vicksburg, mississippi, is an old confederate town, located on a bluff high above the river. after the fall of new orleans, admiral david farragut ("damn the torpedoes! full speed ahead!") headed upriver. and when natchez surrendered without a fight, only vicksburg, "the gibraltar of the mississippi" stood between the union army and the heart of the confederacy. farragut and ulysses grant were victorious in the siege of vicksburg, which is the city's main claim to fame.
there are four casinos in vicksburg, but only the ameristar riverboat spreads poker. the boat is located at the foot of the bridge which crosses the river into louisiana. it's a quarter mile away from the mississippi welcome center, and you can't miss the neon sign to the boat when you exit interstate 20. you've got to drive down a narrow, sharply-graded, twisting access road to get to the parking lots. this riverboat is permanently moored to the dock, so there's open boarding and no "cruising" on the river.
the boat has three levels, and the poker room is located downstairs, on the river side. the room has about twelve tables, for stud and flop games. a wall separates the room from the center section of the boat. they spread 1-5 stud, 1-4-8-8 spread-limit hold 'em, and omaha/8 (i didn't write down the stakes). several days a week, the regulars come in to play 5/10/20 omaha/8. and "regulars" are just about the only people who play in the room. this really is the only game in town, and vicksburg is not really a destina- tion resort like tunica or vegas. of course, with a nod to the local geography, the poker room is called "bluffs"!!! :)
i got on all the lists when i entered, but there was a seat open in the hold 'em game. i sit down in seat #2, and unpack...my fan...my green notebook... my barge chips...my "year of the tiger" chip....and i take off my jacket. i'm finally ready. character in #1 raises and re-raises every card in every hand. he chain smokes cigarettes. old asian woman in #3 keeps a lit cigarette in an ashtray to her right (next to me). i throw away a few hands and a seat opens up in #8, between two non-smokers. even though i'm well- placed immediately behind the maniac (i learn later that he's known as "mr. poker"), i can't even see my cards for all the smoke around me. i take the seat across the table. quiet guy on my left had me pegged as soon as i walked into the room - hey! i was the only non-regular! this fellow is in his late 50s, white hair, glasses, and he writes down notes in a little notebook after every hand that he plays. yup! it's rgp'er ed hutchinson! :)
we had arranged to meet in the poker room, and serendipity happened to allow us to sit next to each other. ed is known locally as "doc," as befits his professional training. he is extremely intelligent, and well-versed in history, genealogy, and the world around us. we played together for two or three hours, and i was completely intrigued that this northerner (from syracuse, new york) has fit so seamlessly into life in jackson, mississippi, about 45 minutes due west.
ed's no slouch at the hold 'em tables, either. unfortunately, we got involved in a big pot together. i've got a suited king-queen, and he's got pocket kings. i raise in middle position, ed re-raises, the maniac makes it three bets; there are three callers before me, and ed caps it. the flop is jack-ten-rag. checked to ed, who bets. everybody calls. the turn makes two diamonds (not my suit). checked to ed, who bets. three callers. the river is the ace of diamonds. i've made my broadway, but i can't bet into the teeth of that flush (perhaps you hold 'em players could have bet, but, as you all must know by now, "i don't play hold 'em!"). it's checked around and i take the pot. sorry, ed.
a few hands later, ed's got kings, again. he raises, shows me his hand, and mutters, "how'm i going to get beat this time?" the maniac calls him. the flop is heart king, heart seven, and club deuce. maniac is first and checks. ed bets and maniac (who is little more than a bully, always trying to win pots or get free cards with raises) calls. the turn is the deuce of hearts. maniac checks. ed picks up chips....sighs...and checks. river is the ace of diamonds and our friend mr. poker bets almost before the card hits the table. ed raises and gets paid off. wtg ed!! and the best part of this hand is that, in the middle of the hand, ed won $100 in a bonus giveaway when his ticket was pulled from a drum! all right!!
you get a ticket when you enter a game, and you get another ticket for every full house or better. there's a drawing every hour on thursday evenings. monday nights, they've got some kind of monday night football free giveaway, and they've got daily high hand giveaways, and they've got bad beat jack- pots (omaha jackpot is currently over $38,000), and do you think cardroom manager david sellers is trying to stimulate business? };)
david is a handsome southern gentleman in his early 30s. he's a local boy who made good and is always trying to think up something new for the room. he even asked me if i had ever played "river down hold 'em", where every player gets a downcard, instead of putting the rivercard on the board. i urged him to come here to rgp for ideas! i hope he does. i had fun playing at "bluffs" and i hope david is successful in building his player base!
the room doesn't have a rulebook available for players, but they base their rulebook on the las vegas hilton's. :) i saw what i thought was a curious ruling. most of the dealers in the room are good, but one old guy is terrible. there were three players in the pot. there was a bet on the flop and a call, and the dealer burned and started to turn, flashing the spade seven. action was frozen and floor was called. third player in the pot called the bet. floor ruled that the dealer should again burn and turn. action then went on fourth street (what would have been the river card). the seven of spades was then put back into the remaining deck; there was a shuffle, cut, burn and new rivercard. i thought that the exposed card would be put back and there should be a re-shuffle on the turn, rather than on the river. however, several rgp'ers well-versed in house rules have advised me that the procedure used here was the general rule. oh, well. when in rome....
three and a half hours of 1-4-8-8 hold 'em nets me $ 146. can you imagine what would be if i *did* play hold 'em?
tomorrow, i'm driving down to new orleans, to meet a certain well-known poker writer and his wife. we'll be spending a few days in biloxi/gulfport, and then come back to new orleans for a few days!