ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT – February 2008
by Alene and Frank Scoblete
Alene Scoblete 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 Blackjack Revolution. His newest DVD is Golden Touch: Beat Craps Using a Controlled Throw!
For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406 or write: Paone Press, Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. His websites arewww.goldentouchblackjack.com, www.goldentouchcraps.com and www.scoblete.com.
2008 Queen of the Sea or Chicken of the Sea?
The title of this article is purposely contradictory because AC has a big choice to make for 2008. It can continue to lose money – around 10 percent if projections are correct – because of the hammering their slot competitors in Pennsylvania are giving them, or they can come up with something that brings in the crowds – and new crowds at that.
AC could choose to loosen its slots, but many East Coast slot players have no idea of whether a casino has loose or tight slots, so these folks will play even second rate machines in Pennsylvania rather than driving to, or hopping a bus, to the Queen of the Sea. Trying to recoup slot revenue might actually turn AC from the Queen of the Sea to the Chicken of the Sea.
We think the solution to AC’s declining revenue problem is to make itself the Premier Table Game Capital of the country. To do that, AC has to bite the bullet and recognize that by offering the best table games in the country, it will have to take the same chance that tax cutters take with economies – by demanding less of people, they make more money from these people because these people will happily spend more money.
Tax revenues increase in the aggregate when this is done even though individual taxes go down.
The same would be true if AC went whole hog into putting out the best games on their floors. What are these best games? Let’s take non-blackjack games first:
Now to Blackjack:
The public relations department should harp on the table games and create programs for table game players – special star attractions; banquets rewarding the best players of the month and of the year.
In short, go all out!
Now do we think AC will take our advice? Frank has been a consultant for many casinos and here is what he says: "All my so-called radical ideas about games have never been put into place by a casino. So that tells you something about the people who run these places. They are all people who want to be safe but many of them wind up as sorry."
So it goes.
Our Readers Write
We have many readers who send us their reports on various aspects of Atlantic City and we do have some that give us reports just about every month – so we have decided to give them their fame and glory (as opposed to "fortune and glory") with their own columns.
THE JON REPORT
(Jon gives us great reports almost every month when he visits AC. You can use his reports, mix with ours, put a dash of the other letters and you will get a good idea of what is going on in Atlantic City.)
Well another month has come and gone and AC is starting to show some positive changes this month. We have new revenue news, the sale of a casino, construction updates and a schedule of table tournaments.
2007 revenue reports have been issued by the NJ Casino Control Commission. Overall revenues for 2007 were down 5.7%, slot revenues were down 8.9%, however, table game revenues were up 3%. Is there a message here? The Tropicana took the worst beating, down 12.1%, followed by the Hilton, down 7.9%. Three casinos bucked the trend and saw revenue growth; The Borgata, Caesars and Harrahs. The links shown below have additional information on 2007 AC casino revenues.http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/top_story/story/7527229p-7428702c.html http://www.nj.gov/casinos/home/news/pdf/200712_revenue.pdf
AC is also seeing some table tournaments spring up. The Trump Taj is no longer hosting their Thursday evening BJ tournaments, but they seem to have moved down the boardwalk to the Trump Plaza. The Tournaments are on Wednesdays during January. Additional information can be found on the Trump Plaza website (under Promotional Events).
The Harrah’s properties are also hosting some big time tournaments. The prize pool for each tournament is guaranteed to be $100,000. The entry fee is $520. If more than 200 people enter the tournament, the pool increases by $500 for each additional person entered. The 1st tournament was a blackjack tournament held in January at Harrah’s. 278 people entered, so the prize pool was about $140,000. The following is the schedule for the next 3 tournaments:
· Roulette Tournament- February 8-9 at Caesars
· Craps Tournament – March 7-8 at Bally’s
· Blackjack Tournament- April 25-26 at Showboat
Standard AC Blackjack Rules: In order to shorten my future comments and to make casino variations more apparent, I will assume the following as standard AC BJ rules. I will only comment where casinos are deviating from these rules and penetration.
· Main Floor: 8 decks, 75% penetration, stand on soft 17, may split 3 times for up to 4 hands, double down on any two cards after split except aces, aces may only be split once and receive only one card, no surrender. Mid shoe entry allowed on $5 - $25 table but not allowed on $50 and up tables. Single deck BJ pays 6 to 5 and hits soft 17.
· High Limit Room: Same thing except 6 decks.
Revel Entertainment Group Casino: Ground has been broken and building is above ground level now. Scheduled to be opened in late 2010. No table games offered yet!!
Trump Taj: Observed standard AC conditions except no mid shoe entry on $25 tables. Lot of tables open. Lucky Ladies side bet.
Resorts: Observed standard AC conditions except two 6 decks $25 tables on the main floor. Match the dealer side bet.
Claridge: Observed standard AC conditions EXCEPT hits soft 17 on main floor only. Smallest table game area in AC. Only a few tables open during the week. I had a dealer here that almost made two payment errors. Almost gave me the wrong change and an incorrect payout. Both were in my favor.
Ballys: Observed standard AC conditions EXCEPT half the main floor hits soft 17 and half stands on soft 17. Along with the Trump Taj and Caesars, they are tied for the 2nd busiest table gaming areas (behind Borgata). Lucky Ladies side bet.
Wild Wild West: Observed standard AC conditions EXCEPT hit soft 17 on the main floor. About even with Resorts for the number of tables open.
Caesars: Observed standard AC conditions on main floor and high limit room.
Trump Plaza: The main floor is mostly $25 six deck games now with only a few 8 deckers available. Penetration on the games is a little below average but better than before. A couple dealers were actually giving 75% penetration now. I’d call it 70 – 75% penetration on the six deck games now. You can only split 2 times for up to 3 hands.
Tropicana: Observed standard AC conditions except the penetration is still below average but improved here as well. Many dealers were giving 75% penetration but many were still a little below that. Saw that one dealer still cutting off over 3 decks! Shuffling disorder no doubt! I’ll call it 70-75%, which is an improvement. The Trop is also hiring back 150 of the 900 workers they laid off.
Hilton: Observed standard AC conditions EXCEPT still offering the best cuts in AC. You had one writer last month say they saw bad cuts at the Hilton. In several trips over the last few months I have observed nothing but the best. I have never observed a dealer cut off less than 75%. Most dealers only cut off 1 ½ decks for 81% penetration. I actually played with a dealer cutting off just 1 deck this month, 87% penetration! 75 – 85% penetration here.
Let me close by saying that I think AC is making a mistake when they offer poor penetration. Yes, card counters can make more profit against better penetration, but I have only observed maybe 1 or 2 cards counters in all my time in AC. The casino actually makes MORE money from basic strategy players when they cut deeper! This occurs for two reasons.
1. More time playing, less time shuffling.
2. Basic strategy is designed for a 0 count. As the count varies from 0, basic strategy decisions are no longer the best decisions. This occurs more with deep cuts and increases the casinos profit.
Hilton’s decision to go deeper is a good business decision, while the Trop’s decision not to go deep is a poor one for them.
Hope this helps,
Dear Frank and AP:
I will never go back to AC. I was at [name of casino deleted] and it was late at night and at the bar where my husband and I were drinking were all sorts of prostitutes. We were even approached! Can you believe that?
I don’t want this scum of the earth near me. I want to enjoy my gambling experience and not have these disease carrying sluts coming up to me and my husband offering their filthy bodies.
Enough is enough!
Ingrid G. J.
I have noticed that more women play slots than men. Why is this?
(AP answers: Safety? Tradition? According to a recent Harrah’s survey, 88 percent of women players play the slots while 66 percent of male casino players do so. In short, your guess is as good as mine.)
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You can read about the Golden Touch Craps World records, including the Captain’s 147-roll hand atwww.goldentouchcraps.com/worldrecords.shtml. Want to learn dice control from the masters? Get a copy of The Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution! [$16.95 plus $5 shipping] by Frank Scoblete and Dominator or get a copy of our new DVD Golden Touch: Beat Craps by Controlling the Dice! [$299 plus $6 shipping] Call FRED at 1-800-944-0406.
The greatest, and easiest, advantage-play method ever developed for beating blackjack – SPEED COUNT – can be found in Frank Scoblete’s new book, Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution! Book comes with a CD so you can practice. $24.95 plus $5 for shipping.
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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 that has over 5,000 paid members. Email address 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? The Golden Touch Blackjack class 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. Call 1-800-944-0406 to sign up or for more information.
Or buy our new book The Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution! and learn the easiest advantage-play method ever developed for blackjack.
Here are our ratings for February 2008. We thank many of our readers for helping us to stay as updated as possible. There may be some disagreements in ratings among our correspondents but all these reports are based on individuals’ experience. A word to the wide: it’s always best to check out the casinos for yourselves.
***** = Excellent
**** = Very Good
*** = Good
** = Fair
* = Poor.
BALLY’S PARK PLACE: No change from last issue. More slots. More hitting on soft 17. This used to be a premium property but it now seems to be a Harrah’s after thought. No mid-shoe entry in high roller room and on a few of the main $50 tables in casino. Mixed reviews about how deep the penetration is but we found it in the 75 percent area. All 8-deck games except for the high roller room action. For craps players, this is a good casino for the game. All tables are now 5X odds, with a range of minimums. Crews are friendly. Tables are somewhat high so short shooters get your platform shoes. Some correspondents disagree with this statement but we are guessing they are all over 6-feet tall! There are many more carnival games than ever before. Looks like Three-Card Poker rivals blackjack! Hotel has declined a lot. One star: *
BORGATA: Our visit showed that it is a superior venue in Atlantic City, despite some negative reports about declining service. It may have fallen to second place behind Hilton. There is always a $5 table available. Penetration is now somewhat spotty too. Casino is all six-deck games, which is great – for AC, that is. Penetration on games varies between 70 and 75 percent which is worse than ever before. Craps has long tables, 14-footers, and very bouncy, and not worth playing unless you like to see dice flying off the tables. There are two 12-foot tables but these are bouncy too. Only if you like to watch those cubes flying off the table should you play craps here. Go elsewhere for craps, except for Taj which has mimicked Borgata in craps. This is a happening place and caters to a swinging young crowd. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Three and one-half stars: * * * ½ *
CAESARS: No change from last issue. Directly across from Caesars is The Pier, which is a pleasure to walk through – a must see attraction in AC with some of the finest restaurants and views. Caesars itself also has excellent restaurants but you have long walks to find them. Cheerful place and worthy of the name it bears. Hotel/casino rating is A. They are going deeper at blackjack too. 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 and higher 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 stars: * * *
CLARIDGE: The sniveling, salivating idiot pit boss is gone; one fewer ploppy pit man, yes, but fewer table games and more machines. We will repeat – this used to be our favorite casino when the Captain and his Crew played here in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The place still stinks although there is some chatter that the craps games have gotten better but we have been reluctant to play here in the past year – sour taste in our mouths from the maniac pit boss. This is now a "new dealer" break-in casino so games tend to be slow. Hitting on soft 17 is standard. One star: *
HARRAH’S: One of my correspondents, Scan, thinks this is the most underrated casino in AC. In the casino you will find very friendly dealers and pit personnel. Penetration now ranges somewhat below the 75 percent area. Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry in the high roller room of 6-deck action, with the rest of the casino being 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 Vegas comps from your AC action! 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. But we must warn you; this is a big slot place. Sadly, Harrah’s properties in Las Vegas and in Tunica are getting awfully bad reports about how some of the boxmen treat customers who practice a careful shot at craps and there is overwhelming paranoia at the blackjack games as well. So beware when outside AC. Harrah’s prefers their slot customers and all their casinos tend month after month to be adding more machines. Two and one-half stars: * * ½*
HILTON: Okay, many good reports on the games here. We’ll bite. This could be number one in all of AC. 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 70 to 75 percent. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. For craps, we are dealing with 14-foot tables and a couple of 12 footers. Three stars and one-half stars: * * * ½*
RESORTS: No change from last issue. Up and down. This casino went up in our estimation when the new company took over and now it is heading downhill. If Resorts wants to start to compete with the big boys of AC, it has to loosen up its pockets to draw good numbers of them in. 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. Avoid the single-deckers that pay 6 to 5 for blackjacks. Excellent place for craps; mostly small tables, with some games 5X odds. The new hotel addition is clean and serviceable, but not luxurious. Two and one-half stars: * * ½*
SHOWBOAT: No change from last issue. Where are the table games? This used to be a great table-game casino and Harrah’s has made it a slot paradise. The table games are squeezed into a little area of the casino now with awfully bouncy craps tables and awful blackjack games, a really sad fate. Had been one of the best and now is the worst blackjack casino in AC. One-half star: ½*
TROPICANA: This is the Titanic. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
TRUMP MARINA: No change from last issue. Another casino that is economically bleeding to death. This place is giving good comps from some reports and the game is okay. Six-deck games in high roller room and 8-deck games on the main floor have penetration of 75 to 80 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. Two and one-half stars: * * ½ *
TRUMP PLAZA: No change from last issue. Just about all 6-deck games with somewhat low penetration of penetration of 70-75 percent, depending on the dealer. No midshoe entry on games outside high-roller pit but you can find $25 (a few) to $50 minimums on these. Allows resplits, except aces. All tables are $10 and higher. Craps tables are 12-footers. Very friendly crews but a dark casino with a real smattering of low-lifes. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Three stars: * * *
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: No change from last issue. Say it ain’t so, Donald! The best national casino-hotel at one time is no longer even in the top 10. Ouch! We were there recently and the 6-deck games outside the high roller room are gone. Lucky Ladies bet now available, no thanks. Good game with 75-80 percent penetration, dealer dependent, throughout the casino. In the high roller room all the 6-deck games have $100 minimums. Now the worst casino to play craps in all of Atlantic City with incredibly bouncy and high tables. The crews spend half their time scooting around looking for the dice that have jettisoned off the tables. Good casino for Golden Touch Blackjack. Three stars: * * *
WILD, WILD WEST: No change from last issue. Lacking the spark it used to have. All 8-deck games with most offering H17 games – insane. This is a part of Bally’s Park Place and Harrah’s is looking to sell this complex like a pan of gold. Penetration is about 75 percent on all games. 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. One star: *
THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY:
The Best Craps in Atlantic City: Resorts
The Best Hotel/Casino in Atlantic City: Borgata, Taj Mahal
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