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ATLANTIC CITY REPORT - August 2016

by Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete's new books are "I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack!", "I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps!" and "Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!" All available on Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

Three Strikes and...

The summer in Atlantic City is in full swing. Those waterfront bars are open with many revelers, and you can see swimmers on the beach. Actually they aren't swimming so much as they are mostly sucking up the sun on their blankets on the sand.

It is, in short, fun time in the old town tonight.

The summer is the season in Atlantic City, even this shrunken version of it. In point of fact, it is the season in all the resort towns along the Jersey shore.

Three major events are happening this summer: Showboat is about to reopen (as I write this column the place is still closed) after hiring 200 workers. It will be a non-casino hotel for about a year until the owner Bart Blatstein renames the place and opens the casino (perhaps the summer of 2017).

Showboat had actually been a somewhat successful casino but it was closed down by the sinking Caesars Entertainment group to solidify their other casinos which are still no more solidified than water.

Stockton University had considered opening a branch of their college at Showboat but pulled out of the deal when Trump Taj Mahal screamed that they didn't want college students parading into their casino when they should be attending classes. Stockton backed off and Blatstein came on board.

Revel Once More?

Then we had the planned reopening of that "silver elephant" on the shore - Revel - by new owner Glenn Straub (who bought the place for about 90 million dollars). At first he was to open the New Revel in late June, then early July and then late July and then...

Atlantic City is requiring Straub to hand in a lot of paper work but Straub has been late with it. So (as I write this) who knows if we will have a new Revel. I am not quite sure if Revel would help the struggling bottom lines of most of Atlantic City's casinos. I doubt it will.

Strike at Trump Taj Mahal

About 11 hundred maids, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, waitresses and most service workers at the Taj Mahal have been on strike since they walked out of their jobs on July 1st.

Their parent union Unite-Here has endorsed Hillary Clinton and Mrs. Clinton came by to say hello, tell the workers how sad she feels about their plight and to raise her fist mightily into the air so that photographs would show it pointing to the word "Trump" in the Trump Taj Mahal façade.

Of course, Trump has nothing to do with the Taj Mahal; the place is owned by Carl Icahn, but Hillary knows a good publicity shot when she sees one.

Players crossing the picket lines are routinely harassed by the strikers and there have been some heated exchanges. So far there has been no violence.

Will these workers succeed in getting their medical coverage reinstated? Will they get an increase in wages? Will they even have jobs come September?

I have to say this. When I visited Trump Taj Mahal, I did not cross the picket line. I will have no report on the conditions of the place in this month's issue.

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: 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. BJ has cuts of about 70 percent. Crews are friendly. Two and one-half stars: * * *

BORGATA: Some 6-deck games can still be found on the floor with decent penetration of about 75 percent. A mixture of S17 and H17 but the H17 dominates. You'll enjoy the night clubs and the beautiful people. This is still a somewhat decent casino for blackjack. Continues to be the number one casino. 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. Two and one-half stars: * * *

HARRAH'S: Eight decks and penetration is about 75 percent. Two and one-half stars: * * *

RESORTS: Only H17 games on main floor; high roller room is S17. Penetration on all games is about 80+ percent. Three stars: * * *

TROPICANA: 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. The eight-deck games in the casino are ho-hum. 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: I wouldn't cross the picket line.

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

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