If this needs to be on a different board, please relocate it moderators. Thanks. March 2014 TRIP REPORT for trip to BILOXI….IP..Hard Rock…Golden Nugget Good Golly, Molly; this turned into a long one. Be forewarned that this is a VERY lengthy TR. The school bell finally struck three and within minutes The Baboo and I were on the road headed to Biloxi for our six day Spring Break trip. We had six nights ahead with two nights each at IP, Hard Rock, and Golden Nugget. Thankfully they were all free from mailed out offers. Technically, the rooms at IP came as part of my entry in their $60,000 Clover Turnover Blackjack Tournament but we both had offers there for two free nights that we did not use. We had tested our students continuously for the two weeks prior to Spring Break. My role as School Test Coordinator had me truly looking forward to the stress relief that this trip promised. As always, The Baboo was just ready to get to Biloxi and start enjoying the resort atmosphere. Despite a short stop at Rose’s BBQ in Hattiesburg for some huge and delicious pulled pork sandwiches, we made great time on the way to Biloxi. Soon we were wheeling our luggage into the lobby and promptly got a big smile on our face as there was no line at all for registration. This was quite a surprise since it was 6 PM on a Friday night. In no time, we were riding the elevator to our room on the 21st floor. IP rooms have been described by many so I won’t repeat that other than to say we both thought our room was very nice and well decorated. The view toward the back bay bridge was good also. We were also happy to get the absolute last room on the hall. We always treasure those rooms because you have no traffic at all traipsing by your room making racket at 6 AM when you have only been in bed for two hours. We were unpacked in moments and I headed down to the casino floor while Baboo got ready to check out the relaxation possibilities of our room. I had until 8 PM to register for the tournament so I knew I had time for some VP and a couple of beverages before I registered. I like to register for these things a little later so that I am more likely to get put in one of the later rounds. (first round in the IP Spring tourny is traditionally at 9 AM) I easily found an open seat at the Cove and fed my first C-note of the trip into a machine and fired up a .50 JOB game. That combo has pretty much become my default VP choice the last year or so. At the Cove, it was a 8/5 game. The progressive was at $2,185.30. The Cove and Insomnia have individual progressive jackpots for each denomination available. (.25, .50, 1.00, 2.00) The progressives at the two bars are not connected. The Torch bar has no progressives. Other than four sevens, I got very little off this machine. Still, those quads allowed me to play for an hour or more before finally dipping back into my money. I ran up 300 pts but had lost $25 by the time I decided to walk into Studio A (I think, but it might have been B) (I do know that it was within 30-40 ft of the The Cove) and check out the tournament setup. They usually have some food for players at this tournament so that was another incentive to check things out. They had a bar open which was serving drinks with only a tip for the bartender required. I still had my last beer from the Cove so I went to the back and checked out the food tables. They had some stuff that looked tasty and was probably pretty good but it was more on the snack side of life so I passed. It was a little after 7 by now so I started going down the line at the registration tables. They start you on one end and you move from person to person as they pass your players card and ID down the tables. When I got to the end that you pay on, I got a pleasant surprise. Full price to enter this tournament was $399 but I had an offer to play for half price ($199) due to my play at IP. The last person on the table prints out your ticket that identifies you as well as the table, seat, and time that you will be assigned to. He printed mine and said “you are good to go” as he handed the ticket to me. The ladies taking the money had checked my name against the spreadsheet with all the names of the people who had pre-registered but had not required me to make any payment. I asked them if they were sure I was done and they assured me that I had completed registration. I skeedaddled before they changed their minds. As soon as I got back to a seat at the Cove, I put the two hundred dollar bills in my hand back into my gambling stash and counted my good fortune. I had a very similar experience at another IP blackjack tournament four or five years ago. I don’t know if I somehow got bumped up the ladder because some of the people who were completely comped in didn’t show up or if someone just made a mistake in entering information. Either way, I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. By now I was out of beer and took a seat at the Cove. I hadn’t been there long when I saw a familiar sight. There is a cute little couple that I have seen in the Cove bar on several occasions. Both are easily in their 70’s but have held up well over the years. They both dress up a little for their casino visits and are clearly still in love. They push two bar stools as close together as possible and then play shoulder to shoulder on one machine while laughing and obviously enjoying the other’s company as much as they do the game or the wine that she always gets. The .50 progressive had barely moved since I left and was now at $2,186.84 The IP was having a pretty nice free play give-away this weekend with $30,000 in free play up for grabs. If your name was called, you got to pick a petal from a giant flower and won whatever was on the inside of the petal. You got one entry for every 100 points. I managed to get some entries in the drum so I took notice every time they came over the intercom. Unfortunately, my name was not called on Friday night. I was hoping for the best on the Saturday drawings. I had next to no luck on this hundred dollar investment and eventually zeroed out my credit meter with only 3 hands good enough to record. Someone at the bar was having better luck than me though. A few seats down, a lady was playing what The Baboo calls a “singing” machine. That is a machine that has the volume turned up loud enough for the player and most of the bar to hear the credits clicking over after a win. Well, that lady hit something that “sang” on and on and on. Her hit was easily over 250 credits and might even have been up in that 800 credit range. At least I knew that all these machines weren’t cold as ice. Unfortunately, the only thing that got a bump to my pulse rate for my $100 investment was my first 42AR of the trip. (four to a Royal - I needed the J of spades) I decided to switch machines to see if that helped things. It did not. This machine gave me nothing so I switched from .50 to .25 to kill some time while the last of the free play drawings rolled around, I piddled around here until the last drawing and left to go downstairs while nursing a $60 wound to my bankroll. Of course, my name was not called for the free play. Making my first foray into the Insomnia arena, I quickly found a seat and got some .50 JOP going. Down here the progressive was a little better at $2,207.83. Unfortunately, my machine must have had some sort of gunk spilled into it and I had to get a slot tech called to fix it. He made it work but he did not make it pay. I lost another $70 here before deciding to give something other than VP a chance. There were four craps tables going and now I had to make that all important choice of which table to play on. Once I got my chips and settled in to my spot, the battle began. Unfortunately, it seemed that I was the Polish army in the first Blitzkrieg attacks by the Nazis. The house was decimating my stacks of chips with one call of “Seven Out” after another. I stuck things out with the hope that I would be able to put this table on my back and carry it to a winning session when it finally became my turn to roll. Boy, was I delusional. Once I got the dice, I quickly established a point of 8 which is a relatively easy number to hit. As usual, I made a couple of bets for the crew and threw the dice. WOW, a “Seven Out” after only one roll of the dice. Man, at times this game sucks. I had lost about half of my $500 buy-in so I thought it best for me to retreat while I could. This was not a good night for dice. Maybe blackjack would be my comeback story of the night. The IP has a good many low limit tables and I soon found a seat on a $10 minimum table even though I expected to be betting a little higher than that. I had some fun tablemates and the 3 girls on the table were especially lively. Unfortunately, the cards were pretty dead. In less than an hour, I had lost about $200. Feeling snakebit, I moved across the pit to try a new table. This was a $25 table and had 3 other players. I finally started getting some good cards and within an hour I had won back my lost $200 plus winning almost $400 of theirs. It is amazing how much more fun blackjack is when winning a couple of hundred than it is when losing a couple of hundred. I ran into a short downward spell and got down to barely $300 ahead. It was pretty late by now and I wanted to have a half-way clear head the next day for the big blackjack tournament so it seemed like a good time to call it a night. Hallelujah for those big comfortable beds at IP Saturday I had a very restful night in sleepy town and was ready to go the next morning. I had gotten the 12 noon round in the blackjack tournament and wanted to be down there early enough to hear the rules gone over verbally before the 11 AM round. I got to the Cove around 10:30 and figured a few minutes of VP wouldn’t hurt anything. Firing up that .50 JOB, I got started. The progressive was up to $2,195.87 so that was encouraging in that no one had hit it last night after I left. It soon became apparent that I wasn’t likely to hit it either. In that 30 minutes that I played I did not hit one hand that was recordable in my note-taking system. (I record straights or better). I did have one 42AR (needed a 10 of clubs) but that was all. Consequently, I lost $50 in less than 30 minutes and figured out that it would be cheaper on me to be in the tournament room. From talking to some of the people waiting on the 11 AM round and my casual observations, it seemed that there were a lot of people playing the tournament who might have been completely comped in based on their slot play rather than their table play. That meant that I needed to adjust my strategy from the one I formulated at home when I thought I would be facing mostly experienced tournament players. I nibbled a bit on the snacks provided for the players while I walked around listening to the rules. Once I had heard the rules explained for the 11 AM crowd, I went back out to the Cove for some more VP. This session did what was expected of JOB. I played for about 40 minutes without a huge swing either way. Four full houses helped me escape with only about a $20 loss. I thought it prudent to make a bathroom stop before going to play my round in the tournament. Just as I was exiting the restroom, who should I encounter other than Gene Simmons of KISS. Truthfully, it wasn’t Gene but this guy was a dead ringer for him. Black hair swept back, black shirt, black jeans, correct age…man, he looked the part. Well, I couldn’t wait around to visit so off to the tournament room I went. There were six of us on the table and the top two chip stacks at the end of 30 hands would advance to the second round. My table had 2-3 others who had clearly played BJ tournaments before and a couple who might not have. I decided to stick with my mostly conservative plan for this round. As things played out, it looked like I might be successful with my conservative strategy. At one time about the 20th hand (of 30), three players were all in. If the dealer could make a hand, I would waltz into the next round as one of only two people with chips. That isn’t how things played out. The dealer busted out and all three of them doubled up. Two of them doubled up again on the next hand and all of a sudden, we had a very competitive four-way battle for the two advancing spots instead of a two way waltz to the winners circle. Things eventually boiled down to this. On the next to last hand, I had the big advantage of betting last. There were 3 of us left and two advanced. Seat Six had done a max bet of $5000 the hand before and was now over a max bet ahead of me and the remaining player. I got to bet last on this hand and after seeing Seat Six bet $500 and my main competitor in Seat one bet $1,000, I jumped out with a max bet of $5,000. Winning this hand would make me just over a max bet ($5,000) ahead of my closest competitor. It would be very difficult for her to catch me if I won. Once the cards came out, I saw that I had a hard hill to climb. I was sitting on a hard 14 (10 & 4) while the dealer had a 7 up. Figuring that the dealer had a 17, I knew that I had to hit my hand no matter how much I did not want to. The fateful finger scrape informed the dealer that I wanted a card and here it came. YAY..no bust card !! I had pulled a five and was now sitting on a 19 total for my hand. Things were looking pretty good with my 19 facing what was likely a dealer 17. Again, winning this hand would almost certainly advance me to the next round. Unfortunately, the dealer did not have a 10 in the hole. Instead, he rolled over another 7 to give himself a 14. It wasn’t an automatic winner but the dealer having to hit a bust hand like 14 was still a good spot for me to be in. Well, the math certainly sucked on this hand as the dealer nonchalantly rolled over a 6 to give himself a final total of 20 which crushed my 19. Thanks Jeremy . Losing that 5K on this hand only left me with about $150 so I just got up and left. Neither of the experienced players left was going to do something stupid and try to beat each other when there was no way I could win enough to threaten them in any way. I didn’t even stay for that last hand and left for a consolation beer. As I mentioned earlier, they had free bar (except for bartender tips) set up for tournament participants and their guests so I got me a Miller Lite from there and went into the back of the room to check out the food. They had brought in the lunch spread and taken away the breakfast offerings. I ate 4 or 5 delicious chicken salad finger sandwiches and about half a dozen spicy meatballs. Heck, this turned out to be a pretty nice lunch. There was to be a drawing at 1:45 for four seats into the semi-finals so this was a good way to kill some time. The only bad thing was that everyone waiting for the drawing had a “bad beat” story to tell about the hand or hands that kept them from advancing to the semis. Although I shared mine with y’all, I just kept mine to myself while talking to the other tournament players. I play poker tournaments too and nothing is less interesting than someone else’s bad beat story. The drawing did me no good even though they had to draw 5 times for the four seats. Boo. After the drawing, I took a seat at The Cove to formulate a plan for the rest of the day. It was a sunny day and the pool seemed like a good option to relax and get away from the casino action for a while. Knowing that The Baboo had not had anything to eat other than room snacks during the day, I stopped by Infusion and got her a turkey sandwich courtesy of B-connected points to hold her until supper. She did not want to get out in the sun so I changed and took off for the pool solo. When I got to the elevator that takes you up to the pool, I could not get it to stop at the pool floor. I figured that I was doing something wrong. Finally, an IP employee told me that they had programmed the elevator to not go to the pool floor because it was not open yet. DANG, that sucked ! I should have known. We could just barely see a corner of the pool area from our room and had seen no one all day. Oh well, I would have to find something else to keep me entertained. Back to the room I went. After a little rest in the room, I made my way back downstairs. The free play drawings started at 4 and I was optimist enough to hope that I might hear my name. They were doing the drawings at the Cove so that is where I wanted to play. If I heard my name, I wanted the shortest distance possible to make my way to the giant flower. Putting a hundy in the machine, I was once again chasing that Royal. It took a couple of hours but when I finally did go broke, I had not heard my name at the drawing and I had zero credits in my machine. I did hit four jacks to give me some playing credits but eventually the math caught up with me. At least the view out the windows of the Cove gave a nice view of the back bay. The Baboo and I both had a $40 food credit here at IP and we had decided to use mine at High Tides that night. First we went to Insomnia and had a couple of drinks before dinner. We saw a couple of our favorite bartenders (Guy & Sea) and enjoyed visiting with them. Once we got up to the second floor, we were extremely glad that we were going to High Tides. The buffet line was jam packed with the end of the line going all the way down the hall and around the sports bar. Amazingly, there was no line at all to go into High Tides. We were soon seated and ordering our drinks. We had a very lively and animated server who made dining a pleasure and a fun time. Being the country boy that I am, I got the country fried steak while The Baboo went with a chopped sirloin with mushroom gravy. Either we were starving or the food was delicious because there was nothing left after we devoured everything in sight. We were both stuffed to the gills so no dessert was possible. (a true rarity for us ) She hadn’t played any this trip so she went to the old first floor poker room to find a dollar machine that would treat her right. I decided to play in that pit right outside the room she was in. Blackjack had been pretty nice to me the night before so I felt like I should give it another whirl. Finding a seat at first base that featured a nice angle to people watch from, I got my chips and hoped for the best. Things started poorly and it seemed like no time before I was $150 behind. I hung in there and slowly crept back toward breaking even. Because it seemed like such a grind, I promised myself that I was up and out if I could ever get back to my initial buy-in of $500. I finally won two hands in a row at the top of my progressive bet ladder and actually went a little ahead. When I went back to even a couple of hands later, I cashed in and looked for something else. By now, I had played a jillion hands of .50 JOB VP and had given them a couple of hours of $25+ blackjack today plus all that action yesterday. I felt like I had given them plenty of action to justify the comps that they had offered to entice us down here. I was having a difficult time getting ahead on the casino floor so I figured it was time to fall back on an old faithful. Yes, it was time to play some live poker. It was a quick trip to the second floor and the poker room. I was fortunate to be immediately seated at a 4-8 limit table. My table mates were a pretty eclectic and diverse group. We had 3 females, a couple of young guns, a couple of old dogs like me, a guy straight off the set of Swamp people, and a couple of non-descript seat fillers. As a group, this was a very favorable table to be playing on. No one was real, real aggressive and most of them saw a lot of flops pretty cheaply. By now, my little IP notepad from the room was mostly filled up so I don’t have a lot of hand by hand records but things went well for me. I got some decent cards and got paid pretty well for most of my good hands. When all was said and done, I walked away with almost four racks of white chips. (around $380). That put me at around +$280 for poker. Even more significant from a value perspective, the three or four hours I spent on this poker table was a lot of fun. Despite the diversity of our tablemates, everyone got along and did way more laughing than griping and complaining. I was very happy with my decision to try the poker room. One other thing that impressed me was the wide variety of promotions that the IP Poker Room utilized to give players at all hours of the day and on just about every day of the week an incentive to be there and sitting at an IP poker seat. They had high hand contests for people playing on the graveyard shift as well as the early bird morning players. Of course, there were bad beat jackpots for all the major games but they also had square boards that you could play by hitting hands such as full houses with jacks or better full. There was an entire page of promotions but those are a couple of examples. Once I cashed in my chips, I knew it was time to go get some rest because we had to move on over to the Hard Rock the next day. Oh yeah, almost four full racks of chips are pretty darn heavy to be carrying over to the cage. I was glad that the IP poker room had a cashier’s cage mere feet away from the Poker Room. Once again, it was time to put head to pillow and restore some energy to my body for use tomorrow. Upon awakening the next morning, I got her story. She had indeed been successful on the dollars and got over $200 ahead. She has a penchant for going for the “knockout” blow and took her winnings to some $5 machines that weren’t nearly as nice as the dollar machines had been. She blew thru her winnings and a little bit of her own. Oh well, I know she had fun. For once we did not have to wait on an elevator to get downstairs on a Sunday. We quickly loaded the car with our luggage and came back inside to go up to the tournament room for a wild-card drawing they were going to have to fill the last seat on the final table of the tournament. I was afraid that they had already drawn that last shot at glory because we were about 10 minutes past the scheduled drawing. Once we entered the room, I saw that we were safe. One of the semi-final tables had finished in a dead even tie and they went to the five hand “overtime playoff” to determine a winner. They finished that last hand just as we walked in. The drawing was held a couple of minutes after that. The first name that was called was not there so they drew another one. Unfortunately this lady gave out a squeal and claimed her seat. I watched the 7 people still battling over the money and did not see anyone that I knew. When I traveled around playing a lot of tournaments every year , I would have been disappointed to not have anyone to pull for. I play so few tournaments these days that it did not surprise me at all to see a table full of strangers. The Baboo and I got into the dreaded “I don’t know, what do YOU want to do ?” question exchange so we decided to stop at The Cove and have a drink while we planned our day. I knew we were going to use The Baboo’s $40 food coupon down at the Infusion coffee/snack bar so we were both going to play on her card since they would credit her with a trip day anyway because of the redeeming of the coupon. Yeah, I try to keep my ADT respectable. We grabbed adjacent seats and got to playing while enjoying some early afternoon screwdrivers. About my third hand I got my fourth 42AR (needed the J of hearts) but nothing much else developed. I hit a few recordable hands to keep playing but I was behind from the first hand and playing catch-up. At least the .50 progressive had not been hit and was now up to $2,211.36. That would be a great way to end my time at IP but instead I lost $60. When we got our screwdrivers refilled, Baboo had departed the VP bar to try her hand at some Quick Hit machines situated a few feet away. By the time I finished my screwdriver, I got a new one and went looking for her. The slots had been nicer to her than the JOB had been. She was about $80 ahead when I walked up and seemingly to show me how much fun she was having; hit the bottom jackpot on the column of jackpots. It wasn’t but about twenty dollars but hey, winning is winning. She would hit that bottom jackpot several times today. I left to go cash what was left of my VP investment and make a stop at the men’s room. When I got back, she was in good spirits and in good shape on her credit meter. She got down to an even hundred dollars and decided that it was time to cash. Since she had started with a single $20 investment, she wound up with an $80 profit on this machine. That also moved her over into the black for the entire trip. After she got her money, we went downstairs and stopped by at Infusion to load up on their wonderful dessert items. We spent $39.27 of that forty dollar food voucher on 3 brownies, 3 German chocolate brownies, one cinnamon muffin, and a cream cheese danish that literally filled up an entire Styrofoam to-go box. We were set with room snacks for the rest of the week. I love road trips and being off my diet. J The Baboo wanted to shop a little so we decided to check out the new Promenade shopping district in D’Iberville just north of I-10. Well, they had an awful lot of stores to choose from but I convinced her to drop me off at a Buffalo Wild Wings to play trivia while she went to find some new clothes. I got to play trivia and she didn’t have me along to hurry her up. I enjoyed myself and was happy that I was able to put one score on the monthly high score screen. Soon she had returned and we loaded up for our journey to the Beau Rivage. We both had coupons for a free buffet at the BR and we planned to keep our streak of not paying for any meals intact. I am a creature of habit and I wound up getting just about the same things I got a few weeks earlier. In the TR for that visit, I mentioned that both of us loved everything we got. Well, this time we both had one thing we did not think was good. Mine was the meatloaf and hers was some sort of shrimp and pasta dish. Still, we were happy with most of our selections. On the bright side, we were seated out in the Atrium area of the buffet and enjoyed that a good deal more than the seating area next to the casino floor. The Baboo had $50 in free play so I sat down to play at The Breeze while she tried to find a machine she liked for that. She gave me an extra card of hers so I could get her some points while not triggering a day for me. It must have been a pretty non-descript session since I did not even write anything down. She didn’t do much with her free play either. All of this shopping, trivia playing, and eating meant that it was past four when we wheeled our luggage in from the parking garage. As soon as we came off the elevator, we saw trouble. The line to check in came all the way to Ben & Jerry’s. Man, that new tower only added about 150 rooms. Where had all these people come from ? We walked over and parked The Baboo with the luggage on those couches overlooking the pool area before I went and joined that long line for check-in. At least the Hard Rock had six different check-in stations so the line moved relatively quickly. I had a good check-in guy and he was able to honor my request for the new tower. We were soon rolling up the incline and checking out the people eating in the Hard Rock Café. Now here is where people who embarrass easily might leave out part of the story. I don’t know if I should blame this blunder on an early onset of Alzheimers or all those screwdrivers at The Cove & The Breeze. Either way, I really looked foolish. When we got to the elevators, it was apparent that you had to use your room key for access. I reached into my shirt pocket and pulled out my room keys. I stuck one in the slot but nothing happened. When I tried the second one, it didn’t work either. Finally, another fellow put his key in and asked us what floor. Well our little card said 2102 so I asked for the that floor. Unfortunately, there was no 21st floor so we offloaded and went over to the security desk at the top of the incline coming into the new tower to find out what was the problem. I showed her my keys and said these won’t work. She took one look at the keys and the holder labeled 2102 before laughing and telling me “Sir, these keys won’t work because they are IP keys “. I laughed with her and shared with her how I had been amazed that we had gotten the same room number in two different hotels. Digging into my other pocket, I found my Hard Rock keys and told her I would try these. Fortunately, these worked perfectly. That security guard and I shared a secret laugh every time we saw each other for the rest of the trip. Now that we had keys which would work we rode up to the second floor and rolled our stuff down to room 215. Out of consideration for any triskaidekaphobes, there was no room 213. Once again, we had lucked out and gotten the last room on the hall. The first thing to say about the rooms in the new tower at Hard Rock is that they are GREAT!!! Both of us loved the room. The first thing that you noticed was the amount of glass in the exterior wall. From one end of the room (including the bathroom) was a wall of glass starting at about the 2.5-3.0 foot mark and going all the way to the ceiling. Directly beneath this expanse of glass was a nice couch-like sitting area with a table in front of it. This sitting bench/couch ran from the far wall to the bathroom door. We had a street view so we were looking across at Mary Mahoney’s and the Biloxi Green area. The bed was large and comfortable with some pretty cool directional spot lights on the wall on either side of the bed. There were also lights directly over the bed. There was a closet built into the wall with dark wood slatted doors. There was a very thick heavy glass door separating the bathroom from the living area. Inside and overlooking the exterior glass was a deep single sink with plenty of area to put your things. A little deeper into the room and you were in the huge glassed in shower complete with a wide bench in case you liked to do your showering sitting down. As the HR likes to do, there were multiple shower heads. One traditional one on a side wall and a larger, circular one coming directly from the ceiling. The toilet was situated in a room all to itself for privacy. One really neat feature was the blinds that you could use to separate yourself from the outside world. One was a somewhat opaque ceiling to top of the bench sitting area screen that allowed you to still see the world outside a little bit without them seeing in. If you wanted total blackout, there was a second screen behind the first one that totally shut out any view of the outside world. It also kept out all light if you wanted to sleep late in the morning. The best thing is that both of these screens were controlled by a flip of a wall switch. To us “country comes to town” folks, it gave the room a very cool “James Bond” aura. Of course, there was a nice flat screen to watch. All in all, Hard Rock hit a home room with the design of the rooms in this new tower. Get one if you can. I left The Baboo to enjoy the room and immediately went back downstairs. Registration for the Sunday blackjack tournament started at 5 and I had a free entry so I wanted to get that done before it filled up. A quick trip to the players club got me my entry form and soon I had my table assignment. I wouldn’t have to be at the table for another 40 minutes so I found me a seat at the Center Bar to start chasing the Royal. Unfortunately, none of the VP bars at Hard Rock have progressives so I was shooting for a straight $2,000 with no progressive lagniappe. To make things worse, the buttons on my machine were very sticky and I had to pay attention to them more than normal. I played for about 30 minutes and lost $40 before moving to the tournament area. My table was full of people there to have fun and that is what we did. I must have had the most fun because I was the one that advanced to the semi-finals without any real drama. I caught a hand on a big bet and everyone else had to chase me. None of them could catch me. I now had almost an hour to kill so I went to the Back Bar to play some more JOB. Things went a little better here. I knew the bartender and my machine had no flaws. It even gave out some decent hands. I got 30 of my lost 40 back before I needed to go play my semi-final round. The semi did not go as well as my first round. My role was reversed in that I was the one chasing a big stack player who had hit a hand with a big bet early in the round. My big bet hands ran into bad cards and soon I was eliminated from play. I returned to the back bar to see if I could keep the momentum going. I played for a pretty long while but eventually lost the entire C-note I had put into the machine. I walked around for a while and eventually took a seat at the Center Bar. My first machine took half my buy-in so I switched machines. This one was better but it took the other half of my buy in. Needing to switch things up, I went out on the casino floor and ran $20 thru a WOF .25 machine. I usually take a shot at a high progressive every day or two. I never got the wheel to spin and eventually lost that twenty too. So far nothing seemed to be working. This time I got on the opposite side of the bar and could hear the dice dealers making their calls. It seemed like they were making that dreaded “Seven out” call with too much frequency. Fortunately, I wasn’t on the dice tables and my VP machine was finally being cooperative. This one gave me a 4OAK (queens), 2 flushes, 5 full houses, and 7 straights. I won over a hundred on this machine and was making my way back to solvency. By now it was after 10 PM and I thought that Baboo might be hungry despite our culinary debauchery earlier today. I forgot that a comp for the 24/7 restaurant came for $15 and punched in a request for dinner for two at the kiosk. That gave me 30 dollars to spend so I loaded up. A double-decker grilled cheese, a BLT, an order of chicken tenders, and a piece of pecan pie ate up the $30 and I returned to the room after my hunting and gathering. We always travel with a rolling cooler and we keep any leftovers there. That is where the bulk of all that stuff we got at Infusion was at now. The Baboo was happy with her BLT and I wasted no time eating the grilled cheese and accompanying fries. The chicken & pie had to go into the cooler for later. I got back on the casino floor around midnight and went to the Back Bar to play some more. Right off the bat, I caught four deuces and got ahead. Things went pretty well and I eventually doubled my $100 buy in. Around 12:40 the bartenders started preparing the bar to close down for the night. I think that is the first time I have seen that done. They covered all the liquor with garbage bags and locked the coolers. They gave me a fresh beer just before they left. Even with the bar closed, I played on as the machine was still being pretty generous. Things eventually went South and my credit meter started clicking down. I was determined to show a profit after such a good start and cashed out with a $50 profit. By now, it was around 1:30 and I was standing around trying to figure out what to do when the blond haired dude came walking by. Well, that wouldn’t be any big deal except that this blond haired dude was about 6’3 with blond hair down well below his shoulders that fell all the way to the spaghetti strapped low cut blouse that he was wearing on top of his denim mini-skirt. Add some stilleto high heels and some flamboyant makeup to complete the picture. I certainly didn’t care what he did to amuse himself in the wee hours of the morning but it still caught me by surprise. He headed into the Uni-sex bathroom and I didn’t know which side to check out if I wanted to confirm that my eyes weren’t lying. I took this as a sign that I should probably call it a night. Either I was tired enough that my eyes were deceiving me or late Sunday night at the Hard Rock was about to get a little strange. Both possibilities suggested that I go see if that Hard Rock room slept as good as it looked. MONDAY I had been really disappointed that the IP pool had not been open because that is a big part of my casino day when it is warm. I was glad to discover that the Hard Rock felt 75 degrees was plenty warm enough to open their pool. There was a door on the first floor that opened onto the pool directly from The Platinum Tower but you had to have a key to make it work. Hurrah-the room key to room 215 worked. J There were a half dozen people already out at the pool when I made my way there a little after 11 that morning. Finding a chair was simple and I parked over close to the big elevated round thing that the swim-up bar is under. They were still getting ready for the summer season and a crew of painters were putting a fresh coat of paint on everything. I had brought a good poker book called “Harrington on Hold-Em” and got busy reading his (Dan Harrington) wisdom. I had brought a 20oz diet Mt. Dew to keep me refreshed so all was good with the world. More people joined us but the pool never had over 20 people there in the hours I stayed. It was hot enough to do some serious perspiring and I got hot enough that I considered getting in the pool. One step into the water made me reconsider that decision, This pool water was freezing cold. I got to just over knee deep and splashed water over my head before soaking my hat to cool my head later but I could not force myself to take a full plunge into that 33 degree water. I stayed for a little over two hours at the pool, getting a bit of sunburn in the process. The Baboo had already been making a dent in some of those things we brought with us from IP and was full. I ate half a brownie and the cinnamon muffin. BTW- if you have never checked out those brownies at Infusion, they are HUGE. 3 of them in a to go box feel like they weigh 4 or 5 pounds. Neither of us have ever eaten one completely in one sitting. So half of one of those and a muffin 5 inches in circumference was plenty for me. After checking out the view for a while and taking a quick shower with the screens up, I was ready to go downstairs. Ha Ha, I know what you are thinking but the glass in the shower is frosted up to a height that no one can see in. As long as you are around 6 ft. tall, there is just enough clear glass to see out without anyone being able to see anything but your head. It was pretty novel to be standing in a shower and be able to watch people driving down Beach Blvd. I suspect that the pool side rooms were even more fun to look out from. The Hard Rock has a kiosk game on Monday that you play to get a point multiplier that is in effect for the entire day. I was wanting to go ahead and requalify for Platinum at the Hard Rock on this trip. I needed a little over 1,300 points to do so. If they would give me 3X credit for my play today, I should make it with no problem. I settled in at the Center Bar for my first hand and first beer of the day. I played for over an hour and eventually played up and down until I cashed out after about the fourth ride on the roller coaster. I was exactly even and I was happy with that. I walked out to the entrance way and checked out the pool area to see if it had gotten more crowded. It had not so I turned and returned to the casino floor. This time I went to the back bar that was now open again and in full swing. Loading up my usual .50 JOB, I got busy. I hit a few hands but not enough to stay ahead. I slowly but surely headed toward zero on the credit meter. When I got down to thirty dollars (out of 100), I decided to change things up and switch over to quarters. On my second hand at .25, I hit 3-3-3-3. I decided to stay with the winning denomination. I kept hitting some hands and played for another half hour or more before trickling down to $50 and cashing. I was getting a little tired of VP so I walked around and found a three card poker table with only 3 people on it. All of the 3CP tables the night before had been packed. The other players seemed to be there to have fun and soon we were all cheering each other’s successes. We had a fun time because most of us were catching a hand worth cheering about every so often. I hit a couple of flushes and got my 3-1 payments (which was 4-1 when the game was introduced) to get ahead. Cards kept coming frequently enough to keep any of my tablemates from quitting. I finally caught a couple of straights in about a 10 hand run. Those pay 6 to 1 and were worth about a hundred a pop to me. Before long, we had enough people join us that we were sort of crowded. The new folks weren’t quite as cheerful as the original group either. Feeling a need to check on Baboo, I took my $150 profit and left the table after a fun 90 minutes. She had been grazing on chicken, brownies and some of the other things we had brought for room snacks so she wasn’t hungry at this time. I sat around and visited for a while and checked out all the activities going on outside. It was about time for The Bachelor and I know she gets totally immersed in the drama of the show so I made my way back down to the casino floor. After my 3CP break, I was ready for VP once again. Taking an unplayed machine at the Center Bar, I hoped for some JOB magic. Well, I didn’t really get magic but 6 straights, 4 flushes, and one 4OAK (6) kept me playing for the next hour. BTW- all these.50 machines I was playing at the HR were 8/5 machines. I finally ran out of money for this machine and decided to go see if I could exchange my $45 in free play into some real money. My default move for using my free play is to find a $5 machine and play the FP through one credit at a time. Very rarely do I not get at least part of my free play converted to real money. This effort was in the mid-range of results. For my $45 in free play, I got exactly $45 converted into a ticket that I could cash in. As I was walking out of the high limit room, I decided to see if I could par-lay the $45 into some big money on the dollar WOF machine. Heck, it was free money wasn’t it ? I spun that WOF eight spins ($3 a spin) and did not hit one single credit. I said the heck with this and moved on. Finding a seat at the Back Bar, I tried some VP once again. This machine was better than the one I had left a little while earlier. It gave me some of everything that I record including quad 9’s, 6 FH’s, 8 Straights, and 3 FL’s. It even had a 42AR mixed in (needed the A of clubs). I won $80 on this machine before I felt like walking around. One other thing of note about this session. Who should show up and play a few seats down from me but the older romantic couple that I usually see at The Cove over at IP ? This was the first time I had ever seen them other than at the Cove. They still moved their chairs together and played one machine but they didn’t stay a long time here. This must not have been their first visit because both bartenders knew them. I guess that they get around more than I thought. I like to shoot Dice later on in the night and it was now late enough to play. I found an open space on the rail down on one end between a clump of young folks and an old chain-smoking guy prone to bitching and moaning about everything. He bet a lot of hard ways and seemed to forever be arguing that his bets were still active when they had already been lost. The other end of the table had some guys who looked to be veteran players and the overflow of the young crowd that could not fit on our end of the table. All in all, it was a pretty fun table. The young guns were sort of new to craps and making all the bets that come with high payoffs but also hard odds against hitting them. So when they did hit those long shots and got paid a good bit, everyone was hooping and hollering. That atmosphere is what makes shooting dice so much fun. Things started out pretty good for me. The dice were just on the other side of the stick when I got my spot. With only 3 players to shoot before me, I got the dice pretty soon. This first roll for me was almost the exact opposite of my first roll at IP (one throw-7-out). On this roll, I rolled for at least 15-20 minutes and made several points plus hitting my placed 6 and 8 multiple times. I had been about $50 behind when I got the dice and was a little over $150 ahead when I gave them up so my roll earned me a cool 2 bills. After this the table went choppy but I was able to stay a hundred or so ahead until I colored up and left. One of the young crowd was a girl who threw the dice for the first time that night. You always hear about the great rolls that virgin shooters have but it didn’t turn out that way for her. Actually, she did roll the dice at least 10-12 times but she never hit a single 6 or 8 or the point number (I can’t remember what it was). So I got zero chips out of her roll despite her throwing it around a dozen times. At least I won a hundred. I went to the Back Bar and piddled around playing some more VP long enough to drink a couple of beers but by now I was feeling the sun from today’s pool time and recognizing that this was my fourth straight night in a casino. In other words, ole Ray Ray was getting a little tired. As I made my way up the incline to the Platinum Tower, I once again told myself how smart and considerate the Hard Rock was to generously have the noon checkout instead of the 11AM deadline that most have. It was well after midnight and I knew sleep was a wise idea. After all, tomorrow was a moving day plus we had to take care of some important business during the time between our Hard Rock departure and our Golden Nugget arrival. TUESDAY Today we would make our debut at the Golden Nugget as overnight guests. First we had to meet some people down in Gulfport and take care of some business. The Baboo had been reviewing her offers and realized that she had another $50 in free play at the Beau. Of course that is where we headed when we pulled out of the Hard rock parking garage. Once inside, I went to The Breeze Bar and played on my own card today. Baboo sat and played with me long enough to finish one drink and get another before leaving to redeem her free play. My eyes about popped out when I saw that the .25 progressive was sitting at $2,531.88. That was 500 dollars more than what a regular fifty cent Royal would pay and $1,500 more than a regular .25 Royal. I had never seen a quarter progressive that big so of course I had to play quarters instead of half dollars. I was also playing as fast as prudent in an effort to cash that big jackpot. Luckily, this machine was also paying well. I hit two quads (8)(6) and a whopping 8 full houses. The flushes and straights were a little underserved with two each but that was fine. The Baboo came back and she had won $60 off her $50 freeplay. I put a twenty in her machine and told her to play on me. We both chased that huge Royal until we absolutely HAD to leave to make our appointment in Gulfport. It was still climbing when we left and our plan was to take care of business as quickly as possible and get back to the Breeze before someone got that money. Unfortunately, we got tied up in Gulfport so that it after 5 when we finally got away so we went straight to the Golden Nugget. Getting into the Golden Nugget turned out to be a major league hassle. The person who made The Baboo’s reservations (we used one of her offers here) had told her to valet park because the walkway to the Parking Garage was under construction and unusable. Traffic was backed up trying to get up the incline to the area valet uses and we sat in that line quite a while before we made it up the incline and under the canopy where we could unload and turn our car over to valet. The scene under that canopy looked like chaos with cars, valet runners, bellmen, and customers moving in every direction and seemingly without any order. We were eventually signaled over to a spot to unload and a valet guy gave us a ticket. We made our way up the escalator to the hotel check in area and got in another line. Thankfully, this one wasn’t very long but the problem was that it wasn’t moving either. Both of the two check-in clerks working had some sort of problem with the party they were trying to get checked in and the line was at a standstill. Once The Baboo finally got to the check in lady, things went quickly and smoothly. We were soon on our way to the room. Our streak of rooms at the end of the hall was broken here. We actually walked past our room and went to the end of the hall looking for it. When we backtracked, we discovered it was across from the elevators where we had initially made our turn down the hall. Somehow we had both missed it. Once inside, we saw the room remodeling that had been done since the Golden Nugget had bought this property. There were some things that we really liked and some that left us puzzled. One thing that we really liked was what they had done with their TV. First, this TV was pretty much the biggest TV I have ever seen in a hotel room. They had surrounded it with dark wood that framed it perfectly and had a large mirror framed by that same dark wood to the immediate right of the TV. It presented a very cohesive package for that entire wall. We even took a picture so that we might duplicate the look the next time we upgrade TV’s. On the other end of the spectrum was the three headed lamp that rose up from the corner of the room over by the window. It started in the corner and had three metal bars that stuck out several feet from that corner before ending in 3 lamps that reminded us of Japanese lanterns. The bed looked nice and was very comfortable. There was a nice easy chair and ottoman. The bathroom was a little plain-jane after the Hard Rock but it had no real flaws. Due to the time change, it was still daylight and we saw one thing that is going to hurt the GN for a while. Our view was overlooking the destruction taking place at the old Margaritaville construction site. They are tearing it down and right now it looks like a movie set for the next Post- Apocalypse movie. We had bagged our dirty clothes and left them in the trunk of the car after checking out of the IP and Hard Rock so it did not take us long to unpack. Getting stuck in that business meeting had left us both ready for something to wet our whistle so we quickly headed downstairs. I was sort of giving Baboo a mini tour of the property. When we got to the VP bar past the live poker room and in that rear area of the casino, she had seen enough and suggested we stop here and have a drink. We both got screwdrivers and they tasted great. Unfortunately there were some other things at this bar that did not match the quality of the drink. The first negative things were that these seats were just too darn short for this bar. You always felt like you were having to reach up to play the game. (Spoiler-these short chairs cause disaster later) The second thing that we did not like was the heat blowing on us from these machines. All VP machines put off heat. Usually that heat is directed down around your feet and barely noticeable. These machines were blowing that hot air directly into your lap area and made it fairly uncomfortable. About 3 minutes after we got our drinks, The Baboo had some trouble getting her machine to do what she wanted and I reached over to show her where to touch the screen to change games. In my attempt at assistance, I knocked over her almost full drink. What a mess ! I don’t think I would have done that on a VP machine with a proper height barstool. We finished what was left of our drinks and took off. I don’t think either of us returned to this bar at any time during the rest of our trip. The Baboo left for some room time and I moved down to Michael Patrick’s Sports Bar (hereafter known as the sports bar) on the second floor just as you exit the escalators. This was a much more comfortable setting with properly sized bar chairs and the heat exhaust down at your feet. The machines were large screens and looked new. Everything was great other than the machine not giving you any sort of tally for the points you were earning. You had to pull your card out and re-insert it to find out your point status. One good thing was the .50 JOB had a 9/5 paytable instead of the 8/5 I had encountered everywhere else. Another good thing was that this machine was paying out. I hit two 4OAK and 16 other recordable hands. I played for over an hour on my first machine before getting a little hungry. I took my encouraging $50 profit and went down to the kiosk so that I could print me out my $10 food voucher. Of course that would not feed two people so our streak of eating on the casino’s dime would come to an end here. Another thing I really like about Michael Patrick’s is that the front of the place looks like a normal VP bar but behind the bar, it looks more like a nice sports bar /restaurant. Lots of TVs and a nice bar with no VP machines. I got the hostess to seat me over by the windows so that I could check out the happenings in the marina and enjoy the view of Deer Island out in the gulf. I enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere and great view as I sipped on a cold Miller Lite waiting on my food. Since we hadn’t eaten much, I got two dinners to go. I would let Baboo pick hers and I would take the other. I got one Country Fried Steak dinner and one Catfish dinner because both of us would be happy with either of those selections. The kitchen prepared things so promptly that I had not even finished my beer when my server (a very good one) deposited my sacks of food on the table. I could see us dining here in the future. A quick elevator ride and I was back at my home away from home. We just sat around talking and eating for a while. She took the Catfish so I was eating CFS again. Both of our selections were very tasty and the portions were plenty large. Of course I was ready to get back downstairs once we had eaten and discussed our latest casino & hotel. You could just barely see the pool from our window. They had chairs out there so I was hoping that it was open and I could get some pool time the next day. I was tempted to stop at The Chocolate Box every time I walked by it. They had some really delicious looking items. Knowing that we still had stuff (like huge chocolate brownies) from Infusion helped me resist. This time I decided to go down on the first floor and play a while at the RUSH bar which is one of the first things you encounter as you come in the front door. There is also an eight table pit that is the absolute first thing you see as you enter the casino. The RUSH bar is directly behind it. This was another nice place to play some video poker. Nice chairs, nice machines, plenty of TV’s, and a location conducive to people watching when your eyes need a break from the screen. One odd thing here (and the same way at the sports bar) was the denominations on the machines. They had some machines that low rollers would love (with limits of .10 & .25) side by side with machines that were designed for higher rollers (with limits of $1, $5, and $25). Those limits cited were the only denominations on that machine and they were within feet of one another. Nothing wrong with that but it just seemed odd. Mixed in with those were machines giving you a choice of .25 or $1. I never encountered a machine that would let me play .50. Of course there were many machines that I never sat down at so there might have been some but I never saw any. Another thing I liked about playing at the Rush Bar was having a table pit directly behind you. That pit did not have a craps table but it did have blackjack, 3CP, MS.Stud, and roulette. Most of the time there were low limits in this pit. During the day, it was only $5 for 3CP and roulette. I think the BJ was $10. Every once and a while you would hear some excitement over on the tables and that kept the atmosphere a little more lively. Unfortunately there was no progressive available here. I played for a while and felt like I was just treading water so I got up to walk around and take a look at this place. My first stop would be the players club because I only had one GN card and I wanted to have at least two in case one became balky. I am glad I went when I did. Their players club closes at 10 on weekdays. I just barely made it in. They were helpful and got me fixed up in a hurry. They might consider a new location whenever the casino expansion is complete. Where they are now leaves the line blocking a main shortcut (via a walkway next to the high limit table room) to what I think are the only bathrooms on the first floor. Consequently people using that shortcut either have to circle around behind the line or ask to cut thru. FYI- those bathrooms are nice and big but they are all the way in the back of the property by the Morton’s Steakhouse. I just walked around for a little while. This was the first time I had seen customers at Lillie’s (Asian restaurant) and there were actually customers eating and enjoying drinks at their bar. There were also a number of people drinking and conversing on the back side of the Rush Bar (with no VP machines). Until the band kicks in, the back side of Rush is probably a good spot for people on dates to whisper in each other’s ears. I noticed when I walked by the high limit table room that you could play in there with $25 limits. That is pretty reasonable if you want a quiet area to play in. After my walkabout, I ended up at the second floor sports bar again. One thing I noticed while playing here was how tight security at the top of the escalator seemed to be about checking ID’s. A lot of pretty mature looking folks were getting checked. It looked pretty normal while the 70 year old guy was doing it but it looked incongruent when he was replaced by a small, thin kid who did not look 15 years old himself. Most of the people he was checking definitely looked older than he did. About this time, I became aware that this sports bar was about to go into their second happy hour of the day. Michael Patrick’s has a traditional HH from 4 till 6 but they also have a late night HH from 10 till 12. It lowers the price on craft beers on tap, well drinks, and select appetizers. Bottled Miller Lite was not included. I was playing at a leisurely pace which was probably smart because this machine was being pretty stingy. At least there was plenty of entertaining things going on. We had our own version of Romeo. I would guess that he was about 55 or so and he offered to buy drinks for just about every unaccompanied girl who came up to the bar. He wound up buying a few drinks but had no success at moving things any further. His lack of interest from the girls 20 or more years younger than him did not slow him down. He was still offering to buy when I left.. One good thing about playing quarters instead of half dollars was that your fluctuations should be evened out a little. (remember I couldn’t find any .50 machines) That had been the case here. I was unlikely to win much but was also unlikely to suffer any major losses. Departing the sports bar with my $40 loss, I went back downstairs. I found a seat one from the end so that I could spend a little time watching the comings and goings on the main floor between hands. The lady next to me was also playing quarters and either she was having a good night or she had put an awful lot of money in to start out. She had about 2200 credits on the machine which translates to about $550. I hope that she won those credits. While I had some moderate success at this seat, I was not in her league by any means. One thing I noticed during this session was that there was a cutout in the bar about 3” by 8” to allow heat to escape from behind the bar. It was perfectly located to serve as a place to rest your feet within the cutout. This bar had no foot rail so this cutout was a great substitute. Again I found myself in a somewhat dull session. Things went back and forth but I knew that I was unlikely to cash anything special unless I hit a Royal for a grand. After about an hour of pushing buttons, I decided to call it a night. Once I got to the top of the escalators, I had the inspiration to take advantage of the late night happy hour at the sports bar by getting a late night snack before going to bed. Getting a beer and firing up a machine, I quickly ordered the Chicken tender app which was only $4 instead of the usual $7. It was soon delivered and as advertised, supplied me with 3 nice looking tenders. What surprised me was a complete lack of accompanying fries. I figured they would throw 8-10 fries in because they are so inexpensive to the restaurant. They didn’t but the tenders made up for it by being delicious. It was a nice bargain at $4 but after adding the twenty I lost at VP, the $24 price tag was a little steeper. After that small repast, I departed for upstairs to check out the beds in this third casino hotel. WEDNESDAY We both slept fairly late Wednesday morning. We were on the West side of the building and the morning sun was in the Eastern sky. That kept things nice and dark in our room. It was good to catch up on my rest. Five consecutive casino nights had about worn me out. Once we opened the curtains, we surveyed our panorama of destroyed concrete and mangled metal. It still looked post apocalyptic but we saw no zombies or aliens unless you counted some of the construction workers who were stumbling around a bit. We decided to eat some brownies to confirm reality. One of the first things on my list was calling the desk to find out if the pool was open yet. Again I was disappointed to discover that the pool would not open for weeks. They are building a new pool complex that is going to be competitive with any on the Coast but the opening of that isn’t until April 26. In the meantime, I wish they had their old pool up and running. It looked fine from our window. Well, no pool meant no plan for the day. I had given the Golden Nugget a good bit of play yesterday ( in hours if not total coin-in due to playing quarters) and knew I would probably give them so more today. That is one thing I like about staying somewhere on The Baboo’s offers. I have very little feeling of needing to play at a certain level to justify our comps. After careful consideration, I decided a little jaunt over to The Grand might be in order. Standing at our window, I really felt that I might just walk over there. I walk over 3 miles several times a week and the distance was easily within my range. The Baboo reminded me that the trip back would be more difficult so I took her advice and picked up my car keys. When I walked out the front doors and got under the canopy, I reconsidered my decision. While it was not as bad as it was the night before when we arrived, things still looked pretty chaotic out here under the canopy. I found the valet manager and gave him my ticket. It was pretty windy here with the overhead canopy creating a natural breezeway. That was probably why there was at least 20 people just inside the doors waiting on their cars. Add in another ten people outside waiting and I knew it was going to be a while before I saw my car. I have to give the valet staff credit. They were running down the incline to the valet parking lot at top speed. They were working extremely hard but it was just a numbers thing. It takes 5 people a while to bring 20 or more cars up. Once I saw my red charger exit the parking lot down below, I got in position to make the changeover as quick as possible. We changed over without even turning off the car and I was gone in a flash. Even Nascar would have been proud. In two minutes I was pulling into the Grand’s parking garage. Soon I was inside and moving toward the Total Rewards window. In my haste, I had left my Grand mailout at the GN. It had my freeplay coupon in it. That was no big deal as the lady behind the desk quickly printed me out a replacement and I walked over to the Stage Bar to give the Grand some action. I rarely give them a whole lot of action but I try to give them enough to stay on their radar. I get offers from them that are better than I probably deserve based purely on my play in Biloxi. They see my level of play at other CET properties (mostly Harrah’s New Orleans) and try to entice me down hoping I will play at that level while at their property. On those rare occasions that I actually stay at the Grand, I do give them a pretty respectable amount of action. Usually, it is a little hit-and-run visit like this one while I am staying at another property. My goal was to acquire 500 TR points and get the 125 point bonus. Due to my limited time here, I started off playing dollars on a JOB platform. The game was an 8/6 offering. It had a progressive that stood at $4,278.13. I put my free play (40) in and followed that with a hundred to get started. Well, this machine sucked. I lost half that $140 buy in and did not hit a single recordable hand (straight, flush, full house, straight flush, or Royal). I cashed out and moved to another machine with the $70 that was left. This one seemed to let me play a little more due to a proliferation of trips and two pair but it didn’t pay big hands any better than the first one. While I lasted longer on this one, the end result was the same as the remaining $70 disappeared into the CET treasury. I decided to walk around and see if I saw anything new. I thought about going in the Diamond Lounge and getting me a free drink but didn’t bother. They were just as free at the Stage Bar. Making my way back over there, I carefully perused the machines. They have them arranged around the semi-circular bar with dollars on the left, .50 in the middle and quarters on the right. That makes it easy to tell denominations on open seats without walking over there. There were a few dollar machines that I had not tried yet so I took a seat at one. Feeding a Benjamin in, I hoped for better results. Things started out pretty good as I was dealt a full house in the first five hands. That put me ahead and I wanted to stay there. This machine was also giving out a good many of those small hands that add to your credit meter and several times I noticed little runs where each hand of a 5-6 hand sequence was either a winning hand or at least a break-even hand. You can creep up your credit meter that way too. Anyway, I wound up playing on this machine for an hour or so before things started going sour. A long dry spell was draining me down now. I eventually got down to $50 on this machine and reached a crossroads. I had mentally committed $200 for this little venture over to the Grand and three fourths of that was gone. What to do ? Continue on dollars and hope for a comeback or switch denominations to try and stretch your play out ? I decided to take that that fifty and play some .50 for a while. Moving to the machine in the exact center of the bar, I fed my ticket in. BTW- there are probably 18-20 spots at this bar with plenty of room between the seats. This .50 machine had a downgrade in paytable from dollars as it dropped to 8/5. The .50 progressive sat at $2,169.02. For a while it looked like the switch to half dollars made sense. I had my initial buy-in of 100 credits up close to 200 after about 20 minutes. If I could get much past that 200 mark, I planned to take another shot at dollars. It didn’t go according to plan. 190 credits turned out to be my high-water mark on this machine and I stayed on this one until the ship was sunk. That took an hour or so but zero credits is zero credits regardless of how long it took to get there. I debated pulling out another hundy but my inner voice told me that I had a plan and I should stick to it. Besides, if you counted my freeplay, I had actually invested $240 in this trip. Time to go. Back at the Golden Nugget, I noticed that the line going up the incline did not seem as long as the two other times I had looked at it. I drove up and was only third in line. The hold-up was that they had a bunch of valet cars parked up there and the line only moved when a runner took a car to the parking lot. Still, it was a lot quicker than it had been the night before and I was soon walking in the door. I made a quick run upstairs to let Baboo know I was back and see if she had any needs. She had been munching on snacks and leftovers so she was OK. After visiting for a while and catching her up on what I had encountered while traveling around, I made my way back downstairs. The three card poker table had a couple of open seats so I took one to see what might happen on the GN tables. I was going to play a little smaller than I probably would at other properties. My primary Gulf Coast properties are IP and Hard Rock. I try to keep the Grand and Beau Rivage happy enough that I still get decent offers mailed to me and I have fleeting relationships with Treasure Bay & Islandview who mail me tiny offers. I don’t know if I can afford to take on another property. So far, neither of us has been impressed enough with Golden Nugget to think it might become one of our primary properties. (substitute the Beau for the Hard Rock to have The Baboo’s casino rankings) OTOH- we didn’t want to totally write the GN out of the picture yet. The GN has multiple things that we like A LOT and they have a lot of things coming on-line in the near future. This property is going to be a lot better when construction is finished. Who knows how we will feel then ? It took all that to explain why I wasn’t trying to leave a big footprint at the GN just yet. That’s why I was glad to play three card for a minimum bet of $5. My sitting down made our table makeup evenly divided by gender with 3 of each. Everyone was friendly and pretty much pulling for each other. There was a little bit of “Oh darn, you got my hand” but not a lot. One thing I liked was that I could watch the TV’s over at the Rush Bar just as easily as I could when playing VP. I only bought in for $200 and we rocked on along with nothing historic happening for a while. I hadn’t seen one of the big 3CP hands (trips or straight flush) on any of my last three of four tables. Maybe it would happen on this one. With my luck, it would be me while playing a third of my normal bet. That would be somewhat bittersweet. Still, I would take it. One other thing about a full table is that the play slows down due to the amount of bets that must be payed out each round. It gives you a lot of down time while you wait. That is why I was thankful for those TV’s at the Rush Bar. It took a while (at least an hour) but I eventually doubled my money despite not catching one of those big hands. I made a move up to betting $10 a spot with my new found wealth. In what seemed like no time, I was back down to only fifty ahead. With the Grand fiasco fresh in my mind, I decided to take that and walk. The bonus was that I had fun interacting with my table-mates. Sometimes hours and hours of VP can leave you feeling a little isolated from humanity. I was now refreshed and ready for another bout of JOB. But first, I had something else to do. The Golden Nugget has a free slot tournament that all you have to do is earn 10 points before you play. I had done that in my first fifteen minutes of play so I wanted to take a shot. Heck, it was free and they award $7,500 in free play to the top 75 finishers. All you do is walk up to an unoccupied machine in the roped off tournament area and start playing when the MC does the countdown to start the round. I thought I was doing pretty well with my 24,000 points until I looked down the aisle and saw that 3 of the 5 machines had higher totals than me. Oh well, I believe that you should always take the time to have a shot at free money (or freeplay). It only took about 4 steps and I was at an open seat over on the Rush Bar. Once again I started with a fresh beer and a full credit meter of 400 credits. My notes say that this machine had a 9/6 paytable but I am not sure about that. I had noted a 9/5 paytable on an earlier machine but who knows ? The way that the GN mixes up their denomination limits, they might mix up their paytables also. I recommend taking the time to check things out before selecting a machine at the GN. By now, we were getting on into the evening and the night crowd was making their entrance. People watching was improving. This machine was also worth watching. I had been catching enough hands that I was still hovering around that initial starting point when I caught what is statistically my most unusual hand. I have hit seven Royals (two on consecutive nights on the same machine in the same suit at Harrah’s New Orleans) but only one straight flush in all those years. When I looked down at the 4-5-6-7 of diamonds, my hopes only went up a little. When that eight of diamonds popped, I was really happy. Now I was sure that this session would be positive. With another 250 credits added to my total, I had plenty to play on. I played for over an hour and kept catching recordable hands that kept me over that 600 credit threshold. After quite a while, I decided to combine a trip to the restroom with a cash out and took my leave of the Rush Bar. Coming back from the restroom, I was walking by the other table game pit in the casino and got tempted by their two craps tables. I was able to resist temptation and walk on by. It looked like a pretty nice pit though with the two dice tables and probably 6 other tables with blackjack and other games. My machine at the Rush Bar was occupied so I took the escalator up to the second floor and the sports bar. I still had my ticket with my straight flush winnings on it so I stuck that in and started playing. It was soon evident that I had made the wrong decision. I played off 100 credits on two different machines here and never caught a hand better than two pair. Now, that is pitiful (as well as statistically improbable). At least I had sense enough to say the heck with this and go back downstairs even if I had to leave half my SF winnings behind. There were seats available now and I quickly jumped in one. There was a young guy in the seat next to me and he had a buddy behind him back seat driving. The guy with the money seemed somewhat of a novice and his buddy was constantly telling him what he should do next, including ordering another round of drinks for the two of them on a couple of occasions. I figured that their business was their business until he started talking to me about my hands and patting me on the back in congratulations. Without being rude, I quickly established that I needed an absence of distractions to concentrate properly. The odd thing is that I sort of hesitated to tell him that because I was in the middle of a run where I was hitting great hands. Superstitious gamblers hate to change any part of the equation while winning. This machine gave me 19 total hands that were straight or better including two 4OAK (2) (10). It even gave me two different 42AR’s (I needed a 10 of diamonds on one and a K of clubs for the other) The money guy left for the restroom but failed to return. I saw the other guy fussing at the money guy later. I have no idea what they were squabbling about. I really wanted to cash out a hundred ahead on this machine but could never get quite over that hump. I finally decided to keep my $80 and go. It was about time to knock off the gambling and go to bed. There is also a sort of all night café to the right and behind the Rush Bar. They had a lot of different sandwiches and bar foods but I chose a pizza since I know that both of us would be happy with that as a late night meal. A quick elevator ride and we were all over that pizza before calling it a night. THURSDAY We were actually pretty well rested when we got ready to check out on Thursday. I had made it home before midnight and the Baboo had done all her GN gambling while I was over at the Grand. She hadn’t had a lot of luck so she dropped a little here at the GN. The area under the canopy wasn’t quite the madhouse it had been on the two other occasions I had seen it but there were still a lot of people waiting for their cars. After giving the valet guy our ticket, we took our luggage over to the side of the incline and watched the ant bed of activity that featured a horde of construction workers building what would soon be the H2O pool complex. Directly beneath us, you could see the concrete form that would be the swim up bar. Construction has progressed to the point that you can actually visualize how this pool complex is going to look. The palm trees are already in place and we both agreed that it is going to super nice when they finish it. When you combine this pool complex with the casino expansion and finally completing the walkway to the parking garage, this is going to be a much better, more convenient property in a few months. A quick loading of luggage and we were driving down the incline with our six day, three casino trip almost over. But it wasn’t quite over. Because we had actually gotten some rest the night before, we felt spry enough to check out one more thing before leaving. We wanted to eat before we left and had decided to go check out the Adventures bar/restaurant by having lunch there. We used to go there regularly years ago and then they had a fire which closed the place for two years. They only re-opened a year ago and this would be our first visit since they moved to the new building. Adventures is located within sight of the Hard Rock. It is about 2 blocks North of Beach Blvd and right across the street from the Half Shell Oyster House. In fact, it is right next to the Biloxi City Hall in another direction. We always had fun eating and playing trivia there before and wanted to give a try. They hadn’t been open long and we were the first customers. We quickly got us a couple of Buzztime trivia game boards and a couple of screwdrivers. We were set for a while and started examining the menu. BTW-Buzztime is a satellite delivered game that features trivia answering contests between the people actually at the bar you are in as well as the people playing in over 3,000 locations across the USA and Canada. Both of us love playing it. Since we had not seen the new building, we walked around and gawked for a while. The new Adventures is a really pretty bar. It looks like they spent their insurance money well. Everything was fresh and airy in appearance, just as you would want in a coastal town. I know this seems redundant but I ordered one of the lunch specials, the country fried steak plate with mashed potatoes made with skin-on red potatoes and white gravy. The Baboo got a shrimp Au Gratin dish that was just packed with shrimp and covered in cheese. Both of them were absolutely delicious as were the screwdrivers. We had a friendly, attentive bartender and wanted for nothing . On top of that, we were each able to add our Buzztime names to the Adventures leader board for the top 10 scores of the month. We had nothing but positives on our visit to Adventures in their new location. We both highly recommend it if you want to get out of the casino atmosphere a little while. Well, as Porky says, That’s All Folks. Congratulations if you had the perseverance (and time) to read this entire thing. I can’t help being wordy but I do so in an effort to take you along with me on my casino travels.