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.
Borgata has opened and the place is doing just fine. There have been some small snafus and many people have commented on the lackluster coloration of the outside façade but there’s no denying the inside is all Las Vegas, which is a pity, since Atlantic City is still defining itself in relation to its rival across the sands, instead of getting a real identity of its own. Has Borgata opened up a whole new world of games for AC? Not really. The casino is all six-decks but the penetration is ordinary. We didn’t spend too much time there as the crowds during the opening few days were just too much to take.
The Borgata’s opening has affected the other casinos. We are getting offerings from the Trump properties and from Park Place properties that are mind-boggling for summer. Usually in the summer, $25 players have no real pull but $25 players have received offers for free nights and really reduced rates on the weekend nights as well. The food comps seem a little easier to get as well.
Of course, East coasters looking to play single and double deck blackjack have to look to Vegas. Or, the really savvy ones just hop a flight to Tunica, Mississippi, where such games abound! Tunica is just a couple of hours away from all the major East Coast metropolitan areas and compared to the ordeal of flying to Vegas is just a little commute.
Speaking of Tunica, Henry Tamburin, Jean Scott, John Robison, John Grochowski and many of the other stars of gambling will be partaking in Frank Scoblete’s Gamblers’ Jamboree on November 14, 15, 16 at the fabulous Gold Strike Casino in Tunica. For blackjack buffs we’ll have seminars in card counting, basic strategy, tournament blackjack, blackjack variations and new games given by Tamburin and Grochowski.
For more information call 1-866-SET-DICE or 1-800-944-0406. When you sign up ask for the Henry Tamburin discount and you’ll get 20% off the entrance price of $199 for one person and $299 for two people. You’ll also get a free copy of Frank’s new hardcover book when you attend.
If you want more information, email Frank at email@example.com.
Here are our ratings for August 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. ***
BORGATA: Our preliminary assessment is that everything here is good but not great. The games, while they seem to be all six decks, have average penetration of about 75 percent. We actually did not get to play any hands as the place was mobbed when we were there so this report is a little sketchy. Our next report, when we tackle Borgata in the early morning and afternoon, will have a bit more meat. * * *
CAESARS: Six-deck games in high roller room have 80 percent penetration, as do the eight-deckers on the main casino floor. Very few $10 games; mostly $15 and up, especially on weekends. This place is really alive with action and excitement! Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! *** ½*
CLARIDGE: No change from last report. 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: Place is started to look a little threadbare and needs some sprucing up. 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: Now in its 25th year of operation, Resorts looks better today than it did when it opened. 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: No change from last report. 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: Starting to get a little looser with the comps for $15 and $25 players. 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. You can get great deals in other venues by using your card outside this property, as it’s a part of the Harrah’s Total Rewards program. *** 1/2*
TROPICANA: Slot city. Slot heaven. Slot madness. 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. Depending on how you view the one-armed bandits, this is either your home away from home or a homeless shelter. 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: Has been eclipsed by Borgata as the big kahuna casino in AC. 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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