- August 2nd, 2010
MARGE 2010 Trip Report (from mid-May)
Tuesday: Leave Murray Tuesday afternoon after voting in the primary election (I voted for Jack Conway in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, along with a couple of minor local races). Biloxi is basically 9-10 hours due south of my home, i.e. drive until you reach the Gulf. I go about 3.5 hours south to Pickwick State Park in southern Tennessee. This is by a dam on the Tennessee River that forms Pickwick Reservoir, similar to Kentucky Lake which I live on, that is the same river dammed further downstream. The Tennessee River runs north in this stretch and eventually joins the Ohio River.
I do some tent camping at this state park. I purchased some Fat Tire in a grocery store in a little town on the Tennessee-Mississippi border, which is cool but is probably the official sign that New Belgium is no longer a microbrew. This is the culinary equivalent of getting a free look in the big blind with 72off and flopping a full house. I illegally drink a couple of beers at my campsite (they actually have a law in Tennessee about this).
A 21st century touch is surfing for election results on my Blackberry in my tent, where I learn Conway edges out Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo (our Governor is the infamous Steve Beshear of "seize the Internet because of online poker" fame) while Rand Paul whips Mitch McConnell's golden boy Trey Grayson in the Republican primary. Just a few days later is Rand's disasterous trip to the Rachel Maddow show. He hides from most of the press now.
Wednesday: I had my inflatable kayak with me and paddled Pickwick Lake at dawn. It was a bit foggy and very peaceful, as there were only a couple of bass fishing boats and none of the fucking jetskiiers out yet. Did some nice bird watching during the paddle.
I then drove into Mississippi. This is the extreme NE corner of the state, which is somewhat hilly as this is considered the southwestern-most part of the Appalachians. It's not exactly West Virginia, but it's not Tunica either. Tishomingo State Park is a decent little park with camping, hiking, a place to rock-climb, a nice little lake, and a decent stream called Bear Creek. My plan was to take a guided canoe trip on Bear Creek, but it was canceled due to high water. I ended up running a small section of the stream in my kayak. There were a ton of kids on a field trip and Mississippi children don't know the difference between a canoe and a kayak. I check out the campground and wish I had driven the extra hour here, as there are some nice primitive camping sites (away from the RVers) near a small lake that would be fun to paddle. At some point in the future, I'd like to do a kayak-poker trip where I drive here, do the nature thing for a day or so, and then drive west to Tunica and do the poker thing.
I decide to drive down towards Biloxi through eastern Mississippi. I do part of the trip along the Natchez Trace, which while slower than an interstate or other four lane, is a bit more scenic. I do get off the Trace in Tupelo and have a late lunch at the world famous Waffle House. Not sure why, as I'm usually not an aficionado of the Awful Waffle, but I had a perfectly decent burger and good service. That's the culinary equivalent of hitting perfect-perfect runners; good food and service at the Waffle House.
I don't have a room in Biloxi until Thursday (sharing with Frank Bruegger), but I consider going all the way and either doing an all-night gamb00ling session or finding a room. I end up deciding against this idea, as I want to be well rested for a possible kayak excursion the next morning. I get a motel room in Hattiesburg and get dinner at a nearby local buffet. Typically southern home cookin' fare, except they had something I'd never seen before, "Fried BBQ Ribs". Yes, they breaded and deep-fried ribs before covering them in BBQ sauce. I had to try them. My report is that there is no reason to deep fry a perfectly good pork rib. This is the culinary equivalent of having pocket tens lose
Thursday: I make the short drive from Hattiesburg to Biloxi. My plan is to go to Hiller Park, as my online research indicated that the Back Bay of Biloxi is a good place to kayak. I get there to find signs about alligators that had been spotted. I chicken out, the equivalent of flopping TPTK and folding to a bet on a scary coordinated flop. I go over to the Beau Rivage and see if I recognize anyone. Mark Hughes isn't here yet and I don't see anyone I know. I sit down at a 4/8 limit holdem game. It's mostly bitter old rocks except one guy (there with his wife) keeps yapping about the magic of six-four offsuit. He looked vaguely familiar and later I figure out that I'm playing with BARGErs John and Dianne Pickels. I walk over to the Hard Rock and eat a good, albeit overpriced, burger at the bar. They show an insane variety of videos. Go back to the Beau and find my roommate Frank and settle in the room and finish off my Fat Tires.
MARGE is really small and many of them I don't know from BARGE. I do see Mark Hughes and Janie McIntosh, both from my DV8s CHORSE team from last year. We only have 8 players for the PLO8 tournament. This guy Len from San Antonio build a big stack, playing a lot of hands and getting some good luck. He eventually crashes and burns and bubbles in 4th. I milk a small stack into the money and eventually get to heads-up with Pickels. We grind for a while, he offers a deal as I think he's getting tired, but my inner Scottro tells me that if I win my first *ARGE tournament on a deal that it really doesn't count. I do eventually win in legit fashion for a $300 score. I don't really recall any specific hands.
I do the pool scene in the morning, and then go outside the Beau to a busy locals restaurant a few blocks away called the Old Biloxi Schooner. I sit at the counter and order a bowl of gumbo and a shrimp & crab po'boy. It's very good and I definitely will return if in Biloxi again. MARGE was shortly after the oil spill started and no oil had reached Mississippi yet (the media was reporting it approaching Louisiana) and I dread that the Gulf may be ruined for a long time and the Gulf of Mexico seafood will be a thing of the past.
Return to the Beau and book a small win in a 1/2 NL game. Our Tournament of Champions is another SNG, with 8 or 9 players.I get Russ Fox cards and go out early, in 6th. Pickels is the bridesmaid again, as the card gods shine on Mark Hughes. Most of us go to the Beau buffet afterward. I'm not a buffet aficionado, but this was damn good. A big variety of cuisines available.
Our main event NLHE tournament is in the morning. It's not even a single table event, as a couple of local MARGErs that could only play today were there. We also had 4 or 5 non-MARGErs in the tournament. Mississippi gaming doesn't allow private tournaments, so all of our tournaments were open to the public and were officially charity events for the Hope Haven shelter for abused children. No aliens sullied our PLO8 or TOC, but they got into NLHE. We end up with 17 players. I stay out of trouble and stay around par and make it to the final table. Five are being paid and I go on a mini-heater, as I take out two of the locals, with KK over AQ and 99 over K4 on the Italian guy with the Cajun accent. He was a fun guy but a terrible player. We get to the money with only one non-BARGEr left. I make my biggest mistake of the weekend making a hero call (I think calling with 2nd or 3rd pair) on the river against Pickels. My hand is no good and I'm down to a jam/fold stack. I find A9 sooted and jam; Pickels calls with presto.I tell him the stories about my presto-killing ways at BARGE (taking Ron and Ashley out last year when they had 55). Flop is A4x, turn is 3, river is naturally a five and IGHN. Pickels ends up 3rd (2nd amongst us), a guy named Tim (buddy of Mark Hughes) gets 2nd (1st amongst MARGErs) and we let the local win our fucking tournament.
We get trophies. I got 1st PLO8, 3rd NLHE, and 2nd in overall player. Pickels got 2nd in all 3 tourneys (only player to cash in all of them) and won overall player. Dammit, if my flopped ace had held I think that would have been mine. Mark auctions off some schwag for the charity and I pick up a PokerStars leather jacket for $20. Now I just need an appropriate social setting to wear a black and red motorcycle jacket with PokerStars.Com emblazoned on it. Maybe the next faculty luncheon or Steve Beshear campaign rally?
I then r00l an action 4/8 limit holdem game against Mark, Pickels, Frank, and Len. I'm a silly boy and go to the pool for a while. Nobody else wanted to do sushi, so I went to the upscale Asian place at the Beau on my own. The sushi is good, but the young guy sitting next to me at the sushi bar just blurts out "Did you know I have cancer? You don't know what to say to that, do you?" Errrm, not really. Return for more 4/8, a juicy game against terribad tourists that I manage to lose money in.
Get up early and drive 9ish hours to return home.