ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT─ September 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.
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Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget Gets Creamed!
Nugget Then Sues the Players!
Everyone reading the BJI newsletter knows a simple fact about randomness. In the short run, big winning streaks can happen; big losing streaks can happen; alternating winning and losing hands can happen – in fact, every possible possibility within a logical framework can happen. Okay, chances are the cards won’t sprout wings and fly off the table but short of that, who knows?
If you have played in the casinos for any length of time, you’ve seen the "impossible" – perhaps many times.
On April 30th at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, pre-shuffled cards to be used in baccarat had not been pre-shuffled by the manufacturer who sells (what else?) pre-shuffled cards. Since dealers don’t have to shuffle anymore, no dealer even thought about it. However, some smart players saw that the cards were coming out in order and with some quick and easy figuring, these players began to bet huge amounts of money ($500 max. bets) because they knew how the upcoming hands would turn out and which hand would win.
The players won ... are ready for this ... over one and one-half million dollars because they "guessed" what the next 40 or so hands would be. Gee, they guessed correctly!
The Nugget, no longer known as a laid-back gambling joint as it was in its previous incarnation as The Marina, had the baccarat pit surrounded with suits and security, watching these players. They were everywhere. The pit looked like a Men’s Warehouse clothing store. Everyone was sweating as they tried to figure out how these players had "cheated."
Fast forward: In a lawsuit against a Kansas City playing card manufacturer, the Golden Nugget contends the cards were not shuffled, despite being promised to be pre-shuffled and ready to use.
However, that wasn’t the first time such pre-shuffled cards had not been shuffled. The Taj Mahal casino in A.C. suffered a similar incident in December of 2011. No one could figure that out either (why does it take casino bosses so long to see the cards coming out in order – over and over again?). Finally, when it all came to light, the Taj bounced nine employees, even though it only lost about 90 thousand dollars.
Back to the Golden Nugget saga. Being spoiled sports, the big Whigs at the Golden Nugget are now ... are you ready for this one ... suing the gamblers who won the million and a half dollars to get the money back. That’s so delightful. Would the casino have given the money back to the players had the reverse happened? "Oops, sorry, the cards were screwed up and we won all your money. Here let us give it all back."
Do you remember what the casino boss said in the movie Lost in America when a man’s wife losses their entire nest egg at roulette? "We don’t give back money."
Quoted in the Associated Press, the players’ lawyer (yes, the players were smart enough to hire a lawyer) Dash stated, "The Golden Nugget appealed to gamblers to come in and play games licensed and sanctioned by the state of New Jersey. My clients did exactly that, and then were denied their winnings. There is absolutely no law in New Jersey that would permit the Golden Nugget to declare the game illegal because it failed to provide shuffled cards."
The casino’s argument (this is unbelievable) is that the law states the casino must offer a game that offers fair odds to the player and the casino. Huh? Every casino bet (with few exceptions) is not handled fairly. No one is paid the true worth of the bet, or wins more bets and thus more money than the house. The house edge means the games aren’t fair. Geez!
To make matter worse, according to The Press of Atlantic City, one of the gamblers had his room (illegally) searched, and to make matters worst, he was restrained and locked in an office for several hours without food, water, or bathroom breaks. (So much for player’s rights.)
The Golden Nugget is starting to get a bad reputation among players. I’ve stayed there twice since the name change and I found the dealers as professional and friendly as ever. But what about the suits? Those new suits? Has the atmosphere actually gone down?
Maybe we should find out if the restraining event actually happened. I hope it didn’t but I have been around the casino world for a long, long time and I don’t dismiss such things easily.
Editor’s note: My contacts say this did happen. We will keep BJI readers abreast of how all this turns out in the courts (GN suing the playing-card manufacture, GN suing the players for winning at an "unfair" game, and the players suing GN for discrimination.)
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,
Atlantic Club: This place used to be one of the best in AC. They offered great S17, six-deck games with good penetration. For a while, I used to call this place my ATM machine because I always seemed to do so well there. Well The Atlantic Club has officially moved into last place for BJ. The entire place is now eight deck, H17 and most dealers only give about 70% penetration. This inlcudes the high limit room. I confirmed this with someone working the floor. The ENTIRE place is eight deck, H17. Yuck!
Bubba From Boston
Dear Frank and Alene:
I just returned from a trip to Atlantic City and I will give you my perspective on the properties I spent gambling in:
Golden Nugget: We stayed here and the rooms are great, food is good, pool and bars all very good. They have spent a lot of money and its shows ... this is a place to check out. Blackjack all machine shuffled, hitting on soft 17, cutting off 1.5 to 2 decks. Games are ok, a lot of new dealers, so games can go slow but on average, you can win. I’d give the games 2.5 stars.
Ballys: Good games cutting off only 1.5 decks ... had good luck here, dealers are friendly, good place to play. Give 3 stars. Low-life scum bags seem to stay out of here I had some good players on my table. All had taken a bath or shower recently!
Taj Mahal: Games are hand shuffled. You can get a good run of cards. Still good place to play. Dealers are friendly with no heat from anyone. Did have some of the worst players play at my table. They had no idea how to play and betting big money. Good place to use Speed Count (Golden Touch Blackjack). Great rooms good food.
Borgata: Get out your walking shoes because large areas of tables are vacant. I couldn't believe how many areas were shut down in the summer. It seemed like mid winter. Still very clean, food good, nice hotel. Games are machine shuffled, cutting off 2.5 decks so it is not a good place to play. Average. I’d rate it two stars.
Overall Atlantic City is still a good place to play and have fun. Hopefully, blackjack games will get better and crowds will return.
Bubba from Boston
Dear Frank and AP:
Just to let you know. Revel is doomed. They are not a resort like Vegas mid week, and since they aren’t really getting any of the bus people they can’t possibly be making a profit.
I am guessing this from the witness of my own eyes.
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Here are our ratings for blackjack September 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. High roller minimums can go as high as $200. 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." A mixture of S17 and H17 were found but the H17 is starting to dominate. This is a happening place and caters to a swinging 30-something crowd that Revel is trying to attract. You’ll enjoy the night clubs and the beautiful people. We’ll see what happens. This is still a decent casino for blackjack. Not a good casino for craps. Two and one-half stars: * * ½*
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 every time we’ve stopped by. This is an historic hotel. If it weren’t, we think it would be torn down and be another empty lot across from the empty lot that used to be the Sands.
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[formerly the Hilton]: Could this now be the worst BJ casino in AC? Maybe. Penetration has gone down – maybe 2.5 decks cut off. 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*
REVEL:Not really producing in the gambling revenue department. But it is new and it is spectacular and certainly worth a visit. The theme of the new place is simple, "Kick Borgata’s ass!" Some games are good and some are bad. Look for the six decks with S17; the eight deckers are hit on soft 17. The six deckers are in the minority. Penetration is 75 percent at most. You’ll meet a lot of dealers who left previous casinos in AC. That should help you get acclimated. Two 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. High roller room is passable with better penetration, about 75 percent, and at some slow times the minimums are $25 – although you won’t see this much in the summer. Pass this place by unless you are walking Fido since they are now the animal friendly hotel – disgusting! One star: *
TROPICANA:Starting to really look like a top-notch property. 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:Bad vibes. The place looks good but the paranoia at the blackjack games is now tasteable. 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 again, the report is blackjack paranoia now reigns supreme here. Two and one-half stars: * * ½*
TRUMP PLAZA:It is now called "Dump Plaza" or "The Trump Dump" but it does have fairly good games when those games are open. Still something has to be done with the dark casino and the low-life scum skulking through it. Maybe the time has come to raze the place? 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. Some days the place is practically empty. 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:Closed. Tumble-weed is blowing through this place now.
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Bally’s and Tropicana
Best Craps in Atlantic City: All except: Borgata, Taj Mahal, Showboat and Wild, Wild West.
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