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ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT─NOVEMBER 2015

by Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete, is the #1 best-selling gaming author in America. For a free brochure write: Frank Scoblete Enterprises, Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. Frank's website is www.frankscoblete.com. Befriend Frank on Facebook.

Winter is Coming

In Showtime's epic series Game of Thrones, characters will occasionally say, "Winter is coming" or "Remember that winter is coming."

Seems everyone in that world of warfare and things that (both human and non-human) go bump in the night are not too thrilled with the fact that winter is coming. These winters are long, perhaps decades long, and they are destructive and have been known to snuff out whole kingdoms.

There is one kingdom by sea that is also aware that "winter is coming" and, of course, that is Atlantic City.

As I wrote a few issues ago: "The economic hammering has been so bloody that such casinos as ACH, Trump Plaza, Claridge, Showboat and Revel have shuttered their doors. They are now the skeletons of the seashore."

At first these closing were looked at as the saviors of the remaining casinos but this assumption has been both true and not true. Think of Schrödinger's cat in its possibly poisoned box - we don't know if it is alive or dead; in fact, it is both alive and dead until we open the box.

The same holds true for the casinos. Some seem to be quite alive and some seem to be on life-support.

In the last 10 years, Atlantic City's fortunes have declined by more than 50 percent (give or take) and while 2015 saw an increase in revenue for the remaining casinos en masse, some look to be in big trouble.

Just this past August revenue was down five percent from August of 2014. And that August was no great shakes compared to the Augusts of the glory days. Revenue for this year is down 10 percent - meaning 10 percent less than last year which was a crippler that saw five casinos close their doors.

Caesars posted the steepest decline of 28.6 percent with Taj Mahal coming in a miserable second with a decline of 24.2 percent. These two casinos have been shaky for a long time now and are considered the favorites to close their doors because "winter is coming."

Golden Nugget has continued to see startling takes, coming in with a 27.8 percent increase. While the blackjack games are only so-so outside of the high-roller room, the Nugget's atmosphere and hosts and most dealers are top notch and that is why I highly recommend this casino for gamblers.

If the 2016 winter is brutal, with snow and rain and sleet and monstrously cold weather that keeps the elderly bus people away then we might expect to see Taj and Caesars fold their tents sometime during the year.

This winter might hold the fate of those two casinos in its maw - a maw that casino honchos hope won't last all winter. I guess the casinos wish for more thaws than maws. (Okay, that was an awful - mawful? thawful? - sentence.)

This is a pivotal winter. A huge El Nino is gearing up for a rampage across the United States, Canada and, in fact, the whole world. So what about the "winter is coming" blues for the Northeast United States this year? Here is a paraphrase of the Weather.com forecast: The East Coast, from the Southeast into portions of the Mid-Atlantic and into southern New England, may also see a wetter than average winter. However, the winter should be significantly warmer than usual.

I am guessing that this year's "winter is coming" might not be so bad - but I'm not a weatherman. Atlantic City casinos can only hope and pray, just as their gamblers do, that winter is not coming.

 

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: fscobe@optonline.net

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 (if they want such) when they report.

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.

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Hi Frank

 

I thought you could use this info for your AC Blackjack report that you write for Henry Tamburin.

 

I was in Borgata last week. They replaced two craps tables (near the bar) with BJ tables. The games are hand shuffled. This is because the tables are only used at the busiest times so they are generally idle. 

The auto shufflers are leased and it would not be cost effective to pay for them all week if they were only going to use the table on the weekend.

Alas the game is not great, 8 decks, average penetration, Dealer hits soft 17.

 

I hope all is well with you,

 

Scan

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Frank, Frank, Frank;

Atlantic City is now more than ever a machine world. More and more electronic roulette, craps and blackjack games are being seen and I know the dealers are worried about their jobs. The dealers' union at Taj is still fighting even though that casino is often a ghost town mid-week.

And all those slot machines with crummy payouts? I tell my wife to just take a walk on the Boardwalk and forget playing the slots but slot players just love those machines even though they are still tighter than all get out.

I don't know if any more casinos will close but except for the Marina district I don't think things are looking up.

Kevin the Card

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Readers: I will be happy to send you a free copy of my new book I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps! I will also include a copy of The Virgin Kiss! My email address is fscobe@optonline.net. Make sure you send me your address so I can get the books out to you ASAP.

All my books are available at Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble and bookstores.

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CASINO RATINGS

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's 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, number of decks and rules 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: BJ has cuts of about 70 percent. All 8-deck games in this place, maybe some six-deckers in high roller room. The hitting on soft 17 is now a sad fact. Crews are friendly. Craps games are quite good; they even have 10X odds on a couple of tables. Two and one-half stars: * * *

BORGATA: The hottest casino in AC. The 6-deck games can still be found and the penetration is decent. A mixture of S17 and H17 but the H17 is starting to dominate. You'll enjoy the night clubs and the beautiful people. This is still a somewhat decent casino for blackjack. Not a good casino for craps. Continues to be the number one casino in AC despite the horror of what's happening to the venue. Two and one-half stars: * * *

CAESARS: Is it "bye-bye birdie" for this place? 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: * * *

HARRAH'S: Eight decks and penetration is about 70 percent. Good place for craps. Two and one-half stars: * * *

RESORTS: One of the few casinos doing fairly well in a decimated AC seascape. Many H17 games on main floor; high roller room is S17. Penetration on all games is about 80+ percent which is darn good. Decent craps games too. 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: * * *

TROPICANA: The place seems to be hopping even mid-week. It is bringing the highest rollers into AC. Blackjack is H17 on almost all games. Has excellent penetration, maybe 80-85 percent. Three stars: * * *

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. You can even ask for surrender but supposedly this is a trap for card counters. I doubt it. I haven't seen many card counters in AC the past few years. The eight-deck games in the casino are ho-hum and basically the same as all the other casinos in AC. Crowd loves to play carnival games. The craps games are excellent and - as always - this place has the nicest and most professional dealers you will find. Give it a try. Three stars: * * *

TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: Great hotel and great restaurants and great entertainment. Also, great dealers and pit personnel. But depression has set in. Too bad it isn't the premier place to play any more because it is a great place to stay. Union trouble continues. Blackjack is mediocre, at best. Two and one-half stars: * * *

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

BEST CRAPS IN ATLANTIC CITY: All except: Borgata, Taj Mahal.

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