Jan 9
by Rolka Nation

My last post dealt with me receiving a free suite offer at The Venetian as a result of very minimal play.  Love Vegas and I certainly love the Venetian.  But there are others…

For you easterners out there, Biloxi is a great place to get your casino fix that has great offers to take advantage of as well.

Biloxi tends to get very overlooked by Vegas purists.  Granted, the Gulf Coast is definitely not Vegas nor will it ever be.  There are minimal shows, an older overall crowd, and no sports books.  But, there’s also less crowds, cheaper fine dining options, and the beach!  Plus, it’s a hell of a lot closer and you still get free booze when playing.  Those factors, along with the fact that the table game rule are typically much better than in Vegas, make Biloxi a great gaming getaway choice.

Another common misconception of the Biloxi area is that the casino resorts are not up to par with those in Vegas.  While not as huge, this is simply not true.  A few are nothing to write home about, but Biloxi does have 5 or 6 great options.  I can’t speak for each and every one as I have not visited all of them, but I can safely say that the Beau Rivage, Hard Rock, and IP all stack up very nicely to the Vegas mid-tier resorts such as Harrah’s, Flamingo, Tropicana, and Monte Carlo. 

Remember these guys?  You should if you want some free stuff, and you do want some free stuff!For you loyal Player’s Club people out there (such as myself), Biloxi’s got you covered as well.  The Beau is considered the overall nicest property on the Gulf Coast and it’s an MGM spot.  Therefore, that same Player’s Club card that you use to rack up comps at Vegas properties like Mirage, New York New York, MGM Grand, and TI also works the exact same at the Beau.  (Don wrote about player’s cards here)  Those who prefer Harrah’s Total Rewards program, you’re good to go as well at The Grand in Biloxi.  And the IP, while not linked to any major casino chain, has a very generous called My IP Rewards.  On my last trip, I racked up about $30 on my IP card with fairly light slot play.  The best aspect of the IP card is that it continuously builds up a comp balance that you can check in real-time at automated kiosks throughout the casino.  Then, when you want to cash in on a free meal or round of drinks, it works just like a debit card anywhere at the resort.  Very cool!

Biloxi also has great recreation options almost year round.  This is probably one area where Biloxi actually does clearly outshine Vegas.  Plenty of golf courses are abound along with a big stretch of public beach complete with vendors and raft/umbrella rental stands.  I don’t know about you guys, but I love the option of spending a couple of lazy hours sprawled out on the sand after a heavy dose of drunken gambling the night before.  Like to fish?  Biloxi offers plenty of great and affordable charter fishing trips as well, most are dock right next to the Hard Rock at the Small Craft Marina.  That means you likely are no more than a 10 minute cab/car ride to the marina and, BOOM, you’re fishing for out on a boat for hours for probably no more than $45 a person.  The convenience of Biloxi is one of its greatest pluses.  No matter what, you’re 10-15 minutes from anything and cabs are easy to score at the casinos.  The airport is also very small, laid-back, and quick to get in and out of.  Back to the fishing, a group of 5 of us went out with Capt. Jim, who can be found at be-slick.com, and had a good ol’ time!

Pittsburgh Gil surveys the scene @ the Shed, look at that live music venue!Another thing worth noting about Biloxi is the outstanding local bayou cuisine.  I have yet to try them all, but quite possibly the best BBQ I’ve ever had (definitely the MOST) was found at a place 2 exits away from the IP called The Shed.  And that name is certainly no misnomer.  It is literally a rundown wooden shed, but the food is impeccable and the outdoor seating area is top-notch.  If ever in Biloxi, this is an absolute must if you’re even a slight BBQ fan.  Go.

One last thing that I feel worth mentioning about Biloxi is that it really needs the tourism.  Vegas does as well, no doubting that, but Biloxi needs it a little more in my opinion.  Vegas had a bad ’09, sure.  But the city itself will rebound and is firmly entrenched as America’s #1 gambling destination and adult play haven.  That will never change.

Biloxi though did not just have a bad ’09, it’s had a bad 4+ years.  As you know, Katrina leveled the area in August of 2005.  All of these aforementioned casinos were closed for at least 3 months, some over a year, and a couple didn’t survive at all.  The Grand was destroyed and had to move to a temporary home across the street and the Hard Rock’s opening gala was delayed for nearly 2 years because of the massive cleanup.  While Vegas is in no danger of ever going away as a gaming mecca, Biloxi could be.  They really need visitors like us. 

As a result of the shared ordeal that all of the locals experienced, I’ve also found that the dealers and service staffs in general are incredibly warm and friendly.  I’ve had many extremely pleasant table sessions with awesome dealers.  Several shared their stories and tales of Katrina with me and can give great advice on local eateries and activities to check out.  Unlike Vegas where SOME dealers are cool, pretty much all of them in Biloxi are and appear, to me at least, to be happy, genuine, and unjaded.  Good, good people there.

So if you’re in need of a gaming getaway but don’t quite have the time, tolerance, or scratch to get out to Vegas, definitely consider Biloxi if you’re in the eastern half of the country.  It’s also about an hour from New Orleans and all that it has to offer (including a great Harrah’s property to boot). 
Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I’ll outline how to get to Biloxi for cheap!

Jul 7
by Rolka Nation


And now for a break from our regularly scheduled program, I present to you Pittsburgh Gil! 


Greetings fellow degenerates!  It’s your ol’ pal Pittsburgh Gil here to spread the good word.  You all doing ok?  Fantastic!  So anyway, Donnie Boy and I took a little impromptu trip to the Gulf Coast a couple of weeks back and the world simply must hear our harrowing tale.  And by “the world”, I mean the 12 of you that read this blog. 


Look at the IP in all of it's Majesty...The backstory of this trip was rooted in uncertainty.  But that uncertainty soon turned to triumph.  Your’s truly was admittedly a little on the fence about doing this trip at first due to financial matters.  I have an adventure approaching in Italy which is certainly not as cheap as say…not going to Italy…so I had to conserve.  Throw in the fact that we could not find a room at a casino for under $200…and apprehension set in.  But fear not good readers.  After some deep introspective thought whilst bathing in an 82 degree bubblebath at home two nights before the trip, I had an epiphany.  An epiphany of fun.  I was all-in baby!

Donnie Baseball and I pulled anchor in Atlanta mid-day Friday and started the arduous journey to our 5-star hotel…the Quality Inn on Washington Avenue off exit 97.  This turned out to be our best lodging option because I utilized my 20% off at Choice Hotels ASCAP discount to get the room for just $60 a night.  What is ASCAP you might ask?  The American Society of Composers, Artists, and Publishers.  I’m a published songwriter.  A brilliant one.  Deal with it. 

After 5 1/2 hours and two bags of peanut M&Ms, we reached our amazing hotel, had a Johnny Walker, and promptly hit the IP for gaming galore.  Our first night can be summed up with 3 words:  City, Of, and Champions.  It was here where I was privileged enough to watch my Penguins upset the Detroit Red Wings on the road to win the Stanley Cup.  All this while enjoying a bucket of 5 beers at a discounted price!  With Pittsburgh officially now being The City of Champions, it was time to celebrate.  Don and I hit the BJ tables hardcore-style.  Several hours, beers, and Maker’s later….we were doing well.  It was nearing 1AM and I was plunging deeper into a drunken stupor so we decided to end the night soon.  But not before hitting some nice hands and ending the evening slightly up.  I’ll take that any night!  Then we stopped so Don could purchase a 3 gallon jug of water.  Then to bed.

Day 2 began ominously.  The Denny’s that we wanted to patron for lunch was closed for remodeling.  We ended up at a Waffle House.  Don ordered every breakfast item known to man and I got a chicken sandwich.  Don made the right choice.

Back to the IP for my first ever real poker tournament!  I’m somewhat new to poker but am learning at a frenetic pace.  I was apprehensive about this as well but I decided to just roll with it.  We bought in for $60 but got like $2500 worth of chips.  I honestly didn’t even know tourneys worked that way.  I ended up getting assigned to the most boring table ever.  Old, quiet, steely-eyed men were on special that day.  And they were all at my table.  Despite liking poker, this is one of my reservations with the game in a casino.  It can be kind of boring and not all that fun depending on who you’re playing with.  Oh well though, I was in this for the learning experience.  Well….I did pretty well.  I won 3 hands, played for about 90 minutes, and outlasted 5 others at my table.  It wasn’t until this tiny, crazy, loud Asian dude bought in that things started to go downhill.  He sat right next to me and talked my ear off…perhaps threw me off my game a little.  He was good though and sounded like Khan on King of the Hill so at least I was thoroughly entertained.


At this point, I bowed out gracefully and headed down to the casino to wait for Don.  He didn’t last too much longer than me and we were soon on another BJ table.  Don took this table by storm and quickly won about a grand.  Hedge economics works, people.  Stellar.


We decided to head out for a bit and cruised the ocean strip and downtown Gulfport.  Downtown Gulfport is about as exciting as my grandmother’s backyard….unfortunately.  Then it was off to a BBQ joint called The Shed that I’ve heard about but never had the chance to visit.  If you’re ever in the area and even remotely like BBQ……GO!  All I have to say, just do it.  And don’t eat anything for 3 days leading up to it.

Back to the IP one last time.  We decide to play some dollar Wheel of Fortune slots and I hit wins of 160, 300, and then a spin for 400 in about a 5 minute spin.  AMAZING!!  I cashed out $775 from my $100 buy-in.  This was my single best session in personal gambling history and I was flying high.  To celebrate, we went for a quick drink at the IP pool bar.  The IP’s pool area is quite nice with a good bar, food, and a giant TV overlooking the pool. Look at that face; absolute insanity ensued immediately afterward.

We then had a couple more decent BJ sessions, was frightened by a redneck in a wife-beater who for some reason stored his pack of Marlboro Reds down his shirt in his wife-beater as opposed to his pocket or simply resting them on the table, and then called it a trip.  

Final Thoughts:


– Don did very well, a true BlackJack ace

– I had my first ever trip where I came home with more money then I went with, including all food, gas, entertainment, etc.

– the drive down to Biloxi is just bearable enough.  Not too long, but an hour longer would be rough.  Very do-able.

– The Shed rules

– the IP has an awesome comp system

– Matthew Broderick was wrong.  There were no “Blues” had by Don and I in Biloxi this weekend!

– F YOU MATTHEW BRODERICK!!  Your wife is weird looking.