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by Frank Scoblete

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.

(Note: Part 1 of this article appeared in the April issue of BJI.)

On Sunday evening, Jerry "Stickman" and I headed to Atlantic City. We had two goals in mind for our five days of playing – obviously winning money but also taking our own personal Odyssey of all the casinos on Tuesday. We’d start at the Atlantic Club, the southern most casino on the Boardwalk, making our way from casino to casino all the way north to Revel.

Here is what we discovered:

9am: Atlantic Club (formerly the AC Hilton, formerly the Hilton, formerly Bally’s Grand, formerly the Grand, formerly Bally’s, formerly the Golden Nugget) was formerly dirty on my last visit but this time the casino was bright and had a spiffy look. There was a packed Asian room. One craps table was open and the table looked to be about 14 feet long. The bounce on the table when the dice landed was traditional – like the good old days. Blackjack was hit on soft 17 and the only games open were eight-deckers with about 75 percent penetration. A new, absurd sign was on the blackjack layout: Dealer must hit soft 17 and stand on hard 17 and stand on 18 and 19 --- or something to that effect. Why the verbiage if not to confuse the players?

9:30am: Tropicana had a large crowd. Quite a few blackjack tables were open and all were eight decks with hitting on soft 17 with that same verbiage mentioned above. Maybe 75 percent penetration.

One craps table was open, a 14-footer that was packed with players. The slot aisles had many players as well. Just from seeing this casino, I would think the Trop is doing well. However, this is a large complex. I recall when the Captain, the Arm and Jimmy P. were given the "treatment" in the mid-1990s when they won over a million dollars at craps in a short period of time. The Tropworld executives (it was called Tropworld then) took pictures of these three greats and sent them to all the other AC casinos to warn them that they had found some way to beat the game of craps. Tropworld also took back all the comps they had earned. Nasty situation.

Between Tropicana and Trump Plaza rests the concrete remains of the World’s Fair Casino, once the Playboy Casino, now merely a foundation and eyesore, attached to the old Atlantic City Convention Center.

10am: Trump Plaza is a dump. It has just been sold for less than $50 million. When Jerry "Stickman" and I entered the dark, gloomy, icky casino there were two blackjack tables open with a couple of players on each. The craps tables were closed. The high roller room was closed. The Asian room was closed. Sprinkled in the casino were several slot players. There were also quite a few PUTA’s walking around as well.

Jerry and I walked around and then this big guy with big shoulders in a Trump Plaza jacket came up to us as we were examining the Asian room’s tables.

"Can I help you guys?" He was surrounded by several security guards.

"Uh, we’re just looking at the tables," I said.

"That room is closed," he said.

"Sorry," said Jerry "Stickman." He indicated the velvet line closing off the high roller room that was next to the Asian room. "Since there was no line outside here we thought it was no trouble to go in and look around."

I explained to the man that we were just looking around at the various casinos to see what was happening. He loosened up a bit and indicated that the security guards could go on their way. Shortly thereafter, we went on our way.

Trump Plaza has a bad reputation for some dealers and some floor people are arrogant and unfriendly. The last time I played craps there; the casino manager came down and threw a fit directed at me. I had not done anything wrong but he was under the impression that he needed to scream at me for thinking I was "hot shit." I never act as if I am hot anything at the tables so his rant was nuts – to say the least.

The blackjack games were eight decks with about 65 percent penetration; stand on soft 17; same verbiage on the layouts as at the other casinos.

11am: Caesars had a hell of a lot of action. Eight deck blackjack games; hit soft 17. A couple of packed craps tables were open. Plenty of slot players up and down the aisles. I have to think Caesars is kicking butt in AC from the looks of this casino.

11:15am: The Wild Wild West had wooden walls blocking off all of the former table game areas. There were a few slot players in the place and their machines echoed in the near empty building. The Virginia Buffet is closed. This place is a true ghost town.

11:25am: Bally’s was a PUTA haven or heaven or hell, depending on how you view these low-lives who were strutting throughout the casino, giving steely-eyed looks at the players who caught their gaze. I haven’t yet figured out why men who have accomplished nothing in their lives have developed such struts. It was a weekday morning; shouldn’t these relatively young folks be working? What were they strutting about anyway?

I also didn’t notice too many of these guys playing but they were hanging out in the casino. Maybe they were waiting for more PUTA’s to join them?

Blackjack games were typical; eight decks, hit on soft 17; same verbiage on layout. There were several high-roller room tables open but no players. The casino could use some refurbishment. Two craps tables were open. A small crowd of slot players too.

11:45am: The Claridge, the hotel of my conception, was closed. The lobby entrance to the casino was boarded off. There was dust everywhere. The area in front of the building was loaded with pigeon droppings and detritus. This is the casino where the Captain taught me how to play craps and how to begin my journey towards dice control. It was also the casino where I had my most stunning and savage early loss at blackjack while card counting. My gambling stake was wiped out in that loss. Now the Claridge itself was wiped out.

We now made the walk to Resorts.

Across the street from the Claridge is a large empty lot, now a grassy hill that used to house the Sands. That casino is long gone and nothing will be taking its place in the near or maybe far future.

The Boardwalk up to this time looked good and felt good under our feet. Whatever effects of Superstorm Sandy seemed to have been fixed; at least up to Resorts where you could see some of the remaining destruction. Here and in front of the Taj Mahal and Showboat the Boardwalk was being worked on by crews putting new planks down and fixing what Sandy had obviously obliterated.

12:20pm: Resorts is still the darkest casino in Atlantic City; one would think they don’t pay their electric bills. The one craps table was packed and there were quite a few eight-deck blackjack games open. All were hit soft 17 with that annoying verbiage on the layouts. The penetration may have been about 75 percent; hard to tell because it was hard to see. Next time I come to this casino I am bringing a flashlight.

12:40pm: The Taj Mahal doesn’t change much. There were three craps tables open that were full of players. Their blackjack tables, maybe six of them, had a full compliment of players too. Same rules as AC now has – hit on soft 17 and about 75 percent penetration. I like this casino because you can see everything. It is bright and cheerful. Over the years, they have had great crews, hosts, floor people, and pit bosses. It is no longer a good casino for dice controllers so we have moved on. Nevertheless, Taj gets my seal of approval.

1pm: Showboat has gone to the dogs, literally, as they allow you to bring Fido to spend the days and nights with you. Now you not only have to worry about the house edge on the games but also the possibility that some pit bull might tear your throat out if you cross him. The blackjack games that I saw had few players but the rules were standard: eight decks with hitting on soft 17. One craps table was open; not worth playing, as it is a trampoline with the dice flying off it every few rolls. Unless you enjoy running to pick up the dice, I’d pass this place by. This is a bright casino so if you have any problems with your eyes you’ll be able to see everything here clearly.

1:20pm: Revel is a disaster. At first look the outside of the building reminds you of buildings in those science fiction movies where a vicious government has created a bleak landscape with bleak architecture. I wish I knew architectural terms that essentially mean, "The outside of this building sucks."

Inside goes from overdone to pretty. The lighting while moody is fun as well. I usually don’t like modern decorating but I have to hand it to whoever decorated this place – good job!

That’s the good news. The bad news is that this billion-dollar casino was almost empty. One craps table was open. No players on it. A few blackjack tables were open with one or two people on some of them; some of them empty. One group of six-deck games with $25 minimums had the old Atlantic City rules – stand on soft 17. The penetration was easily 80 percent or slightly more. There were two players at this one. The table was near those gigantic escalators. There was almost no slot play in the entire place.

I see this as the ultimate white elephant. I can imagine in a year or so an empty structure going to ruin. Whoever thought that Atlantic City would welcome a "destination-resort-hotel-casino" that charged outrageous prices for rooms (even on weekdays), had no buffet, with a paltry comp system for gamblers should be put in the stocks for public humiliation.

2pm: We took a cab to Borgata and that casino was truly the jewel of Atlantic City. The place was packed with five crowded craps tables, each 14 or more feet long. They each had a crazy bounce so it was like watching a crazy ball as the dice went this way and that way and up (up, up, up), often flying off the table. There were more than a dozen blackjack tables in action, all eight decks, with hitting on soft 17 – except for a couple where the dealer stood on soft 17. I didn’t see any six-deck shoes but I have been told they are still there on weekends. The poker room was overflowing. There were no PUTA’s in the whole place. The Borgata seems to exist outside the time and place of Atlantic City. Should AC close, the Borgata will survive and continue to thrive.

Jerry "Stickman" and I went downstairs to the food court for pizza. The food court was spotlessly clean. The pizza was good.

We took a cab to Harrah’s that also had a sizeable crowd and perhaps a hundred or more slot players. One craps table was open with two lone players. There were several blackjack games available. Eight decks. Hitting on soft 17. Penetration of about 75 percent. Harrah’s is clean and well kept. It is also a bright casino.

Finally, at 3pm we made it to the Golden Nugget. Since taking over from the Marina, the Golden Nugget has done a $150 million renovation. There are new restaurants, lounges, bars, a poker room, an Asian room, and a redesigned high roller room. The casino is somewhat dark, though nowhere near as dark as Resorts. If I had a say I’d tell management to turn up the lights and to tone down the music in the casino because it is deafening. You can’t hear the dealers and most conversations have so many "whats?" in them because you don’t hear what the other person is saying.

The rooms have been renovated as well and they are beautiful. The views from all rooms are spectacular – either of the city or of the waters of the bay.

Blackjack is typical – eight decks, hitting on soft 17. The high roller room, which was open, had two players. Here the game is six decks with standing on soft 17 and penetration of between 75 and 80 percent.

There was only one craps table open and it was packed. This casino could have the best craps crews in all of Atlantic City; they are professional, friendly, and make the game fun to play. Sadly, not all the players were friendly or fun to play with. There was one guy in a ponytail who kept complaining about everything. I wanted to tell him if the game was so awful why not quit gambling and take up quilting. There was another guy who bet all the numbers right off, then pressed them on the very first hit, and complained that he couldn’t win at this game – and he complained and complained.

With our Odyssey complete, we went to the Pai Gow table where I almost lost my life. However, I already told you about that.

The Rest of the Time

Got a confession to make. I never played blackjack while I was in Atlantic City this trip. I stuck strictly to craps and Pai Gow Poker. I have found that those six and eight-deck blackjack games are just too damn dull. I also do not want to give them the time it takes to really dig into the "long run." I much prefer the dynamism of two-deck games that can be found in most of the country. Your bets move and sometimes explode with the count. At this stage in my career, lingering at six decks is just not my cup of tea – in addition, those AC games really need just too much patience because most are on the fringe of beat-ability and my supply of patience has about run out.

However, I must say this was a fruitful week. If you bank at Pai Gow Poker and get the other players to sock their bets into you, a slight edge is yours. The game is relaxing too. Craps was great overall. While Jerry "Stickman" and I had some lousy sessions, overall we hammered AC. We played in about a half dozen of the casinos too.

I am just hoping that in the future I steer clear from those close calls with death. I am beginning to think I might have to spare the world my jokes. And that ain’t funny!

However, Jerry "Stickman" summed the trip up this way: "It was a great week we had." Except for the two times I almost bought the farm.


Letters from Our Readers

Dear Frank:

Read this article. Fantasy sports’ betting is coming to casinos in Atlantic City.

Do you think this will help take Atlantic City out of its current fall?



Dear David:




Hi Frank,

Your assessment of AC's situation in March's Blackjack Insider is dead-on. I made some of the same points in a recent editorial here in Massachusetts, which is in the process of reviewing casino bids. My main point is the Gaming Commission here needs to bet on the right proposals — and go with proven winners. Moreover, as you said, "If you build it, they will come" is no longer a given.

Regardless, I'll continue to root for Atlantic City and will try to get down there at least once a year — driving past casinos in Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvanie on the way. I love the history and being on the Boardwalk. The problem is that the economy is still weak for middle-class families such as mine — despite what the politicians in Washington and Boston would lead you to believe. We are crushed by rising costs for health care, fuel, food, and education. Annual property tax increases are a given, and the governor here wants to increase income and sales taxes. There's just not much left over after the bills are paid.

Anyway, below is a link to my editorial. I have enjoyed your columns in Casino Player and BJ Insider for many years and was a proud owner of "Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos" until I let someone borrow it and they never returned it!



Hi Charlie:

Check your mail. I sent you an autographed copy of the book – treasure it because it is out of print now.



Dear Frank, 

I just read that you are no longer affiliated with Golden Touch Craps. Isn't that your baby? What gives? Say it isn't so Frank. Say it isn't so. I was hoping to take the class in AC next time around. Will you still be teaching? Writing for sure, right? 

Your friend through reading and practicing.  

Bob  K.


Dear Bob:

I had too many projects to continue with Golden Touch's five or six classes a year. I am writing three books at once and a screenplay (insane, I know). I still will write for Henry Tamburin’s great newsletter. (Henry and I have been friends since before we had grey hair.) The immense amount of work prior to a class took up a load of time. The weeks I spent before and after class in the casinos were not as much fun as when I go to casinos with my friend Jerry "Stickman" and few know we are there.

"Stickman" (who has also retired from GTC) and I are teaching privately – no more than four students. I want to avoid the gamblers who might learn a controlled throw but who just can't stop themselves from betting stupidly. I want to avoid wasting my time.

I am a part of Golden Touch craps and blackjack in many ways even though I am retired. It was a great 10 years. I made some great friends within the group, both students and instructors. I have nothing negative to say about my time with GTC. However, I do not have any input anymore and I am no longer a partner. I sold all my shares. I won't be teaching or going to any of the classes.

Sometimes it is time to move on and it was time for me.

All the best in and out of the casinos,


(In the next issue of the BJI, I will return to the regular format for my Atlantic City Report. Please send me your ideas and reports to will send you a copy of my book "The Virgin Kiss" for every letter I publish.)

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