All tolled, my Gulf Coast adventure was a flop. I whiffed on all the tournaments I played but I did manage to scratch out a decent profit in the sit ‘n go’s down there. I made some craptacularly stupid plays in the $1,000 event–it was as if I was temporarily possessed by an evil moron–which sent me into a short but ferocious period of self-loathing, but I recovered and played well in all the other tournaments. Still I have no positive results to show for it. Typical.
We Do Things A Li’l Different Down Here.
In a welcome turn of events, the town of Biloxi actually began to grow on me a bit once the initial wave of culture shock wore off. Like I said in the prior entry, it’s kind of an odd place for a sheltered Yank like myself to spend a week, but I got the hang of it after awhile. By the end I had adopted a southern twang of my own. Ya’ heard? (or something)
Where else are you gonna meet a guy who calls himself Mudcat? Yes, a man introduced himself to me as “Mudcat” with a straight face, and I countered with a perfectly natural “nice ta meet ya, Mudcat!” while suppressing the urge to laugh. In case you’re wondering what Mudcat looked like, close your eyes and envision a guy who calls himself Mudcat. He looked like that.
Here’s another amusing exchange I had at the table:
Old guy: “Where you from, son?”
Me: “Brooklyn, New York. How about you?”
Old guy: “Kershaw, South Car-lina. You really from Brooklyn?”
Old guy: “Man, I feel sorry for you. But you have good drankin’ water up there.”
Where else is it appropriate for an old man to say “has anyone told you today how beautiful you are?” to a young female dealer? Up north, anyone who makes that sort of comment may as well have “PERVERT” printed in red across his forehead. Down south, it’s neither lecherous nor unusual, it’s just a gentlemanly sort of thing to say.
Where else does “ladies night” at the club mean this: a DJ shows up at 10:00 and spins an array of Dirty South hip hop anthems. Fat white girls in tight dresses get groped by white guys in button down shirts. Stone-faced black guys with corn rows and necklaces with ugly diamond medallions watch impassively. The next day, everyone marvels at how late the club stayed open (3:00 is late?).
Where else can you witness good old-fashioned racism like the kind in this scene:
Two young blond girls in miniskirts are waiting for the elevator in the hotel lobby. They’re obviously coming back from “ladies night,” wasted. They’re wobbling in their high heels and giggling. Each is holding the hand of a young black man. About ten feet away stands a solitary young white guy, and he’s shooting the foursome a sideways look and scowling.
I arrive on the scene, and the white guy mutters to me: “can you believe this shit?” while nodding in the direction of the two couples. I have no idea how to reply, so I just shrug. The elevator arrives and the doors open. The two girls push their new black friends forward into the elevator, still giggling. White guy is now mournfully shaking his head as we follow them into the elevator. I’m closest to the buttons and ask “what floor, y’all?”
White guy says “eight, please.” I push 8. I look at the black dudes. One says “I have no idea” and glances at his date. She stops giggling long enough to say “Twelve. We’re bringing THE BROTHAS back for an afta-partayy!” Then she makes the outdated “fist with protruding pinky and thumb” hip-hop gesture and high fives her friend as they burst into laughter. The two black kids force small smiles and stare straight ahead as they are groped from behind. White guy is beet red.
I say “Okay then!” and push 12.
For years now, people have been telling me that Pot Limit Omaha is the wave of the poker future. I hadn’t seen much evidence to that effect until this trip. All the biggest cash games in the room at the Beau Rivage were PLO games. I saw a guy drag a $16,000 pot with an unimproved bottom two pair. I thought that wasn’t supposed to happen in PLO, but I’m a PLO n00b.
Best BBQ Ever! (also Waffle House)
In my last blog entry I bemoaned the lack of stuff to do down on the Gulf Coast. I really hate staying cooped up in a casino on my trips; I prefer getting out and doing something “local,” or else I eventually lose my mind. My initial impression was that I would find nothing to my liking down in Biloxi, but it turns out I was off base. Don’t get me wrong–the entire town closes by midnight (although in fairness it gets more crowded on weekends). But I found one place that I absolutely loved: The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
I’m neither a foodie nor a true BBQ connoisseur. I just love BBQ and have had lots of it, including pilgramages to out of the way places in North Carolina and Tennessee, along with all the NYC joints. On my trips to Turning Stone, a visit to the Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, NY is a requirement. Even though I can’t tell you in intimate detail why I like a certain BBQ joint, I know what I like. And The Shed serves the best BBQ I’ve ever had, and is one of the top ten restaurants I’ve ever been to. I was surprised to see some negative reviews of this place on yelp.com, but I trust my taste buds. And they approve of The Shed’s BBQ.
The place is pretty out of the way, off of Route 10 (the highway that connects Gulfport and Mobile), and it’s located next to a trailer park. The place is literally a shedof some sort, with a yard full of junk next to it. The decor inside is an overwhelming tapestry of more junk; it’s everywhere, on the walls, the floor, the ceiling. You walk in and a hostess approaches you and chats your face off about what you oughta eat. Then you stand in line and order it, and then you go sit somewhere amidst the junk and wait. Chilling along with the other customers there is a small collection of happy homeless-looking men who are apparently either employed by The Shed or just allowed to hang out there. After awhile, a different chick pops out of the kitchen with a Styrofoam box screaming your name, and when you reply you are presented with the box.
Upon receiving the box, you open it, and inside is the best BBQ ever. Easily the best ribs i ever had, with meat that falls off the bone. Your meal includes a couple of sides, and they sold me on the macaroni salad, which i don’t normally like, but this was the best macaroni salad ever. They also jam a piece of white bread in the styrofoam box, along with a plastic fork. And to drink they have a gazillion beers and sweet tea. It comes out to around $12.00. Unbelievable place. I didn’t discover it until there were only two days left on my trip, but I made sure to return on my final day in town. In the event that I ever return to Biloxi, this place will be the reason why.
Also, I went to a Waffle House for the first time in my life. If you’re ever on a highway anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, you know from what I’m talking. Those ubiquitous yellow huts. Every single freakin’ exit, another yellow hut. There was one right across from the Beau Rivage, so I figured it was time to finally give it a try. It’s basically a smaller, cheaper Denny’s (yes, cheaper than Denny’s), which is to say that it’s a greasy little diner. In downstate New York, diners are never franchised. They’re all privately owned by Greek people, and some of them serve delicious food. Elsewhere it seems that folks are stuck with places like Denny’s and Waffle House. Anyway, Waffle House’s menu is a single laminated page. The breakfast was decent, but not worth writing home about. Although I suppose I just did.
On my first day at the Beau Rivage, I noticed the legendary degenerate Eskimo Clark lurking about. Sweet! One of the wonderful things about playing professional poker is that you are exposed to scuzzy yet lovable characters like Eskimo Clark. You just have to be sure to love them from afar and tread lightly when you’re up close. Eskimo’s presence was a very exciting development.
I quietly hoped I would get to sit with him at some point during my stay. I had no such luck for the first five days, but then came the magic moment: in a $500 megasatellite to the main event, about halfway through the tournament, I was summarily removed from my seat and moved directly to Eskimo’s left. Yes!
Eskimo Clark. A chain smoker sporting a thick, Brillo-like mullet and equally thick beard, he acquired his nickname for his supposedly strong resemblance to the guy depicted in the Alaska Airlines logo. An interesting looking fellow for sure, but his charm lies more in his persona than his appearance. Eskimo’s old claim to fame was for being a grizzled old-schooler with three WSOP bracelets who was perpetually broke and smelly, sleeping in his car and constantly angling for a loan that will keep him in action.
Then in 2007 Eskimo took the term “degenerate” to lofty new heights by refusing to leave his seat during a WSOP Razz Event despite suffering a series of life-threatening strokes at the table. Several witnesses’ accounts state that Eskimo was almost completely disabled by the strokes, rendered unable to handle his chips and slumped forward onto the table with a vacant look in his eyes. But Eskimo was the chip leader in the tournament and was going nowhere. He was lucid enough to angrily wave off the paramedics and sign the waiver of liability that the Harrah’s Corporation put in front of him. He eventually made the final table before busting. Although he failed in his quest to win his fourth bracelet, his incredible performance that day earned him a place in the pantheon of all time degens. Sure, he risked death, but I’m convinced that the St. Peter of poker heaven was watching. Eskimo is now assured an equally degenerate afterlife. Needless to say, I was excited to play poker with this sick bastard.
After a few hands at Table Eskimo, I picked up AK suited in the small blind. It was folded to Eskimo on the button and he raised to 3.5x the big blind. I duly shoved all in with my large stack and gave Eskimo a little smile. He grumbled something unintelligible, then gave me the old “i’m gonna call” pump fake by putting his hands behind his stack, as if ready to push it forward. Tricky! I sat there with the same little grin on my face, and Eskimo eventually folded. I gathered the chips and flipped my cards in face down.
I wasn’t about to let this golden opportunity to add an Eskimo story to my arsenal go to waste, so I tried to get a little discourse going:
This perked Ol’ Eskimo up a bit. “What’d you have?”
“An ace and a king! Good laydown.”
“Yep, I had king-queen,” said Eskimo. “I guess I did make a good laydown.”
“Yep, assuming I’m not lying about the ace-king, you made a nice laydown.”
Eskimo grumbled something.
The very next hand I picked up AQ on the button, and when the player two seats to my right opened, I shoved all in again. This time the big blind woke up with something good and called my shove, as did the original raiser. I was up against AK and AJ. Uh-oh. But the flop came Q-x-x, then the board bricked out, and I won a big pot.
“I run good!” I exclaimed as I dragged the pot. Now Eskimo was ready to chat.
“You know that Daniel Neg–Neg–Neguno?”
“Daniel Negreanu? Yeah, I’ve heard of him.”
“Well, yer luckier than he is. I play him heads up in Reno. He wins damn near every pot with junk cards.”
Naturally, I was curious about this epic Eskimo-Negreanu confrontation, so I did some googling in my hotel room later that night and discovered that Eskimo was referencing tournament that took place eleven years ago.
That’s my Eskimo Clark story, and I’m stickin’ to it.
Love you, Janeen!
I want to close this blog entry with a shout out to my wife. Most women don’t envision spending this much time apart from their husbands in the first three months of marriage. I’m writing this from a hotel room in Atlantic City (the Borgata Winter Open just started) and I will not be back in NYC much over the next two weeks. I miss you hon, thanks for your pep talks and for understanding! 🙂