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.
ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT
by ALENE PAONE & FRANK SCOBLETE
This report missed the opening of Borgata on July 3rd, just in time for the craziest non-New Year’s weekend in AC, the 4th of July. Rumor has it that the Borgata is understaffed and is about to experience opening day chaos. We’ll see.
The other casinos, fearing Borgatamania and a wave of player departures, have been increasing their levels of comps. We have received so many offers for July from the other properties, offers that are generally given in the dead of winter that we can’t keep up with them. Three and four free nights in suites; limo rides; airfare on private planes from Long Island where we live; home-entertainment system. Of course, we’ve taken advantage of several of these offers. When Borgata finally opens and its impact is gauged, we’re sure the offers from the other casinos will dry up somewhat – unless of course Borgata becomes the "in" place as Boyd and MGM/Mirage hope.
Check out the original design for Borgata and you’ll note it was supposed to be golden hues on the façade. Somehow it’s a greenish, brownish hue, not gold, so its appearance from a distance isn’t all that beautiful.
And what about its blackjack games? Nothing but single deck dealt to the very last card! Surrender! Double on any first two cards. Dealer stands on soft 17. Splits and resplits of pairs as often as you like, including aces. And no heat for spreads of $10 to $1,000. Pinch us! Damn, it was a dream. The games will be the traditional six and eight deck games with standard penetration, about 70 to 75. That’s the report from the tests that were run last week prior to opening. Ho-hum.
Here are our ratings for July 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 more 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: This place has been seeing some heavy action on all shifts. Six-deck games in high roller room have 80 percent penetration as do the eight-deckers on the main casino floor. Summer months you’ll find few $10 games; mostly $15 and up, especially on weekends. This place is hopping! Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! *** ½*
CLARIDGE: Now a full-fledged Bally’s casino adjunct, and it shows. 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. To stay here, you have to make the trek to Bally’s Park Place to register. **1/2*
HARRAH’S: No change from last report. 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: 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. Saw no $5 tables the afternoon we visited; only a couple of $10; the rest are $15 and up. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have okay penetration for $10. ****
RESORTS: 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: Penetration has improved to about 70/75 percent on all eight-deck games, which are the only games offered as Sands still doesn’t have a separate high-roller room. The table games are now taking up a little more of the premium, mid-casino space. This place is still in trouble but there have been slight improvements. **
SHOWBOAT: No change from last report. 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: No change from last report. 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: 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. Only one $5 table in the afternoon we scouted. Still a good place to play, atmosphere wise. **1/2*
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Hilton.
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