly confirmed that. I don’t need long rolls to make a handsome profit – although long rolls are fun for bragging purposes.
I hit the 6 again; then made my point, then hit a few 7’s which I was setting for on the Come-out, then established the 8 as my next point. I hit the 6 again; then the 8. I would stick with two numbers for most of this trip as long as my dice were hitting that 6 (or 8) and not hitting other numbers too frequently.
When Stickman and Skinny see that I am on, they too will bet a bundle on the 6 and tend to ignore the other numbers. If my dice hit too many of the other numbers, they will go with three bets of lesser amounts.
My total roll for this hand was a 22, not bad since I hit that 6 several times more and made a few points in the bargain. If my point were a 6, I would usually leave my $300 Place bet up and also take the full odds on the 6 Pass Line bet, giving me $440 on the 6. However, sometimes I would move $150 of that $300 six to the 8 – how my dice were reacting determined this.
Stickman did the counting of the rolls for both Skinny and me, and when he shot I did the counting. It was now his turn to shoot. He sevened-out rather quickly after hitting a couple of numbers. His shot looked just fine but even the best shot – and Stickman has the perfect Golden Touch throw – will sometimes end up sevening out, usually eliciting this thought, "Man those dice looked great; how could I seven out?"
We all decided that this was it for craps for the afternoon. None of us are of the "I have to play! I have to play some more! And play more and more and more!" school of dice control. We play when we are rested and feel good and usually three or four turns with the dice are it for a session. But that is not a hard-and-fast rule; often a session is one or two turns with the dice and on some occasions four or five.
Still keep this in mind, when three of us do three turns with the dice that is nine turns all together. When the Five Horsemen do three turns with the dice that is 15 turns all together. Those turns give us plenty of opportunities to hit some pay dirt.
We decided to go to our grand suites and take naps. We would meet in my room at 5:30PM to have a glass of Belvedere vodka on the rocks and then head off to dinner.
MONDAY con’t: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAF
Dinner was the steak house, a fine restaurant, and the Maitre‘d seated us next to a table with two older men who had so many gold chains on their necks that they looked like members of the Sopranos gone wild. One man was bald with grey strands here and there, while the other had thinning hair dyed pitch black. He looked ridiculous.
But he – and his friend – sounded far worse. You see, they were both deaf and as happens with deaf people, they spoke in shouts; shouts that rattled our bones since we were sitting within arms’ reach of them. They also talked at curious times as the following will show:
SKINNY: I think I’ll have the lamb chops. I haven’t had them here before. I wonder how they are?
DYED HAIR (shouting): Last time they were terrific!
SKINNY (turning to Dyed Hair): Oh, thanks for… (Then he realized that Dyed Hair had not been shouting to him but to Grey Strands.)
STICKMAN: I’m going with beef tenderloin.
GREY STRANDS (shouting): That’s good, good, good, my friend!
Stickman turned to the table of the deaf, also thinking that one of those gold encrusted seniors was shouting to him. The guy wasn’t; he was shouting to Dyed Hair.
SCOBE (that’s me): This is really weird. Maybe we should change our table.
DYED HAIR (shouting): I think you should; I think you should.
I turned to him.
DYED HAIR: Have another glass of wine (he was shouting to Grey Strands). It’s comped!
Skinny took the bull by the horns, or rather the deaf by the hearing aids, and requested of the waiter that we be allowed to move our table. Unfortunately Skinny said this as the two started shouting to each other.
WAITER: What? What?
SKINNY (shouting): We want to change our table!
Unfortunately, when Skinny shouted, it was the exact moment that the deaf-duo stopped shouting. Skinny’s face turned red because he thought they had heard him; but I looked over at the pair and they had not heard him. Instead, they resumed shouting at each other and we were moved to a private room in a "galaxy far, far away." Sadly, a couple was shortly seated at the table near the "living deaf" but they did not have the sense to plea bargain a move to another table.
When the meal was over, Skinny said to the couple as we passed their table, "Is your hearing back?"
"God," said the woman. "It’s been awful."
The two deaf guys were still there shouting and had no idea we were talking about them. I was just hoping they weren’t craps players.
MONDAY con’t: CRAPS SESSION NUMBER TWO
We passed the dice tables after dinner and there were only two players at one of them. The other table was full. Funny thing about random craps players; they love being jammed on tables together. Craps can certainly be considered a tribal game with the table being the altar where such players sacrifice not beautiful virgins but their own hard-earned cash.
We got our spots at the other table and decided to do three turns and see what would happen. As always Skinny shot first. Point seven-out. I got the dice. Point seven-out. Stickman got the dice and had the best roll of the evening so far. Point, number, seven-out.
The second turn was a little better. Skinny hit some numbers but I did another point-seven-out. Stickman hit some numbers before going down.
Our next rolls were good. Skinny had another decent roll in the high teens, although his numbers were scattered; I had another 22 roll with sixes and eights galore; and Stickman had a short roll but did hit the six three times.
And that was it. We then went over to Pai Gow poker.
MONDAY con’t: THE REVENGE OF THE LIVING DEAF
There were three spots open at the Pai Gow table. I took third base (the dealer’s right), Stickman took the seat next to me and Skinny was in the middle.
When I sat down I looked across the table. The guy sitting at first base was totally bald as in "Let me shave my head so that I don’t have hair on the sides and I’ll look rugged that way." He had a Fu-Manchu mustache and a short goatee. His arms were heavily tattooed.
He looked at me and blew air in my direction ("Foouuuupooo!") and then he said, "Ooo ah uma eck eck eck ummm!" and smiled like a maniac.
I thought he was joking around so I smiled back at him. He pointed to the dealer and made a twirling sign with his finger then pointed it at his own head indicating that the dealer was crazy.
The dealer then spoke to me. I couldn’t understand a word he said; his accent was so thick.
"What?" I asked.
"Ump oom oom uh uh ga a umm!" shouted Fu Manchu. He pointed to the dealer and took his index finger and then made the "okay" sign with his other hand and he then (to put it indelicately) screwed his "Okay" sign with his index finger, roaring "Oww owa unna ahm!" He again twirled his finger and pointed to his head and nodded to the dealer indicating once again that he thought the dealer was nuts.
The dealer spoke to me again. I still couldn’t understand him.
"What?" I said.
The floor person came over. "Do you want any green?" he asked.
"Oh, oh, no, no, just black will be fine," I said. I could have been there all night if that floor person hadn’t rescued me.
When we got our chips, the dealer became chatty. I couldn’t understand a word he said; nor could Stickman. I don’t know if Skinny was listening as he was talking to this guy on his right who had a small head and the biggest hands I have ever seen on someone whose head was so tiny.
Since the dealer was laughing uproariously, I laughed too. I just hoped he wasn’t telling me that his family had been killed by terrorists, causing him to laugh since his culture laughs at death, and there I was laughing like a hyena when in his culture those who heard such horror stories were supposed to moan in sympathy as the victim laughed. Various cultures have strange customs.
Fu Manchu responded to the dealer too. "Ooomm, eck, eck, eck, um, um, um, eek, ak, ump, ump, ump!" and he again screwed his "Okay" hand with his index finger – which I thought of now as his "in-sex" finger. Then he turned to the small head with huge hands and made some more sounds. Small head with huge hands nodded and turned back to Skinny.
We used our special Pai Gow method (Skinny will teach that exact method in Vegas on October 21st during our Advantage-Play Friday) but that table was really weird. The dealer would talk incoherently and laugh and Stickman and I would laugh too – having no idea what the dealer was saying so rapidly.
Across from me Fu Manchu would launch into weird sounds off and on and it wasn’t until 20 minutes had passed that I realized something. Fu Manchu was a deaf mute; either that or he was possessed by the devil.
So when Fu Manchu would utter his sounds I would smile as if I knew what he was saying. I spent over an hour at that table smiling at the chatty, incomprehensible dealer (except when the dealer went on a break) and at Fu Manchu who loved to poke fun at the dealer.
Small head with huge hands seemed to be a very nice guy, too, except I realized he had false teeth that didn’t look too stable in his mouth. Since small head with huge hands liked to talk and laugh, I was concerned that he would shotgun his teeth out onto the table or, worse, directly into my face since his angle talking to Skinny put me directly in line for a false-tooth torpedo should they become jettisoned.
There was one other player at the table – a young man who played poker. He was wearing the proverbial baseball cap and he seemed intent on always saying the wrong things.
"This game sucks for comps," he said so the floor person could hear him. We have found that Pai Gow can be a comp heaven if you know how to play the game correctly. Baseball cap did not know how to play correctly.
"This game is really slow," he said.
"Ooomm, eck, eck, eck, um, um, um, eek, ak, ump, ump, ump!" said Fu Manchu to whomever the hell he said it to. I smiled at him.
I felt like telling the poker player in the baseball cap to shut up but I am polite so I just ignored him, hoping if I didn’t listen he wouldn’t talk. But some people talk even if you don’t listen.
Finally, after the poker player had loudly spewed more stupid observations, I said: "I can hear you; you don’t have to shout. We’re not deaf…"
"Ooomm, eck, eck, eck, um, um, um, eek, ak, ump, ump, ump!"
"I mean most of us," I added.
At the 90 minute mark, we decided to call it a night. We had won some money there and fatigue had enveloped us. Time to go to bed. Tomorrow would be "The Odyssey."
TUESDAY: THE ODYSSEY
Stickman, Skinny and I came down to play craps at 6AM. The table was empty and we took our spots. Skinny had a decent roll but again his numbers tend to spread out so we started to Come bet him, which made us some profit.
I went on a tear. When I was finished I asked Stickman what I had rolled. "Another twenty-two," he said. That was my third one.
Stickman again had a low roll but his dice looked great. The gods seemed to be cursing him at the moment.
Our next two turns with the dice saw all of us shoot in the teens (Skinny high teens, me middle teens, Stickman low teens) – a nice money-making session. Then we went to breakfast where we enjoyed our usual fun conversation and the anticipatory excitement of what was coming up, "The Odyssey" to play craps in almost all the Atlantic City casinos.
I also got to see again these two nutcases pouring supremely hot sauce on their eggs. If you read Casino Craps: Shoot to Win! you know how Stickman and Skinny love their hot sauces. You also know how they almost killed Dominator with one such sauce. I once smelled one of these sauces and my nose burned!
Off we went on "The Odyssey":
The Hilton is dying. There was only one other player in the whole casino (the whole casino!), a Darkside don’t player who was at the craps table with us.
We all cashed in. We would play as a team, taking the dice once each, and betting marginal amounts with $30 each on the 6 and 8, and a Pass Line bet with full odds. If a 6 or 8 were the point, we would buy the 4 or 10 for $35, paying the $1 vig – a manageable 2.8 percent house edge. Each of us would make only one of the three bets.
Skinny had a short roll. I had a long roll. "How many did I roll?" I asked Stickman. "Twenty-two." My fourth 22.
Stickman sevened out right away. We colored up and headed for Tropicana. I think the Hilton will fold when the new mega-casino, Revel, opens next year. You can’t run a casino with so few customers. (How do you pronounce that new casino? Revel or Rev-elle?)
The Tropicana was a revelation. I had not been in the place since the 1990s (it was called Tropworld then), around the time when the Captain, the Arm and Jimmy P. had been told that they would not be given any more comps and that their play really wasn’t wanted. They had won over 1.3 million.
The place is huge, more like the Vegas mega-casinos such as Venetian, Wynn and Bellagio; with a multitude of restaurants, an IMAX theatre, and a gigantic casino – with only one craps table open. The slot aisles were packed and it was only 10AM.
We did not light up this table. We each went down to defeat, bing, bam, boom and, after a tour, headed to our next casino, Trump Plaza.
Now some of you might know the story of Trump Plaza and how Dominator, Nick@Night, Stickman, Skinny and I were scolded and abused by a maniacal casino manager who went ape-shit when he discovered us playing craps at his table. The Goddess, Sandtrap, Randman, and the Raging Baritone were also at the table when this guy flew into the pit and spewed loudly at me. "I know who you are! I know who you are!"
"What the fucks the matter with him?" asked Dom in his patented stage whisper, easily heard by this feverish casino manager.
"What? What? What did you say?" he snapped at Dom.
Dom just looked at him. I just looked at him. We all just looked at him. I swear, I think the guy might have had foam-flecks on the sides of his quivering mouth.
As we played he was always yelling about us not throwing hard enough or not hitting the back wall hard enough or winning money which he seemed to think we shouldn’t do. "I know what you are trying to do!" he bellowed. Yeah, well, we were doing what everyone does at a craps table – we were trying to win money! I believe what added to his supreme annoyance was the fact that we were hot, especially Randman who rolled a 56 before sevening out.
So now, on this Odyssey, Stickman, Skinny and I would return to the Plaza and see what we would see.
"This is going to be interesting," said Stickman. "What do you think our reception will be?"
There was no reception. No craps tables were open. The dingy, dirty casino had players, mostly slot players, but the table games were more or less empty. It was a hot day and we all refreshed ourselves with two bottles of water each. Some of what we call "the Boardwalk scum" ambled by us with their pants so low they seemed to be under their ankles.
"This place is such a dump," said Skinny.
"I’d rather see this place close than the Hilton," said Stickman.
We went next door to Caesars, which was packed with players. Stickman and I were able to get our spots at one of the three open tables but Skinny’s spot was taken. None of us will shoot out of our spots, so Skinny bought in and got a position at the end of the table. I wish I could say we rendered unto ourselves rather than unto Caesar but that didn’t happen. Stickman and I went down in flames.
Next stop: Wild Wild West, which is a part of the Bally’s complex (the other two properties being Bally’s and Claridge). The casino had some slot action and one craps table, a 14-footer, was open. The game offered 100X odds but we only played 10X odds with a $5 Pass Line bet, again we placed the 6 and 8 for $30 each. (In a game such as this, you would be far, far better off using the huge odds bets but we didn’t want to work out another method of play on the spur.)
We were the only ones at the table. Skinny had a mediocre roll and I then hammered them with sixes and eights. When I finished, Stickman said, "Twenty-two." My sixth 22! Stickman then went down fast. I couldn’t understand why Stickman was not hammering the casinos, as he usually does, with his beautiful roll. But I knew he would rise like a Phoenix, just when that would happen was the question.
On to Bally’s where Skinny and Stickman got their spots but I had to take an end position. Again, we were no great shakes.
"Okay," I said, "we are off to Claridge."
"Claridge is closed," said the floor person. "We only open Claridge on the weekends now."
You know Atlantic City is hurting when one of its oldest properties can’t sustain itself midweek.
We all wanted to get a taste of the Claridge. The last time we played there a pit boss, Francis, went crazy on Skinny, somewhere on Skinny’s 26th roll. The guy jumped across the table, literally spread-eagled over the layout balanced by the chip rails. "You missed the back wall!" Francis screamed gesticulating wildly. (I wonder if Francis is related to the casino manager at Trump Plaza?)
"No I didn’t," said Skinny softly. "Both dice hit the back wall."
"No they didn’t; no they didn’t!" Francis screamed.
Skinny’s dice did indeed hit the back wall but Francis’ position in the pit did not allow him to see one die hit the mixing bowl (the curved area) on the dealers’ side of the table.
Skinny asked the dealers to inform frenetic Francis that the dice had hit the back wall but the dealers didn’t even acknowledge Skinny’s existence; they just stared straight ahead. Can’t say I blame them; you don’t want to contradict your blubberingly spewing boss in public.
Francis kept up the berserk rant, screaming that he would take the dice away from Skinny should he miss the back wall again.
Now, Francis was probably upset because we had been playing there since 9PM and it was now 3AM. Yes, this session violated all the rules of Golden Touch but with good reason. We were all hotter than Hades! One good roll after another after another; and some great ones spread among them. No one was cold; almost every player’s hand was a winner. Dom, the Goddess, Sandtrap, Stickman, Skinny and I were blasting the Claridge and obviously we had driven Francis into a mad rage which he took out on Skinny.
Skinny did eventually seven out, somewhere around 35 rolls, all the while Francis walking back and forth in the pit muttering madly and we never went back to Claridge again – nor did I ever recommend Claridge for blackjack players or random rollers at craps. The place, the one where I first made the Captain’s acquaintance, was now dead to me.
We would pass the deserted Claridge by.
Since the day was hot and muggy, Skinny and I decided to take one of those rolling carts down the Boardwalk to Resorts (yes, I really do feel sorry for the guys who have to push those things). Stickman decided to walk.
I have to tell you this honestly – Stickman is a little bit crazy. He makes it a point to walk up and down the stairs; to walk the Boardwalk in suffocating heat and humidity; and to generally make me feel guilty that I prefer to use escalators and rolling carts.
One table was opened at Resorts – a 14 footer. Skinny did not get his spot but Stickman and I did. Our shooting sucked, for lack of a better word. It was evident that we were wearing down.
We also had one of those annoying "random-roller-shoots-lights-out" types of events. Many of you have been through this. A guy wings the dice down the table and shoots number after number.
Now, we all know (or we all should know) that to be on a random roller’s hot roll, you have to be on all the various random rollers’ rolls – which means you lose your money over time since you can’t predict which random roller is going to have a hot streak. We had decided not to bet on any random rollers –why waste our money?
Gamblers get themselves all tied up in knots when they see such long rolls thinking they should have been on them. Not so. You don’t know in advance which random roller will shoot lights-out so you are throwing your money away betting on all the random rollers – so don’t lament missing such long rolls. But telling gamblers this (and even telling some controlled shooters this fact) often goes into deaf ears to loudly rattle around in the empty caverns of their craniums.
We decided to hit Showboat next and save Taj Mahal for last, figuring we’d eat lunch there.
There were two packed tables at Showboat so we didn’t get to play. We watched the games for awhile but no one seemed the least interested in leaving so we left for Taj Mahal. Once again, our spots were not open at any of the four tables in play at the Taj, and we went to lunch.
Our last two stops would be Harrah’s and the new Golden Nugget, which was opening today.
I had only been to Atlantic City’s Harrah’s once, in the 1990s, with the Captain to see a fight. I had a foggy recollection of the place.
Harrah’s was beautiful. I was impressed. It was packed with players. I was also impressed that they had two craps tables open, one with players squeezed into every available spot, while the other table was completely empty. We took the empty table and bought in. All of us were really tired and had they put a pillow on the table I would have taken a nap right there and then.
In such a fatigued state, it was stupid to play but this odyssey required we play every casino. We knew we would be tired so that was another reason for keeping the betting low. Oh, yes, we were losing by this point.
Skinny took the dice. It might have been a point-seven but I was somewhat too groggy to remember what exactly happened during his roll. Then I got the dice.
The floor person pointed his finger at me. "How are you doing Frank?" Oh, nuts, I thought, here comes the hassling.
"Okay," I said.
"These guys your Golden Touch team?" he asked, nodding at Stickman and Skinny.
"My friends," I said.
"Well, we welcome you to play at Atlantic City’s Harrah’s. Guys, win all the money you can, Harrah’s has plenty of money. Have fun!"
I was stunned; totally, completely, amazingly stunned. Maybe that’s why I point-sevened-out. When Stickman sevened out, another quick one, we all personally said goodbye not just to the dealers but to this floor person as well.
"Come back to Atlantic City’s Harrah’s anytime Frank," he said. You know, I just might do that; seems like a great place to play.
We decided to skip playing the Golden Nugget that afternoon and since we wouldn’t be playing Borgata, our personal "Odyssey" was over. The entire adventure took almost six hours from start to finish and, sadly, we did lose a couple of hundred dollars. But I can honestly say that this was one of the rare times that I lost money and still had fun.
TUESDAY con’t: CAN ANYONE HERE SPEAK ENGLISH?
We all went back to our rooms and napped. I slept for two straight hours, a most refreshing sleep. At 5:30, we had our glass of Belvedere vodka, talked about our "Odyssey" and how amazed we were that the Hilton was dead; that the dingy Trump Plaza had no craps tables open; that the Claridge was closed and that the Harrah’s floor person had been so friendly.
Then we went to the Chinese restaurant.
I do not like it when restaurants have waiters who don’t speak English. This Chinese restaurant should have been in China. The waiter couldn’t understand what we were saying.
For example, Skinny ordered extra hot sauce for his meal and the waiter pointed, "Soy sauce right there."
"No," said Skinny. "I want hot sauce, as hot as you can make it."
"Soy sauce right there."
"Hot sauce," said Skinny. "I want hot sauce; really hot, okay?"
"Not soy sauce; not soy sauce; hot sauce; really hot; hot, hot, hot."
Finally Skinny got through to him but the whole meal was like that. We should have had a U.N. translator. There are no laws that stipulate only non-English speaking Chinese waiters have to work in Chinese restaurants – if you can’t find any Chinese waiters who speak English then hire non-Chinese waiters for crying out loud. But, I must say this, the food was good.
We went to the craps table and watched a "controlled shooter" take up half his side of the table with his throw. He was at stick right one, two and three – I kid you not – and he’d lean way out over the table and set the Hardway set and then push the dice to the back wall as if he were playing pool. He made it known to everyone that he was a controlled shooter but he was so blazingly-bulgingly-red-eyed that everyone just smiled at him and let him have his positions at the table. When he sevened out he left.
We skipped playing craps and played an hour or so of Pai Gow. It was an unremarkable session where we won a little money.
Then to bed to sleep the sleep of the just…just exhausted that is.
WEDNESDAY: THE EIGHTS HAVE IT
We met for our 6AM playing session and again the table was empty. We took our spots. Skinny had three good rolls consistently hitting in the teens and with Come betting, we made money on him. Surprisingly Stickman was still not doing well.
And I had another, you guessed it, 22 roll with two other mid-teen rolls.
After our three turns with the dice, we went to breakfast, happy with those orange chips clicking in our pockets. And that’s when he came in.
The guy was definitely a homeless bum; I could tell by his clothing and that demented look on his withered face.
"Some homeless guy just came in," I said, nodding over towards him where he was picking at the buffet with his bare hands.
"He’s not homeless," said Skinny. "How could he get in here?"
"He’s not homeless," said Stickman confidently but I knew he was thinking: But I am sure he will be homeless when you write about him.
Now, here is a problem I sometimes have with my friends – they think I exaggerate my stories; although not the stories they are in. These they know are right on the money.
When all of us were on our cruise to Alaska, AP and I had a close encounter with a whale – which jumped out of the water, about a foot or so from our boat, and I could have touched her had I reached out. When I told this to Stickman and his wife, Skinny and his wife, the Goddess and Sandtrap, Raging Baritone and his wife, they all agreed the whale probably jumped out of the water but that I was exaggerating how close to the boat the thing came.
What could I say? I swore; AP swore, but my friends said "Nope, it is an exaggeration," (by the way, there has never been an "exaggeration" they can actually point to!).
Then, as the Good Lord would have it in defending my veracity, a video was shown on the ship’s screens, in all the rooms, in every cabin, of this monstrous whale jumping out of the water, within a foot or so of the boat, with people screaming, water splashing – and so close to those of us on the rail that you could put your hand out and touch the barnacles on its belly. We then received a picture from a passenger who had been on the ship which also showed the jump.
No exaggeration there!
So back to the homeless man.
He probably got into the buffet because the ladies at the entrance often engaged themselves in conversation, not looking to see if anyone was sneaking in. Since just about all people were honest and called over to them, it was no big deal – except Homey the Homeless had slipped in.
"He’s not homeless," reiterated Skinny as we departed the restaurant.
"He’s not homeless," reiterated Stickman as we departed the restaurant.
I went to the bathroom and when I came out.
"He is homeless," said Stickman. "The security guards just escorted him out."
"Yeah, I guess he is homeless," said Skinny. "But how did he sneak in?"
I explained my theory. It seemed to fit the unexaggerated facts.
So we decided to play another session since the craps table was still empty. As I was shooting who should show up but Homey the Homeless. He bought in with a dirty, crumpled twenty-dollar bill. He stayed at the end of the table on my side but every so often he would inch over towards Stickman, who started to cover his chips with his hand.
As unadorned, unexaggerated fate would have it – I rolled another 22 and we decided to leave the table because Homey the Homeless seemed to want to grab some of Stickman’s chips. Homey the Homeless was now standing right next to him, crowding him.
Then we went to Pai Gow and had the worst session I have ever experienced at that game. In two hours, I won one hand and pushed maybe six hands – I lost all the others. Stickman did slightly better; I think he won three hands and pushed maybe a dozen, losing all the rest. Skinny also took a beating but I don’t know how many hands he won, pushed, or lost as I was too busy licking my bloody wounds to count.
We staggered off the table, saying things like "Oh, man," "Oh, shit," "I can’t believe that!"
We then found a quiet place to sit, a banquet room on the second floor that was empty but had tables set up, and we lamented our Pai Gow pummeling. After we moaned, groaned and lamented our Pai Gow destruction, we went to lunch, where we lamented some more.
After lunch we meandered around, watching some construction that was taking place, and then we headed to blackjack. We would play three shoes, about 45 minutes, and then head over to Pai Gow again – we would not play craps until after dinner.
Blackjack was okay. I won a little; Stickman lost a little; Skinny lost just a little more. Then Pai Gow again and this time the game played as it usually does – we won some, lost some, pushed some and all of us came away with small wins. Then it was nap time to be followed by Belvedere at 5:30.
At the steakhouse we told the Maitre’d about our Odyssey of the previous day and she said, "You were the Three Kings of Atlantic City looking for your star!" Not bad, we were the Three Kings of Atlantic City, not a bad description at all.
We went to the craps tables after dinner.
I had two good rolls in the high teens and then (without any exaggeration) this: 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 4, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 4, 9, 10, 9, 8, 8, 7-out.
"Don’t you know to throw anything but eights," laughed the Indian dealer.
"My God, I never saw anything like this!" shouted the player at the end over by Skinny.
"Wow!" clapped the box man.
"Is anyone not betting the eight?" joked another player.
There were cheers and screams and loud acclamations of "Amazing! Unbelievable! Holy shit!"
After I sevened-out thunderous applause, I said to Stickman, "Tell me I rolled another twenty-two."
No," he said. "You rolled a twenty three!"
Then we headed over to blackjack where I hammered the casino in three shoes. I couldn’t lose. Unfortunately, Skinny and Stickman did lose.
Then it was time for a good night’s sleep. Sadly, when I travel now, I rarely get a good night’s sleep. I’ll go to bed at 9 or 10 o’clock and wake up at 3AM and that’s it.
THURSDAY: THE PHOENIX RISES FROM THE ASHES
Up to this time, I was hot and hammering the casino for three days and Skinny was damn good too, but Stickman just wasn’t being the Stickman we all know and love.
Until today…nuclear! He caught fire.
In the 6AM morning session, he rolled a 26 and 27 back-to-back, hitting those sixes and eights like they were going out of style. He ravished them in Pai Gow and at blackjack, after dipping low, he came back like a tornado, scooping up chip after chip after chip.
He had another two great sessions at craps that afternoon and evening. He won again at Pai Gow and blackjack.
When the play ended, the Stickman had risen from the ashes, again the irresistible force of advantage-play at craps, blackjack and Pai Gow poker. Skinny was good Thursday too…but I stunk. I sevened out quickly in the morning and afternoon and refrained from shooting that evening. I just didn’t have it. I got my ass kicked in blackjack and lost a small amount at Pai Gow.
Oh, well, you can’t kill the casinos every day, even though I’d like to.
The trip was an economic success, but more important, a great time with two friends and fellow Horsemen or, as we are now known in the steakhouse, the Three Kings of Atlantic City.
[Follow Frank’s adventures on his new blog at http://www.goldentouchcraps.com/FrankUnleashed.shtml]
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: 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. 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.
The Jon Report
Dear Frank and Alene,
The busy summer season has begun in AC. Casinos revenues continue to decline in AC and the number of visitors to AC is down, however, room and restaurant revenues are up due in part to increased convention business bringing in more long term visitors.
Here is my review of the casinos that I visited this month.
Revel: Opened a little room that you can visit. Not much to it. Still no table games.
Showboat: Main floor is all 8 decks, H17, 75% penetration.
Trump Taj: Main floor is all 8 decks, H17, 75% penetration.
Resorts: Main floor is mostly 8 decks, H17, although there is a row of S17 games in front of the high limit room. Three of these S17 tables are 8 decks and one table is 6 decks. Penetration is 75 – 80%.
Ballys: Main floor is all H17 and mostly 8 decks. There are four 6 decks games outside the high limit room. Penetration can be pretty darn good, 75 – 85%.
Wild Wild West: All 8 decks, H17, 75 – 85% penetration. Just started offering Blackjack Switch.
Caesars: All 8 decks, H17, 75% penetration.
Trump Plaza: Twelve S17 6 deck tables on the main floor. The rest is H17 8 decks. All tables cut off 2 decks. So 8 deckers were 75% and 6 deckers were 67% penetration.
Tropicana: Four 6 decks S17 games outside high limit room. The rest is 8 decks H17. 70 – 80% penetration.
Hilton: Four 6 decks S17 games outside high limit room. The rest is 8 decks H17. Penetration is only 70 – 75%.
Borgata: Large group of tables outside high limit room are S17. The mid shoe entry games to the left are 8 decks and the no mid shoe entry games to the right are 6 decks. The rest of the place is H17 and 8 decks.
Hope this helps.
Just returned from AC. Some information that may help. Tropicana has had at least two $5 crap tables with 5X odds and this has been everytime I have been there over the past few months. Also, went to Golden Nugget. They had two - htree-3 $5 blackjack tables going on Monday afternoon, beside the one dollar 6-5games. All new carpeting and tables in the casino. Also, had $5 craps. Small buffet completely renovated with fairly good lunch menu-fresh looking food.
Ken and Pattie
Even in summer there is something not clicking in AC. I think the resorts are lacking that high energy excitement they used to have. There is a tiredness about the place. Or maybe it is me? I am sick of the blackjack games because you can’t find five dollar tables or even ten dollar tables. Maybe the greed is causing them to love as many customers as they are losing because of increased competition.
Just my two cents!
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Here are our ratings for blackjack for August 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.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: No change from last issue. 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; although I was told that one or two tables have such limits during the day during the week. This is a happening place and caters to a swinging young crowd. You’ll enjoy the night clubs and the beautiful people, although more competition is coming in with the New Golden Nugget. Three stars: * * *
CAESARS: 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. High roller room is S17; the main floor is H17 when we were there. 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: Weirder than weird. We decided to visit the casinos this trip during the week that the Golden Nugget opened. Guess what? Claridge was closed so we have no idea what their games are like. We are guessing they are the same as last time but who knows? So we are leaving this unrated until such time as we can get there or get a report from someone else.
HARRAH’S: Many blackjack 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 now about 75 percent. The casino is pleasant and the crews are friendly and professional. One floor person at the craps tables was a delight when we went there to play. We are starting to have a change of mind about this property even though it is a part of the aforesaid "Evil Empire." Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
HILTON: Place is in trouble. Wild swings in penetration with more eight-deck games throughout the casino. Penetration is between 70-80 percent depending on the dealer. 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 13-foot tables and a couple of 12 footers. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
RESORTS: Now going all out for that 1920’s look! The reports are in and out about this casino’s games. Many H17 games on main floor; high roller room is S17. Penetration on all games is about 70-75 percent which is not bad considering this is AC. Decent craps games. Has opened the first Atlantic City gay nightclub. Two stars and one-half stars: * * ½*
SHOWBOAT: 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. One star: *
TROPICANA: Bringing the highest rollers into AC. 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 *
THE GOLDEN NUGGET: So far this "new" casino has continued with the gaming policies of Trump Marina but has, in the blink of an eye, transformed many areas into vibrant, with-it places – a new party pit with sexy dealers (I got to see a sexy young woman interviewed: "Do you know how to deal?" "Yes." "You start tomorrow night!"); the superb restaurant The Chart House; and new rooms that are small but beautiful. The blackjack games in the high roller room are excellent with penetration of 80 percent and top rules such as splitting and resplitting; and standing on soft 17. The eight-deck games in the casino are ho-hum and basically the same as all the other casinos in AC. The craps games are excellent and – as always – this place has the nicest and most professional dealers you will find. Give it a whirl. Three stars for a good beginning: * * *
TRUMP PLAZA: Trump Resorts should have sold this place instead of the Marina. 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: Now they are hitting soft 17 except in high roller room. 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, 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: Midweek visit; place was almost deserted. The penetration has gone deeper lately and this is a very, very good thing – you might find 80 percent. Crews are friendly. All games are 8-decks; mixture of H17 and S17 from latest reports. Three stars: * * *
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Look for three starred casinos (we now have a few).
Best Craps in Atlantic City: All except: Borgata, Trump Plaza, Taj Mahal, Showboat and Wild, Wild West.
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