Recently the PQ and I took a little trip to New Orleans for fun, food, and of course gambling. We had 3 days reserved in a hotel right by the French Quarter so we took the opportunity to make a roadie out of it and drive up the coast from the Tampa Area to NOLA with stops in Pensacola (to visit our niece Kristin at Univ of West Florida), Biloxi, and New Orleans. Then we figured to stop back in Biloxi for a day on our way back so we weren't just driving through.
It was a good trip though not profitable on the gambling side. It wasn't all bad at least and man did we eat well. We left on Saturday morning and arrived in Pensacola around 4pm. The drive went pretty easy all in all. Good weather and traffic was pretty light going up US 19 almost to Tallahassee before we moved it over to Interstate 10. We made a brief stop in Tallahassee to hit up the Whataburger for lunch. Love me some Whataburgers and they don't have any restaurants in the Tampa Bay area anymore. From there it was a little under 3 hours to reach Pensacola. After meeting up with our niece we decided to grab some dinner at a little place, almost a dive, called Jerry's Drive In. What a fun place, with some good food and beers. We ate our fill then took the niece shopping so we could tell her mother she was no longer a starving college student. We were pretty tired from the road tripping so we made it an early night.
The next morning we went over to the college again and grabbed Kristin so we could head out to Sunday brunch at a place called McGuires Irish Pub. We'd been there before but never for brunch. Brunch is served with Irish coffee (frozen or hot) and beignets. The frozen Irish coffee went down very nicely indeed. I had an omelet that was made with 6 eggs. It was big but my appetite was bigger and I took it down. Needless to say we were stuffed when we left there. The restaurant was busy when we arrived around 10:30 and packed when we left. Does a huge business on Sunday for brunch. The PQ and I recommend it highly.
From Pensacola it's a pretty easy drive to Biloxi, only about 2 hours depending on the traffic through Mobile. Mobile is tough to get through sometimes, there's a big bridge over the bay before you reach the city then you go through a tunnel right after you cross the bridge and traffic tends to jam up there. Last time I drove through it was not fun. We checked the traffic maps and there were problems going through so this time I stopped for gas a short time after crossing into Alabama and found a route around Mobile. We didn't actually miss the city but we were able to route north of the city and hook up with I-65. We went south on 65 until it met up with I-10 on the west side of Mobile. Easy trip even if a bit longer in miles. For me travelling is not the shortest distance between 2 points, it's the easiest way to get from A to B. The less stress on the drive, the better I like it and I try to avoid the interstates whenever possible. You really can't do that through Mobile unless you want to drive surface streets through the city but at least I was able to avoid the mess on I-10. After Mobile we thought about travelling the rest of the way on US 90 right along the Gulf coast but decided we wanted to get to Biloxi sooner so we took the interstate the rest of the way.
In Biloxi we each had a free night at the Beau Rivage. If you get a chance to stay there, I recommend it highly. They know how to treat customers. When we first got to the hotel, there was a quite a line waiting to check in. I figured on a 30-45 minute wait in line but like a shot, about 8 or 10 desk clerks made their way to the counter and within 10 minutes we had a room. Nice rooms at the hotel. Very comfortable. We didn't have a great view but we didn't care. A room is where I lay my head between gaming sessions so as long as it's comfortable, I'm happy. Later that night I went down to the front desk to make sure my free room reservation was attached to the PQs so we didn't have to move out and back in again. The guy on duty handled it like a pro and about 2 minutes after I talked to him, we were all set. Great staff at the Beau Rivage. The next day I made sure I talked to the manager and told her how much I appreciated the great customer service and attention to detail of the staff. I think she appreciated hearing it. But I know everyone I dealt with at the Beau, from cocktail servers to gaming staff to front desk to restaurant staff treated us well. BTW if you want to know how we got free rooms, the PQ and I have been playing some online slots on a couple of sites sponsored by the MGM. One is called POP Slots and the other is MyVegas slots. Both are pretty mindless ways to kill some time but we do rack up points as we play and those points can be used for things like free rooms, 2/1 and free buffets, drinks, free and reduced tickets to shows, etc. Sometimes things are blacked out and you can't use them but on this trip, it worked out really well for us.
We had a good time in Biloxi but the gambling did not go so well. I didn't really have a chance to play poker but did roll the dice at a few places there, all unsuccessfully. The PQ also did not hit much on the video poker so it was not a profitable few days there. I did manage to get a round of golf in while we were there. There's an old golf course named Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport just over the border from Biloxi. It was designed by Donald Ross who is considered one of the great early golf course designers in the US, responsible for at least a couple of hundred courses throughout the country. I've played some of his courses both here in Florida and up in Rhode Island where I grew up. Some I didn't even know he designed.
Great Southern is located directly across the street from the Gulf of Mexico. I'm sure it had some flood damage from Hurricane Katrina and from Hurricane Camille back in 1970 but at least it's on land that is raised up about 6 feet from the beaches so it doesn't flood all that often. It's a great old course with a really nice clubhouse and bar. You can tell it was built in the time before golf carts as the distance from one green to the next tee is pretty short while the holes are pretty close together. It even has a train track dividing the course after number 8 so that you play the first 8 holes on one side of the tracks, cross over for the next 9, then come back over for number 18. Apparently it was originally a 9 hole course until they bought the land on the other side of the tracks and added another 9 holes. So number 18 was originally the 9th hole when the course first opened.
4th green heading right toward the Gulf
The course also has some great scenic views as you approach the green on the 4th and 18th holes. What more can a man ask for from a course. The course conditions were not fantastic but considering it was April and they had just come out of winter, it was decent. And a fun course. I shot 87 which was a good round for me, especially since I hadn't played much over the winter this year. I got lucky on the 18th hole, as I pulled my approach shot into the greenside bunker but hit a good sand shot to 6 feet and dropped the putt for par. Just like the pros do.
After a couple of days of fun in Biloxi it was time to head to New Orleans. Ohh did we have fun there. I've never spent more than a day or 2 there so this time we actually got to see the city, walk around, eat, drink, be merry, and gamble. And walk we did. Our hotel was on the north east side of the French quarter so whenever we'd get down to Jackson Square or further, we'd end up going through almost the entire Quarter. We ate at a bunch of places we've wanted to like Mothers, Arnauds (not the main restaurant but the bar next door called Arnaud's Remoulade - we were not dressed for the main place), Cafe Maspero, Ole Saint (a pub owned by ex Saint Deuce McAllister) with hurricanes at Pat O'Briens, coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde, and even a visit to the World War 2 museum. I highly recommend every one of those places. I almost forgot we had dinner at EAT New Orleans which was right around the corner from the hotel. We finished our trip with breakfast at the Camilla Grill in the Garden District before heading out of the city Good way to finish the trip.
Along the way we did get in a little gambling at the Harrahs. I had a really nice roll on the craps table, kept the dice for about 45 minutes on one roll and hit all the numbers for a nice bonus. It was nice to finally get something going on the craps table. I cashed out for $700 which was a nice comeback after my lack of success in Biloxi.
The next night after dinner at EAT, I hit the poker room at Harrahs. I'd played there one time before and remembered it seemed to be a pretty loose room. I was not wrong. A little after I'd signed up to play $1-3 no limit (the lowest stakes there), they opened a new table. I got my favorite seat next to the dealer. For a new $1-3 table, the max you can buy in for is $300 which just about everyone did. If you go to a table that was already open, or if you bust at your current table, you can buy in for whatever the biggest stack at the table has. Most of the time, people were raising for $15-20 preflop, sometimes as much as $25-30.
The very first hand after we sit down, guy in early position raises to $20 and gets 3 callers. Flop is Ace high. He leads out for $50 and only one guy calls him. The next card is low. No flush or straight on the board yet. Original raiser leads out for $80 and is called by the other guy. River is a 2. Raiser goes all if for another $150. Other guy thinks for a couple of minutes and finally calls for all his chips. Original raiser flipped over AQ while the guy who kept calling turned overe AJ. The loser immediately bought in for $600 and continued playing (and losing) eventually giving away his second buy in - unfortunately not to me.
While the loose playing continued, I kept waiting for a hand to play. Very few hands were unraised preflop and I was not getting cards worth calling a raise - which didn't stop many of the other people from playing hands. I saw some pretty loose calls and chips going back and forth around the table. After 2 people to my right busted, a lady and her cowboy boyfriend - who was much younger - sat down and bought in for three or four hundred each. She played fairly normally but he didn't meet two cards he could play. Won a bunch of chips with some unlikely hand, like 9-6 when he hit 2 pair but he gave it back. He ended up buying back in for another 500. Finally I get a decent hand, Q-J suited, and the hand wasn't raised preflop so I called in late position. Flop is perfect, K-10-9 rainbow. Small blind leads out for $15 and 4 people call. Turn is a 6 and he pushes in for $41. It's folded to me and I call. River is a blank and he flips over K-10 for top two pair but not enough to beat my flopped straight.
That got me started and put me up about $100. A lady moves to the seat next to me and announces she had already lost $1000 on another table and wanted to get it back. She and I tangled on one hand and ended up chopping when we each rivered a straight. Then I called a preflop raise to 15 with A-9 of clubs. Flop was all low but had 2 clubs. There was a bet of $25 but 3 people called before me so I figured to see the turn. Turn was the Ace of spades. Guy across from me bets out for $50 which surprised me since he didn't lead out on the flop so I put him on an ace but watching him play previously, I wasn't convinced I was behind him at that point (though I probably was) but when cowboy boyfriend - well on his way to losing his second buy in - calls, I figure why not. River is a beautiful 2 of clubs. Checked by the guy across from me. I'm really figuring the cowboy will bet but he checks to. So I put out $85. Guy across from me looks at me for a minute then calls. I'm hoping cowboy will call too, I know he will with any kind of hand, but he folds and I flipped over the nut flush. Guy looks disgusted and folds and I'm now up about $300.
The lady who had lost $1000 then gets into a betting war with the guy in seat 1 and ends up getting calling his all in bet on the turn for something like $425. Between the two there is about $1000 in the pot and she cleans him out. She had AK on a King high flop and he never showed so I'm not sure why he thought he was ahead but this made her pretty happy. Now she's only down $500 for the night. I had to leave soon after as it was getting late and we were leaving in the morning but it was a good night for me as I was up about $350 at that point. With that and my great craps roll I left New Orleans a lot better off than I got there. A great ending to a great trip.
From New Orleans we went back to Biloxi for a night before heading home to sunny Fla. Had dinner at our favorite barbecue place there, The Shed in Ocean Springs. Funky wreck of a place but what good barbecue. I've been there 2 or 3 times before and it has never disappointed. The smoked sausage is great and the sweet potato casserole is fantastic. We gambled a bit but had no luck there. The next morning we went to a seafood place called McElroys which is right over the bridge from Biloxi in Ocean Springs. They serve a great breakfast and I had to admit their beignets were better than the ones we got at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. They were hot, light and fluffy with a crunchy crust. Cafe du Monde was good but these were better. Best I ever had I think. With full stomachs and some cash still in my wallet we headed home after a really fun vacation. I look forward to our next trip to New Orleans but next on tap is Vegas in October. I am ready to go now.