ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT─ March 2012
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.
They Can’t Ban You But AC Can Bust You
This happened at the new Golden Nugget. Jerry "Stickman" and I decided to play in the high roller room because our spots at the craps table were taken. It was a six-deck shoe with excellent rules and a deep cut. We intended to play three shoes and if our spots at the craps table did not open in that time, we’d call it a night.
I was playing two hands and intended to spread a mere one to eight. Midway through the first shoe, I had only once increased my bet to two units. From nowhere the casino shift manager, I believe his name was Michael, came to the table, and watched the game. When that shoe finished, he came to me and said, "Frank, you will only be allowed to bet one hand from now on."
Then he went over to the dealer, whispered in her ear, and she cut off three decks. At that point, the game was not worth playing and luckily, our spots at the craps table had opened so Stickman and I headed there. As fate would have it, Stickman proceeded to have a monster roll, and we made more money at the craps table then we probably would have made playing blackjack.
Ever since Atlantic City was told by the New Jersey Supreme Court that the casinos couldn't ban card counters, the casinos have utilized other methods. These methods can all be summed up thusly: "We are going to bust your chops."
Atlantic City uses the following methods to make card counting an unpleasant activity.
Obviously, it is all very unpleasant that American citizens, some of whom have fought in our wars, policed our streets, devoted themselves to fighting fires, teach our children or provide medical care, are not allowed to play or are harassed in an American casino!
If you look at my situation above, you will note that my bet spread was rather small and, at best, gave me some tenths of a percent of an advantage. There was no way I could break the bank. Actually, I was just marking time until I could get my spot at the craps table. Now, I am considering not bothering to go to this casino anymore, although I have been recommending it highly to my readers and friends for the past couple of years when it was Trump Marina. Times change….
In my journeys from casino to casino in Atlantic City, I have noted very few card counters. The eight-deck games with hitting on soft 17 are essentially a waste of time. The penetration is not good enough to make the long, agonizing hours of play worth it. The six-deck shoes in the high roller rooms do indeed offer better games. These games are watched closely and many of the casino executives, not really understanding the math of card counting, will jump in forcefully to prevent what they think is a serious attack on the casino's money.
The card counters I have seen in Atlantic City rarely spread big enough or bet high enough to be much of a threat. Perhaps the casino executives just need something to do and being on the hunt for card counters is just that thing.
From what I understand, the blackjack games in Pennsylvania are far superior to those in Atlantic City. I have not yet had the time to go there, but all the reports I have received praise the games highly.
I have no idea how the Pennsylvania casinos handle card counters. I'm guessing they might have the same knee-jerk reaction as do just about all the casinos in the country. Still, it's worth a look.
Our Readers Report
If you wish to contribute your reports or observations, 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 Jon Report
Dear Frank and Alene,
Claridge: Table games have been closed until further notice. You can take this one off the list because the table games have been completely closed.
Wild Wild West: Same a Claridge. The table games have been closed. I asked if they would be opened during the busier months in the summer. They didn’t know.
Dump Plaza: The place is still dead. A year ago their revenue was better than Resorts and Hilton and it was right behind Trump Marina. Now their revenue is dead last. There is no life or energy when you walk in this place and there are so few tables open that it’s scary.
Hilton: The Hilton is in the process of remarketing itself as the cheap place to play. They will be introducing 25 cent and 50 cent chips soon (an AC first). They are reducing the number of table games from 86 to 50, and they plan to offer a lot of low limit games. They will also reduce the number of slot machines from 1850 to 1500 in order to create more space on the floor. Many of these machines will be penny slots.
Hope this helps.
Dear Frank and AP:
Just to let you know, Atlantic City is still dying. From what I heard there is an upswing in the amount of money they're making but they are nowhere near what they used to make in the first five years of this century. The blackjack games are really not so hot and the comps have somewhat dried up. I wonder, when New York gets casinos and other surrounding states get more casinos, can Atlantic City survive?
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Here are our ratings for blackjack March 2012. 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. I am getting used to the hitting on soft 17 and my ratings are starting to change as I take this fact for granted. That is not a good thing. Good cuts of about 80 percent. 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 sad fact. Crews are friendly. Craps games are quite good. Three stars: * * *
BORGATA: Same as last issue. 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:Closed most of the time. When it is open, it is a ghost town. Didn’t get to see the games while we were there. Our rating is based on last time we came by. Two stars: * * (Note: Tables games have shut down.)
HARRAH’S:The more things change the more things change but there is no change for this issue. The blackjack games are so-so with eight decks and penetration of about 70-75 percent. Good place for craps. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
ACH: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. For craps, we are dealing with 13-foot tables and a couple of 12 footers. The casino is now actively promoting to the locals and if by local they mean the baggy pants worn under the buttocks folks laundering their drug money, this place may rival Trump Plaza in lowlifes. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
RESORTS:No change from last issue. They have ghosts of the past and a new theme that goes back even further. Resorts is 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: No change from last issue. Showboat is now the animal friendly casino-hotel. Yuck! Slots dominate this place now and we are 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, and at some slow times the minimums are $25. Pass this place by unless you are walking Fido. One star: *
TROPICANA:This place is going in the opposite direction from Trump Plaza and ACH by 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. Three stars: * * * (for penetration)
THE GOLDEN NUGGET: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 but the report is paranoia reigns supreme here. Three stars: * * *
TRUMP PLAZA:This place is beginning to resemble an empty parking lot midweek. We kid you not, it is starting to be called "Dump Plaza" or "Trump Dump" 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:Another ghost town.. The penetration in their blackjack games has been far better when players are actually playing the game – you might find 80 percent. Crews are friendly. All games are 8-decks; mixture of H17 and S17 from latest reports. 100X odds on craps but the table is as long as an aircraft carrier. Three stars: * * * (Note: Tables have been closed.)
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Look for three starred casinos (we now have a few).
Best Craps in Atlantic City:All except: Borgata, Taj Mahal, Showboat and Wild, Wild West.
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