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21 days of live poker up the Mississippi

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  • 21 days of live poker up the Mississippi

    Well, my Mississippi River road trip was a great success. It won me no money nor did it convince me I know anything at all about poker, but it was an amazing ramble.
    Coming back from Florida in my newly acquired Gran Caravan, I wandered from Biloxi along the Gulf Coast and out to Lake Charles Louisiana. Then I went to Vicksburg and wandered up the Mississippi with a bit of a stop in Greenville and a much longer stay in Tunica. I also visited Carruthersville, Missouri, a dogtrack in Arkansas, the Horseshoe in Hammond Indiana and spent an hour and a half at my own Turning Stone on my way home.
    It is hard to know how to construct a trip report. I took my computer and wrote as I went finding free wifi in most places. That was an amazing benefit, since without writing out the day's events I would be at a loss to remember them well enough to write about them.
    In Tunica I attended a meet with some of the regulars from the Tunica discussion board and that was fun.
    Mixed with the poker, I took in some delta blues spots, spent a fine Saturday night on Beale Street and spent a few days in Hannibal searching out Mark Twain material.
    As well was working up the Mississippi, I went as far West as Lake Charles, Louisiana where my old gambling musketeer and Silver Strike collector Louisiana Aligator Mudgriff Dan put me up a few days and showed me around his neck of the woods, including a lesson in the efficient peeling of correctly prepared Crawfish. Dan has been telling us for years that the crawfish in Vegas buffets just don't measure up, and this proved to be absolutely true. I have to admit that I never really though much of them until I had them right there in Louisiana.
    Even more of a suprise was catfish. I love fish but have not been able to develop a taste for catfish, but these Mississippi Farm Pond fish were generally delicate, white, flaky and sweet.
    As well as exploring some of the locales for blues and some history and literature, I enjoyed some good meals along my way in the assorted buffets of the casinos and with Dan. I especially liked the Paula Deene buffet in Tunica. Details are in my blog notes.
    I got food poisoning just as I was coming home and spent a week with high temps in bed. I have been very tired and washed out.
    I had driven fifteen hours on my last day and ended by eating some fast food reststop piece of poison.
    I should have depended entirely on the supermarket and my own cooler.
    Well, I am well again .For anyone interested, the best way to ramble along with me is to skim through my blog entries for the month of March. The link at the bottom of this post will open them up in reverse order, the latest entry first, which is mostly Twain notes and photographs, so skim down half way for the days I was in casinos.
    Skimming through daily blog notes is a bit awkward perhaps, but it seems the most efficient way to put up a trip report. I don't have the energy to cut and paste and then there would be no photos.
    The gambling details focus on live low limit poker. That is really all I do.
    I play virtually no slots although I did find I liked the Phantom of the Opera slots for using up freeplay offers because it sets up the three whatevers and then they change again randomly so you don't really know for certain what the outcome is when the first reel sets up and play is not so boringly repetitious.
    I did set out to collect some information on video poker, but after standing in a few lines at player's card areas only to then get all my questions on comps or cash met with blank looks or dumb founded “I think” answers, I gave up trying to get any accurate data on video poker. That would need to be developed by someone who counted points, actually played VP. and counted cash in, and then recorded the actual results. You can't trust anything they say at promotions and the way they say it is often very misleading.

    I did see a pattern in payouts of the few games I follow, the JOB family. I could find dollar full pay games (no 10/7 DB, but 9/6 JOB in some spots but once it dropped to quarters, the payouts went from the unplayable to the ridiculous)
    I did find an 8/5 Bonus nickel game at Harlow's in Greenville, and I played it because I did not find that live poker was possible there. No one showed up for any games. The poker room was nice but empty. Just a bit of VP play there got me $5 cashback and a keychain.
    Having played when video poker was a good gamble, I am just not much attracted when the house has the advantage, and since I do not expect to be able to return to Mississippi, even playing to generate free room mailings seemed futile.
    Even in Vegas the value of the free rooms is greatly reduced now that every casino begs us daily to come for free or for $20 a night. When the value of a room was more like $80, say when the Orleans had 10/7 DB all over, VP was a lucrative choice for the frugal gambler. Now you can do better on the craps table and paying for rooms without the need to think, and on a live poker table, you get the added value of a very slow game and no car to drive afterward, so a few Myer's rum add to the day's value.
    I saw very little drinking along the Mississippi. Most of my poker opponents knew how to play the game, played it seriously and sober.
    I did really love getting to know folks from the South. Around a poker table we get a good mix and time to figure out what the people are like. It was great fun to play with the Cajun characters in Louisiana and listen to that delightful accent, and hear the language of the South all up the Mississippi and listen to it change into the language of Chicago and finally New York.
    Live poker is a study in people.
    That was worth the losing.

    Live poker rakes were too high everywhere: $4 and $1 being the best and $5 and $2 in some places. The Silver Slipper played with a $3 and $1 rake, but were going to change soon as they could not get enough players to offset the loss in revenue.
    Contrast this with Laughlin where I'll go in April and play with a $3 and $2 and where the $2 are spread out into free rooms, high hands, cracked aces, and all sorts of promotions so that over a week of play, it is hard not to get some of that back. As exciting as the bingo-like “Bad Beat” jackpots are, I could die before I see one, and then the award is watered down with tips to the dealer and tax forms. It is less poker and more lottery. A dollar and a dream every winning pot.
    And yet it is that huge jackpot that attracts the players. In Biloxi the Hard Rock manager was arguing for smaller and more frequent payouts, but the customers were flocking to the Isle where the bad beat was up in the tens of thousands.
    All that the bad beat structure does for me, as far as I can tell, is take twenty dollars out of my pocket over an evening of play.
    It may have been my time of choosing to go, but I also found that it was hard to sustain a full table game at any casino. There were too many people away from the table for long periods and allowed to be away. Often the games dwindled to from five to seven. The math just isn't there in a limit game if there is not a full table and rake stays so high. I can't tell you how many games I broke up by leaving, and then it was always a ways to go to see if there was a game at a place nearby. In Vegas finding another game often means just walking to the casino next door. In Tunica next door may be a ten minute drive.
    So I am not so tempted to go again although I loved the experience and I don't come out of it disappointed in the least.
    In the end I lost $1523 in gambling. My food expense averaged out at under $14 a day. My hotel bills averaged at $42 a night with taxes and I had 21 days of rambling in my new Gran Caravan without a dish to wash.
    Well, here are more details than you want to know. The first part is mostly non gambling tourist stuff, much of it in Hannibal and a good bit at Tunica Riverpark. Skim half way down and it becomes more of a poker playing trip although there are still notes on mardi Gras outfits, food, and travel mixed in.

    Poker Bluegill: March 2009