i've had a great time in the st. louis area, but it's time to leave. "on the road, again" - heading for tunica, mississippi (i've learned that there is no poker on the aztar riverboat in caruthersville, missouri.
i stop for lunch at a fast food place (only the second time i've eaten at a fast food chain this trip) in herculaneum, missouri. i can't resist the name. as i enter the burger joint, i find it wonderfully ironic that the radio is blasting out "touch of grey" by the grateful dead. o/~ i will survive...i will get by....i will survive!
class? what's herculaneum? anyone? anyone? ah, dear readers, herculaneum was the *other* city flattened when mt. vesuvius blew its top and wiped out pompeii around 67 ad. or 74 ad. or somewhere around then. "i will survive," indeed!!
tunica, mississippi, is about 25 miles south of memphis, tennessee. a couple years ago, it was nothing but cotton fields. however, when a nearby county voted to reject a proposal to legalize gambling, the good folks here jumped right in!! they've built a bunch of huge, vegas-style casinos, which have turned this place into the fastest-growing county in the state. the casinos are separated into three clusters. i'm booked into hollywood casino for three nights (no room charge - but I gotta play 8 hours a day), which is in the southern cluster (casino strip), near sam's town, harrah's and isle of capri.
i park in the lot and walk into the place. naturally, the place has a holly- wood theme (duh). i find the poker room. although set off in a far corner, the room is just as noisy as if it were in the middle of the pit. they've got five tables in the room, and two 1-5 stud games and one 3/6 hold 'em game in progress. i'm dressed in my usual poker attire: green satin "tropicana poker club" jacket...taj mahal poker room baseball cap...and foxwoods new england poker championship t-shirt. d'ya think i look like i'm lookin' for a poker game?
no one greets me as i walk into the room. there's a floorperson there, who buys and sells chips and keeps the lists. there's someone who looks like a supervisor, who's reading the sports section. there are two or three people standing around, waiting for seats.
i look around. i stand there. nothing happens. i pick up a copy of a "mid-south gaming guide" - a 28 page tabloid which features local gaming news, and which even has two pages devoted to poker (including a column by mike capilletti!). i leaf through the guide. it's kinda hard to miss me. still, no one greets me, or asks me whatinhell i'm doing there. after a full ten minutes, i decide that hollywood poker room doesn't want my business.
local security guy directs me to the nearest pay telephone. the horseshoe doesn't have any rooms available for poker players, but sam's town gives me a reservation for tuesday and wednesday. the grand is booked up tonight, but can give me a room for monday....i'll call back. i speak with david at the gold strike. yeah, he's got rooms, but he can't talk right now - he's pretty busy. great! i'll be right over.
i drive to the gold strike, in the central cluster (gold strike, binion's horseshoe and sheraton casino. i find the poker room, off against the side. they've got six tables, with one 1-5 stud, one 3/6 hold' em, and one 3/6 omaha/8 with full kill in progress. as soon as i walk in, a pleasant-looking man, about 6', solid build, glasses, jacket and tie, gives me a southern hospitality greeting. this is david horton, swing shift supervisor. i intro- duce myself, and he immediately fills out the paperwork necessary to book my room (25 bucks a night for six hours of play). david also mentions that they're not all that strict about clocking my time. that doesn't bother me. i honor my obligations. besides, there's more than $3000 on the table at that omaha/8 game....and the pots are monstrous! };)
i play in a new 1-5 stud for an hour or two, winning $41 (room is paid for! all right!) there's been no movement on the omaha list. i ask david if i can check in, grab a bite to eat, and stay on the omaha list. "sure! you want a comp to the buffet?" ooooh, i like this room. :)
i check in. i eat at the buffet (ahhhh! wonderful!). i go back to the poker room. i'm first up for omaha. i'm seated. i'm surrounded by chain smokers. three hours later, i'm up a stack-and-a-half of reds, and it's time for bed. :)
my room is magnificent! well-appointed antique-style furnishings, a writing desk with chair, a separate armchair and side-table, king-size bed, brown marble and gold fixtures in the bathroom, with enough towels to start my own hotel. everything except a separate data port for the 'puter. but the phone cord is long enough to reach the desk. unfortunately, my online service does not have a local access number, and my brief online session to tell you that I have arrived here costs me a $22 long distance call. :(
some notes about the room: the rake is 10% to a maximum of $4. they've got bad beat jackpots here, and all over town. "playing over" is allowed. the room has no rulebook available for players, but their rulebook is based on the las vegas hilton's. :) cash plays. dealers keep their own tips. the two seats next to the dealers are not no-smoking seats. the room awards bonuses for high hands: $100 for a royal, $50 for a straight-flush, and $25 for quads. my stud game missed a bad bead jackpot by a hair, when a royal flush in seat #8 beat sevens full of 4s in seat #1. the fourth seven had been the burn card!! one dealer was late getting to the room, so david jumped into the box. he's been there before! wtg david! the omaha game has a full kill; notwithstanding the button and blinds, first action is always to the left of the killer. curiously, all the tables are for stud (8-handed). but they play flop games using these tables.
3/6 omaha/8 with full kill all day. small loss. i see that new players do not have to post. during the game, one old geezer was losing. before the flop, he put his last chips into the pot (he still had cash on the table). flop came down three high cards. geezer stood up, bounced his cards into the muck, and exclaimed, "goddamn fucking dealer!" and he stomped out. dealer chad (who's both a good dealer and a good guy) immediately observed: "that's a check!" the entire table erupted into laughter.
ken lambert, manager of the horseshoe poker room dropped by. i stood up and introduced myself. the horseshoe and the gold strike have just announced "jack binion's world poker open - presented by the horseshoe and the gold strike." this is a major tourney planned for march 27 - april 16, 2000, with buy-ins ranging from $500+40 up to $5000+100. there will be 59 tables available for action, and 600 rooms available for players. the tourney will be directed by jim albrecht, and rooms can be reserved by calling anita at the horseshoe at 1-800-303-7463 x5755.
after dinner, i walked next door to see the horseshoe. they've got 12 tables, and i see two 1-5 stud games, two 4/8 hold 'em games, one 15/30 hold 'em game and one 20/40 hold 'em game. jack keller is at the 20/40 game, and although i watched the game for almost an hour, he never said one word. the room is off to the side of the pit, and although there are lots of slot machines nea the poker room, for some reason, these slots are not well-used. on the wall of the room are pictures of former wsop champs and members of the poker hall of fame. between these two sets of photos is a big 30-foot mural of a high- stakes poker game in a smoke-filled room. the men in the painting are all wearing tuxedos and the women are all elegantly dressed in evening gowns. it looks like it portrays a game around 1890.
there's a snack bar next to the poker room. i chat with two or three of the staff. they have no idea of what "barge" is, even though i pull out a copy of "cardplayer" magazine from a nearby rack and open it to lou krieger's latest article. :::::sigh::::: the horseshoe has no rulebook available for players, and the people i spoke to didn't have any idea if their rulebook was based on anything in particular..... the rake is 10% to a maximum of $4, and dealers keep their own tips. the seats next to the dealers are not no-smoking. i didn't get the feeling that the people in this room were very friendly. sorry.
back to the gold strike, where i play 1-5 stud for a few hours. i'm in seat #8 and i'm rolled up with 10s. bring-in is in seat #2, and they all call. i call. seat #1 raises two dollars, and they all call. when it gets back to me, i raise five bucks and I get six callers. dealer rick mumbles "this shore would be a fine time to be rolled up!" i give him a "hehehehehe." :) checked to me on 4th and i bet. they all call. someone makes a running pair of kings on 5th and i make a running pair of 4s. checked to me and i bet. they all call. same thing on 6th. same thing on the river, and three people pay me off. what a pot!! :)
i win a rack-and-a-half of whites in something more than two hours, and i never did get back to the omaha game. i cash out and thank david and his staff for a very lovely two days. room manager pat walker, and shift super- visors david horton, terry wildman and john peoples run a delightful and friendly poker room! it's now time for a session at the laptop. perhaps i'll see how that shot glass from station casino works.... ;)
after i check out and put my bags in the car, i stop by the poker room. two dealers (hunter and dave) and a player from last night (ron) are playing 1-5 triple draw lowball - for practice white cheap plastic chips. perhaps a few players will stop by the room and we can get a game cranked up. i sit down and i am presented with a rack of white chips. i take the big blind. i'm dealt ace, king, queen of diamonds and the king, queen of hearts. terrific. this is lowball. so i call and draw four. they're two more aces and a pair of nines. lol!! we're playing lowball and i've just drawn four cards to make aces full!!
sure enough, we soon crank up a 3/6 omaha/8 game, and i win a rack of whites in something less than three hours. i say goodbye to all the friends i've made in the room, and drive to sam's town. i'm scheduled to meet newjane there tomorrow, and i want to get a good head start on the competition.
like the place in vegas, sam's town really looks like an old-time town in the wild west. however, when i get there, sam's town registration desk doesn't have my reservation. :( i trudge up to the poker room on the second floor, and introduce myself to lauren, who's working the front desk in the room. the poker room has 10 tables, both stud and hold 'em. they've got a 4/8 hold 'em game and a 1-5 stud game in progress. i'm told that their advertised 2-10 stud game goes only rarely, and that their advertised 5/10 omaha/8 with full kill goes even less frequently.
while i'm speaking with lauren, a woman gets up from the 4/8 hold 'em game, and I see it's my friend joann from baltimore, who's a regular at the trop- icana in atlantic city! she's also on a poker tour of the south, but not nearly so long as mine! she's having fun, too! :)
meanwhile, bad news. lauren tells me that the poker room has no record of my reservation. "wait a minute. sunday night, about 6 pm, i spoke with phil. he took my name and address, and told me that I had a room here for two nights!" she tells me that she's sorry, but that there is no record. and phil won't be in today.....she also tells me that the hotel is fully booked because of a slot tourney, and that they won't be able to give me a room now. however, she smiles sweetly and tells me that she might be able to contact the gold strike to try to get me a room.
sorry lauren. *i* can get me a room at the gold strike, and i don't need your help. so i go back to the gold strike, sheepishly tell the story to john peoples, day shift supervisor, and abracadabra, i've got a room at the gold strike (again).
well, i'll give lauren credit. two hours later, i'm paged to the phone in the gold strike poker room. it seems that lauren has found my paperwork, and she has managed to get me a room at sam's town. thanks, but no thanks. i'll page newjane tomorrow, and we'll hook up somehow.
i play poker all day, and i've got a couple table stories to tell you, but i've made a couple mixed drinks by mixing (1)my new shot glass with (2)my old bottle of scotch, and i'm done for the day.