ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT─ September 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.
Atlantic City: Going Down to Go Up
by Frank Scoblete
Atlantic City, the sandy venue for vacationers and ocean lovers, is sadly swimming in the red. That is not news anymore for anyone. The place is drowning.
In the last issue of the BJI, I mentioned how some casinos, such as the Hilton, were dying and others, such as the Claridge, were even closed mid-week. Trump Plaza (now snickeringly called "Dump Plaza" by many AC regulars) didn’t have a single craps table open during the late morning hours, and table-game play was closer to a ghost town than a thriving city.
To thwart complete rigor mortis, Atlantic City has decided to go two ways when it comes to new casinos. The legislature and Casino Control Commission have said you can build up about as far as you want (note how tall the new Revel is) but you can also go small, as in boutique, as in a new property being designed – The Hard Rock Casino Hotel. So it’s up and down in one of America’s formerly premier resort locations.
In the past, casino-hotels needed about 500 rooms to be certified but now they can have as few as 200 – and that is where the Hard Rock comes in. The design of the first phase shows between 200 and 250 rooms. It’s going to be a small place, smaller even than the Hilton that will be near it – yes, the same Hilton that is in its death throes.
There will also be a second phase (if the first phase succeeds) bringing the number of hotel rooms up to 850. Of course, there will be gourmet restaurants, trendy bars, even a rock-and-roll museum.
In truth, Atlantic City is moving steadily away from the senior crowd. It is trying to hit the youth crowd. Pennsylvania is taking the middle-aged and senior slot players from Atlantic City, and while Tropicana is pushing to be known as the high-roller casino, other casino executives have decided to move in other directions. Resorts is courting the gay community. Borgata and Golden Nugget are aiming at the 30- to 40-something market. The other casinos are all looking to position themselves in the market as well. Hard Rock will be going after the really, really youth crowd.
It will be interesting to see which of the older casinos survive, which of the new or reworked ones make it.
You want to reference a blackjack game? Well, Atlantic City is going to try to double-down on a 12. It could work…maybe.
[Follow Frank’s adventures on his new blog athttp://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,
It will be short this month. Newspaper reports have stated the Hilton (ACH) is in trouble. There are no buyers on the horizon at this point and it continues to bleed money. Its sale is much harder than the sale of Resorts that just sold the assets of the business. Hilton is trying to sell the entire business including liabilities, pensions, and union contracts. This has made the sale much harder.
In my visit to AC this month, I didn't see much new worth reporting but I did notice Borgata cutting a little deeper. I'll give them a little better than 75% penetration.
Dear Frank and AP:
It is summer in Atlantic City and while the Boardwalk seems to be the same old place, the casinos don’t seem to have the crowds that they used to. The casinos I go to seem to have laid-off some of my favorite dealers and you wonder why that is so when the summer should have more dealers and not fewer ones.
There is nothing to really rave about Atlantic City blackjack. It’s a dead game with nothing good going on. I don’t play the high roller rooms and the regular games are all eight decks with crummy penetration. The casinos aren’t even trying to get the blackjack players back. That is what it seems like to me.
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Here are our ratings for blackjack for September 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 starting to look like the old Borgata, if you can call a relatively new casino "old." There is 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 30-something crowd. You’ll enjoy the night clubs and the beautiful people, although more competition is coming in with the New Golden Nugget. We’ll see what happens. This is still a good casino for blackjack. Not a good casino for craps. Three stars: * * *
CAESARS:No change from last issue. 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:They are doing all right in their games. We’d say this is an average Atlantic City casino when it comes to blackjack. When we were there it was all eight-deck games with about 66 percent penetration. We wonder if Harrah’s is considering closing this place completely during the winter months? Two stars: * *
HARRAH’S:We are re-thinking our attitude towards this particular Harrah’s and that is based on one single incident where a floor person was very friendly to Frank and his Golden Touch teammates Jerry "Stickman" and John "Skinny" – knowing full well who they were. Over and above everything else, casinos are (or should be) people-oriented businesses. Frank puts a lot of stock in this. The blackjack games are so-so with eight decks and penetration of about 70-75 percent. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
HILTON:No change from last issue. Place is in deep, deep 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 and is courting the gay community, which is a smart move as gay vacation resorts and nightclubs seem to make a good go of it.. Two stars and one-half stars: * * ½*
SHOWBOAT: Oh, man, this place is one to stay away from if you aren’t a lover of smelly slobbering canines. Showboat is now the animal friendly casino-hotel. Yuck! Slots dominate this place now and I am guessing they will be making some slots look like fire hydrants. The blackjack has deteriorated considerably with little penetration – maybe you play 60-66 percent of the shoe. All games are hit on soft 17. High roller room is passable with better penetration, about 75 percent. Pass this place by unless you are walking Fido. One star: *
TROPICANA:Bringing the highest rollers into AC. The rumor is that they are inviting the high rollers who hit them for millions in the spring to their tournament games. 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: Three stars: * * * (for penetration)
THE GOLDEN NUGGET:No change from last issue. 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:We kid you not, it is starting to be called "Dump Plaza" but it does have fairly good games. Still 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 and friendly down to arrogant and ignorant. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL:No change from last issue. 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: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.
Frank Scoblete and Dominator’s
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12:30 PM – 1:30PM: PAI GOW POKER:Get a REAL Edge with gaming columnist John "Skinny" (1hr, $99)
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2PM – 3:30PM: You Can Beat BLACKJACK with best-selling author Henry Tamburin (1.5 hrs, $149)
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