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 Atlantic City’s season. The beaches are beautiful; most casinos have their own "beach clubs," and the place is crowded with tourists and players. You take a walk, even in the early morning as we do, and there are hundreds of people already out and about – bicycling, running, walking, strolling. The fishing boats can be seen crossing the horizon and, if you are watchful, you can even see dolphins cutting the surface of the sea and plunging back in.
In the day, people swim and sun themselves. In the evening, there is music and even dancing. Summer is great at the shore.
Unfortunately, with summer comes a few things that we don’t particularly like – such as high table minimums (it’s very hard to find a $5 game) and poorer than normal penetration. Blackjack takes a hit.
We have seen Borgata’s, Sands’ and Bally’s penetration fall. One casino that still has excellent penetration is Hilton and, even there, its dealer based and not guaranteed. Borgata even has brought in shuffle machines, which probably gives them more hands even though their penetration is now, average. You might want to check out the Claridge, which seems to have maintained a quality game, especially in the high roller pit.
Yes, Borgata still has 6-deck games and so does Sands but a mediocre 6-deck game is, well, mediocre. Strangely enough, Atlantic City’s attendance is down by about 2 million from a few years ago. Atlantic City is making more money but it is doing so by draining more from those who are continuing to come. The bus traffic, as we understand it, has also declined.
For card counters, the summer is the time to take a vacation from play – or to hit the casinos at 5AM when the tables aren’t that crowded. Many casinos still have technically good games but the crowds make playing a "full-table" experience. Not the best thing for a card counter.
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. We’ll be having upcoming classes in July/August in Tunica, Mississippi, and September in Las Vegas. The cost is a mere $895. Call 1-800-944-0406 to sign up or for more information.
Here are our ratings for July 2004.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: The 8-deck games have about 75 percent penetration. Penetration is about 1.8 decks on the six-deck games in the high-roller pit and these games are almost always $100 to $200 minimums. 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. Good place for Golden Touch Blackjack. ***
BORGATA: Every table is 6-decks. 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. Penetration is now down to about 75 percent. 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 and some $5 games as well. Good place for Golden Touch Blackjack. * * *
CAESARS: No change from last issue. 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: No change from last issue. 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: Very friendly dealers and pit personnel. Penetration now ranges in the 75 percent area. 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. Good 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 percent throughout the casino. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have okay penetration for $10. Good place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. *** ½ *
RESORTS: Casino is fresh and bright. 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 penetration is about 75 percent now. 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. Good place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. Pits are friendly. ***
SANDS: The penetration is at 75 percent on its games, although the whole casino is now 6-deck games. You can also resplit up to three times. A good place to play Golden Touch Blackjack. ***
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: Blackjack games have actually improved here. Still the low man in the city but any positive movement is a good thing. **
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: We are becoming patrons of the Taj. In the past few months the friendliness of the pit crews and dealers is winning us over. Good 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: Claridge, Hilton
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