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By Riverboat Flyer

Riverboat Flyer is a low-stakes blackjack player. He plays the southern Ohio riverboats along with frequent trips to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tunica, and occasionally Lake Tahoe. He has been counting cards for over ten years, using the Hi-Op, High Low and currently the half-count system.

Searching for That Lost Shaker of Salt

Jimmy Buffetís Margaritaville Casino opened recently in Biloxi, Mississippi. For some unknown reason, I didnít get an invitation to their grand opening. However, I was able to make it there about two weeks later.

My first challenge was trying to find the place because it is off the beaten path. I had a map and precise directions, and without them, I might not have found the casino. I guess I was expecting big billboards or maybe even a person in a beach shirt with a parrot on his shoulder holding a sign with a big arrow pointing to Margaritaville (there werenít any signs). Tip: If you drive east on 5th Street, you will find the casino between the gravel pit and the shrimp-boat docks. You have to pass the mountain of sand at the gravel pit, before you see the casino. (Iím guessing that Jimmy did not pay top dollar for this location.)

When you drive up to the casino, it looks like a giant beach house. In true beach-house fashion, there is nothing on the ground level except escalators leading to the casino on the second level. The theme throughout the facility is pure beach house, with a lot of parrots thrown in. The ceiling over the pits is a thatched roof. The lamps look like lime slices. The dealers and floor people wear parrot shirts. The cocktail servers wore outfits like bathing suits. (They are all young and well endowed.) They all seemed tall as well. That might have had something to do with the four-inch platform heels that they were all wearing.

Of course, there is a gift shop, where you can purchase all sorts of parrot merchandise, including plates, glasses, hats, and shirts. If you happen to need a blender, they sell them here in several sizes and colors. They also carry the elusive "lost shaker of salt." (Actually, the shaker comes empty; you have to provide your own salt.)

A dealer told me that seven partners owned the casino, all of whom have management experience at other casinos. Jimmy Buffet is not involved in the day-to-day operations. They are planning to build a hotel in the future.

The facility has a buffet and sit-down restaurant. The buffet costs $9 for lunch or dinner. The restaurant has a beach theme as well, with booths shaped like fishing and dive boats. They even have a giant blender where a Biloxi Beauty comes out every evening, doing a dance/swim routine in the blender. (Unfortunately, I missed the show.) My guess is that there is more emphasis on a girl in a skimpy swimming outfit in a blender, than on the actual dance choreographs. The restaurant also has a patio overlooking the bay. I can recommend the "Cheeseburger in Paradise," which was served with fries and a pickle.

Below the patio, on the shore of the bay, is an area that resembles the pool area of a resort, minus the pool. They have a covered bar/stage area, a dance floor and seating on a large patio. I was told that they had live music on the weekends. There are also boat docks, for those arriving by water. They also have a "5 oíclock Somewhere Bar" off the casino floor.

An unusual feature is the lack of a Players Club desk. If you ask for the Players Club, a girl in a red shirt will find you, take your information, and show up a few minutes later with your Playerís Card. At the tables, the floor supervisors will print out a Playerís Card for you. The casino is fun and relaxing. They play feel-good music, with words that you can understand. Of course, everything is new and clean. There are no cigarette burns in the table felt or sticking buttons on the machines. The employees are eager to please and they leave a good impression. I was able to hit-up two floor people for restaurant comps. (I always believe that you can never get enough comps.)

The Blackjack Games

Margaritaville features two-, four- and six-deck games. Rules are similar to...

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