The Baboo and I made the quick 2 hour run down to the Biloxi Hard Rock to use a free room offer before I completely fell out of favor with them. We had never stayed with them and were excited about our first sleepover with the Rockers. Parking was a breeze and we were standing at the check-in desk before 1 PM. The room wasn't cleaned yet but they checked us in and held our luggage until the room could get prepared. That allowed us to hit the casino floor right off the bat. The HR has a promotion each Sunday that allows you to play in a free slot tournament if you accumulate 100 points over the weekend. The mailout touting this tournament was a little misleading in that it promised you chance at a total prize pool of $20,000. Their interpretation was that the 4 Sunday tournaments with a weekly prize pool of $5,000 gave you a chance at a total of $20,000. Technically, that interpretation is accurate but the wording of the mailout certainly gave you the impression that each Sunday tournament carried a prize pool of 30K Oh well, I guess you gotta read the fine print. We figured the best thing to do was get to earning our 100 points so that we could play in the thing. We were able to acquire two adjacent seats at The Center Bar thanks to a nice lady who offered to move over one spot and take an empty machine. I sort of felt guilty when my machine got a little hot while hers did very little. At least she had moved on and didn't have to endure listening to my machine ringing up credits after I hit quad fours. Within an hour or so, I had earned my 100 points needed to play the tourny so I put The Baboo's card in my machine and had her eligible within a pretty short while also. (her points had been building slower because she was playing quarters and I was playing dollars) When I finally cashed out, i was a little over $100 ahead. We went to the Players Club to get our entry to the tournament and ran into one of the few things that might have been just a little better. The Players Club had us in line at least 20 minutes every time we had need of their services. Of course, the entire casino was busier than I had ever seen it so that could have had a lot to do with things. They were starting a round as soon as they had the 22 people needed to fill all the seats. The tournament line actually moved very quickly. They were seating people numerically as you came in which was nice since it let us sit side-by-side and see how the other was doing. (Not that it was much to watch) The Baboo beat me 36,000 credits to 17,000 credits but that was no where close to what it would take to get into the money. One of the ladies we were in line with said it would probably take a score between 150K and 200K to win. (she had played it before) One good thing we learned was that we could play a second round if we earned another 100 pts. There was a limit of 2 rounds per person but at least we had another chance. The machines that were used for the tourny were 5 line penny machines. I believe that they had 20 scoring lines. I never did figure out what won and how much. Luckily the computer did know. Since we could play again, I went back to The Center Bar and got back to my $1 JOB game. The Baboo had seen enough VP so she went out to find a fun looking slot machine. (a Top Dollar probably) This time my machine was much colder than my first one. It sucked half of my $100 out without giving me one recordable (straight, flush, FH, SF, or 4OAK) hit so I switched from dollars to .50 to see if I could play a little. I did hit a couple of hands but it wasn't long before I had zeroed my credit meter and lost the $100 I had been ahead earlier. I went in search of The Baboo and was pleasantly surprised when I found her. Not only had she been playing but she had been winning. She was almost three hundred ahead and was not going to have any problem getting her second hundred points to play another round in the tournament. I told her to come find me at The Center Bar when she was ready to play the tourny again. I decided to take a seat on the opposite side of the bar this time. I looked down and saw this machine had a 9/6 paytable. I am pretty sure the machines I played on the other side of the bar were 8/5 so if you are at the Center Bar at The Hard Rock, it might be worth your time to walk around and check several machines for the good paytable. Sometimes a good paytable doesn't help though. I had the same result that I did on my second machine and soon was down to 0 credits. Now, I was down a hundred to the HR. About that time, The Baboo arrived and suggested we go eat. I had gotten an e-mail offer the day before we went down that gave us $10 worth of free play if we bought a buffet so that is where we went. I bought mine ($16 I think) but The Baboo used Players Club points to pay for half of hers. (that will matter later) The service was very good and it took no time to get thru the entry line. Most of the food was delightful since we were both on our first day of a 2 week session of low card dieting. The Mac & Cheese, pork eggrolls, and shrimp were good. The cornbread was very good and the super-extra-chocolatey brownies were Yeeehaaa good. We were seated over by the windows and enjoyed a nice relaxing view of the Gulf. Feeling quite full, we waddled over to the Players Club to get our second tourny entry and our free play. They had added a third service person at The Players Club but the crowd had grown larger too. The result was a wait of about the same time. We got our tourny entries without incident but The Baboo was disappointed to discover that she was not eligible for her $10 in free play because she had paid for part of her buffet with Players Club points. On a brighter note, we had both played enough to receive a set of commemorative Hard Rock Mardi Gras beads. Once in the tournament area, we found out the current high score was over 100K. (this at 5:45 pm) We both did better this round but still fell short of what it would take to win. My score was the higher this time with a total of 51,000 but not good enough to get into the money. We made our way back to the hotel desk and quickly retrieved our luggage from the clerk. Once up on the 5th floor, we were greeted by another Mississippi native, Lee Ann Rimes, as we got off the elevator. Actually, we were greeted by a mannequin wearing one of her concert outfits with a life size picture of Lee Ann behind her. Once in the room, we enjoyed exploring it to find out it's secrets. You get a great first impression upon entry as the foyer area looks like (but is not) a hardwood floor. (which we both love) We really liked the way they had used a sort of 3/4 wall to separate the bath area from the living area. It divided the two areas but also gave an impression of having more room due to the wall not being completely solid. As a couple of veterans of the 70's, we enjoyed just about everything used to decorate and accent the room, including the zebra skin hotel book. We had a great view of the pool through the floor to ceiling windows. Both of us agreed that if we can get free rooms during Spring Break, we will ask for a room in this general area overlooking the pool with the Gulf in the background. One thing we quickly noticed about the pool area was the round hammocks situated between the pool and marina. They were about 8 feet across and looked very comfortable as they swayed in the wind beneath the palm trees. Of course, there was a beautiful 42" flatscreen TV (with classic rock music playing) and a Bose soundsystem situated directly beneath it in the entertainment center/desk/work area. All in all, a very nicely appointed and comfortable room. A three headed shower and double sinks made the bath area just as impressive. As much fun as the room was, we knew it was too early to settle in so we made our way back down to the casino floor. Taking a break from video poker, I found a blackjack table with several open seats (only $10 minimum bets) and got started. Mostly it was back and forth without me getting to a stand up point ($300 ahead or $250 behind). It might have been different if I could have ever been successful on my double-downs. I was betting a $20-$30-$40 positive progression and twice doubled down when I was at the $40 level. My $40 double down hands: 5/6-drew a 6, 4/7- drew a 6. Both times my dealer had 18 to beat me. Those two hands represent a $320 swing. :-( As it turns out, it wasn't a total disaster as I only lost $50 on this table. A guy that I know from up at Pearl River Resort was standing floor in this blackjack pit and came over to visit and talk for a while. He had gone to a Saints game with us a few years back and was now wondering if we were going to Mardi Gras. I shared that a mutual friend of ours who used to deal craps at PRR had rooms at the Intercontinental for the weekend before Fat Tuesday but I would not be going because I had to get ready for a big test (NAEP) that we were giving the next week. He asked if I wanted him to hook me up with anything to eat but I declined since I was still a little uncomfortably full from the buffet. I soon bid him goodbye and left his pit. I might have been to full to eat but I wasn't too full to drink beer. Once again, I found myself at the Center Bar playing VP. It became apparant to me that I must have used up all my luck on that very first machine. I thoroughly enjoyed the Miller Lites and watching all the people walking thru the bar but I didn't like dropping another hundred on VP. Thinking blackjack might be the ticket, I went to the pit on the opposite side of the casino from the one I had already played at. It wasn't long before I was sitting at a $15 pitch table. I prefer a pitch game to a shoe game and the minimum was less than I was going to be betting so this looked like a good option. My tablemates were all pretty young and seemed to be pretty thrilled to even be in a casino. We were all having fun and enjoying ourselves. Of course, we were all winning so that made it a lot easier to have fun. I played for over an hour and was making progress toward getting to my cash-out point. After about an hour and a half, I finally hit my first blackjack. As you might expect, it was with my minimum bet of $20 out. Even with that amount out, I was surprised to see the dealer pay me off with four red $5 chips and 4 white $1 chips. My first thought was that she thought I only had $15 bet but when I asked her to take a closer look at my chips, she confirmed that she had paid me the correct amount. That is when Mr. Unobservant (Me) realized that I had inadvertantly sat down at a dreaded 6-5 payout blackjack table. Now I was glad that I had hit the blackjack with only a $20 bet. It still ticked me off that I got a short pay of $24 dollars instead of the $30 I would get on a regular 3-2 payout table but I would have been more ticked off if I had only gotten paid $48 for a $40 bet instead of the $60 payout a regular table blackjack table would have paid me. Now that I was aware of what type table I was sitting at, there was nothing to do but color up and find a regular 3-2 table. Despite being $150 ahead on this table, I just will not play on a 6-5 table. (unless I do so by accident as in this case) At least I got to see what the Hard Rock Barneys ($500 purple chips) looked liked. After I cashed out at the cage, I went to find The Baboo. She was still burning up those slot machines so I took a seat at an adjacent machine. I rarely play slots but I figured this was as good a way to use up my free play as any. I put in a $20 to activate the machine so I could download my free play. That gave me 15 spins on this two coin $ Triple Lucky machine. Well, this machine was not triple lucky, double lucky, or even single lucky. This machine was downright unlucky. (for me anyway) My 15 spins brought not one single credit won. I guess slots can tell I don't regularly play them so they try to get rid of me as soon as possible. The Baboo (who loves slot) was getting a bit more love back from her machine so I left before I jinxed her. Deciding that I wanted to play a game I really enjoyed playing, I grabbed a seat on a 3 card poker table. This was a pretty fun table with me, another guy, and 3 girls playing. The 3 girls had another 3-4 gal-pals looking on and offering encouragement. I made the assumption that they were part of a bachelorette party or birthday celebration. They were hooting and hollering which raised the energy level of our table pretty high. Unfortunately, the cards on this table were making it hard for me to hoot or holler. When the cards are not coming, 3 card poker can quickly suck a wallet dry. It didn't seem like all that long before I was down $200 and decided to move on. I made the short stroll back over to where The Baboo had been. Now she was back on her favorite (Top Dollar) type machine. She was doing OK, getting to play the bonus round twice while I was sitting there visiting. She likes to squeeze as much value as possible out of that bonus round and often goes to the last try. Once it worked and she won $75 but the other time she turned down $50 and wound up with $15 on the final offer.(BTW- this was a $ machine) A cocktail waitress had come around and we had ordered drinks. We decided to walk around a little and flag her down if we saw her. We eventually wound up over by the small VP bar just down from the unisex bathrooms. Since I was thirsty, I sat down to play a little and get a beer. This machine only had for games loaded and none of them were JOB. I wound up playing Joker Poker with no idea of the correct strategies. I hadn't played but 5-6 hands when our cocktail waitress walked by with our drinks. The Baboo caught her eye and we got our drinks. Now I had two beers. Knowing that some VP bars frown on two drinks in front of a customer, I kept one in my lap until I could finish the one sitting on the bar. Not knowing how to play this version of VP, I was steadily losing. I finished the first beer and hit 4 fives at just about the same time. Now that I was just a smidge ahead, I made my getaway. The Baboo had declared her intention to play a little more and then go up to the room. She had lost her earlier winnings and was now into her money. I went back around to the pit that had the 3 card poker tables. I got on a table two tables away from my earlier table with all the partying girls. This table was just me and 3 other guys. Still, we kept an eye on the boisterous group just down the aisle. As we watched, one girl walked up to another, gave her a big hug and reached down to grab her a double-handfull of rear-end. Huh, maybe this wasn't a bachelorette party after all. Who knows? Actually, who even cared? They were having fun and so were we. At least we were for a while. Once again, the 3CP turned against us and all four of us started to see our chips going into the dealers rack at much too rapid a pace. Once again, I hit my $200 loss limit and had to make my departure. Now I was deeper in the hole and it was mostly due to my desire to play 3 card park poker. I figured I should switch my game to real poker and went straight to the Hard Rock poker room. This isn't a real big room with what my memory says was 6 tables. Only two of those were open at the time. One table had a no-limit game going and the other was 1-4-8-8 limit game. I hadn't played that particular structure in a long while but I figured I could handle it. Basically, what I wound up doing is just playing it like a 4-8 limit game. After all, if your hand is good enough to bet, you might as well bet everything allowable at that stage of the hand. The table makeup looked more like what you would expect at the Hard Rock. Everyone was in their mid 20's except me and a guy who looked about 35-40. It was a fun enough table with everyone joking back and forth. There was one group of 3 (2 guys, 1 girl) who were obviously big buddies. They kept taking smoke breaks together so the idea of collusion did cross my mind. Fortunately, their play did not seem to indicate any teamwork. The smoke breaks did cause another issue to be present. We were playing with only 8 people so we were a little short-handed to begin with. I played at least an hour and a half and I do not remember one single hand that there wasn't at least one person standing just outside the poker room smoking. A number of hands were played with 5 or 6 players. That made a lot of pots a little on the small side. When you are having to overcome a rake, you need at least medium sized pots to have a decent chance at profit. Finally, we reached a point where 4 of the 6 players all went to smoke at the same time. I figured it was about time to rack my chips and go get some sleep. So I did and was just glad to walk with my little $27 profit. It was nice sleeping at the Hard Rock. It seemed that they invested in some good insulation and sound proofing. When you have a nice quiet environment and a comfortable bed covered with 6 pillows, it is easy to reside in Sleepy Town. We had been up at Pearl River (Silver Star Casino) a week earlier and it seemed like all the 10 year olds were running foot races in the hall at 8 AM. This was quite an improvement. The next morning we did a quick check-out via the TV and were on the road again. It was a pretty short road trip as we turned into the Beau Rivage parking garage about 500 yds down the road. The Baboo had $90 worth of free play she wanted to use before we went home. Once inside, we made our way over to The Breeze Bar to get a wake-up drink and play a little VP. My Miller Lite and her screwdriver were sure tasty. Even better, they were served by our favorite Breeze Bartender. I stuck a $10 in her machine and fed a couple of twenties in mine. The Baboo was just killing time by playing one quarter at a time while she enjoyed her drink but I knew I might be here a while. As it seems to happen, she was hitting pretty good on her quarter at a time play. I finished my first beer and ordered another round. The Baboo had struck up a conversation with the guy next to her. He was from over in my brother's neck of the woods, the Florida panhandle. He was a postman about to retire and knew some people we know so it was a pleasant conversation that once again illustrates how small our world is. As The Baboo was about ready to go play her free play when lightning struck. It started out innocently enough as I had a hand in which I kept the King of Diamonds and drew four. My eyes almost bugged out as I watched the Jack, Queen, Ace, and Ten of Diamonds fill in those four blank spots. I leaned over to The Baboo and whispered in her ear "You aren't going to believe this". She looked over and squealed with delight. She let out a shout of "You did it!". And indeed I had. The credit meter was one with the audio turned up and most everyone on our side of the bar looked over as they heard credit after credit being rung up. It was an especially sweet Royal (but aren't they all) for me to hit. It was a progressive and the jackpot stood at $1,170 so it was a little larger than a regular one but not so large that it triggered a W2G. I was grinning ear to ear. After a few minutes of celebration, The Baboo went to play her free play. She cashed out the $7 left in her machine and took off. She was back in just a few minutes complaining that she could not get her freeplay to download. That meant a trip to the players club to get this problem taken care of. I assured her I would be right here. Ater not seeing her for almost an hour, I decided to go see how she was doing. Much to my surprise, she was just now a few people from the head of the huge line. I went up and told her I was going back to The Breeze now that I had cashed my big ticket. She promised to meet me there once she had played out her freeplay. About 20 minutes later, she came up and had steam coming out of her ears. Once she had finally got to see a clerk and explained that she could not get her free play to download, the girl looked at her screen and said she had played some of it at a VP machine. The Baboo explained that while she had indeed played at a VP machine, it was a completely cash transaction and she had not even attempted to do any freeplay at that machine. This clerk insisted that she had played $7 of the $90 in freeplay. Tiring of the argument, she conceded the point and asked how she could get the other $83 to download. The clerk seemed totally uninterested in solving that problem and insisted that it would download. The Baboo explained that it had not downloade on the half dozen machines that she had attempted to do so on before coming to the players club. The clerk then suggested that she go try it again and made it clear that her real message of "I am done with you and you are holding up this line of 200 people" was understood. When The Baboo just gave up on getting any customer service and went to do as instructed, she kept getting a "your freeplay account is too low to access" message on every machine she tried to download her freeplay on. She eventually just said the hell with and came to get me so that we could get out of there. This incident very likely cost the Beau what even they had considered a loyal and valuable customer. She hasn't sworn off MGM but it is highly unlikely that the Beau Rivage will be seeing her anytime soon. I cashed out what I had in the VP machine and went over to slip my favorite Breeze Bartender a litte exta something to celebrate my Royal with then hit the road home.