πŸ’° The Man Who Broke Atlantic City - The Atlantic

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Casino & Spa! Can't visit us in Atlantic City? Play your favorite casino & poker games online in NJ! Get your game on anywhere – in New Jersey! Play slots.


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Hotels and casinos line the boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. | Getty finally rebounding after the situation grew so dire former New Jersey Gov.


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Atlantic City casinos begin unveiling reopening plans. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Ocean Casino Resort among those to unveil COVID health.


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Current casinos[edit]. Casino, Opening Date, Theme, Hotel Rooms, Section of Atlantic City. Bally's.


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At the height of his hour blitz of the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, last April, he was playing a hand of blackjack nearly every.


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You play against the house. The regimen was so demanding that he eventually had to give it up. But the story was even bigger than that. By April, combined monthly gaming revenue had been declining on a year-over-year basis for 32 months. The marketers present casinos as glamorous playgrounds where workaday worries and things like morality, sobriety, and prudence are on holiday. He stood 6 foot 1 and weighed only pounds. He had beaten the casinos fair and square. It hurt.

D on Johnson finds it hard to remember the exact cards. So it was no longer worth his while to play there.

The way averages work, the larger the sample, the narrower the range of variation. A tlantic City did know who Johnson was. Fifteen million dollars in winnings from three different casinos? How did he do it? He started to learn a lot about gambling. The industry pays close attention to high-level players; once a player earns a reputation for winning, the courtship ends. When casinos started getting desperate, Johnson was perfectly poised to take advantage of them. He had been trying to figure out its blackjack game for years but had never been able to win big. Some wear disguises when they play. The new Parx racetrack and casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, a gigantic gambling complex, is less than 80 miles away from the Atlantic City boardwalk. For Johnson, the game began before he ever set foot in the casino. The way any discount works, you have to lose a certain amount to capitalize on it. But the vast majority of players lose, and the longer they play, the more they lose. Dozens of spectators pressed against the glass of the high-roller pit. He was just getting started. He drew a 10, so the two cards he was showing totaled This was a good bet: since all face cards are worth 10, the deck holds more high cards than low. At the height of his hour blitz of the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, last April, he was playing a hand of blackjack nearly every minute. Whenever the racily clad cocktail waitress wandered in with a fresh whiskey and Diet Coke, he took it from the tray. To look at him, over six feet tall and thickly built, you would never guess that he was once a jockey. He was the only Atlantic City casino executive who agreed to talk to me about Johnson. Hard times do not favor the house. High rollers are lured with free meals and drinks, free luxury suites, free rides on private jets, and … more. An ordinary guy in a red cap and black hoodie had struck it rich, had beaten the casinos black-and-blue. But even though he has been around the gambling industry for all of his 49 years, Johnson snuck up on Atlantic City. When this happened to Johnson, he knew the ground rules had skewed against him. They negotiate. Johnson had not played a game at the Borgata in more than a year. Johnson won all four hands. But he was not considered good enough to discourage or avoid. For one thing, he is an extraordinarily skilled blackjack player. All of these gambling houses were already hurting, what with the spread of legalized gambling in surrounding states. Little interferes with his concentration. Nobody gets that lucky. The towers of chips stacked in front of him formed a colorful miniature skyline. Who could? The first and most obvious suspicion was card counting. 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 player still loses. But two years ago, Johnson says, the casinos started getting desperate. The headline in The Press of Atlantic City was enough to gladden the heart of anyone who has ever made a wager or rooted for the underdog:. 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. Caesars had cut him off, he says, and then effectively banned him from its casinos worldwide. With their table-game revenues tanking and the number of whales diminishing, casino marketers began to compete more aggressively for the big spenders. Johnson was in charge of day-to-day operations, including the betting operation. The goal is to get to 21, or as close to it as possible without going over. 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. When revenues slump, casinos must rely more heavily on their most prized customers, the high rollers who wager huge amountsβ€”tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a hand. About a decade ago, he founded a business that does computer-assisted wagering on horses. By late , the discounts at some of the strapped Atlantic City casinos began creeping upward, as high as 20 percent. The wagering of card counters assumes a clearly recognizable pattern over time, and Johnson was being watched very carefully. The basics of blackjack are simple. When his second hand was dealt a two, he doubled down on that, too. He has served as a state regulator in Oregon, Idaho, Texas, and Wyoming. Pennsylvania is likely to supplant New Jersey this year as the second-largest gaming state in the nation. The last thing a skilled player wants is a big reputation. D espite his pedestrian attire , Don Johnson is no average Joe. Compared with horse racing, the odds in blackjack are fairly straightforward to calculate. More useful, for his purposes, is running a smaller number of hands and paying attention to variation. 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. Almost everyone knows them. A session of, say, hands will display wider swings, with steeper winning and losing streaks, than the standard casino charts. For most people, though, the newspaper headline told a happy story. As another skyscraper of chips was pushed into his skyline, he signaled for the next hand. 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. What gives Johnson his edge is his knowledge of the gaming industry. The tactic requires both great memory and superior math skills. As good as he is at playing cards, he turns out to be even better at playing the casinos. In his best years as a professional jockey, he was practically skeletal. He does not just walk into a casino and start playing, which is what roughly 99 percent of customers do. Scanning the cards on the table before him, the player can either stand or keep taking cards in an effort to approach His next two cards, surprisingly, were also both eights, so he split each again. In most states but not New Jersey , known practitioners are banned. Arrayed on the table before him were the four eights. Because the casino values high rollers more than the average customer, it is willing to lessen its edge for them. Made famous in books and movies, card counting is considered cheating, at least by casinos. He is a veteran player. Two cards are placed faceup before the player, and two more cards, one down, one up, before the dealer. He was neither nervous nor excited. Many casinos sell laminated charts in their guest shops that reveal the optimal strategy for any situation the game presents. Word spreads when the betting is that big. It was a growth industry. It seemed a fantasy come true, the very dream that draws suckers to the gaming tables. 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. Johnson says he was once dealt six consecutive aces at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. Johnson was on an amazing streak. He had the money to wager big, he had the skill to win, and he did not have enough of a reputation for the casinos to be wary of him. For the casino, the art is in telling the skilled whales from the unskilled ones, then discouraging the former and seducing the latter.