D'Iberville, MS, got permission to have a casino 20 years ago, and today it finally happened! The Scarlet Pearl was opened today, adding 10 more poker tables to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
I checked out the situation the day before, and, because the parking garage is not yet ready, I could see that parking was going to be a problem. MsJazbo and I got there early (too early) for the 11AM opening. We found a parking spot only about a block away. There were already several hundred people waiting at 9:30. The Pearl was smart about one thing -- they had staff going through the crowd and making comp cards on the spot, so we wouldn't have to wait in the expected long line to get comp cards. The only glitch was they did not (could not?) get pin numbers assigned, which led to problems later.
One reason we came early (besided the parking) was the $500 loss-back promotion. There were no details available (and it was at least two hours to get to the promo desk to ask), but we found that machine losses up to $500 would be rebated as free play, mailed later in two increments. Sigh, the days of true cash back are long gone. Anyway, I didn't want to spend a long time playing for the promo, so I wanted to get in early to be sure to get a good machine.
It turned out, we had no problem (except getting incorrect directions as to where the VP machines are), and got side-by-side seats at $1 9/5 Jacks or Better machines. My plan was to play until we each lost our $500 stake or got ahead at least $100. I got lucky early and was up $105 after hitting quads. But, I had earned only 125 points (1 point per $3 in action). They were offering a free buffet for 250 points earned, and MsJazbo was losing about $100, so I decided to keep playing. When I hit my second quads and reached $120 in profit with 383 points, I decided to quit. Update: Because poker room comps are added to comps from play, it was hard for me to compute the comp rate. Based on my wife's play, the comp rate is about 0.3%, which is disappointing. The best deal maybe the free buffet for 250 points earned in a day (as long as this promo lasts).
MsJazbo never managed to hit quads (she did have a couple of Royal scares), but she had plenty of points, and we headed to the buffet a bit after 1pm. This is where the pin number glitch came. Because we had no pin, we could not print out the buffet comp. But, a helpful staff member was somehow able to check out point totals, and we did get to eat. The buffet was about for the coast, although the selection wasn't very large. There is a nice view of the Bay The server, David, was quite good and the prime rib was fine, if not as rare as I like it. If they have good crab legs for dinner (weekend?), this buffet could match the top tier down here.
If you have the Bravo app on your phone (search for the BravoPoker app), you can find out how many games are being spread before you get there.
The 10 table poker room is quite spacious and is visible (a little) from the casino floor, which might help attract more casual players. They were missing food side tables and trash cans, but these lacks will soon be remedied. Update: The food size tables have arrived! I like the wide bumpers with drink holders built in (easier to keep the table square). USB chargers at each seat are very convenient. The rolling chairs are comfortable, although, with my long legs, I miss the ability to raise/lower them. One player complained that the rail under the table interfered with his putting his feet comfortably under the table.
They had a few opening-day perks: T-shirts, visors and plastic spinners with "Big Slick's Poker Room" on them. Sure to be collector's items!
The games going the first day were $1-3 No Limit, $4-8 Limit and $5-10 Omaha HiLo. The rake on no limit is 10% to $5, and a $1 jackpot drop is taken at $15. I understand the rake for limit is $4 max with a $2 jackpot drop (this is in line with the Beau). I did not check the rake for Omaha -- probably the same as limit hold'em.
Food comps are earned (using the Bravo system) at $2.50/hour. The menu was short, but there were a few choices I liked (hamburger, chicken warp), and the prices were fair. Players that did order food complained about the long wait times (up to 2 hours). I attribute this mostly to the huge crowd on opening day (estimated at 10,000), which probably put a strain on food sevice. Update: I ordered a burger with fries, $10, on 12/10 and the food came quickly - thanks, Holly! The drink service is fine.
The dealers seem to have experience (I recognize two former dealers from the Hard Rock), but some need some polishing. The Pearl allows the Mississippi Straddle ($6 in the $1-3 game) in any position except for the blinds. At least one of the dealers had problems with this, but I'm sure they will all be familiar with straddling and other rules within a week or two.
I recognized quite a few faces from the other rooms around town, but there were also a fair number of unfamiliar ones, some, at least, from out of town. Through Sunday of opening week, the Pearl is paying $200/hour for the highest hand of the hour in hold'em. Any full house qualifies, and there is no minimum in the pot. You don't even have to play one card from your hand (if the board qualifies, I guess every in the pot would share the money). During the peak time I was there, they had 8 or nine tables going. One winning hand was AAAQQ. I, of course, never got close to a qualifier.
The only real complaint about the Pearl (except opening day issues, which are to be expected) was that it was extremely noisy. Maybe because of the expected large crowd, or maybe because it is the default, the slot machines were very loud. In addition, the background music was way too loud. I estimate the overall noise level at close to 100 decibels. OSHA regs allow only 2 hours of exposure to 100 dBA and 8 hours to 90 dBA for workers. I sure hope they quiet things down -- I have tinnitis and long exposure to high noise levels is painful. I do wear ear plugs, but I'd like to be able to talk in the poker room without shouting. The high noise level caused problems several times when players could not hear the dealer's announcements (e.g., "Mississippi Straddle on the Button"). BTW, the poker room does have curtains that can be drawn, which reduces the noise somewhat, but conversation was still difficult.
Update: The casino was crowded when I went back in the evening of 12/10, but it didn't seem as noisy, at least in the poker room.
Probably because of the Grand Opening, there was a live performer at one end of the casino, unfortunately close to the video poker. I don't know if this is going to be a common occurrence or not, but his volume was blasting out and was competing with the background music. This was extremely annoying.