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by Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete is America's number one casino gambling author. His latest books are I Am a Card Counter and I Am a Dice Controller. All available from, Kindle, and at bookstores.

Atlantic City Casinos Set For a Comeback?

The headline for this piece might seem a little too happy as in "You have to be kidding. Atlantic City had a miserable summer even though one month did so-so."


But here is something to consider. If the Trump Taj Mahal closes its doors on October 10th (the newest current date issued by the casino-hotel) the thinking is that those thousands of "Mahalites" have to go somewhere. Seems that the Icahn-owned company is sending its players to Tropicana to add to that massive casino complex enough (potential) players to maybe push its income over the Borgata, Atlantic City's number one casino.

With one fewer casino, it is even possible that the income for each remaining one might go up - even shoot up in some cases. With reduction might come increase for the other properties. Of course, when I was last at the Taj it was only half crowded.

Caesars seems to have reorganized (somewhat) so it should stay open for the winter. The reorganization is not finalized so people have their fingers crossed. Actually Caesars' players want the casino to stay open but its competitors probably want it to close its doors. Fewer casinos, more revenue to share.

The newest scuttlebutt is that two new casinos are about to open elsewhere in New Jersey (why for heaven's sake?). This might just tip over a couple of more casino-hotels in Atlantic City.

This takes me back to the time when the Trump Taj Mahal was about to open. The Captain, the Arm, Jimmy P., my wife the Beautiful AP and I were standing on the balcony of the Captain's suite at the Showboat looking across the way to the almost completed Taj.

"This could be the beginning of Atlantic City growing so big it defeats Vegas," said the Captain.

It did look that way then. Atlantic City was booming. But beating Vegas never happened. Atlantic City crumbled; Vegas hung in there.

The Taj Mahal represented the big, bold casino of Atlantic City's future - a future that has now become ashes in the shore-side sand.

Still, its fall this fall might save the other casinos. Time (a short time at that) will tell.


Casino Ratings

It is always best to check out the games for yourselves. Time of day, type of dealer, table minimum, and number of decks can influence the most important ingredients in a good game for a card counter --- penetration. The second most important things are the rules. Most Atlantic City casinos allow doubling on the first two cards, splitting of pairs (once or twice), doubling after splits, three-to-two payouts on blackjacks (except those awful one-deck games). Sadly most of the casinos are hitting soft 17, except in the high roller rooms. For non-card counters you want shallow penetration and good rules and a full table!

Our reporters have somewhat different takes on the various (remaining) casinos. Again it is always best to do a quick tour of the one(s) you plan to play at.

Rating System:

Four stars: * * * * = superior game

Three stars: * * * = worth playing

Two stars: * * = look elsewhere

One star: * = seriously don't you have something better to do?

No stars: 0 = are you that hungry to lose your money?

BALLY'S: Eight decks in the main casino, hitting on S17, typical rules. Penetration about 75 percent; sometimes as high as 80 percent. High roller room has six-deckers, about 80 percent penetration. Casino has been redesigned and looks good. Hotel rooms still need renovations. Excellent craps tables.

Rating: * * *

BORGATA: Still the "in" place. Young sexy folks abound. If all the casinos collapse this place will probably keep chugging along. Decent games. Eight decks on main floor with some hitting soft 17 and some standing on soft 17. Good penetration (about 80 percent) and some six-deckers throughout the place. Crummy craps tables. Ringling Brothers could use them for trampolines.

Rating: * * *

CAESARS: Blackjack is fine with eight deckers in main casino, hitting on soft 17; penetration of about 70-75 percent. Rating: * * *

GOLDEN NUGGET: Blackjack games are so-so in main casino, eight decks with hitting on soft 17. Penetration about 75 percent at most. High roller room has six-deckers with penetration of 75-80 percent but some of the bosses are scaredy-cats. Great craps games. Great crews. Renovated hotel rooms are lovely. Rating: * * *

HARRAH'S: Eight deck games with hitting of soft 17 throughout. Penetration of 70 percent - which is great for this place. Rating: * *

RESORTS: Blackjack games are decent too; 70-75 percent penetration, eight decks with hitting soft 17. Good craps tables. Rating: * * *

TAJ MAHAL: What's the point? Go there to say goodbye.

TROPICANA: There are huge Asian crowds with more Asian games than I've seen elsewhere. It is a strong casino with plenty of good games. Eight deckers in main casino hitting soft 17, with 75-80 percent penetration. High roller room has six-deckers with 80 percent penetration, sometimes even better. Rating: * * *


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