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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 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 are and

Lost in the Wilderness

I am sure that most of our readers have gotten bored with stories about how Atlantic City is dying. Still the facts are clear and plain in those regards --- yes, Atlantic City is dying from a combination of too many casinos opening in Pennsylvania and race tracks in New York and Delaware. In addition, the fact that Atlantic City’s return on slot machines does not make anyone hunger to go there if they can travel a few minutes to a casino near their home to get the same return.

Also, by and large the blackjack games in Atlantic City go from not-so-hot to decent but nothing to write home about (except the ones I write about them in BJI). On a scale of one star to five stars, no Atlantic City casino has gotten more than three stars in the last few years. (At least as far as I can remember.)

I was there a few weeks ago with my friend Jerry "Stickman" (a columnist for BJI newsletter and co-author of the book Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi-lo and Pai Gow Poker!). We went on what we call our "Odyssey" where we walk the Boardwalk, visiting casinos, and hit the marina casinos as well.

Now our Odyssey was on a Tuesday afternoon from noon to 5pm. Most of the casinos were lightly populated. Even though Tropicana had plenty of players, it fell flat if you did a measurement of "patron body to floor space," so even Tropicana seemed to be having troubles. ACH looked about a third filled but the casino was bright and cheerful.

Trump Plaza was practically empty (dark, dirty, and empty), and even Caesars, which usually has a big crowd, had maybe a third of their tables opened, many empty, and some of them somewhat populated. The slot aisles were not humming with activity.

Bally’s had construction of new gambling areas so I couldn’t really give them a fair judgment but having seen the television show "The Wire," Jerry and I noted plenty of lowlives hanging there, leaning against the walls, and looking tough. Not the kind of clientele a place wants.

The Wild Wild West, part of Bally’s, only had some slot aisles opened. The table game areas were literally boarded up --- you couldn’t even see them. A bar was open with four loud people savoring some drinks. The place was on life-support. Even worse was Claridge; it was closed and has been for a while. Gobs of dried (and newly minted) pigeon poop stain the front walk and filthy litter blows past the front doors. The area looks like those scenes in zombie movies where living people have vanished, the dead rule, and things fall apart.

Resorts had plenty of action and the place was a welcome relief from the Bally’s "end of the world" scenario. I didn’t notice any lowlives there. The casino looks new and bright. It used to be that Resorts was another dark dump similar to Trump Plaza but it has changed quite a bit. I hope it isn’t on the block as some rumors put it. I’d recommend checking the place out.

The Taj was mostly empty. There were slots aisles --- long, long slot aisles --- with not a player to be seen. The Taj Mahal is a beautiful place but few casinos can keep their beauty without patrons patronizing the place. The Asian games area was crowded, making the rest of the casino look even far less crowded.

Showboat had a single craps table open; no one in the high roller room, and maybe one of every 20 slot machines being played (if that).

Then we headed to Revel, the largest white elephant ever to roam Atlantic City. To me, the outside structure is cold and uninviting. It reminds me of a twisted aluminum can with a golf ball on top. The inside is quite nice but the place was almost empty. One guy was playing Pai Gow Poker, all the other tables in that whole area of the casino were closed. There were some blackjack players here and there. One craps table was open but had no players. I was afraid to talk for fear that my voice would echo.

We then walked through the new shopping outlets between the Sheraton Hotel and Caesars / Trump Plaza. The area is quite pretty but was almost empty. Unless the casinos or the state is funding these stores, I can’t imagine how they make money.

Now to the Marina area. Golden Nugget had a respectable crowd but only one craps table available (packed with players). The remodeling of this casino-hotel has been terrific. What is interesting about Golden Nugget concerns who goes there. Midweek it is a senior citizens home but it has the vibe of a young-person’s roaring and ready establishment. So you have hot, loud music with some players barely able to walk and a few sniffing oxygen.

Harrah’s was about half full. It’s a nice looking casino.

Borgata is still the "big boy" in Atlantic City and the action there seemed almost as if it were a weekend, not a Tuesday. The craps tables, big, long, bouncy monstrosities, were just about full. Plenty of people enjoyed drinking in quite beautiful bars.

Atlantic City players know that it is best to stick to walking on the Boardwalk or in the shopping area (which is only several blocks this way and that way) and not to wander around. Atlantic City still has plenty of rundown areas and rundown people.

Interestingly enough, many single and double family homes have been knocked down near Revel. Nothing has been built there since such destruction. The area actually looks nice compared to how awful it used to look. Sometimes nothing is better than something.

I am sad that Atlantic City seems more like a desert wilderness than a thriving ocean resort. Will it ever come back? I have my doubts. New York State just voted yes on building six casinos in the next couple of years, with more on the way after that. That might be the nail that closes the coffin for many of the marginal places.

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:

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.


Dear Frank:

We go to Atlantic City maybe twice a month and we are so annoyed at the small number of comps casinos give out nowadays. I used to get free rooms even on Friday nights, now I get them at half price. About the best comps I can get for lunch is to the buffets.

This city is heading for the tubes if you ask me.



Dear Frank:

I think I am going out of my mind because there seem to be more carnival table games than blackjack games in AC now. Those tables are always filled with people at night when I like to play. I rarely see blackjack tables full anymore. What the heck is happening? Have players been lobotomized?



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



* * * * *


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.

Rating system:

***** = 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: Some "patrons" are street thugs and it looks to me as if those thugs slinking and leaning against the walls are looking to cut deals. Good cuts exist too in blackjack too --- 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: No change from last issue. 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. Three stars: * * *

CAESARS: 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: Gone with wind.

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. On a recent walk-through mid-week there were plenty of players around the place. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *

THE ATLANTIC CLUB: Casino is bright and clean and people seem to be enjoying themselves here. High roller room is 6-decks with deep cuts and $25 minimums during the week; 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. Three stars: * * *

RESORTS: Casino looks great. There are new restaurants and the entrance on the Boardwalk is pleasing to the eyes. Many H17 games on main floor; high roller room is S17. Penetration on all games is about 75-80 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. Three stars: * * *

REVEL: 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 about 80 percent on those. These few are damn good games.

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 ocean. 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! But I am guessing (now write this down) that Revel closes before the summer of 2014. Three stars: * * *

SHOWBOAT: 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: 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: They must increase the lighting in the casino the way Resorts has done. The casino is just a little dark now. The restaurants are top notch; so are the bars. 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 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: * * *

TRUMP PLAZA: No change from last issue. 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. 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: High noon for this place. Just open for slots; no table games at all. The table-game area is walled off with wooden planks.

THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Any rating of three stars.

Best Craps in Atlantic City: All except: Borgata, Taj Mahal, Showboat.

* * * *

Everything Casino Poker:

Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold’em,

Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!

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.

If you want to learn how to play casino-poker-room games such as Texas Hold'em and Omaha Hi-Lo with an edge, then read what poker expert and best-selling author Bill "Ace-10" Burton reveals. Since you are playing against other players in poker rooms, then you have to know how to beat those other players at two radically different forms of poker. Burton explains all the winning concepts.

Finally, many players are not that familiar with a great casino table game, Pai Gow Poker. This game can also be beaten if you follow the advice of the King of Pai Gow Poker John "Skinny." He'll explain exactly how you should play your hands, how to increase your chances to win big and how to learn from the experiences of others.

If you are looking to get a real edge against the house or against other players, this is the book for you. I am a believer that when players get an opportunity to win casino games they should make the small effort to do so. Otherwise, why bother to go?

Frank Scoblete is the #1 best selling casino gambling authority in America. His books, DVDs, articles, web sites and television shows have helped millions of people become better casino players and also help players get real edges over the house at certain games such as blackjack and craps.

Frank’s new book can be purchased at, 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 at

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