ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT
by ALENE PAONE & FRANK SCOBLETE
Alene Paone 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 and the author of Best Blackjack. Frank’s books and tapes have sold over a million copies. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406 or write: Paone Press, Box 610, Lynbrook, NY 11563. His websites are www.goldentouchcraps.com and www.scoblete.com.
Let’s talk rumors, shall we?
Sands is about to be sold. Icahn has lost complete interest in the bleeding property, as have many of the people who work there, and is looking to dump it. Bally’s is looking to buy it, which would make for a quintuple casino venue right smack in the middle of the boardwalk consisting of Caesars, Wild Wild West, Bally’s Park Place, Claridge and Sands – all connected of course so no one has to go out in the cold of winter or the heat of summer.
Borgata is sinking; floors don’t meet floors; windows are cracking. Will this delay the opening? Will they have to shoot gravel under the foundation as was done with Mandalay Bay in Vegas when it started to sink? Who knows? But one thing is for sure, every slot and video-poker machine in the casino has the capability to be coinless. Will this sit well with the quarter crowd in AC? It might, as it will save them having to clean their hands with those alcohol wipes – and save the casino mucho dinero in costs associated with counting countless coins. Borgata will have mostly eight-deck shoes (any surprise there?) with six-deckers in the high roller rooms.
Tropicana has the largest selection of slot machines in AC as of this writing and is thinking of taking out about 1/3 of its table games at the end of the summer when table-game play falls off drastically.
The Trump "empty lot" casino project is at a standstill and the word is that the former Playboy, Atlantis, Regent, World’s Fair property is going to be an eyesore for a long time to come.
And these are not rumors: With the arrival of the warm weather, beach goers are going to be surprised at how much of the beach has been eroded during this past winter. With the snow, rain and storms at sea, much of the AC shoreline has exposed the giant sand-filled balloons that actually comprise the underpinning of the dunes.
The table minimums during the summer months go up with the temperatures and the penetration in blackjack tends to go down. But the salt-water taffy is still succulent enough to pull out all of your fillings!
Here are our ratings for June 2003.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: No change from last report. Penetration has diminished somewhat to 1.7 decks cut off on the six-deck games in the high-roller pit. The rest of the casino is the standard AC eight-deck games with penetration that varies but is consistently about 75 percent. Some tables have been changed to Let It Ride and Three Card Poker. You can resplit for a total of three hands, but aces can only be split once. You will be hard pressed to find many $10 games on the weekend, much less $5 games. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 are also available for minimums of $10. ***
CAESARS: Six-deck games have penetration of 80 percent in high-roller room with minimums of $100 and $200. Rest of tables are eight-deck also with 80 percent penetration, sometimes more if you get certain dealers, and table minimums usually in the $15 and up zone. Resplitting allowed but you can only split aces once. Bright, clean casino. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! *** ½*
CLARIDGE: No change from last report. The blackjack is starting to fade. The high-roller action was six-deck games with $50 minimums most days, higher on weekends (you might even find some $25 tables at really slow times) but penetration about 70 percent when we visited. You can resplit pairs up to four hands, including aces, in high-roller room but the rest of the casino, all eight-deckers, doesn’t allow resplitting. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available for $10 and up. **1/2*
HARRAH’S: Penetration now ranges close to 75 percent. Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry. Harrah’s Table Game Guarantee: if the minimums are raised during play, you still get to play your original minimum. Play here and at Showboat and your play counts all across the nation. For those of you who like to go to Vegas you can get some good comps for AC action in the desert! **1/2*
HILTON: No change from last report. Lately has had great penetration -- in the neighborhood of 85 percent, sometimes more -- from the six-deckers in the high roller room to the eight deckers on the regular floor. Resplitting allowed except aces. Pits have been quick to jump on suspected counters, so be wary. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have okay penetration for $10. ****
RESORTS: No change from last report. Resorts has cut back on the penetration on both six and eight-deck games, to about 75 percent. Most of the $5 games have become $10 games, even midweek, but this is still a bargain by AC standards. Resplitting is allowed at all tables. Casino also offers multiple-action blackjack and Spanish 21 at $10 minimums. Pits are friendly. ***
SANDS: Shallow penetration 60-66 percent. Table-game players are third-class citizens at this rapidly fading property. NO STARS.
SHOWBOAT: See information in Harrah’s about comps. A bright and cheerful place to play. Six-deck games in the high roller room have standard penetration of 80 percent. Resplitting now allowed up to three hands. Eight-deck games have 80 percent penetration. Can now occasionally find $25 games in high roller room. They announce them with a big sign during slow times. *** 1/2*
TROPICANA: No change from last report. Six-deck games in high-roller room are $100 minimums with 66 percent penetration. Rest of the casino is no better, except these are all eight-deckers. Another slot heaven or hell, depending on how you view the one-armed bandits. Going through renovations of its façade, but could use serious renovations of its blackjack games. *
TRUMP MARINA: This place has a big youth clientele because of all the rock bands that play here. So if you like the high energy of young folks loudly having a good time, this is the place for you. Six-deck games in high roller room and eight-deck games on the main floor have penetration of 75 percent mark, but you won’t find any dealers going much deeper. Games are mostly $15/$25 and up, especially on weekends. **1/2*
TRUMP PLAZA: No change from last report. Six-deck blackjack games in high limit area have improved to about 80 percent penetration, sometimes slightly higher, with $100 minimums. Sometimes when it’s slow, they will honor a request for $50 minimum. The eight-deck games have penetration ranging from 70 percent to 75 percent on all, depending on the dealer. No midshoe entry on eight-deck games outside high-roller pit but you can find $25 (a few) to $50 minimums on these. Allows resplits, except aces. Most eight-deck tables are $10 and higher. ***
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: Getting better. Decent game with 75-80 percent penetration, dealer dependent. Multiple Action, Double Exposure and Spanish 21 are still available at $10/$15 minimums and up. ***
WILD, WILD WEST: No change from last report. Penetration has deteriorated in the last couple of months to about 75 percent on all games. Still a good place to play, atmosphere wise. **1/2*
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Hilton.
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