Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Busted flat in Baton Rouge (Trip Report part 3)

Heading for the rooms, feeling near as faded as my jeans. Jamie filled the gas tank up, just before it rained and headed all the way to New Orleans.

(My apologies to Kris Kristofferson)

I’ve seen some great things on the road. I saw guys working the fields on plantations. I saw a huge stork fly across the road and miss my car by about 30 feet. Seriously, that thing must have been about 5 feet long. I saw a huge brush fire a few hundred feet off the road that I could actually feel the heat from in my car and smell a few miles away (it smelled sweet).

I even got to see a little of the southern ‘hood’.

One of the addresses I had gotten for one of the casinos was listed as 832 Martin Luther King Blvd. the Poker Atlas website I use to track these poker rooms. When Hermes took me there (unerringly as usual), it dumped me right in the middle of a neighborhood that was poorer than poor. Ramshackle trailers with rusted roofs and modest ranch homes no bigger than my apartment lined the streets. Kids were playing on the street and riding bicycles and everyone seemed happy. That didn’t stop me from being scared though. I really didn’t know anything about the neighborhood and it felt a touch sketch to me. I turned around and went back the way I came, and saw an amazing sight. Amidst the crushing poverty around me (to be fair only evidenced by the residences and vehicles), four kids came riding down the street on horses. Horses! In the big city where we live, horses are a sign of wealth but down here, it’s just a way to get around. I had passed lots of horse and cattle ranches on my here but couldn’t make the mental connection that some people might actually *use* horses. Anyway, the juxtaposition of the horses and the neighborhood was jarring.

Back to my trip…

After leaving the Grand Coushatta casino, my next destination was Baton Rouge via a few poker rooms in between. It was about 2 hours south to get to Lake Charles, which is a very pretty corner of Louisiana maybe 30 minutes from the Texas border. As advertised, there was a nice lake and the casino was a riverboat job. As far as riverboats go, this one was pretty standard but the poker room is somewhat nicer than some of the others I’ve seen. Not extravagant by any standard but they had 22 tables (!) and they were all nicely spaced out in a really big space. The tables were really crappy, covered by purple velvet which I’ve never seen before. But the room had a feature which made it very nice. There were doors in the room which led out to balconies overlooking the lake. I kind of love water and the idea of being able to just walk out for a rest on the balcony and a beautiful water view is enticing. It’s the same reason why I liked the move downstairs that the Showboat in Atlantic City made by the boardwalk. Anyhow, I made a hundred bucks playing 2-4 NLHE with some friendly locals. Two of them were young lawyers (Vanderbilt graduates as it turns out) and one of them was describing a uniquely southern story which started with the greatest quote I’ve ever heard to start a story:

“I once broke my neck with an alligator in the car. It wasn’t a big alligator though, maybe four and a half feet” -Redneck Lawyer

I’ll spare you the details as to why a fucking ALLIGATOR was loose in this guy’s car that caused him to get into an accident and break his neck, but suffice it to say that the story started with:

“We got drunk and wanted to see if we could catch a ‘gator”. ‘Nuff said.

After leaving Lake Charles, I drove down the road about 40 minutes to the Cypress Bayou, which was out again in the middle of nowhere and played some 5-5 NLHE. It’s odd that some games play big and some play small. Though this was a 5-5 game, it played smaller than my .50/1 game at Wall Street Poker! I played for two hours and lost about 50 bucks but booked the trip with happiness and went on the road again.

My next stop was *supposed* to be Baton Rouge, and it was 6pm already, but one of the players at the table at the Cypress Bayou mentioned that there was a poker room in the city of Amelia. This room hadn’t been in the Poker Atlas and even other players had never heard of it. I called ahead and discovered they really did have a room so I had to make a 30 minute detour and pick up the chip. One of the risks of these trips is that there is imperfect information out there on where the poker rooms are so it’s possible I may miss some when I’m traveling. But if good information falls in my lap, I can’t ignore it.

The Amelia Belle is a truly crappy riverboat casino which had, on a Saturday night, exactly one table of limit poker running and even that wasn’t full. I donked off a rack of white sitting there bored and got up after 30 minutes to finish off my trip to baton Rouge, which was still nearly 2 hours East.

The drive to Baton Rouge took me through some backroads which were fun to drive and I got to see a good bit of local flora and fauna. Huge oak trees with hanging moss, porch swings and even some swarms of black birds, swooping in the sky in a balletic dance. When I pulled into the city, I was truly tired and was not looking forward to playing at all. When I pulled into the hotel parking lot though (I was going to check in first and then go out to play) I found out that completely by coincidence, the hotel I chose to stay at was actually PART of the one poker room in the city! The Sheraton Convention Center is joined to the Belle of Baton Rouge casino. An incredible stroke of luck that pepped me right up. I got into my room and went downstairs to the room.

The Belle of Baton Rouge, unlike some riverboat casinos, is an actual functioning boat (albeit now permanently moored) and it has a touch more romance than the other casinos. That is until you walk inside, where it is dirty and smoky like all others. The poker room is just five tables stuck right into the middle of the gaming floor, but being the only room in town it was completely full. I got a seat at an Omaha High Limit game (4-4-8-12 structure) and had a good time playing until the game broke up at about 1am. I was pretty hungry and when I asked about food, the dealer told me that if I signed up for a players card, new signups get a $10 food credit! He also suggested getting a muffaletta (a local southern sandwich) which I have to say was excellent. I even got a free t-shirt for signing up! They were very friendly and the Omaha game was a very fun time. It was the first time I played Omaha high Limit in a casino and, as expected, I got a string of the best Hi/Lo hands you could ask for! I got A23 about 4 or 5 times and had to call for a wheel but would normally fold that if the Ace wasn’t suited. In Hi/Lo, I could raise that! I walked back to my room and fell asleep happily.

There was one more day of major travel in front of me. Next destination: Biloxi, MS.


Alceste said...

Oh, sweet, sweet muffuletta, how do I miss thee (there's a chain that sells decent ones -- Schlotsky's -- that used to have one store in New York -- was the only reason I went to midtown for several years)

Anonymous said...

Hey Jamie,

We added the Amelia Belle to the Poker Atlas:

Please let me know when you find poker rooms that we're missing.