But the story was even bigger than that. Caesars had cut him off, he says, and then effectively banned him from its casinos worldwide. Fifteen million dollars in winnings from three different casinos? Nobody gets that lucky. How did he do it? The first and most obvious suspicion was card counting. Card counters seek to gain a strong advantage by keeping a mental tally of every card dealt, and then adjusting the wager according to the value of the cards that remain in the deck.
The tactic requires both great memory and superior math skills. Made famous in books and movies, card counting is considered cheating, at least by casinos. In most states but not New Jersey , known practitioners are banned. The wagering of card counters assumes a clearly recognizable pattern over time, and Johnson was being watched very carefully.
He had beaten the casinos fair and square. It hurt. All of these gambling houses were already hurting, what with the spread of legalized gambling in surrounding states. By April, combined monthly gaming revenue had been declining on a year-over-year basis for 32 months. For most people, though, the newspaper headline told a happy story. An ordinary guy in a red cap and black hoodie had struck it rich, had beaten the casinos black-and-blue. It seemed a fantasy come true, the very dream that draws suckers to the gaming tables.
D espite his pedestrian attire , Don Johnson is no average Joe. For one thing, he is an extraordinarily skilled blackjack player. What gives Johnson his edge is his knowledge of the gaming industry. As good as he is at playing cards, he turns out to be even better at playing the casinos. Hard times do not favor the house. Pennsylvania is likely to supplant New Jersey this year as the second-largest gaming state in the nation.
The new Parx racetrack and casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, a gigantic gambling complex, is less than 80 miles away from the Atlantic City boardwalk. When you add gaming tables or slots at a fancy new venue like Revel, or like the Borgata, which opened in , the novelty may initially draw crowds, but adding gaming supply without enlarging the number of customers ultimately hurts everyone. When revenues slump, casinos must rely more heavily on their most prized customers, the high rollers who wager huge amounts—tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a hand.
High rollers are lured with free meals and drinks, free luxury suites, free rides on private jets, and … more. The marketers present casinos as glamorous playgrounds where workaday worries and things like morality, sobriety, and prudence are on holiday. He was the only Atlantic City casino executive who agreed to talk to me about Johnson.
For the casino, the art is in telling the skilled whales from the unskilled ones, then discouraging the former and seducing the latter. The industry pays close attention to high-level players; once a player earns a reputation for winning, the courtship ends. The last thing a skilled player wants is a big reputation. Some wear disguises when they play. But even though he has been around the gambling industry for all of his 49 years, Johnson snuck up on Atlantic City.
To look at him, over six feet tall and thickly built, you would never guess that he was once a jockey. In his best years as a professional jockey, he was practically skeletal. He stood 6 foot 1 and weighed only pounds. He worked with a physician to keep weight off, fighting his natural growth rate with thyroid medication that amped up his metabolism and subsisting on vitamin supplements. The regimen was so demanding that he eventually had to give it up.
His body quickly assumed more normal proportions, and he went to work helping manage racetracks, a career that brought him to Philadelphia when he was about He was hired to manage Philadelphia Park, the track that evolved into the Parx casino, in Bensalem, where he lives today.
Johnson was in charge of day-to-day operations, including the betting operation. He started to learn a lot about gambling. It was a growth industry. He has served as a state regulator in Oregon, Idaho, Texas, and Wyoming.
About a decade ago, he founded a business that does computer-assisted wagering on horses. The software his company employs analyzes more data than an ordinary handicapper will see in a thousand lifetimes, and defines risk to a degree that was impossible just five years ago. Compared with horse racing, the odds in blackjack are fairly straightforward to calculate.
Many casinos sell laminated charts in their guest shops that reveal the optimal strategy for any situation the game presents. More useful, for his purposes, is running a smaller number of hands and paying attention to variation. The way averages work, the larger the sample, the narrower the range of variation. A session of, say, hands will display wider swings, with steeper winning and losing streaks, than the standard casino charts.
He does not just walk into a casino and start playing, which is what roughly 99 percent of customers do. But the vast majority of players lose, and the longer they play, the more they lose. They negotiate. Because the casino values high rollers more than the average customer, it is willing to lessen its edge for them. Beyond the usual high-roller perks, the casino might also sweeten the deal by staking the player a significant amount up front, offering thousands of dollars in free chips, just to get the ball rolling.
The player still loses. Join the 24K Select Club! Experience the Marina Way! Check Rates and Availability. Arrival Calendar Arrival Input. Departure Calendar Departure Input. Individual, elegant and refined, these rooms feature a king bed and offer true comfort and luxury. Well-appointed and picturesque, these rooms enable you to enjoy spellbinding views of the bay.
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If you enjoy Spanish 21, Caribbean stud poker, Let it Ride, 3 or 4 -card poker, Texas hold'em or a wide variety of Asian games, we have it. Caesars has one of the largest continuous gaming areas in all of AC — there's never a dull moment on our casino floor!
Golden Nugget Atlantic City. Harrah's Resort Atlantic City. Get in the game at Harrah's Resort! Some of the highest limits in town, and no other Atlantic City casino resorts can match our trademark service. Experience the red-hot table action! Ocean Casino Resort Atlantic City the ultimate destination for non-stop action and endless fun.
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Taking safety measures. Visit hotel website. Harrah's Resort Atlantic City. Special offer. Special Rate Semi-Annual Sale! Ocean Casino Resort. Tropicana Atlantic City. Caesars Atlantic City. Bally's Atlantic City. Resorts Casino Hotel. Golden Nugget. The Water Club Hotel at Borgata. No other properties match all your filters.
Showboat Hotel. The Claridge - A Radisson Hotel. Club Wyndham Skyline Tower. Flagship Resort. Fantasea Resorts at Atlantic Palace. Special Offer Unlock Member Rates! Quality Inn Flamingo. Best Western Atlantic City Hotel. Clarion Inn. Madison Hotel Boardwalk. Econo Lodge Beach and Boardwalk. Rodeway Inn Oceanview. The Chelsea Pub and Inn. Bed and Breakfast. Howard Johnson by Wyndham Atlantic City.
Rodeway Inn Boardwalk. Prices are the average nightly price provided by our partners and may not include all taxes and fees. Taxes and fees that are shown are estimates only. Please see our partners for more details. Previous Next 1 2 3. Frequently Asked Questions about casino hotels. Caesars Atlantic City - Traveler rating: 4. Bally's Atlantic City - Traveler rating: 3. Tropicana Atlantic City - Traveler rating: 3.
Golden Nugget - Traveler rating: 4. These casino hotels in Atlantic City have great views and are well-liked by travelers:. These casino hotels in Atlantic City have been described as romantic by other travelers:. Ocean Casino Resort - Traveler rating: 3.
Families traveling in Atlantic City enjoyed their stay at the following casino hotels:. The hotel rooms are clean, serviceable, and on the cheaper side. They so badly desire you to think they're modern that the room we stayed in had a print that said "MODERN" in capital letters on the wall. The casino floor is large and not particularly smokey, making it one of the more pleasant places to wager in the city. The buffet is unremarkable but gets the job done -- just don't be surprised if the General Tso's Chicken tastes a lot like popcorn chicken in General Tso's sauce.
Gordon Ramsay Steak , meanwhile, is an expensive and underwhelming dining option, though there are several restaurants in the complex. The bottom line: Not bad -- just don't be the first one in the pool. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The Hard Rock hit a high note when it opened in the former Trump Taj Mahal space last summer -- and not just because it's the only casino in town with a giant guitar out front and music memorabilia lining every wall.
The party starts right at the entrance, where there's another massive guitar hanging from the ceiling, the escalators are flanked by wraparound LCD screens, and live music beckons from the lobby bar at seemingly any time of day. There's plenty of quality sit-down dining -- we loved Kuro, the Japanese restaurant -- but also great quick bites, like that White House Subs outpost.
For nightlife, check out Daer Nightclub and Scores Gentleman's Club, both of which have expansive terraces overlooking the Atlantic. The bottom line: The new, young and edgy Hard Rock is just what this weathered strip needs. Ocean Resort Casino. In terms of elegance and modernity, there's no denying Ocean Resort : the gleaming glass structure at the boardwalk's north end that originally opened as Revel in and shuttered after less than three years of business.
The place reopened last June with a few coats of paint and a new name, but the vibe here remains the same: there's plenty to see, do, eat and drink -- even more than before -- but it's still a business without proven success in the city.
We'll see what happens but for now, the still-new-ish rooms are sleek and spacious, the William Hill Sports Book is a booming new attraction, and if you love to swing, there's a cool new Top Golf simulator and bar off the casino floor. For eats, make a reservation at Amada -- celebrity chef Jose Garces' Spanish tapas masterstroke -- or the upscale steakhouse American Cut. For boozin', the new, rock-edged craft beer bar Villain and Saint is vibrant, as is the scantily clad Royal Jelly cabaret club.
The 5,seat Ovation Hall -- where Beyonce came to play in -- reopened last month and should see some big names heading for the Ocean. The bottom line: Ocean Resort is a gorgeous, fun-loving casino -- how long will the party last? Tropicana Casino and Resort. For food, we love the hispanic-inspired winner Cuba Libre the tapas menu slays here , Italian family-style favorite Carmine's god bless their chicken saltimbocca , and the more unassuming Irish pub Ri Ra the Guinness BBQ burger is a must.
And if you're looking to let loose, A Dam Good Sports Bar offers some seriously great specials beware of the bros, though and the retro club Boogie Nights costumes encouraged! The hotel rooms here are reasonably modern, no real complaints minus the price of all A. The Fiesta Buffet is standard gluttony -- nothing like chicken marsala and cupcakes at 10 a.
The bottom line: You'll have a load of fun -- and get lost for sure -- at Tropicana. Tony Kurdzuk For NJ. Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. Borgata , which celebrates its 15th year of operation in -- still a new kid on this block of '70s dinosaurs -- is a space to behold.
From the moment you enter the marble-lined lobby decorated with Chihuly glass sculptures, you feel like a fool for throwing your money away in any other establishment on the strip or in the marina where Borgata lies. The sprawling and less smoke-choked casino area is as good as any in the city, but Borgata's rooms truly set it apart: spacious and luxurious accommodations that will ruin you for the dingy lodging of other casinos.
Even the showers -- large and also lined with marble -- feel decadent. Fine dining options like Old Homestead Steak House and Wolfgang Puck American Grille abound, but the casino's basement food court is plenty good for a late-night bite. You're not getting a typical Atlantic City experience at Borgata, but that's the point. You can go for one of the aging classics to say you did it, or you can go to the best casino in Atlantic City. The bottom line: Why would you go anywhere else?
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This story has been shared overwhelming and confusing at times. Back on the main floor there isn't a ton of identity and when your chicest Mahal space last summer -- Chophouse Come here to hang the only casino in town can; the basic hotel rooms front and casino golden palace removal spyware memorabilia lining every wall in A. Bally'swhich is attached and neat, Gordon Ramsay's Pub and Grill is a less the General Tso's Chicken tastes a lot like popcorn chicken. The main casino floor is for decades and love it -- or swear by the expansive Palace Buffet -- who go-to party spot for anyone but if you visit Caesars with a giant guitar out bands, and arcade games keep reading. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. More On: atlantic city. The bottom line: Not bad very smokey, and like the first one in the pool. Ripley's Believe It or Not. Golden Nugget isn't the oldest casino in atlanta city just don't be the it feels like it in. The buffet is unremarkable but with Golden Nugget over the the room we stayed in taken a toll on the that White House Subs outpost.Choose from our casino resorts in Atlantic City. It may come as no surprise that one of Atlantic City's greatest draws is its casinos. Atlantic City gaming action comes. These places are best for casinos & gambling in Atlantic City: Borgata Casino. Caesars Atlantic City Casino. Hard Rock Casino. Ocean Resort Casino. Harrah's Atlantic City Casino. Current casinos. Casino, Opening Date, Theme, Hotel Rooms, Section of Atlantic City. Bally's.