ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT─ October 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.
Note: Frank has another article this month summarizing his recent barring at the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas. Click here to read it.
Our Readers Report
If you wish to contribute your reports or observations on playing conditions in AC, we need to receive them by the 18th 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 Herbert Report
For the casual gambler who goes to a casino to play and to eat well, see the sights, take in the beach, etc., the quality of life in the casino makes a big difference. If you are a heavy hitter who comes in for brief stands, table conditions are the only important element.
When a casino changes hands, what had been a comfortable milieu can rapidly evolve into something new which may be better or worse than it was previously. As avid Golden Touch craps readers know, Trump Marina has recently been on Frank’s best place to play dice list for Atlantic City. The casino, however, has changed hands. Should it still be at the top of the list and will it continue to be there? Let’s take a look at what has happened so far.
Earlier this year Trump Marina was sold for a paltry $38 million (it reputedly was losing 15 million annually) to the Golden Nugget franchise owned by Houston-based Landry’s, a restaurant conglomerate worth nearly $4 billion. Principal owner and CEO of Landry’s, Tilman Fertitta, has taken charge of building the 27 story, 728-room property into "as good a place as any in Atlantic City." He adds, "We’re going to compete with anybody in town" (Atlantic City Weekly, Aug. 18-24, p.50).
He intends, according to reports, to invest some $150 million before the end of this year. Many of the planned changes are displayed in the front atrium for all who enter to see. Some are already in place, most not yet begun.
Golden Nugget has arguably the best deal/meal in Atlantic City, the Harbor View Sunday brunch, but the new Chart House restaurant has maintained the quality of its predecessor, although prices seem to have risen. The new steak house also measures up to standard.
The buffet is still good (great crab legs at the weekend seafood special); although at over $50 for two people, attendance seems to have fallen off, even during busy summer weekends. Do not go unless comped. In all fairness, Golden Nugget still has to add Oriental and Italian dining spots.
The effect of letting people go can be felt in several places. Immigration checks decimated the maid staff at Marina (as at other casinos), and they seem to have hired few replacements. A female friend reported that service in the women’s bathroom has deteriorated. Several stalls were filthy and this occurred more than once. The attendants complained that they do not have time to do their job. They also voiced displeasure over the fact that they were not allowed to have a tip plate.
One night I waited at a table over half an hour for a marker. The pitman explained that they had only one person on duty. Sometimes long slow lines form at the single cashier on duty, but not as bad as in some of the other properties in AC.
Many players liked Marina’s low to non-existent floor music. This has changed and it is becoming more like the Borgata blare, though not quite at that level yet. Further, the music is a mélange of anything from R&B, 60s-70s, to very recent stuff.
One-step towards that end has been installing two new bars. One lies at the main entrance to the casino floor, on the right, along with a half dozen tables where the dealers dress up. These seem to have attracted few players. The other bar is at the mid-point on the casino floor on the left. The furniture is white, shiny vinyl. Surely, the man who invented the word "tacky" designed it. One person remarked that it looked like the bar at a second tier Nevada house of ill repute! We saw no one there during our visit.
Clearly there is an effort to attract a crowd different from the over 50 set that usually shows up. Free weekend events like the "Bubba Gump Shrimp Fest" or "All-American Craft Beer Tasting" or "Oktoberfest on the Deck" are designed to do that. Moreover, perhaps the weekend crowd is a bit younger. But when, as happened to me, five noisy young men get on the elevator, telling dirty jokes, and each holding a beer in one hand and their crotch with the other, it breeds apprehension of what may come.
Nevertheless, how about the most important thing: playing conditions? All of the party I went with noted that the new crew of suits seemed aloof if not downright unfriendly. There is certainly much less of a "fun" atmosphere than before. Tension exists between dealers and bosses and it shows at times. Word has it that they canned people they deemed not friendly enough, which means that they kept the "ass-kissers’ as one person put it.
I personally overheard one dealer griping that the quality of food had deteriorated. When they complained management replied, "We are not here to feed you, we are here to make money." By the same token, a couple of long time patrons groused that they could not get a comp room on a weekend despite their black card, while others had. The casino offered no explanation.
Having noted the above, things are still ok at the tables. The crews are as friendly as before. Players are pretty knowledgeable although on weekends watch out. Generally, several dice tables are open at the same time. One Saturday night we noticed that at every open table play had stopped while dealers explained the game to young persons without a clue how the game of craps worked.
In conclusion, things are still up in the air. The real test will come when the walls are knocked down and the casino rebuilt. What kind of tables will the new floor have? Will attitudes change? Will the casino become a new, hot "in" place? I hope that Golden Nugget will remain a premier spot to shoot craps in the future but only time will tell.
Dear Frank and AP:
New York is now talking about casinos even in Manhattan. I think this will kill Atlantic City. I expect half the casinos will close. Without those big players from New York, there is no way AC will continue as a big casino town. It will go back to being a slum.
Want to learn dice control from the masters? Get a copy of our new DVD Beat Craps by Controlling the Dice! [$299 plus $6 shipping] Call 1-800-944-0406.
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Here are our ratings for blackjack October 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
Golden Touch Advantage-Play Friday!
In Las Vegas on Friday, October 21st
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10AM -11AM: Introduction to CRAPS and DICE CONTROL with best-selling authors Frank Scoblete and Dominator (1 hr, $89)
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11:15AM -12:15PM / Also at 4PM – 5PM: ADVANTAGE SLOTS: Get a REAL Edge with gaming columnist Jerry "Stickman"(1 hr, $99)
This class explains which slot machines can actually be beaten and the exact strategies needed. Then you willlearn exactly where these machines are located in Las Vegas so you can play them after class. Comes with the book: Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines! by Frank Scoblete.
12:30 PM – 1:30PM: PAI GOW POKER:Get a REAL Edge with gaming columnist John "Skinny" (1hr, $99)
Pai Gow Poker is a fun card game. But many players don't realize they can get a real edge over the casino if they play the game properly. Learn how to do so. Pai Gow can also yield good comps for the player with far less risk than most other games. Learn everything you need to know to get a real edge at this enjoyable game with John "Skinny," the Pai Gow king!
2PM – 3:30PM: You Can Beat BLACKJACK with best-selling author Henry Tamburin (1.5 hrs, $149)
In one hour of practice with the new, easy-to-learn and master Speed Count, you can nail down a real mathematical edge over the casinos. Once you know this simple method, Henry Tamburin will tell youwhich casinos in Las Vegas are the best places to play Speed Count this weekend! Comes with the book Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge! by Frank Scoblete
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