ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT
By Alene Paone and 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.
The summer is just around the corner and with the warm weather comes a few things – some good, some bad, and some just awful. The good is the ocean and the sand. The surfers, who go at it all year long, really take to the beaches in the summer (usually near Taj Mahal) and some of the prettiest women you ever want to see strut their bikini-clad stuff on the beaches as well.
Most of the casinos have beach-bars and special clubs for their guests and fun in the sun is a must. The birds think so too and there are more seagulls and pigeons than ever during the warm weather. That can be a nuisance, as they are not discriminating in where they plop their poop. A word to the wise – always eat outdoors with your sandwich or pizza or hot dog safely covered. Some of the gulls are very demanding and will go right up to you to rip you off. Gluttony can do that to birds.
The Boardwalk is usually packed in the warm weather. For walkers, go south until you pass Hilton and then the Boardwalk becomes much less crowded with tourists and the sounds of the sea much clearer.
Despite an awesome cleanup of the bums in Atlantic City, there still are enough low-lifes on the Boardwalk to make it essential that you keep your pocketbook across your body, not just dangling on your arm and, men, put your money in your shirts – it’s much harder to pick pocket a front pocket that is buttoned.
The sad fact for blackjack and other table game players is that the summer also spells much higher table game minimums. Those $5 games, rare in winter, are rarer still in the warm weather. Even $10 games are hard to find and the weekend is usually a $25 player’s paradise. The fact is this: Atlantic City has actually lost about 2 million visitors in the last couple of years and the only way the casinos can keep making money is to get more from those who are still coming; to do that they must raise their minimums. In short, you pay.
The best blackjack in Atlantic City can still be found at Sands and Borgata and for craps players, Sands is numero uno for craps as well.
The really good news is that Golden Touch Blackjack is coming to Atlantic City on Saturday and Sunday, May 22 and 23. This revolutionary new advantage-play method premiered in Vegas in April and was enthusiastically received by the 25 players who took the course. Here’s a simple question to ask yourself: If you’re going to play blackjack, why not play with an advantage? Golden Touch Blackjack will give you the easiest method for getting an advantage at the game. Call 1-800-944-0406 to sign up or for more information.
Put down May 20 in your mental calendar because that is the date that Frank Scoblete will play blackjack at the Sands. His last outing there was over two years ago when the pit personnel mistreated him (he was only allowed to bet a single $100 bet, play one hand, and they cut the shoe in half). We’ll see what happens this time. You’ll discover that in the next issue.
Here are our ratings for May 2004.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: The 8-deck games have about 80-85 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 80 percent mark, sometimes higher. 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. Great place for Golden Touch Blackjack. *** ½ *
BORGATA: One of the two places 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, sometimes higher. Great place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. Standard AC rules which means that for basic strategy players it’s a great game. Plenty of $10 games. Great place for Golden Touch Blackjack. * * * *
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. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! ***
CLARIDGE: The high-roller action was six-deck games with $50/$100 minimums most days, with penetration about 80 to 85 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. Great place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. *** ½ *
HARRAH’S: 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 70-80 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. Great place for Golden Touch Blackjack. ***
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. Great place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. *** ½*
RESORTS: No change from last report. Great penetration has arrived. Now in its 25th year of operation, Resorts looks better today than it did when it opened and it is undergoing major renovations. Resorts has cut back on the penetration on both six and eight-deck games, to about 85 percent or more. 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. Great place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. Pits are friendly. *** ½ *
SANDS: Okay, this place went from a table-game dump to the elite, tied with Borgata in blackjack and, for craps players, offering 10X odds. 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 85 percent on its 6-deck games and the whole casino is now 6-deck games. You can also resplit up to three times. A great place to play Golden Touch Blackjack – and Frank Scoblete swears he’s going back to play here on May 20th! ****
SHOWBOAT: No change from last report. 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. Good place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. ***
TROPICANA: Slot city. Slot heaven. Slot madness. *
TRUMP MARINA: No change from last report. 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 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. Good place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. ***
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: No change from last issue. Has now been officially eclipsed by Borgata as the big kahuna casino in AC. Decent game with 75 percent penetration, dealer dependent. Multiple Action, Double Exposure and Spanish 21 are still available at $10/$15 minimums and up. Good place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. ***
WILD, WILD WEST: Penetration has deteriorated in the last couple of months to slightly under 75 percent on all games. Still a good place to play, atmosphere wise. ** ½ *
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Sands and Borgata; then Bally’s, Claridge and Hilton.
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