„The Gulf Coast Poker Championship“ begins 26th August 2008
A report by David Sasseman
We have quite a few World Series of Poker Events (WSOP), World Poker Tour Events (WPT), and other poker tournaments in the Southeastern USA. The Beau Rivage Resort & Casino hosted the Spring Break Poker Classic and it was wild. With the Rounder Magazine Girls, a Monkey „horsing around“, cash games, and a full blown poker tournament, this is an experience to remember. It is offered up Biloxi style, flavored with southern hospitality and warm gumbo stew.
Biloxi, Mississippi is on the picturesque blue Gulf of Mexico. It is 90 miles east of New Orleans, Louisiana. Biloxi’s ‚casino row‘ is less than two miles wide, but it has everything, seven full service casinos with 24-hours non-stop action, five poker rooms, ~5000 hotel rooms, 16 million visitors a year, 20 area golf courses, spas, shopping, nightlife, a newly enlarged airport, brand new condos, a couple of US billion dollar projects, and 26-miles of soft white sand beaches with water sports, fishing tournaments (billfish, red fish, and kingfish), one of the famous Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and Margaritaville Casino & Resort. Margaritaville is part of the Grand Biloxi Casino. Singer-songwriter, Jimmy Buffet teamed up with Harrah’s Entertainment for a USD 700 Million Hollywood type concept of Margaritaville right on the beach, scheduled to be completed 2010.
This place is Las Vegas with water and a cool (28 Celsius) vacation temperature. To top it off, everything is new. I mean everything. Hurricane Katrina wiped the land clean and now it is green, rebuilt, and beautiful again. Biloxi is competing with Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas. The poker room rates at the Beau Rivage are only USD 79/USD 99.
The Beau Rivage Spring Break 2008 tournament is filled with vacationers ready to party like it is Mardi Gras. I flashed back to my youth and times I went to New Orleans for a Spring or Summer Break. The enjoyment was derived from the escape from work, college, authority, or anything else that was real. One wanted to dance, soak up the sun, chase members of the opposite sex, and lounge around with friends. There might have been a little drinking going on as well. The Beau Rivage offers a new type of „Break“. Instead of soaking up the sun, these breakers were waiting for the famous words „Shuffle Up and Deal“; however, this year a new beginning was used by the Tournament Director which was „Start Your Engines!“ Let the fun and games begin!
Most of the „chasing of skirts“ done by these players was hoping to pick up a pocket pair of queens, but they would not mind finding the „hooks“ (jacks) or the „cowboys“ (kings) either. Drinking alcoholic beverages for the most part was replaced with coffee and energy drinks. There were some players that did enjoy a little cocktail from time to time. One of these was the famous Will „The Monkey“ Souther. He has a monkey avatar and a fresh banana on a huge mound of chips. His antics are like an energetic monkey- he yells, crouches, and withers on the floor. I do not know if it was the Red Bull or his „red snapper“ shooters (whiskey, amaretto almond liqueur, and cranberry) that helped his play as he cashed in four of the events for over USD 24,000. He is fun to watch.
The Spring Break Poker Classic had other stars beside The Monkey. The first week of this tournament was dominated by Matt „Cub“ Culberson. He followed up his 1st place World Poker Tour (WPT) win in Tunica (of USD 70,000) by cashing in three preliminary events and won 1st in a USD 500 buy-in which yielded him over USD 12,000. Rounder Magazine „Rounder of the Year“, „T. K.“ Miles was seen cashing.
Then it was on the final event. This was a USD 2,000 buy-in with 173 entries netting a USD 346,000 prize pool. The ballroom was buzzing with bad beat and „luckbox“ stories, but in the end it was Tim Hebert, aka „The Ragin Cajun“ from Lafayette, Louisiana who took the 1st place and USD 117,455. Sam Sundaram from St. Petersburg, Florida took 2nd and a USD 59,263 purse. He also cashed in several other events so this was a good vacation for him. Andrew Hart and John Dolan finished 3rd and 4th. After one more maga satellite tourney, everyone is packing up and heading two miles over to the IP Casino Resort Spa Classic Poker Tournament and another 13 days of poker! This place is great.
The setting in the exquisite AAA four diamond Beau Rivage, is one to behold. The views from this 32-story waterfront property on the Gulf of Mexico is terrific. Approaching the hotel entry, the evergreens, flower gardens, and regal „living oaks“ are magnificent. The lobby is more like a conservatory. It has hundreds of plants which are changed out four times a year and decorated for the major holidays. Pair this up with a good comp system and some of the best gaming in the south and you can see why the Beau Rivage has so many loyal guests who just love the place. There are many other things to do here such as live entertainment, boating, fishing, beach going, a Hollywood style pool, fitness center and spa, and golf course designed exclusively for the Beau Rivage by Tom Fazio. (There are other links you can play designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Davis Love III, and Mark McCumber.) The rooms are spacious and all new. To wake up to this glorious Gulf view is such a great way to start a poker day.
If it is fine dining a player desires, there are three gourmet restaurants on property: The world famous superstar chef, Todd English’s offers a Mediterranean fare, then great steaks and seafood at BR Prime, and Jia for Asian cuisine. Having dined at all three of these fantastic eateries, we could write about each one as they are so great (You can see Rounder Magazine, April 2008 for a good article on Jia). We decided on a fourth choice, Memphis Q, a restaurant and beer brewery for dinner and it was superb! We had the prime rib and mountain trout special- both yummy, melted in your mouth. We found ourselves smiling at each other as soft southern blues music is playing in the background.
The pool and buffet are sic. The pool is to die for- a bar, cabanas, and if you raise a red flag on your chair, food and drink service will be at your beck and call. It is right off a Hollywood movie set. The buffet is the greatest. Everyday at 3 PM they serve all you can drink beer, wine, champagne (on weekend), and sometimes specialty party drinks! Very festive atmosphere from the employees. MGM does all kind of special things like that on this property, at the Gold Strike in Tunica, Mississippi (about six hours north), and its sister property, the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
The Gulf Coast Poker Championship (which starts 25 August 2008), offers 10 main tournaments USD 300 to USD 500, a two day USD 1,000 event, a three day USD 5000 Championship Event, single table tournaments of USD 45 to USD 1000, late night tournaments, satellite events, and cash games to drool over- USD 1/USD 2 no-limit up to USD 10/USD 20 no-limit, some of the pot limit Omaha and mixed (Hold’em/Omaha) games have some higher blinds. The average preliminary field will be about 600 players per event. There is plenty of action for everyone. There is also a WPT Mega satellite because the Beau Rivage is hosting the WPT 16 January 2009.
So what is a Spring or Summer Break? It is a getaway to beautiful Biloxi and the fantastic Beau Rivage to play some poker. Many of the players commented that Ken Lambert and Johnny Grooms of the MGM Beau Rivage hosted one of the best run tournaments ever (Ken and Johnny’s real expertise came in choosing the three ladies that really ran this tournament 🙂 It was really special. We have reservations for the 25 August 2008 tournament. Come join us.