ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT─OCTOBER 2013
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
Are Card Counters Narrow Minded, Arrogant Gits?
Let’s really get down and dirty here.
At times it seems as if too many card counters are (let me say this softly) obnoxious jackasses.
Is the fact that a person can beat a casino game such as blackjack really worth that person’s getting a "swelled head?" Is a one percent edge (more or less) deserving of a 100 percent sense of one’s blackjack self worth? That is surely something to think about. Here’s something else to think about: Are you a card counter who is an annoying, arrogant, know-it-all, disdainful, sarcastic creep?
Seriously, beating casino games is no great achievement. Most readers of this newsletter know that. It just takes time and discipline to learn the ingredients of how to beat the game and then the time to get out there and play that game.
Now maybe there are geniuses in casino gambling; at least I hope so, but I am wondering if these geniuses were actually geniuses in the real world where they created or discovered something unique or at least special. Or are such players just geniuses in their own genius-less minds?
While we might admire a great athlete or a great team we don’t apply praise to such people for anything other than their ability to play the game at the highest level. Certainly, who they are inside themselves transcends the game. Go to baseball games (which Jerry "Stickman" and I are doing all over the country) and you will observe some players who are friendly, regular people, happy to sign autographs and talk to the fans; and then there are players who are bloated dipshits; players who think the fact that they are superb athletes makes them somehow better human beings. They are heavy hitters in the ego department.
Are card counters in blackjack far smarter than non-counters? I don’t know but I doubt it. I also don’t care. Are they a separate breed of human on the intellectual scale? Oh, please. I’ve met card counters who are closer to the missing link than to Einstein.
Here is what has struck me over the years as a sad commentary on many advantage players – they are under the impression that what they are doing makes them fundamentally exceptional. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unless you have a mental handicap, you can learn to beat blackjack.
I can’t say whether the swell-headedness of some advantage players is proportionately greater than the swell-headedness in the non-gambling population. However, I do know one interesting thing about those who are swell-headed advantage players – they turn off their fellow casino gamblers, some of whom reject the actual idea of advantage play once they are confronted by the pomposity of self-proclaiming greats.
Here are some selections from emails and calls I have received touching on this issue:
From Kevin: "I am completely turned off by the so-called experts in casino gambling. You go to their web sites and the [posts] are dripping with sarcasm as if a regular player is just an idiot and the advantage players are some kind of gods."
From Davis: "I don’t want to work at playing casino games. I don’t want to spend months learning to get a one percent edge over a game I’ll play maybe a dozen times during a year. But if I say that to one of my card counting friends he acts as if I am an idiot. I find any discussion I have with card counters to be generally an attack on me and my intellect."
From Brian: "I met one of the great authors of blackjack [name withheld] and he was an asshole. Sorry to use such language but the guy had his nose up in the air and up somewhere else if you know what I mean. He would barely talk to me when I told him how much I enjoyed his book. I am going to burn that book!"
From William: "I love to read the gambling message boards but some of the posters have egos bigger than the Jolly Green Giant."
From Tricia: "Why be so scornful of everyone who can’t count cards? What’s with the disdain? I think of some of these players as simply jackasses looking for something to put themselves above others."
From Michael: "It’s a card game for God’s sake. It isn’t the cure for cancer."
I know some advantage players who are bloated, egocentric windbags – and you’ll find such egocentric individuals in the writing business as well. I guess in all human endeavors there are people who just think they are better than everyone else. And it just isn’t true. Except for me, of course.
Our Readers Report
If you wish to contribute your reports or observations, I need to receive them by the 18th of the month for the next month. Write to:email@example.com
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
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.
Readers: If you write me a letter that I publish I will send you a free copy of my new book The Virgin Kiss. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t even know why you bother writing up Atlantic City. There seems to be as many carnival games on the floor as there are blackjack tables and almost every blackjack game I’ve seen is hit on soft 17. Maybe the high roller room action is slightly better but Atlantic City is a wasteland. You can go to some of the Pennsylvania casinos and get better blackjack games.
Frank, my man, you gotta give Borgata the highest rating. I was there recently and the cuts were very deep. You can even find stand on soft 17 at some tables. You say it in your analysis, the place has a young crowd, especially on weekends, and the "babe" watching is terrific. Good blackjack and pretty women. What more do you need?
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’ experiences.A word to the wise: it’s always best to check out the casinos for yourselves.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor
General rules: Atlantic City casinos basically have the same rules – on occasion this or that casino might change how many splits you can do or offer those horrible 6-to-5 blackjack games. Sometimes casinos will offer surrender (a rarity). Just about all casinos have gone to the H17, although most will have some games where dealers stand on soft 17 (high roller rooms). The best games in terms of penetration and number of decks are invariably found in the high roller rooms. Players can double on any first two cards; they can split two or three times (make sure you ask about this or read the signs on the table); aces can only be split once and each ace receives one card (the standard rule all across the country). You can usually play up to three hands but most of the casinos will let you play all the spots if you make arrangements beforehand – obviously the casino is looking for high roller action in such a case. Check out the new wording on many of the layouts – amazingly wordy and almost totally BS as opposed to BJ.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE:Good games are good here. Some patrons are street thugs. Good cuts of about 80 percent. Could be a happy time for small-time card counters. 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 hottest place in AC bar none. The 6-deck games are now almost everywhere again and the penetration has gotten quite good. A mixture of S17 and H17 were found but the H17 is starting to dominate. Sometimes these tables are right next to each other so – obviously – read the layout to see which of the two games you prefer to play. This is a happening place and caters to a swinging 30-something crowd. You’ll enjoy the night clubs and the beautiful people. This is still a decent casino for blackjack. Not a good casino for craps. Two and one-half stars: * * *
CAESARS:Same as last issue. Looks to be a casino that is still flourishing. 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. 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:A remnant of days gone by.
HARRAH’S:The blackjack games are so-so with eight decks and penetration of about 70 percent. Good place for craps. I must say this without equivocation, players like Harrah’s. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
ACH[formerly the Hilton]: High roller room is 6-decks; rest of the casino is 8-decks with a few $25/$50 six-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. This place might be heading for a good turn around. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
RESORTS:Same as last issue. Margaritaville? Pass this loud place on by. Jimmy Buffet, for some mystical reason, has middle aged and older fans ga-ga over his music. The reports are in and out about Resorts games and the casino’s future. 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 and one-half stars: * * ½*
REVEL:Can Revel continue to grow. We saw some decent crowds there this summer. Will the fall and winter see this white elephant crawl out of its hole? This was originally going to be a smokeless casino. If dealers came to work smelling of smoke from their commute or smelling of smoke when they snuck out of the building on their breaks, they were fired. This has changed. The market of AC says quite clearly, "Hey, I want to smoke in the casino when I am playing." So now Revel will have smoking sections as do all the casinos in AC. They might lose some of their players to lung cancer but they don’t want to lose them to other casinos.
As for blackjack, 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 and the best are right by those giant escalators. Penetration is now about 80 percent on those. These are damn good games.
You’ll meet a lot of sad-faced dealers who left previous casinos in AC. That should help you get acclimated seeing those familiar faces. But whoever decided to originally go with the small comps, highly expensive rooms, and non-smoking did not understand the AC base. This place wanted to become a destination resort and its destination seems to be the bottom of the economic barrel. I am rooting for Revel. Actually I am rooting for all of Atlantic City. Revel has now brought in a new group to manage the property and they are aggressively going after players. I wish them the best! Three stars: * * *
SHOWBOAT: Same as last issue. 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:As stated for several issues now, Trop is 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:Same as last issue. The casino looks good. The restaurants are top notch. The newly renovated guest rooms are beautiful. The place is catching on. The blackjack games in the high roller room are excellent with penetration of 80 percent [I didn’t get to play there for a long time – a half shoe – when Michael, the shift boss, did the old Atlantic City thing of shuffling up and limiting me to one bet of $100 – not a good sign. He didn’t even wait to see if I was actually counting cards.] 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 of others as well is that blackjack paranoia now reigns supreme here, otherwise I might have rated this one of the best games in town. Two and one-half stars: * * ½*
TRUMP PLAZA:The "Dump Plaza" or "The Trump Dump" has fairly good games when those games are open. Still something has to be done with the dark, dingy casino and the low-life scum slithering through it. 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:Same as last issue. 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:Tumble-weed is blowing through this place now.
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Any rating of three stars.
Best Craps in Atlantic City: All except: Borgata, Taj Mahal, Showboat and Wild, Wild West (if open).
* * * * *
Everything Casino Poker:
Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold’em,
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By Frank Scoblete
Every game in this book can be beaten if you play the right way. Even video poker machines that return 98-99 percent of the money played can garner comps that make playing the machines a positive experience. And the great news is that there are a multitude of machines in this book that return 100 percent or more! These machines can be beaten mathematically by using the strategies that Casino Player and Blackjack Insider columnist Jerry "Stickman" has developed.
Frank’s new book can be purchased at Amazon.com, your favorite bookstore or by calling 1-800-944-0406. Cost is $18.95 plus $6 shipping and handling. Or go to Frank’s web site atwww.frankscoblete.com.
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