ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT – April 2006
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.
And don’t forget to find out about our new blackjack method, Golden Touch Blackjack!
I Can’t Get A Break!
By Frank Scoblete
In February I had the worst trip of my life when I went to Tunica, Mississippi for about two weeks – ice storms, poor or non-existent service and a lackadaisical attitude that drove me crazy. I was hoping my next trip; another two-weeker in March, to Atlantic City would be perfect.
I stayed (or was supposed to stay) for eight days – two four-day weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings to be precise) – at the Trump Taj Mahal. We were doing our Golden Touch Blackjack and our Golden Touch Dice Control seminars at the beautiful Sheraton Hotel – a wonderful non-casino hotel right across the street from the new AC Convention Center. I would stay the eight days at Taj and then four days in Cape May with my wife, the beautiful AP and my son Mike, the chemistry teacher and political science expert.
I was to stay RFB at Taj Mahal. I had made the arrangements with a new host who said my two four-day reservations were all set up, "No problem."
Now the Taj has been my favorite casino in AC for the past three years because of the good six-deck blackjack games and the great 5X Odds craps games. The dealers and most of the pit people at the Taj are excellent – quite professional and very friendly. It is a pleasure to play at the Taj. The casino is bright, airy and clean.
Until this particular trip, it had also been a pleasure to stay at the Taj with its great guest rooms, excellent restaurants, and prompt service.
Now the day before I left for the Taj, I had to have a second eye-surgery and also a drug was injected directly into the eye to stop some bleeding (that was not fun). I was not to go into the daylight for four days because I was photo sensitive. I had my car service drive me to AC so that I could sit in the back and be totally covered against the light.
So when I checked into the Taj, I wasn’t seeing too well. Otherwise the weekend was fine. The students in our Golden Touch Blackjack class learned the revolutionary Speed Count with the Optimum Basic Strategy created by skinny genius Dan Pronovost, and just about all the students headed for the casinos on Sunday evening, content with their new advantage-play technique.
The restaurants were uniformly excellent – Dominator, Stickman, Henry Tamburin and I ate at Dynasty, a gourmet Chinese restaurant on Friday evening; then Mark Anthony’s (Italian) on Saturday evening; and the Safari Steak House on Sunday evening.
On Monday, the last day of this first weekend, I realized I would have to give the Taj plenty of action. I had only played about six hours combined on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and to get RFB, the casino usually wants four hours per day. I was 10 hours behind.
No problem. All day Monday and Tuesday morning would be play time. I put in four hours Monday morning and early afternoon, and I planned on giving them another four in the evening. On Tuesday I would complete my 16 hours of action.
I went to my room for a nap on Monday afternoon.
At 4PM there was knocking on my door, "Sir! Sir! Please open the door."
I went to the door, "Who is it?"
"House keeping, you were supposed to check out, sir," said the woman.
"No, no, I am staying tonight too," I said.
"No, sir, it says here that you are leaving today."
"No, no, uh, I’ll call my host and straighten this out. I was supposed to be given four nights," I said. "If I leave the room will I be locked out?"
"Yes," she said. So obviously I couldn’t leave the room.
I got on the phone and called the host. His secretary said he was too busy to speak to me at the moment but he would call me right back. I explained my problem – he forgot to put me in the system for the fourth night. I waited an hour and then I called again. There was no answer but I left a message about the fact that I couldn’t leave the room or I’d be locked out. An hour later I called a third time. I left another message. I said if I didn’t hear from him in a half hour I would leave.
I didn’t hear from him. So I left the Taj and went to Cape May a day earlier. I rented a car at the Atlantic City Airport and spent five great days with my wife and son in my favorite of all vacation spots.
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On Thursday evening I called the Taj host and told him to make sure that I was in for four days this weekend. He said, "No problem." He didn’t apologize about the previous weekend even though I gave him a chance to. He seemed totally disinterested in my business. When I last checked the Taj fact sheets, my average bet was $237 – surely enough to warrant some consideration from even the most blasé hosts.
That Friday, checking into the Taj, I noticed that they had me staying only three nights and leaving on Monday. I told the reservation clerk that I was supposed to have four nights. He said, "No, it says three nights."
"I know it says three nights. Call the host right now. If he isn’t in or you get an answering machine, call another host. I want that fourth night. Jesus Christ!" I must have sounded somewhat demented as the reservation clerk snapped to it. The idiot host had not put in for the fourth night even though I had called him yesterday and reminded him! He had said, "No problem."
A few moments later the clerk said, "It’s all taken care of. I spoke to a different host and you are in for Monday evening too."
"Good," I said. "Good."
The best part of the weekend was the Golden Touch Dice Control class – 58 eager students ready to learn how to control the dice. Our 15 instructors and several previous students were all to eat at various gourmet restaurants that weekend. Teaching craps, eating fine meals with fine friends – it doesn’t get much better than that.
That’s when the Taj became a disaster.
Friday evening, we ate at the Safari Steak House. Last week the restaurant was great; this week it stepped over into the twilight zone. It was a three-hour meal for eight of us. (We split up the group of 16 into two separate tables of eight each.) It took over an hour to get the salads. When the main meal came, Street Dog’s rare steak was burnt to a crisp. He sent it back and said, "I ordered rare." Time passed. More time passed. Eons passed. They brought out the new steak to Street Dog. It was rare all right. It was so rare that the center was frozen – solid frozen!
"I can’t eat this crap!" snorted Street Dog, hitting the frozen meat with his fork and taking a sip of his Belvedere vodka.
Saturday night was Italian night at Mark Anthony’s – and the pasta with olive oil and garlic was missing the damn olive oil and garlic. Three of us ordered this and three of us had pasta rapidly drying out on our plates as the waiters scurried all over the restaurant, oblivious to our calls for help. Finally a waiter came over and his solution was to dump some oil in the pasta.
"This is usually a great restaurant," said Dominator. "Maybe it’s crowded?"
We looked around. There were plenty of empty tables.
"Maybe we are back in Tunica?" I asked.
Sunday was Chinese at Dynasty. Street Dog ordered Szechwan chicken, "And it can’t be too hot!" Meaning he wanted it hot! But the irony was lost on the waiter.
"You don’t want it hot."
"I want it hot," said Street Dog.
"You said you don’t want it hot," said the waiter.
"He wants it hot," I said. "Really hot."
"He no want it hot."
"Look, I want it hot. I want it to be so hot…"
"He wants it hot," I said. "I’ll have the same thing and I want it hot too."
Then Dominator ordered chicken and fried rice for the whole table.
"No peas," I said. "No peas in any of the fried rice dishes."
They made the chicken with fried rice except they made it with shrimp instead of chicken. It was loaded with peas.
"Uh, we ordered chicken," said Rock ‘N Roller. "Not shrimp. I’m allergic to shrimp."
"I thought you would like shrimp," said the waiter.
"If I eat shrimp I will die," said Rock ‘n Roller.
"The shrimp is very good," said the waiter.
"I wanted chicken," said Dominator. "We ordered chicken fried rice, not shrimp fried rice."
"And I said no peas and you have peas in all the fried rice dishes," I said.
"Peas are good," said another waiter who had come over to see what the problem was.
"And the rice isn’t really fried," said Dominator. "This is white rice with a little oil and a whole bunch of shrimp and peas. It isn’t like the fried rice we had here last week."
_ _ _ _ _
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I played maybe two hours at Taj. I figured I’d give them a lot of action on Monday but I only played for five hours the whole day. That Tuesday before I went downstairs to put in some time, I checked the screen in my room to see if they had put any charges on the room. In fact, they had – all the meals were comped but they charged me for the damn room for Monday evening! I was supposed to be RFB! Now, I had a choice. Call my host, he who could care less about his patrons, or get the hell out of the Taj now.
I left the Taj. I was that disgusted.
_ _ _ _ _
Yes, this trip was not anywhere near as bad as the Tunica debacle. But the Taj has come down in my estimation. When you add up an indifferent, perhaps incompetent host, room charges you shouldn’t be paying, and three disastrous meals in gourmet restaurants the sum is definitely less than A+, which is the rating we have been giving to Taj for the past two years.
Our Readers Write:
Dear Alene and Frank,
Let me talk garbage as in casinos that you have to be crazy to play in when you go down to Atlantic City. I am a basic strategy player so I am not so interested in the penetration of the blackjack games and I really want poorly penetrated games since I play fewer hands that way. But I will not ever play at Sands, a hole in the wall, Claridge, a fast growing dump, and I don’t particularly care for Hilton, which is getting darker and darker or my eyes are going, and someone please do something about Resorts ceilings.
I like Taj, Bargata, Showboat, Caesars and Trump Plaza on the Boardwalk and I also like Trump Marina although it’s somewhat small. Bally’s Park Place and Wild West are fair.
That’s my two cents.
Your article about your trip to Tunica was very funny but I can tell you I have experienced the same thing when I went down there. They just have no work ethic. They are beyond lazy. You are lucky you even were able to eat during the ice storm. It’s a whole different world in Tunica.
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You can read about the Golden Touch Craps World records, including the Captain’s 147-roll hand at www.goldentouchcraps.com/worldrecords.shtml. Want to learn dice control from the masters? Get a copy of The Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution! by Frank Scoblete and Dominator.
* * * *
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.
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. You’ll learn it in 10 minutes, practice for two days, and be able to go into the casino and have a verifiable edge! Learn Speed Count and the new optimum basic strategy in this class. Go to www.goldentouchblackjack.com. Call 1-800-944-0406 to sign up or for more information.
Here are our ratings for April 2006.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: No change from last issue. Bad reports coming in about service here. 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 and one-half stars: * * ½ *
BORGATA: Hotel rating is an A. Penetration is not as good as in the past, which now puts this casino into the runner up category. Penetration on all the 6-deck games varies between 75 and 80 percent so you can get some good games here. Craps has long tables, 14-footers, and very bouncy, although there is talk of two smaller tables - somewhere. There is always at least one $5 game available. Great casino for Golden Touch Blackjack.
Four Stars: * * * ½ *
CAESARS: No change from last issue. 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: AC regulars are all sad about this place and I feel their pain. This was the "friendly" casino and now it is anything but. This was once the Captain’s favorite casino in Atlantic City and it was once ours as well. Maybe it will recapture its glory days again? Blackjack games have about 70 percent penetration. The rumor is that the casino is going to be closed so those glory days might not be coming back.
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: No change from last issue. A place to look at when you are in AC. The blackjack games here are getting good reports from some of our correspondents but you must pick the game based on the dealer because the penetration is dealer dependent. 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. High table minimums, especially on weekends, a lot of $25 tables, rare $10 tables. Penetration about 75 percent, sometimes up to 80 percent. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. For craps, we are dealing with 14-foot tables and a couple of 12 footers. Casino is dark. This place needs a buffing.
Three Stars and a half stars: * * * ½ *
RESORTS: Heading downhill. Resplitting is allowed at all tables but penetration barely makes it to 75 percent now. Casino also offers multiple-action blackjack and Spanish 21 at $10 minimums. But Resorts has brought in those single-deck zombie-fied blackjack games too. Avoid the single-deckers. 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: * * 1/2 *
SANDS: The El Cortez of Atlantic City with apologies to El Cortez which does occasionally have good blackjack games.
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 are 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. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Three Stars and a half stars: * * * ½ *
TRUMP MARINA: No change from last issue. 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: This place is doing better and better now that it is cleaning its act up. Some of our Golden Touch craps players love this place. There’s a multi-million dollar renovation going on to make this a prize casino-hotel again and it is starting to get back its old glamour. The 8-deck games have penetration at 75 percent, 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. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack.
Three stars: * * *
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: Read my article above. Still the best casino in AC but with hosts who don’t give a damn and restaurants that seem to have had a complete breakdown I am passing on rating the other aspects of this property for this issue. Despite the fact that they have brought in those 6/5 single-deckers, this place is now #1 for blackjack in Atlantic City. We are 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. 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 and one 2X odds table. I remember when this place had many more tables. Crews are very friendly.
Three Stars: * * *
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Taj Mahal
The Best Craps in Atlantic City: Taj Mahal
The Best Hotel/Casino in Atlantic City: Borgata and Showboat
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