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
Borgata has made a difference! We were skeptical but our latest visit and reports from friends and BJI subscribers who have played there on various shifts tend to indicate that they are offering good 6-deck games on all their tables. You can also find $5 games even on the weekend (okay, the report to us said two – but two is certainly better than none!). Good rules and good penetration have also been noted. So far the abominable 8-deck games have not reared their ugly heads at Borgata and some are beginning to disappear at other casinos.
We are also seeing some more 6-deck games popping up at other casinos – notably Sands which seems to be screwing its corporate head on straight lately with regards to the table games thanks to director of table games, Bobby Liscio. They now have 16 tables of 6-deck games. Way to go, Bobby!
A few years ago the Sands was my favorite place to play blackjack in Atlantic City until three things happened – they took out the 4-deck game, then some of the pit personnel were decidedly nasty to me when I attempted to play blackjack there, and then they tried to become a slot palace (without loosening their slots!). But I’m not one to hold a grudge. On my next trip to AC, I intend to give their 6-deck games a serious whirl and see how I’m treated. Maybe Sands will continue to improve and become what AC has always needed – a Horseshoe (Tunica variety) type casino with good games and relaxed pit personnel. Time will tell.
Aside: Speaking of disappearing, good blackjack games are rapidly disappearing in Las Vegas as 6/5, continuous shuffling and hitting on soft 17 games proliferate. I don’t want to steal the Vegas guys thunder but AC is beginning to look damn good by comparison – for the basic strategy player who fares much better on 6-deck AC rules than he does on the mutant BJ games that are ravaging the Strip and some locals casinos.
Bally’s Complex (my name for Bally’s, Wild Wild West and Claridge) is the big winner in AC with about 14 percent of the total market share, with Borgata coming in second with 11 percent. Here’s another interesting statistic – table game revenues are up more than slot revenues in AC. Maybe the 6-deck games are accomplishing two things: Giving gamblers a decent game and giving the AC casinos more gamblers.
It’s not official (yet) but the rumor mill is heating up about Trump’s possible sale of either the Marina or the Plaza. The Taj still seems to be holding its own but the other two properties are kind of spotty. Is it possible that Park Place Enterainment, about to be called Caesars Entertainment, will gobble up a Trump property?
The casinos en masse are starting to eliminate some of their bus offers. Seems the seniors are spending more and more time on the boardwalk and less and less time at the slots.
Finally, don’t forget you can meet Henry Tamburin, his lovely wife, Linda, and a score of the best and brightest gaming experts, including Jean Scott, John Robison, John Grochowski, Don Catlin, Walter Thomason, Bill Burton, Dominator, Frank Legato, and Howard "Rock ‘n Roller" Newman at Frank Scoblete’s Gamblers Jamboree in Tunica on November 14, 15 and 16 at the fabulous Gold Strike Casino Hotel.
Henry will give seminars in card counting, basic strategy, and tournament blackjack. John Grochowski will give seminars in blackjack variations and the new table games. And for players looking to add other advantage games to their repertoire, Bill Burton will have seminars on Texas Hold’em and the Golden Touch Craps Dice Control crew will be giving seminars in controlled shooting. When it comes to dice control, seeing will be believing!
For more information call 1-866-SET-DICE or 1-800-944-0406. When you sign up ask for the Henry Tamburin/Blackjack Insider 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are our ratings for October 2003.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: No change from last report. A reader wrote to tell us not to forget the $5 games on the 6th floor of this casino. Yes, we have been overlooking these games because the only time we go to the 6th floor is to eat at the gourmet restaurants. Okay, they have $5 games most times in this gaming parlor near the poker room. These are 8-deck games, with about 75 percent penetration. Penetration has diminished somewhat to 1.7 decks cut off on the six-deck games in the high-roller pit and these games are always $100 to $200 minimums. The rest of the casino is the standard AC eight-deck games with penetration that varies but is consistently around the 75 percent mark. 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. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 are also available for minimums of $10. ***
BORGATA: May be putting the pressure on the other casinos with their universal 6-deck games. Penetration is 80 percent, sometimes more. Standard AC rules which means that for basic strategy players it’s a good game. Plenty of $5 and $10 games, especially midweek and you can even get rooms midweek since the hotel has 2,002 rooms raring to be rented! * * * *
CAESARS: No change from last report. 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: 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 in high-roller room (but no more resplitting of aces). The rest of the casino, all eight-deckers, doesn’t allow any 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 which is not the best thing for the senior citizen crowd which really likes this place. **
HARRAH’S: Very friendly dealers and pit personnel. Penetration now ranges close to 75 percent. This place is improving gradually over time. Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry. 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! A room that would be discounted for $80 in AC would be free in Vegas based on the same play – this is not official but based on our calculations of the offers we’ve received. ***
HILTON: Excellent penetration -- in the neighborhood of 80-85 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, but lately reports say the pits seem more laid back. Maybe it’s taking 40 years for casino guys not to sweat the action? Better late than never. We saw no $5 tables; only a couple of $10; the rest are $15 and up. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have okay penetration for $10. ****
RESORTS: No change from last report. Now in its 25th year of operation, Resorts looks better today than it did when it opened and it’s undergoing major renovations. 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: Okay, Sands is making its table game move up the ladder. Reports place the penetration at 75 to 80 percent on its 6-deck games and 75 percent on its 8-deckers, just lagging behind Borgata and Hilton. However, with the new high roller room of 6-deck games and with eight 6-deck tables just outside the high roller room, those 16 tables are going to see some really good action once the word gets out. You can also replit up to three times. How the formerly paranoid pits react to people who vary their bets will be the key to whether the BJ stays good or deteriorates as it did last time around. I’m betting Sands has learned its lesson. *** ½*
SHOWBOAT: Really looking for $25 players, especially on the weekends, but will have many $15 games on the weekend as well. Six-deck games in the high roller room have standard penetration of about 75 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 as it’s a part of the Harrah’s Total Rewards program. ***
TROPICANA: No change from last report. Slot city. Slot heaven. Slot madness. Ignore this place. *
TRUMP MARINA: The joint is losing money. This place has a big youth clientele -- and youth is fickle -- because of all the rock bands that play here. So if you like the high energy of often-dimwitted 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: No change from last report. Has now been officially 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: Borgata and Hilton.
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