ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT – November 2005
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. Frank’s books and tapes have sold over a million copies. His newest book is The Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution, co-authored with Dominator, the great dice controller. The book is available at a discount from the BJI online store.
And don’t forget to find out about our new blackjack method, Golden Touch Blackjack at www.goldentouchblackjack.com.!
Blackjack Goes Down; Craps Goes Up
The best blackjack games, other than the Maxim game of 1991, were in the 1950s and early 1960s. These games were single-deckers, often dealt to the bottom, with good rules, dealers standing on soft 17, and no paranoia from the pit personnel if a player happened to have a winning night or even many winning nights.
Since 1963, we have seen a slow degrading of the quality of the blackjack games throughout the country. This doesn’t mean there aren’t some good games left; Tunica has some decent blackjack games in comparison to most Vegas casinos and to all of Atlantic City. But no casinos have great blackjack games, if by great we mean games like those of the 1950s and early 1960s.
When Atlantic City opened, there were 4-deck and 6-deck games with excellent rules and deep penetration. Now, Atlantic City has an abundance of 8-deck games and their 6-deck games, while okay, are mostly in the high-roller rooms for $100 minimums, although the newly erected Borgata has 6-deck games for everyone.
Throughout the country, faux single-deck games with $6 to $5 payouts for blackjacks (a $10 bet wins $12 on a blackjack instead of $15!) and the dealer hitting on soft 17 have replaced the old single-deck games of days gone by. The house edge is 1.5 percent – almost 15 times higher than in the good old days. That means players who play standard basic strategy against these single-deck games will lose 15 times faster!
Strangely enough, the high-powered card counting teams play in the high roller rooms where the games tend to be of the better variety so if the casinos are trying to stop card counting, why are they offering such good games for the counters? The fact is – the casinos don’t really care about the few skilled counters out there. They offer good games in the high roller rooms to make their high rollers feel as if they are getting something special for betting such large amounts. The casinos figure a smaller cut of a lot more money means more money for them!
The hitting of soft 17, a miserable rule for the players, is almost universal on double-deck games. This rule increases the house edge by two-tenths of one percent. That might not sound like a lot but over thousands of hands, it brings in a lot of money for the house and takes a lot of money from the players.
The fact is that the casinos have been trying to make more money from blackjack by changing the rules because card counting is not much of a problem to the casinos’ bottom lines. The casinos want the blackjack games to increase the amount earned each and every quarter. The changes in blackjack are because of that reasoning. They want to extract as much money as they can from the low rollers who frequent the poorer types of games.
Has it worked?
No, it hasn’t. Blackjack revenues are down in many areas of the country – and they are severely down in Las Vegas in the past several years, despite an abundance of some of the highest edged games in the country. Players are flocking away from blackjack, not towards it.
Blackjack might soon be counted among the carnival games such as Let It Ride, Three-Card Poker, Four-Card Poker and Caribbean Stud if the casinos keep offering diluted games.
The reverse is happening at craps. Throughout the country we are seeing the best craps games ever offered to the players. Many casinos offer 3X, 4X and 5X odds on the 4/10, 5/9, and 6/8. Some casinos offer 5X odds on all the numbers. Still other casinos offer 10X odds and, in Tunica, just about all casinos offer 20X odds. Buy bets are now often paid only on wins and in some venues, Tunica again, you can buy the 4/10 and 5/9 – a great bargain because the vig is taken only on a win.
By offering good games, the players are starting to be drawn to the craps tables. Harrah’s reports in its "Day in the Life of a Casino Gambler," that there is a 33 percent increase in craps play among the 21 to 35 year-old set.
A second ingredient is working towards making craps profits soar. Many players are now fancying themselves to be controlled shooters; that is, they think they can beat the game because they can control the dice to offset the normal probabilities of the game.
Some few players can indeed do this and most of them are a part of the Golden Touch Craps dice control group but the overwhelming majority of the players who set the dice and shoot the dice are nothing more than random rollers. The Vegas statistics bear this out. The craps tables have seen a more than 10 percent increase in profits in the past two years. Dice controllers, or rather would-be dice controllers, are increasing the house’s take, not decreasing it.
So craps is seeing the beginnings of a renaissance, while blackjack is seeing some dim times. Whether these trends continue is up to the casino’s executives. If the casinos become paranoid about players who set the dice and take some care with their rolls, we might just see craps revenues decline. If casinos loosen up their blackjack games, we could see it boom again.
The future is not fated. It will be interesting to see what happens.
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We’ve decided since many of our Golden Touch Craps dice controllers are now Speed Counters subscribing to this site, we are going to give a quick rundown of the craps games as well. We haven’t played in all the casinos in AC so we would appreciate it if you could email Frank with the table minimums, the odds bets, and anything else you think we might want to use (table lengths very helpful – if you just say "big" we will assume 14-feet as they are at Borgata). If you send us info we will give you a free month on our members-only board. Email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the ratings of casinos are based on the blackjack games.
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Here are our ratings for November 2005.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: No change from last issue. Many more carnival games here now than ever before. No mid-shoe entry in high roller room and on a few of the main $50 tables in casino, otherwise you can usually Wong here if you wish. Mixed reviews about how deep the penetration is. For craps players, this is a good casino for the game. There is one 5X odds table, usually a $25 minimum; the rest are 2X odds. Crews are friendly. Tables are somewhat high so short shooters get your platform shoes. There are many more carnival games than ever before. Looks like Three-Card Poker rivals blackjack! Two Stars and a half stars: * * ½*
BORGATA: No change from last issue. The youths (or "youts" from My Cousin Vinny) like this place and its newness attracts the throngs and thongs. Sexy waitresses all over the place. Hotel/casino rating is A. Good news is an all 6-deck casino. Penetration is now 75 to 85 percent. High roller room is 6-decks with no mid-shoe entry. Plenty of $10 and $15 games in the main casino. The $5 games are somewhat harder to find. Craps has long tables, 14-footers, and very bouncy, although there is talk of two smaller tables - somewhere. Great casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Four Stars: * * * *
CAESARS: Excellent restaurants. Cheerful place and worthy of the name it bears. Hotel/casino rating is A. They are going deeper. You can expect about 80 percent penetration with most of the dealers. The main floor of eight-deckers has some of the upper-limit tables ($25 and $50) with no mid-shoe entry. All the games in the high roller pit are also no mid-shoe entry with $100 minimums. Table game action has improved and that is very noticeable in the blackjack pits – which are all 8-deck games. Six-deck games in high roller room have 80 percent penetration, as do the eight-deckers on the main casino floor. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. The craps games here are good with 12-foot tables and friendly crews. The tables are a little high so smaller controlled shooters should wear their "special shoes." Three and a half stars: * * * ½ *
CLARIDGE: One Star: *
HARRAH’S: No change from last issue. Harrah’s knows how to treat its customer base and it shows. Excellent property, good rooms, good views, good staff in all areas. As a corporation Harrah’s is doing something right! Harrah’s has maintained a great corporate image and deservedly so. Hotel/casino rating is A. In the casino you will find very friendly dealers and pit personnel. Penetration now ranges in the 75 percent area. Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry. High roller room is 6-deck action, the rest of the casino was 8-decks. 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 from your 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 casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Friendly crews and decent tables at craps. We haven’t played there but reports are good. But we must warn you, this is a big slot place too. Three Stars: * * *
HILTON: Penetration is dealer dependant. Resplitting allowed except aces. High roller room is 6-decks, rest of the casino is 8-decks with a few $25/$50 6-deckers on occasion. No mid-shoe entry on the six-deckers. 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 give or take. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. For craps, we are dealing with 14-foot tables and a couple of 12 footers. Three Stars: * * *
RESORTS: No change from last issue. New annex is nice. Hotel/casino rating A-. Some 6-deckers on main floor with no mid-shoe entry, usually $25 minimums. Most games are 8-deckers. Resorts penetration is about 75. Resplitting is allowed at all tables. They also offer Spanish 21 at $10 minimums. They also brought in those single-deck zombie-fied blackjack games too. Avoid the single-deckers. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Excellent place for craps. Mostly small tables, with some games 5X odds. Last we were there, the high roller room had two 10-foot craps tables that were open on the weekend. Three Stars: * * *
SANDS: One Star: *
SHOWBOAT: No change from last issue. The table game area has shrunk considerably. Good casino-hotel. Excellent blackjack in high roller room and sometimes the game is just $25 minimums. The penetration is about 80 percent now. A game worth looking at. Rooms are all full-sized and spacious; suites are great. Hotel/casino rating is A. Resplitting now allowed up to three hands. No mid-shoe entry. Eight-deck games have 80 percent penetration and allow mid-shoe entry, although there is not that many tables available. We remember when this place had great table-game action. Can now find $25 games in high roller room at those very good 6-deck games. 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 casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Craps is fine here too. All the tables are now 12 footers. There are 5X odds on all tables. Three and a half stars: * * * ½ *
TROPICANA: No change from last issue. The biggest moneymaker in AC. Hotel/casino rating is A. Blackjack games have actually improved here. The main floor now has 6-deckers with mid-shoe entry allowed on almost all of them. High roller room is 6-decks with no mid-shoe entry. Penetration is about 75 percent on all games. Big improvement here in all areas of play. Craps tables are 12-footers. Three Stars: * * *
TRUMP MARINA: Six-deck games in high roller room and 8-deck games on the main floor have penetration of 70-75 percent mark, but you won’t find any dealers going much deeper. Games are mostly $15/$25 and up, especially on weekends. No mid-shoe entry on the 6-deckers but you can jump in and out on the eight-deckers. Craps tables are 12-footers with 2X odds. Haven’t played here in years. Two Stars: * *
TRUMP PLAZA: Some of our Golden Touch craps players love this place and think we are too hard on them. The 8-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. High roller room is 6-deck games. Craps tables are 12-footers. Very friendly crews. Two Stars and a half: * * ½ *
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: The best Atlantic City has to offer. We find it hard to believe that this casino is having economic difficulties, as it is the best place to stay and play in Atlantic City. It has the best casino and the best hotel too. Rooms are all clean and well attended; the building and casino are light and spacious. The staff in all areas is terrific. This is the place to stay. Hotel/casino rating is A+. Despite the fact that they have brought in those 6/5 single-deckers, this place is now tied #1 for blackjack (with Borgata) in Atlantic City as well. We are becoming patrons of the Taj because their dealers and crews are so friendly and professional. Good game with 75-80 percent penetration (even saw some 85 percenters!), dealer dependent. You can find 6-deck games with $25 minimums right outside the high roller room. In the high roller room all games have $100 minimums. Excellent casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. This is the best casino for craps in AC as well. All 5-X odds tables and one 20X odds table. The crews have been universally pleasant. Tables are all 12-footers. In our estimation, this is the number one craps and blackjack casino in Atlantic City. Four Stars: * * * *
WILD, WILD WEST: All 8-deck games. This is a part of Bally’s Park Place. Penetration is about 75-80 percent on all games. Good place for Golden Touch Blackjack. For craps this is a fun place to play with one 5X odds table. Crews are very friendly. Three Stars: * * *
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Taj Mahal and Borgata
The Best Craps in Atlantic City: Taj Mahal
The Best Hotel/Casino in Atlantic City: Taj Mahal
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