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4 Long Days in Biloxi...Hard Rock, IP, Margaritaville

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by RebelDiceMan, Jun 21, 2012.

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  1. RebelDiceMan

    RebelDiceMan High-Roller

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    Messages:
    712
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    21

    My Trip Report

    Summer (June 2012) was in full swing and it was time for a trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I had four nights of fun looking at me and I was ready to get on the road. Traffic was light and I was soon making a right off of 110 onto Beach Blvd and headed toward my first stop, Treasure Bay. It was only 11:30 and I planned to gamble a little before trying to check in at the Hard Rock. I soon found a seat at the upstairs VP bar and slipped my first bill into a machine and pulled up a .50 JOB game. This machine would give me my best paytable of the trip at 9/5. Since the bar was uncrowded, I had a cold Miller Lite in front of me before I could even play a hand. While that paytable was fairly attractive, the results were pretty ugly. My first machine ate $40 and the best hand I saw was a single solitary straight. I figured a fresh beer and a fresh machine was what I needed and got both. The second machine was a little better in that it let me play for a while but I could never get back in the black and just rode that roller coaster up and down. Treasure Bay was having a promotion for customers over 50 (hey, I qualify) with drawings every 30 minutes for free play. Knowing I probably wouldn’t be here too long, I didn’t even go over to the player’s club to register. Since my favorite bartender (Mr. Magoo) was not working today and these machines were working too well (for the casino), I decided to go on down to Hard Rock and see if I could get in early. At least my $60 contribution to the TB bottom line would help a small casino stay afloat.

    Once at the Hard Rock, I had my first bit of luck as a very friendly desk clerk was able to get me in a room up on the fourth floor in less than 3 minutes. The fourth floor is the “James Brown” floor and it would be the first time I had stayed on “The hardest working man in show business’s” floor. When I opened the curtains and saw that I was directly above the pool, I had to let loose a quick “I Feel Good” in homage to JB. Another thing I liked was the RED,RED, REDNESS of this room. Red pillows, red bed covers, red polka dotted curtains, red patterned carpet and red decorative items that looked like oversized red melted life-savers on the wall. It sounds funky but it looked good. The Hard Rock has a promotion on Tue/Wed in which you can earn $30 worth of free play if you are over 50 and can earn 50 pts on your card before 3 PM. Knowing that the sun would be out for hours and I could hit the pool later, I caught the elevator downstairs to have a few beers and earn that $30 in freeplay. There was plenty of room at the Center Bar and I took a seat down close to the server’s station. Again playing half dollars, I tried my best to make some progress on this 8/5 game. (JOB) By the time I finished my second beer, I had gotten the required 50 points for the promo. I stuck around for another beer and another 20-30 pts before going to change for the pool.

    I packed my usual pool survival kit of reading material, sunscreen, and cold beer before taking the short ride down to the first floor and the pool. Grabbing me one of those cool purple HR pool towels, I had no trouble staking out a prime location I had scoped out from my window. I was close enough to the swim-up bar that I could observe the comings and goings without being too close. As this was a Tuesday afternoon, I did not expect the pool to be overly crowded and it was not. There were enough people present to make it interesting but not nearly enough to make it crowded. Mostly it was teenagers and young families. I had brought as reading material a book titled 24/7, Living it up and doubling down in Las Vegas. It is a little dated now (written just before the Bellagio opened) but it is a really true-to-life description of a visit to LV with a style of humor that I could definitely relate to. I just wish I had gotten the author’s idea before he did. Somehow he convinced a NY publisher to advance him $50,000 to go to Las Vegas to gamble every day for 30 days and write a book about it. It was an almost perfect choice for reading next to a casino pool.

    Back up to the room for a quick shower and I was ready to challenge the gambling gods once again. The HR has another promotion on Tuesday where you have to earn 50 pts on your card (after 4 pm) and then swipe your card in the Rock Box kiosk to play a game and win free play. Once again, I landed at the Center Bar and got with it. The session was again one of those up & down adventures but I finally cashed out $40 dollars ahead which put me at a whopping negative -$10 for the two Center Bar VP sessions today. Since I had gone over the required 50 pt threshold, I stopped by to play the kiosk game and see what I could win. The $10 freeplay wasn’t a big deal but at least I was building my total for later use.

    It was still daylight and I decided to walk over to the Beau Rivage and see if I could make some magic happen at their Caribbean Stud Poker table. It was a short and pleasant stroll over to the BR and I was soon enjoying their always impressive floral display in the atrium area. Feeling a bit thirsty from the walk, I decided to take a break at the Breeze Bar before trying my hand at CSP. The Breeze was a little more crowded than the HR Center Bar had been but I still had plenty of choices as I sought to divine which one was the lucky seat. I missed out on the lucky seat but at least I avoided the unlucky seat. I went with screwdrivers here and had time for two before moving over to the Caribbean Stud table. The VP was an exact break even endeavor even though I was over 100 credits ahead at one time. (playing .50) One thing that was brought to mind here at the Breeze was the number of people who think that EVERY drink is free in the casino even if you are not playing. At least 4-5 had that mistaken impression while I was sitting there.

    The CSP table had one person in the middle and one at third base so I got one spot off first base and bought in to play a while. The last time I had played on this table the jackpot was over 200K but obviously someone had been taking bites out of that jackpot because it was down around $125K now. (FYI- a non-Royal straight flush in this game pays 10% of the jackpot and it looked like several of those had been hit) Unfortunately this game was not kind to any of the players. Within 40 minutes both of the people sitting here when I arrived had given up and it was just me and the dealer heads-up. The essence of this game is getting pairs or better and being able to challenge the dealer. (FYI- you should get a pair just a little more than every two hands dealt.) Well, someone forgot to tell this dealer the mathematical expectations because I was lucky to get a pair once every 4 hands. It took a couple of hours but I eventually capitulated and colored up my remaining chips. This table had cost me a little over $200 . At least I got a pleasant walk out of the deal.

    It was dark by the time I left BR but that only made the temps more bearable for my walk back to the Hard Rock. Without a clear gameplan, I took a seat at the Center Bar to formulate one. This machine was kinder than any I had played so far. I felt like I was close to something good after hitting two different four-to-a-royals here. The lack of a 10 of spades on one hand & a Jack of clubs in another kept this from being a memorable TR. At $2,000 a pop for the .50 Royal, that would have been very nice. While those were only close calls, the plethora of full houses, flushes, and straights allowed me cash out a hundy ahead on this machine.

    The first part of the plan I had formulated sitting at the Center Bar was to take care of my ravenous hunger. I had taken a few room snacks down to the pool to enjoy with the beer but I hadn’t eaten any real food since those two steak biscuits from Hardee’s that I got before departing this morning. A quick trip to the Rock Box equipped me with a ticket for a meal at the 24/7 café. I like to sit at the counter and watch all the activity in the kitchen and that is what I did. A great big sloppy roast beef sandwich seemed like an ideal way to re-energize the gambling machine that I had become. It was delicious and a very good choice. Some good meals are made even better by an afternoon of drinking and this was one of them. The only dilemma was that it totally filled me up and left no room for the pecan pie that was the second part of my order. No problem, I knew it would be delicious as an early morning snack and took it up to me room for later.

    Once back on the HR floor, I made my way to the back bar close to the His-N-Her bathrooms. I hadn’t played at this bar since I got here so I wanted to give it a whirl. It didn’t seem like such a great idea when my first machine was stone cold. According to my notes, I went 17 hands before even hitting a pair of jacks or higher. Thankfully, that drought finally broke and I started getting a few hands. Still, I moved once I got my credit meter back up to 100 credits. (still down $50) The next machine was more agreeable and I played for a while but never did get back in the black for this session. I finally got up and moved on with a $30 loss. One notable thing back at this bar was seeing a hand-pay a few seats over. She was playing on what The Baboo calls a “singing machine” and the music went on for a long, long time as the credits transferred over to the win column.

    I usually like to play VP during the day and early evening before transitioning over to table games as the night progresses. Therefore, my next stop was at a blackjack table. There was one seat open in the first base position and I took it. This table was either a “girls night out” or a bachelorette party because all of my tablemates were female and they all knew each other. They were also drinking pretty strong and having a large time. It was a fun table and they were boisterous and loud. If the cards had been a little better, it would have been ideal. I stayed at the table for at least an hour before moving on. I felt fortunate that the party table had only cost me $150 because it had been a struggle to do even that well.

    After all that loudness and uproar, I wanted to slow things down and recoup my wits a little. Taking a seat at the Center Bar, I switched to quarters for the first time this trip. Nursing a beer, I pondered my next move. By now it was close to the witching hour and I could hear the craps table calling. I was on the same side of the bar as the dice pits and took my time observing which one would be my target. Two were open and both seemed to be populated by people having a good time. When a spot opened up just to the right of the stick-man, I cashed out and went down to jump into my favorite spot. Getting my usual craps buy-in of 4 in green and one in red, I quickly placed my first bet and hoped for the best. This was a fun table and I wound up staying on it for at least two hours. The good news is that I had to be winning a bit to stay there that long but the bad news is that I was not winning enough to come out ahead when I finally cashed out. At least it was a fun table with a lot of laughing and cheering. OTOH- I don’t know if it was $200 worth of fun.

    I stopped by the Center Bar for one last nightcap. I had one notable thing happen in this cool down period before calling it a night. For some odd reason, I got a pair of threes and had the thought pop into my head that “I think these threes are going to do something” sooner or later. Two hands later, quad threes came up on the deal. I figured that was as good a time to leave as any and departed with my $60 win.

    I had stayed out late enough gambling that I was a little hungry again so back to the Rock Box I went to get another meal comp for the 24/7 café. This time I was in more of a mood for breakfast. I got a traditional breakfast of bacon and eggs with a side order of biscuits with sausage gravy. One thing about the Rock Box comps to 24/7 is that they are always for $15 and I always feel obligated to try and hit that mark. Hence the second order. Once I finished the bacon & eggs I had no room for the biscuits & gravy. I just had them boxed up to put in the ice chest up in the room. They would make a welcome addition to the pecan pie already up there. The highlight of this little late-night meal was seeing Elvis sitting over at one of the tables in 24/7. He was too young to be the real Elvis but he sure did look like his reincarnation. This would have been during his “big sideburn” period because this fellow had some to be proud of. Paired with is jet-black hair, he definitely had the look of “The King”. I finally called it a night and made my way up to the 4th floor for a well deserved rest.

    I pretty much slept in the next morning. About eleven or so I got in the Red Racer and took the short drive down to The Grand. They send me so many offers that I wanted to at least touch base with them. You never know when you might need a free room. Once there, I went to the Stage VP bar and got the pleasant surprise of seeing that they had added a .50 option to their machines. Before, half the machines were dollars and the other half were quarters. The .50 JOB were 8/5 and had a progressive that stood at $2,101.78. Getting a cold beer, I started my quest for that elusive Royal. This machine let me play which was what I wanted most of all. While I would love to win some money, this quick trip was mostly to let The Grand know I was still kicking. While I never got quads or anything that would tempt me to cash, I got a relatively steady diet of full houses and flushes to keep me in credits. My bartender, Darrell, was both attentive and entertaining. After a while I noticed that I seemed to be the only person playing half-dollars. The progressive meter only moved when I played a hand and it increased at the stupendous rate of one whole penny per hand. One thing I liked was that it made it very simple to know how many hands you had played. All you had to do was add up the pennies added to the progressive jackpot. The crowd was about what you would expect for noon on a Wednesday. Brisk but nowhere close to crowded. I finally burned thru my first C-note after putting over 80 TR credits on the machine.

    Ready for a short break, I went over to the cage to collect my $30 in free promotional chips. I had decided to wear my FREE SEAN PAYTON t-shirt today and the cashier wanted to have a little Saints talk before I left. Taking my promotional chips over to the roulette table, I was faced with that age-old dilemma…Red or Black. Since the chips were pink, I chose red. Wrong choice. My plan had been to press the free chips up for three spins but that is hard to do when you lose the first one. Again, my choice of attire got me into another Saints conversation with the roulette dealer but that was cool because I like meeting other members of The Who Dat Nation. I wasn’t quite ready to go so I decided to give the VP another shot at my bankroll. Feeding a different machine and getting a fresh beer, I was hoping for something positive to happen. I was getting those small hands that keep you going but nothing really big. Even so, I played quite a while on this machine and eventually hit full houses on two out of three hands. That put me just over my buy-in so I played it back down to where I started and cashed in. Even though I wound up losing a hundred down here, I felt like I accomplished my goal of keeping myself on The Grand’s radar. All total, I ran almost $1500 thru their machines. That isn’t a lot but I know that they need customers and will probably continue to send me offers.

    After that quick 3-4 minute ride back to the Hard Rock, I decided to stay with VP and spend a little time at the Center Bar. The HR has another promotion that is played on Wednesdays that is similar to the one I had played yesterday. You get 50 pts on your card and go to the Rock Box to pick a symbol that gives you from $10 to $350 in free play. I got one of my favored seats down by the waitress serving well and got to playing. It sure did seem like the cocktails spent more time up here at the serving station (1 in particular) than out on the floor checking on people. OTOH- at 2 in the afternoon, they might not have had enough customers to stay busy. I played for a while but lost $50 and decided that I might as well go to the pool. The Baboo and her sister were going to arrive sometime this afternoon after driving over from Picayune, MS and I might as well take care of the pool before they got here.

    After getting all the required items into my pool bag, I went outside and secured almost the exact same seat I had occupied on Tuesday. I could check out all the happenings at the bar but they weren’t right on top of me. Today was a little cloudier than yesterday but the sun was in and out enough to enjoy. There seemed to be less young families here today but more teenagers. One particular group of 15-16 year old girls seemed to be reveling in the attention some slightly older pool people sitting at the swim-up bar were giving them. Eventually, someone’s mama drug them back to their cabana. Nothing really inappropriate was going on but it was just as well that mama put a stop to it. The clouds started to thicken up so I finished off the beer I had brought and packed up. Sitting by the pool, reading, and enjoying a beer is a big part of the casino experience for me but once the sun disappeared, I didn’t mind calling it a day.

    I threw on some clothes to make a quick run thru the casino to see if The Baboo had made her arrival yet. After checking out all the slot areas that she usually frequents, I decided to kill a little time at the back bar and play a little more VP. As soon as I sat down, the cute perky bartender launched into her Saints observations. After we compared our thoughts, it was down to business. My hopes went up when my second hand on this machine popped up with four to a Royal. Alas, no ten of clubs for me. It is usually a little more calm at this back bar and I enjoyed the serenity. It wasn’t long before I had a thought that occurs to me on just about every trip to the Hard Rock. It is the music that is played here that makes it so easy to have a good time. Most of it is from my generation and they even occasionally play My Generation. Today the song that triggered that recognition was a Blues Brothers song…. I Need You. which is one of the classics from the movie. Stuff like that puts a pep in my step. J

    Knowing that the ladies might want to go eat, I headed up to the James Brown floor for a quick shower and change of clothes. That didn’t take long and I was soon back down on the casino floor. There had been no messages on my phone so I stopped by the desk to see if The Baboo had checked in yet. She had a free room offer for tonight and was going to give the room to her sister once she got checked in. No sign of them yet. With that news, I returned to the back bar to spend some time. Before I made my way back there, I stopped by the Rock Box to see what sort of free play I could win. As expected, I got the gaudy sum of $10. Still, my free play had come to a total of $95. ($45 on my mailout, $30 on the Classic Rocker promotion, $10 on Tuesday’s promo game, and $10 on today’s game) I had told The Baboo that I would probably be at this bar or the Center Bar so I settled in for the long haul. Luckily, this machine seemed to be agreeable to my staying awhile. In addition to a fair amount of flushes and straights, this machine also dealt me two 4OAKs (Q’s and 7’s) My Saints buddy bartender was nowhere to be seen and her replacement was a grouch. I overheard him tell two different customers that the State Alcohol Control Board had a regulation that you could not serve more than one drink every 20 minutes. (in a snooty way I might add) My family has been in the bar business since 1947 and I knew that to be a falsehood. It would not surprise me that the Hard Rock might have that policy but it was not state law. He should just tell it like it is. Anyway, his sour attitude convinced me to take my $100 profit and go looking for the lost sisters.

    The two of them have an area over by the high limit room that they both like and it did not take me long to spot them. They were playing side-by-side on two machines taking turns hitting their buttons so the other could watch. As usual, they were having a ball encouraging each other and celebrating their successes. They were ecstatic to see me. J J We had a quick catch-up conversation and I found out that they had already checked in and been assigned a room on the “Shakira” floor. Their delay in arriving was due to a side trip to the Island View casino on their way here. They both had some free play there and put it to good use. While there, they decided to use some food comps for the buffet and of course that put them behind schedule. Since they had recently eaten, they were more interested in spinning reels than anything else. I hung around to chat with them for a while. We had all been in Panama City Beach the week before but I had to leave 4 days before they came back. They told me all about their deep sea fishing expedition and some other adventures. I told The Baboo that if she wanted to join me for a drink, I would be at the Center Bar or in the blackjack tournament.

    I had a complimentary entry into the tournament and went over to the cage to get my entry documentation. With time flying as I had a good time, I had somehow missed the first round at 6 so I would be playing in the 6:30 round. There isn’t a lot to say about my tournament. I waited until I was the last player to bet with 3 hands to go and pushed all my chips in. A win would put me in first place by a wide margin and pretty much insure a spot in the Semi-finals. Unfortunately a loss would knock me out of the tournament and that is what happened. Oh well. At least the next two hours of my schedule just got cleared.

    After getting bounced from the tourny, I walked up the steps to the Center Bar. I had come to the conclusion that the end of the bar by the waitress station held no luck for me so this time I took a seat close to the bandstand end of the bar. Everything was cool for an hour or so. Then some guy about my age and a girl about 20 years younger than either of us sat down. For the next 30 minutes I had to listen to a non-stop litany of transgressions some enemy of his had committed during the Billy Bowlegs festivities over in the Fla. Panhandle. He was telling the girl but loudly enough that I could hear every word from 3 stools over. The experience gave me a clearer picture of why some poker pros wear headsets while playing. I finally cashed out my small profit and went out to see what the sisters were doing.

    Gwyn said The Baboo had gone to get her stuff from their room and move it to mine. Bye Bye Shakira…Hello James Brown ! Wait till she sees The Red Room. I figured that this was as good a time as any to see what I could turn my freeplay into. Easing into the High Limit Room, I sought my target. One of my favorite slots is a triple or double diamond with the drop-a-line feature. Seeing one of those unoccupied, I took a seat. I was only playing one coin at a time and only played my freeplay without risking any of my own money. Things went OK. I wound up converting my $95 in freeplay to $70 in cash. Cashing that small windfall, I went back to the floor to see if The Baboo had made it back. She had and I spent a little while just watching the two of them play and catching up on gossip and news.

    Feeling the need for movement, I took a walk and saw a new game I had seen mentioned in the Jackpot magazine. The Hard Rock is the only casino that has this game and I wanted to check it out. Basically it is a horse racing table game. You have 4 horses corresponding to the 4 suits in a deck of cards. You can bet as you would at the track. You can bet any horse to win, place, or show. You can bet quinellas (the first 2 horses across the finish line in any order) or exactas (the exact order of finish for the first two) or super-exactas (the first 3 horses in order). To determine who wins, a freshly shuffled deck has a card peeled off one at a time and passed over a reader. Whatever suit the card is advances the corresponding horse one spot on the racetrack. The game moves really fast because the card reader can read the cards as quick as the dealer can peel them off. I can’t imagine any skill that would improve your results in this game. It struck me as being similar to roulette with luck being a huge factor in how well you do. It was pretty interesting to watch because the people playing the game reacted as if they were at the track and did a lot of cheering and encouraging their horses. They seemed to be having fun.

    As the night wore on, I was ready for some table games. I found a BJ table with a couple of guys I had seen at the pool playing a couple of the middle seats. I took third base and did my usual buy in. These guys were college age and it turned out that they were both Sigma Nu’s from USM. In fact, a group of a half dozen of them were down here enjoying the Hard Rock. They were pleasant tablemates and it wasn’t easy being pleasant on this money-sucking table. No remarkable hands or sequences stand out but all 3 of us endured a slow steady grind that ate into the stacks of chips in front of us. Once I lost half my buy-in, I got up to look for greener pastures and wished them luck because I knew that they were going to need it.

    Swinging back by the sisters area, I found out that The Baboo had called it quits and gone to our room. While I was in that slot area, I saw a guy hit a 3X - 3X - 7 for a pretty nice jackpot. He said that he did it on his last three dollars. Good timing. Figuring I needed some fuel if I was going to make much of a night gambling, I made a quick trip to the Rock Box and printed me out a ticket to 24/7 for a little food and a break from gambling. This time I got a club sandwich and upgraded to onion rings from fries for my meal. I hoped I would not regret those onions later on tonight but knew I had plenty of tums if I needed them. As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and felt like I might make it afterward. For the first time since I got here, I did not need a go-box for my leftovers.

    I have a friend who deals dice here on the graveyard shift. While it wasn’t all that far from midnight, it would take some mighty good luck for me to still be on a craps table when she came to work at 4 AM. The best spot I could get was directly across from one of the dealers right before the curve of the table. Things went pretty well on this table. People were making some points and hitting numbers enough to keep us from going broke but no one was getting rich either. I probably played close to two hours before we hit a dead spell that took back whatever winnings most of us had accumulated. One good thing about it taking so long before going downhill was that I was about ready to call it a night by then. My previous night had gone into the wee hours and this one was making a run at too. Fatigue was my middle name. I resolved to throw the dice one more time and then go to the room win or lose. The two people throwing in front of me barely even hit a number much less a point so if anything was going to happen tonight , it would have to be on my roll. Well, that plan went over like a lead balloon. I established a point (9) and hit one of my numbers (6) twice before the dreaded devil popped up. It costs me $54 to get my initial pass line/odds and to place the 6 and 8. Due to the brevity of their rolls, those last 3 shooters (including me) had cost me $125. That took me from barely ahead to about a hundred behind. Yuks! Combined with that $250 at blackjack and some minor losses from Tuesday, it was clear that the Hard Rock had been rough on my wallet. At least I had a wonderful night up in The Red Room to look forward to. As I have mentioned on just about every trip report involving the Hard Rock, I truly love those SIX pillows that they put on their beds. It was time to get some rest, especially since tomorrow was moving day as we shifted over to the IP for the next couple of days.

    The next morning, The Baboo and I were awakened by an unruly banging on our door. Knowing that her sister would never wake us up early, I figured it had to be my brother. I was expecting him to come over from Ft. Walton today but didn’t look for him this early (10 AM). With the Hard Rock’s generous check-out time of noon, I could have gotten at least another hour of sleep. I told him I would take a quick shower and meet him at the Center Bar. 24 minutes later I spotted him playing VP and joined him. Amazingly, I was not up for a drink just yet. (June 7, 2012 in case someone wants to record it) J He was a little ahead and we decided to walk around a little bit so I could point out where all the important things were. He had been here once before for a poker tournament but a buddy of his showed his behind and got kicked out of the tourny so all of them left too. He didn’t see much else of the casino that trip. After checking numerous memorabilia displays and sneaking into the Hard Rock Live concert venue, we made our way back to the Center Bar. By now, I felt up to a White Russian and and so did he.

    After that morning pick-me-up, we went up to my room to finish packing and check out. He was real impressed with our room directly over the pool and even more so when I pointed out the binoculars on the table next to the window. That kept him occupied while The Baboo and I got our belongings organized into our luggage. The Baboo was going to ride with her sister over to the IP so my brother and I gathered up my luggage to put in the car. I had parked on the Gulf side on the third floor of the HR garage. Once the luggage was secured, we noticed a single file line of deep sea fishing boats that extended from here at the HR garage all the way down to the Isle Casino. That has to be at least 2 miles. It had to be 40-50 boats all going pretty slow but steadily making their way down in our direction. Looking to the right, we could see more boats going in that direction and still in single file. The first thought was “blessing of the fleet” but with him having lived in the Ft. Walton/Destin area for over 25 years, he quickly corrected me and explained that it almost had to be the start of a deep sea fishing tournament. Later on, I read a story about the Isle sponsoring a big Bill-Fishing tournament. It was pretty impressive seeing all those boats lined up and cruising past. We went back inside and ran into the sisters in the lobby. We made them come over to the big picture windows and watch some of the boats as they made their way down to the end of the breakwater and turned out to the open sea. They liked it as much as we did.

    We decided to go check out Margaritaville before trying to check in at the IP. I had heard it was down by The Palace so we all loaded up in our vehicles and took off in a little 3 car convoy. It took a couple of tries but we finally stopped at a Vietnamese bakery for directions and they got us on the right path. Just in case anyone might find it useful : the easiest way to find MGVILL is to come East from the HR/Beau Rivage area until you get to the street that runs next to the Grand’s western property line and take a left. About 8-10 blocks down, you will see a brand new 4 lane road separated by a median that goes to the right. You should be able to see a big blue building that is Margaritaville. Just take the spiffy new road and it takes you directly there.

    It is my understanding that they have shuttles that will bring you to the casino from the distant reaches of the parking lot but we were lucky and all three vehicles found a parking space in easy walking distance. As we approached, my first thought was that they seemed to have a lot of unused space down here on the first floor. I know that they had to build to certain height requirements but there was almost nothing down on the ground floor. Maybe they will later. After a quick escalator ride, we were actually in the Biloxi version of Margaritaville. It was just what we expected. Everything had a tropical/nautical decorative style. Personally, I enjoy that and felt right at home in my blue “sailboats” shirt. We stood around looking at all the neat stuff for a while and just getting our bearings. We were right in front of the entrance to the restaurant and were impressed with the 6 foot tall margarita glass that a Biloxi Babe slides into several times a night. After an appropriate time gawking, brother and I decided to go find a VP bar and get a drink. We easily found one (I think it’s the only one) and got seats but they were not adjacent. This bar only had 9 seats (bad) but had some of the biggest VP screens (good) that I had seen in a long time. Being brand new, they had such a sharp image, that they looked like HD. (good) Pulling up a quarter JOB game, I was not overjoyed to see the 7/5 paytable. (bad) Even for this small bar , they had 3 bartenders on duty with one taking care of the servers and the other two mostly taking care of the bar patrons. (good) They had several large flat screens above the bar that were definitely HD. (good) We asked about players cards and the bartender said he would have someone come over to take care of it. Soon, a tropically attired attendant was there and quickly gave us out players cards. The Margaritaville Casino players club is trying an unorthodox strategy. Unlike traditional players clubs, it seems that you do not build up points that you can eventually use for food comps or other freebies. (remember-no hotel) Instead, the play you give them earns you entries into a variety of drawings that they will be holding. Most are for cash but others will be for one of a kind prizes like trips to the Super Bowl. I am curious to see how that works out. BTW- you don’t have to be present to win and the card people were insistent that they had to have some way to contact you in case you won.

    The sisters had moved out into the casino right after The Baboo got a drink and now brother left to check things out too. I played for a while. About the only exciting thing that happened was when I was dealt a made flush that included four to a Royal. I dropped the non-Royal card and went for the gusto but wound up getting nothing. Well, there was a little excitement I forgot about. The cocktail waitresses have some very nice uniforms and every girl we saw certainly knew how to wear it. Even the Baboo commented on how hot they were. We only stayed an hour or so and we all agreed that we enjoyed the place. We were uncertain if we would make an effort to come again due to the strange players club and the overall smallness of the casino. Everyone was super nice and it had a fun, upbeat vibe that you would expect in a Jimmy Buffet establishment. It seemed a bit larger than Treasure Bay or The Grand but not by a whole lot. In addition to the Margaritaville restaurant, there is also a buffet titled “The Feeding Frenzy”. The restaurant is plenty big and has the best view on the property. Most of the exterior wall is glass and gives you a great overlook of the back bay and the beautiful new Bay Bridge going over to Ocean Springs. We only stayed an hour so there could be some things that I overlooked. I think it is a property that is definitely worth checking out and has a lot of potential for a fun time. Plus, I was able to get some new chips for my collection.


    Soon we were at the IP and ready to check in. I had a free room for the next two nights, Baboo had a free room for tonight that she was giving sister, and my brother had a free room for tonight. I was tickled that he got a free room offer because he is not much of a casino gambler. He plays poker and bets on sporting events but has just never caught the casino bug. He had stopped by and visited with me here at IP on his way back from New Orleans during Mardi Gras. We gambled together that day before he went on to Florida and it was enough to get him on the IP mailing list.

    All three of our rooms were on different floors (7, 12, 19) but that wasn’t a big deal. Brother & I had views of the back bay and the 110 highway bridge. Sister had a parking lot view. The desk clerk gave him and Baboo new B-Connected players cards since there had been a change after Boyd Gaming bought the property a month or two earlier. My clerk didn’t even ask me. We quickly got our stuff distributed to the appropriate room and met downstairs to go eat. After the usual “where do you want to go…I don’t care…where do you want to go” ritual, I told them “come on, we are going to the buffet”. It wasn’t quite 3 PM and I figured that we would be on the lunch price. If so, they have a heck of a price on their lunch buffet. The attendant said that the buffet was $22 per person. Luckily, I had a $40 mailout food coupon and enough in my comp account to cover the rest so we ate free. The food was excellent and all of us ate plenty of it. We were going to need all that food to carry us thru the next 10 hours or so.

    The sisters went off to find a slot machine worthy of their attention and brother and I went over to the Insomnia Bar to play a little VP. We played for less than an hour and started feeling the effects of the buffet gluttony. We both agreed that a short nap might enhance our chances of seeing midnight later on. He took off to his room and me to mine with plans to meet back at Insomnia in 90 minutes. I only dozed fitfully but the rest and subsequent shower revived me. I was running a few minutes late but wound up beating him back to the bar. When he finally showed up, he explained that not only had he slept soundly, but he had decided to take a soak in the deep tub his room featured.

    Once re-united, we got serious on those VP machines. He as playing quarters and I was on half-dollars. The .50 Insomnia progressive was at $2,094.98 and I was hoping to make it mine. We played for quite a while and both wound up winning a small amount. The only downside of our time here was a bank of slot machines directly behind us that had a bonus feature (that seemed to be getting hit constantly) that was extremely loud and a little irritating after about the 50th time we heard it. Feeling ready to walk around anyway, I told him I had just the place to get that ringing out of our ears. Making it sort of a walking tour of the property, I led him up to the calm and tranquil Cove VP bar. It was too dark to enjoy the back bay view but the quietness was appreciated by both of us. After a while, he wanted to check out the Chill ultra lounge and get back into a smoking area.

    It didn’t take us long to find ourselves inside the Chill listening to a high energy band from Louisiana. The lead singer reminded us of Guy Fieri of the Food Network but his female counterpart often stole the spotlight from him. Everyone seemed to be having a pretty good time but it hadn’t gotten crazy yet. We decided to come back a little later. We both agreed that a little blackjack would be appropriate and that is where we headed. The IP had a lot of tables open and we quickly found a seat at a $10 table with 3 players already on it. I play a little higher than that but we wanted to be on a table that he would be comfortable on. Two of the 3 players already there were a young couple and they just could not catch a break. The rest of the table was winning for the most part but they were snake-bit. They didn’t gripe or moan and I know we (even the dealer) were all pulling for them to start winning and stay with us. They were fun folks but they reached their loss threshold and had to move on. I didn’t blame them. We stuck around for close to an hour and brother walked with a win while I was more than happy to claw my way back to my original buy-in.

    It was about time to visit Chill again so I suggested a plan. We would go to Insomnia and play long enough to finish a drink before getting a refill and taking it with us to Chill. That is what we did. In fact, that was our M.O. the rest of the night. Play VP a while, get a drink to go and hang around in Chill for a while. Repeat as necessary. Things got progressively wilder as the night wore on and the patrons got more liquored up. We were mostly spectators but that increasing wildness made the evening more fun to observe. Finally, about 1 AM, the band did their grand finale and the party was over. Well, it was over in Chill, we weren’t quite ready to go home.

    Dice is always more fun in the early morning hours and that is where we made our destination. Even at this late hour on a work night, both of the open craps table had good crowds. We joined one and got busy with the bets. The memorable people on our end of the table were a married couple between brother and me plus a know-it-all guy over on the corner who made every “crazy crapper” bet known to man. It seemed like he was on every Hopping Hi’Low Hardway Whirl C & E that could be bet. J Everyone on our end was fun and that made it a lot more enjoyable. Plus, the five of us kept the dice down on our end for well over an hour. That run made all of us a winner on this table. Know-it-all and my brother both had decent, profitable rolls but the money-makers for us were the married couple. First he had a very nice roll and then turned the dice over to his wife. She had a magnificent roll and we were stacking up the chips. It was a good thing too because we had been getting hammered when the dice were on the opposite end of the table. After her long roll, I threw for a while and added to our chips. I was able to hit several bets for the dealers so they were happy too. Not having any faith in the shooters on the other end, I stacked my chips and set them on the felt to be colored up. So did the couple and my brother. Only our wise-man stuck it out. I got a barney, four blacks, two greens and some whites back after the dealers got me colored up. I had bought in for $500 and that was over $950. My brother had won $250 which put him in the black for the entire day. I used some of the white dollar chips to put the dealers up on all the hard ways and we bid them good bye.

    After turning those chips of clay into cash money, we stood around discussing if we wanted to go High Tides and get some late night sustenance. I reached into my pocket to get a coin to flip and realized that I had some chips in there. I routinely pull chips off the table when gambling and I had forgotten about stashing these away at the craps table. Four greens and 10 reds gave me another $150 so I had actually won a little over $600 on that craps table. Now, I would sleep peacefully. It was getting close to 3 AM and I knew eating would keep us from our beds for another hour. I felt it prudent to call it a night and after a short discussion, so did he. As I was riding the elevator up to the 19th floor, I was silently thanking the IP for giving me back some of what the Hard Rock had taken from me earlier in the week.

    The next day was check-out day for my brother and the two sisters. Brother had to go fight fires in Fla. And the sisters were headed back to Picayune. We got everyone’s luggage loaded without incident and drove over to the recently re-opened (closed since Katrina) McElroy’s restaurant in Biloxi. They opened a new restaurant in Ocean Springs a couple of years ago but this McElroy’s would occupy the same spot as the original. FYI- It is right by the exit to the Hard Rock parking garage and is easily identified because it looks to be about 30 ft above ground and up on steel and concrete pilings. McElroy’s used to be one of our favorite places on the coast for The Baboo and I . We were anxious to see how the new one looked. They had been re-opened less than 20 days. It seemed like they must be busy because we had to make about 4 loops thru the parking lot before getting a space. They have an elevator to take you up to the restaurant level but I took the stairs to enjoy the salt air. Once inside, we had a short wait because we wanted a window seat but it was only about 5 minutes. I thought that was pretty good because we were right in the middle of the Friday lunch rush.

    The room is spacious and airy with both indoor and outdoor seating with both having nice views of the Gulf. The landward side wall was mostly mirrors and made the room seem even larger. Service was good even though they were slammed with customers. Brother got the shrimp platter, Baboo got the mullet plate (back at the original McElroys, they used to call fried mullet “Biloxi Bacon” and that is what Baboo thought she was getting), sister and I both got the Friday lunch special of a “small” seafood platter. Here are our impressions: my salad was the best house salad I have had in a long time...super fresh ingredients; both of us that got the “small” seafood platter fell far short of finishing it and had to get go boxes...if that was the “small”, I can’t imagine the large: the fried mullet that Baboo got was definitely NOT the Biloxi Bacon that she remembered from the pre-Katrina McElroy’s; the shrimp platter got low marks mostly due to the size of the shrimp…they were closer to popcorn than jumbo; all of us that got some shrimp agreed that the breading could be improved…not that it was bad, just that it could be better; both of us that got it, felt that the fish on the seafood platter was very tasty; we had a few minor service issues but nothing to get really upset with, especially as busy as they were. Overall, it was a tasty, pleasant meal for the most part. The few small imperfections were probably due more to their having just opened than anything else. After all, it takes a little while to get the little bumps in the road smoothed out for any new business. Sister loved everything, Baboo & I loved most of it, and brother saw the most things that could be improved upon. Of course, he lives in the Destin area and has many fine seafood restaurants there. Maybe his standards are higher. We will definitely be back.

    We all bid each other good-bye as the sisters departed and brother gave me a ride back to the IP. It had been sunny while we ate but it was starting to sprinkle by the time I climbed out of his truck at the IP. I had missed my IP pool time the day before due to afternoon showers and hoped for better luck today. Since they were all on their way home, today was going to be a solo expedition for me. Since I had plenty of free time, I decided to invest an hour or so in a recuperative nap. The IP rooms darken up nicely and make it easy to sleep even in the daytime. About an hour later, I clap of thunder awakened me. A quick glance out the window showed not just rain but a full fledged storm. It looked like the odds of me getting some pool time were worse than the odds on one of those Hi-Lo Hard-Way Yo’s crazy crapper bets. Might as well rest a little longer. That extra 40 minutes might be just what I needed when midnight rolled around.

    Eventually I got cleaned up and put on some gambling clothes to go downstairs. As usual, I started my day at the Insomnia Bar. The .50 progressive was now at $2,107.70. I spent the next 90 minutes just playing, getting my second wind, having a few cocktails and watching the constant parade of people coming and going. When I finally moved on the score sheet included 1 4OAK (K), 7 FHs, 4 FLs, 2 ST, 2 screwdrivers, 2 Miller Lites, and a $60 loss. Oh year, the loud bonus round slot machine right behind us was still just as loud as ever.

    After a short stroll around the casino floor to check out the action, I made my way up to The Cove Bar for some more peaceful VP action. One other thing that makes The Cove Bar so nice is the quality of the machines. I don’t know if they are newer or just subjected to less abuse but the screens look sharper and you hardly ever encounter a sticky button. Add in the picture windows and you have a pleasant situation. I settled in with a beer and enjoyed the view of the rainy weather out on the back bay. Unfortunately, the gambling was about as gloomy as the weather outside. I did hit one 4OAK (3) but did not get enough of the other hits to keep me in the black. One sweet thing I witnessed was an older couple (at least 70’s) that joined us during this session. The gentleman moved one of the barstools over until there were two stools literally touching so that he and his sweetheart could sit and snuggle while they played VP. You could tell that they were still in love and enjoying each other’s company. They were playing partners on one machine and did a lot of consulting and discussing options. It looked like they were having a great time.

    By now I was ready to get out of earshot of slot machine bells, people yapping, and other distractions. Drinking and rainy weather ruled out driving anywhere. Amazingly, I was also a little hungry. Stopping by the coffee shop, I purchased a bag of Zapp’s potato chips, a DMD (diet mountain dew), and a huge brownie. (it felt like it weighed 2 pounds) I enjoy watching it rain and decided to go outside and watch the storm from under the porte-co-chere. I found a bench on the very edge of the covered area and just enjoyed eating my snack and watching/listening to the rain. I finished the chips and started in on the brownie. It seemed like I ate on that thing for at least 30 minutes and finally decided to take the untouched half of it up to the room for later. It still felt heavy even after me eating on it for half an hour.

    While I was up in my room putting the brownie up, I faced an age-old gambling trip dilemma that pops up on your last night of a trip. My gambling budget had been damaged by my losses over the last 3 days but not severely. Should I cut my losses and gamble conservatively to make sure my losses stayed reasonable or should I go for the gusto and try to get back in the black ? For me, that meant either staying with VP or getting on the tables where the wins or losses would be more substantial. I wound up with a sort of hybrid plan and decided to switch down to quarter play for VP while still leaving the option of table play open later in the night. I believe in having a plan.

    I hadn’t taken my daily shot at a big jackpot progressive yet today so I went in search of one. A bank of Wheel of Fortune machines beckoned to me with it’s $200,000 plus jackpot so I gave them a try. Well, I certainly did not hit the big jackpot. In fact, I did not even get a wheel spin and my allotment for the daily try at a big jackpot was soon gone. That didn’t bother me since I always look at these machines as similar to playing the lottery anyway.

    Since it was Friday night and there were a lot of people out partying in addition to gambling, I decided to give The Chill another look-see. Since our little system of drinking more economically worked so well the night before, I decided to go that route again. A quick trip to Insomnia got me a seat at the bar. Now playing at the quarter level, I took my time and played until I finished my beer. Once I got a refill, I played a couple more hands and cashed out to go check out The Chill. They were wide-open in there and there were plenty of people to watch but it was a little less fun than when I had my brother to talk to. Still, I enjoyed it. After I finished that beer, I took a walk around the casino pits. I even took a walk thru the poker room to see what kind of action they had in there. Poker is another option for me when I want to minimize my gambling variance. It is difficult to win a substantial amount at the limit (4-8 here at IP) hold-em games that I play but it is also pretty difficult to lose much either.

    I went up to the Sports Bar just to check out the action up there. I love this sports bar but it is a lot more fun for me during football season. I am not a big tennis, golf, soccer, MLB, or NBA fan so there weren’t a lot of options for me. At least they had the NFL network and friendly bartenders. I had one beer and then moved on.

    It was getting a little later in the evening so I decided to see what I could get going on a blackjack table. Most of the tables were pretty crowded but I found a $25 table with only two guys on it. I took the first base spot and hoped for the best. Both of my tablemates were pretty quiet and focused on their game. That was fine with me. I like tables with camaraderie and fun interaction but I can get business-like too. Luckily for all of us, this dealer had a propensity for busting and we were all adding to our chip stacks. I was using my positive progression of adding chips to my bet after wins and was able to string wins together which is imperative for success when playing a positive progression. Probably the most memorable hand I played was when I got two sevens against a dealer upcard of 6. I split them and got a 4 on one with a 2 on the other. I doubled the 11 and just hit the 9. Both of the cards that came had eyes looking back at me (face cards) for a 21 and a 19. The dealer busted and I won all bets. My progression had taken me up to a bet of $45 so I wound up winning $135 on that hand. Thanks to this dealer, I was fortunate enough to cash out with $300 more than I sat down with.

    Feeling a little better about things, I made my way back over to Insomnia to catch my breath and figure out my next move. I was pretty close to even now and figured I could stay that way by playing poker. After playing long enough to get a beer to walk with, I went to the poker room and was immediately seated at a 4-8 limit hold-em game. FYI- The IP has a very nice poker room with twenty or more tables and a variety of games being spread. This table had a variety of players and none of them were hard to get along with. My very first hand started out with Q-J of hearts, flopped two pair and filled the boat on the turn . I raised after the flop and bet out on the turn & river since everyone started checking around to me. I didn’t even have to show my hand when everyone folded to my river bet. It was a great start and had everyone wondering if I actually had a hand or was just a maniac. The guy next to me was a doctor from Mobile, one seat further around was a young military guy from Keesler AFB who had been doing HALO jumps earlier in the week, and the guy next to him was an army helicopter pilot. The four of had a number of interesting conversations over the course of the next couple of hours. While the table was fun, I think the three previous looong nights (and the 5 gallons of beer I had drank that day J ) eventually started having a detrimental effect on my play. Basically I was not as focused as you need to be to play winning poker. When I lost a big pot that had put me all-in with two pair (KK-10-10) to a lady on the other end of the table with a set, I recognized my limitations and called it a night at the poker room. Saying goodnight to my new friends and wishing them luck for the remainder of the night, I exited to look for new adventure. I had lost a rack ($100) here but it was money well spent for the entertainment and enjoyment I had gotten.

    By now it was 1 AM and I had promised myself that I would try and get to sleep at a reasonable hour so that my drive home the next day would be more endurable. Well, that plan was made this afternoon and now I still had a little itch for gambling. I did have sense enough to know that I needed something that was fast paced and had the possibility for a nice hit. Of course, three card poker fits that description and I soon found myself on a table. I had not played any 3CP on this trip even though I love playing the game. It has a high degree of volatility and you can lose a pile of money or win a pile of money pretty quickly. I didn’t want to take a chance of damaging my gambling bankroll early in the trip so I stayed away from 3CP. A good example of this volatility was my Spring Break trip to the IP. My brother stopped by on his way back from Mardi Gras in New Orleans and we played 3 card poker on the same table. We were both playing against the same dealer hands but he won over $200 while I lost an even $500. Yikes ! 3 card poker is not like blackjack where if one person is winning, usually most of the table is winning. There can be a huge variance in table results.

    So here I was, tempting fate in the hopes of hitting one or two big hands to put me back in the black. The good news is that the dealer was dealing some big hands out to out table. The bad news is that they were falling one spot too far to benefit me. While I was struggling to catch a pair, the fellow to my immediate left caught a hand of J-J-J which paid him 30-1 and then about 10-15 hands later caught a hand of 4-5-6 of diamonds that paid him 40-1. If either of those hands had landed on my spot, I would have come home with a nice looking bankroll. The straight flush was a little annoying. Two hands before it was dealt, a new player had joined the game. While the logical side of my brain knows that the cards would not have been exactly the same, the emotional side of my brain wants to think “if she had waited a couple more hands, that straight flush would have been mine”. Either way, I was about ready to make my exit. I played a few more hands and colored up my remaining chips. I was ending my trip with a $200 loss but that was the chance I took when I sat down.

    All this hard gambling had made me ravenous again. I went to High Tides for some culinary relief. Instead of ordering from the menu, I chose the breakfast buffet option that they had available. It wasn’t huge but it had everything I needed. A cup of cheese grits, some scrambled eggs, a pile of bacon and 3 biscuits had me loving High Tides. All the food was delicious and I enjoyed every bite. It was just the ticket to finish out a long arduous day of facing off against the gods of gambling I even had enough to pay for it with comp dollars. These four days and nights in the halls of chance had worn me down but I figured I could sleep when I got home.
     
  2. bighead1970

    bighead1970 High-Roller

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    Awesome trip report!!
     
  3. Tellafriend

    Tellafriend High-Roller

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    Excellent Report Sir! I will be in Biloxi next weekend along with Shifter. Though we will be at the Beau, I am eager to smell the salty Gulf air! Thanks again for the Report!
     
  4. mdee

    mdee VIP Whale

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    I haven't been to Biloxi since NYE Dec 2010 - Jan 2011.
    So it's not the abandoned structure across from Harrah's Grand on the Gulf Side?
    I thought that was supposed to be where M-Ville was being built.
     
  5. JoeDat

    JoeDat Low-Roller

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    Thanks for sharing,

    To stop the worrying I will only play 3 Card Poker sitting at 1st base, no matter how many people get up and down it doesn't effect my cards.
     
  6. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    Great report! Especially timely for me since I just got an offer from the IP because of the ownership change and we are kicking around the idea of driving down there this fall.

    Just wondering, unless I missed it, you never mentioned the VP paytables at IP. Any good?
     
    Christmas
    My wife's birthday
  7. Big Tip

    Big Tip VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the write up. My golf buddies want to go back to Biloxi. We've always had a good time there.
     
  8. bighead1970

    bighead1970 High-Roller

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    Thanks for the report. We need more non Vegas gambling TR. maybe a new section.
     
  9. MarkMcC

    MarkMcC Tourist

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    Fantastic trip Report Sir! Loved reading.
     
  10. RebelDiceMan

    RebelDiceMan High-Roller

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    Thanks for reading everyone. I guess I write in such detail because I like to go back and read them a year or two later and let the TR take me back to that moment.

    Joe...there aren't a lot of full pay options anywhere on the coast and the IP is about middle of the road. Their bartops were all 8/5 on JOB. That is about all I play. If I get away from the VP bars, I usually play tables so there might be some better paytables away from the VP bars.

    Mdee....The original Margaritaville was going to be built across from The Grand but when CET overextended themselves and ran into a credit crunch about the time the economy went into a tailspin, the project was put on hold. It was supposed to be temporarily until financing could be arranged but CET was never able to put the needed money together. I saw the artists rendering of the property and it would have been a really impressive casino resort if they ever finished. CET bought the Casino Magic property and was going to incorporate parts of it (the hotel was relatively undamaged by Katrina) into the layout. If they had been able to go as planned, it would have given The Beau Rivage some competition. CET gave up on the project 2-3 years back and wound up writing off the $150 million that they had already invested in the project. They are supposed to demolish what is there sometime in the future. I guess that allowed Jimmy Buffet to pursue other avenues and that is why we now have a Margaritaville Casino on the back bay of Biloxi. I think it was inevitable that there would be a Margaritaville on the Gulf Coast. After all, Jimmy Buffet was born and raised 15 minutes down the road in Pascagoula and got his first paying gig as a singer in Biloxi.
     
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