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.goldentouchblackjack.com and www.scoblete.com.
From Alene Paone:
Happy New Year! And what a year it is going to be. First, Henry Tamburin and Frank are teaming up to bring you a new method of advantage-play blackjack. It’s called Golden Touch Blackjack and it features the revolutionary new Speed Count, a powerful new method of card assessment that is simple and can be mastered in one weekend, not one month. The course will teach you 7 elements to get a verifiable, mathematical edge over the casino: Speed Count, a powerful new method of card assessment; the Golden Touch Basic Strategy that maximizes your edge with Speed Count; proper bet sizing to reduce risk of ruin; money management and bankroll requirements; entrance and exit strategies; how to get more comps at less risk; and how to take advantage of blackjack coupons & casino promotions. Plus the casinos will be less likely to take counter measures against you because the Golden Touch Blackjack method of play has a built-in camouflage that will make you appear to be a less-than-savy player when, in fact, you will have the advantage! Henry and Don Provonost developed the Speed Count, while Frank, Henry, and Dom "Dominator" LoRiggio will be teaching the course. Look for information in this issue of the Blackjack Insider that describes this great new approach to advantage-blackjack.
Frank is going to make his annual predictions in this issue so I will just give a quick report on AC. Borgata has made a big showing in the table game market with about a 17 percent market share. Sands seems to be getting back into the swing of things, because it now offers the highest limits in AC on blackjack and a great craps game. It remains to be seen if they are as paranoid about savvy players as they were before they became a slot house. Frank intends to attempt to play blackjack there in March. He had an awful experience last year at Sands, which he writes about in his newest book, The Craps Underground, so we’ll see what kind of reception my wonderful husband gets when he plays. But for now, Sands is definitely looking good.
The same can’t be said of the Trump properties, all of which have been seriously affected by the arrival of Borgata. The rumor mill is speculating that one or two of these properties might go up for sale.
Okay, here are Frank’s predictions for 2004. One already came true, a year earlier than he predicted.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2004 by Frank Scoblete
I love to play prophet and I am darned good at it. When my two sons were little guys, instead of strapping men as they are now, I once made a prediction about a movie called Mac and Me, a spin-off of the ET theme, a movie my sons did not want to go see. "Guys," I said, "I predict you are going to love this movie. If not, I’ll eat a frog." After several choruses of "You promise? You promise you’ll eat a frog, daddy?" I convinced them I was serious and we went off to see Mac and Me, which was a horrendous movie, one of the all-time awful movies, and a two-hour commercial for MacDonald’s and Coca Cola.
My sons hated the movie. I hated the movie. And, of course, I now had to eat a frog. "You have to eat it live, Dad," said my youngest son, Michael. "The whole frog, guts and all," said my oldest son, Greg. Of course I had no intention of eating a frog, live, dead, cooked, or candied. But I couldn’t tell them that. So I pushed it off with, "I’ll have to get myself mentally prepared to do it."
I figured they would forget about it. They never forgot! For months, every day, they’d ask, "When are you going to eat that frog?" I’d say, "Soon." At some point, it must have dawned on them that I really had no intention of eating a frog but they still wouldn’t let go. Over the years, they decided to torture me with frog gifts – porcelain frogs for Christmas, rubber frogs for my birthday, paintings of frogs for the heck of it.
Every once in awhile, to this day, those two men will say, "Hey, when are you going to eat that frog?"
I answer, "Soon, soon."
I vowed then I would never make any more predictions after that one went awry. But I started making more predictions soon after that disaster, so to assuage my moral guilt for lying to my sons and not living up to my vow, I then vowed never to make any more vows!
Here are my predictions for 2004 for the various regions:
Donald Trump will sell the Marina or the Plaza to Park Place Entertainment, now called Caesars Entertainment…It will finally come out that the Claridge and Resorts are both haunted. Since these are the two resorts that attract the most senior citizens in AC, as the WWII generation leaves us, some still want to stick around for the gaming action and their spirits, being naturally attracted to the places of their youth, have been returning for years to these two properties… Borgata will institute an aggressive bus-marketing campaign. Borgata came into the AC market eschewing the bus people but now the "Big B" executives, as they are known, realize that midweek, especially in winter, the bus people are a must, even if some are a bit musty, in order to make ends meet…Sands will institute an aggressive campaign to realign its marketing image from the aggressive campaign that realigned its image last year from the image it had realigned the year before that… Tropicana will continue to build its new parking garage, but many drivers will not use it for fear that it might collapse as the old one did…Atlantic City revenues for 2004 will be record levels but some casinos will tank big time owing to the powerful presence of Borgata.
Blackjack profits will continue to decline in 2004 as Las Vegas casinos take aggressive measures to increase profits by making the games less attractive to play…Craps play will continue to increase, as will casino profits, due in large part to many people who think they can beat the game with controlled shooting. Even so, more and more casinos will get rid of their boxmen at craps because as one executive will be heard to say, "All they do is sit on their butts!" Disputes will be resolved in 2004 with the magical words, "Pay the table!" The craps players will be happy…The new show outside TI (what used to be Treasure Island) will be a dud because the lithesome, scantily-clad girls in the show will come down with various colds, flu, and frostbite in the winter months and have to be replaced with women who come from sturdier yeoman stock but who are not as attractive or lithesome. In the final performance of the show, one of the three people in the crowd outside will be heard to say, "Where are the pirates, Daddy?"…Instead of the tiger attack on Roy causing consternation among performers about working with big cats, even more shows will feature the animals on the theory that car crashes are the reason people go to the car races…The Vegas buffet wars will really heat up in 2004 and some casinos will be giving away free buffets during certain times even if you don’t play! This will continue until a national survey shows that people who go to or live in Las Vegas are much fatter than people who don’t and the casinos pull back on the food promotions citing "the public interest."
All casinos in Illinois will close in 2004 because of the heavy tax burden imposed by the government. The state will then take them over and appoint civil service workers from the Motor Vehicle Bureaus to run the games. Players will drive to Indiana, Wisconsin and Europe to avoid waiting on the long lines and the casinos will shut their doors, permanently, just before Thanksgiving 2004…The other surrounding states, seeing the success of the Illinois State Legislature in raising casino taxes to 70 percent, will also institute such tax increases in 2004. Their casinos will close in 2005.
Tunica County will become the "gambling capital" of the country in 2004 owing to its good games and easy comps. However, some executive in 2004 will say, "You know, we could make even more money from blackjack if we copied what they are doing in Vegas!" If he is not promptly shot, the future of Tunica after 2004 is too murky for me to see clearly…The Gulf Coast region will continue to be a pleasant place to play and fish and visit Southern mansions almost no one could afford or would want to live in…The mosquito will be named the State Bird of Mississippi.
Native American Casinos
A separate nation of gaming within the world of gaming, some Native American casinos will start to look to Isleta in New Mexico and Foxwoods in Connecticut as models of how to structure their games, floors, and customer relations. As they eschew the Vegas/Atlantic City corporate concepts, their profits will soar and their customer base will continue to expand dramatically…Indian tribes that never existed will come into existence in order to build casinos…In fact, one tribe, the Scoblete Tribe, will attempt to open a casino in Manhattan, claiming they were the tribe that sold the property illegally in 1626 for "some beads" and "we didn’t even get a buffet!"
General Non-Casino Predictions:
Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein will both be captured, one dead, one alive (you choose) in early October, [Scoblete got this right but the wrong year for Saddam!] just in time for Bush to be reelected President, which he will be in a landslide, except in the state of Massachusetts, which will be renamed Taxachusetts. Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities will now take a back seat to the most discriminated minority in America – short people. According to a recent study by Professor Timothy Judge at University of Florida, short people make much less money than tall people. In fact, for every inch in height a person has over another person, his or her income increases by $789 per year. Thus, a 6’2" person makes on average $9,468 more per year than a 5’2" person!..In 2004, the NBA will be forced to accept "height-challenged" basketball players to bring the NBA in line with the average American height for males of 5’10" – in short, each team must now hire the short.
Okay, those are my predictions for 2004. If they aren’t right, I’ll eat a frog.
Here are our ratings for January, 2004.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: Much improved penetration since the cold weather arrived. So BJ in this place is heating up. There are $5 games most times in the gaming parlor near the poker room. These are 8-deck games, with about 75-80 percent penetration. Penetration has improved to about 1.2 decks cut off on the six-deck games in the high-roller pit but these games are almost 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 75-80 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: No change from last report. The place to beat in AC. Aggressive marketing has given it the lion’s share of the BJ market and it has become the place to play blackjack in Atlantic City. All 6-deck games. Penetration is 80 percent, often 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! They are aggressively marketing for the Winter months so this is a place to seriously consider when the cold weather hits. * * * *
CAESARS: Table game action has improved and that is very noticeable in the blackjack pits. Six-deck games in high roller room have 75 percent penetration as do the eight-deckers on the main casino floor. We’ve seen more $5 and $10 games of late. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! ***
CLARIDGE: No change from last report. The high-roller action was six-deck games with $50/$100 minimums most days, 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: No change from last report. They are making a concerted effort to keep their players in the face of Borgata’s onslaught. Very friendly dealers and pit personnel. Penetration now ranges close to 75-80 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: Still a solid place to play blackjack in AC but no longer the best. Resplitting allowed except aces. High roller room is 6-decks, rest of the casino is 8-decks. Pits have been quick to jump on suspected counters, so be wary. High table minimums, especially on weekends, a lot of $25 tables, rare $10 tables. Penetration about 75-80 percent. 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: Now offers the highest limits in AC. You can bet up to $50,000 on a single hand. So hurry, hurry and get down there! The penetration is at 75 to 80 percent on its 6-deck games and 75 percent on its 8-deckers, just lagging behind Borgata. 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 seeing some action. You can also resplit up to three times. *** ˝*
SHOWBOAT: No change from last report. Heavy marketing has made this place thrive, even in the face of Borgata’s stiff competition. 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. You 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 – and stay away from the parking garages. *
TRUMP MARINA: No change from last issue. 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: Improvement. Six-deck blackjack games in high limit area are about 75 percent penetration with $100 minimums – sometimes the dealer will now go even deeper. 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. ** ˝ *
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Borgata
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