Harrah's Tunica Closing - Gone But Not Surpising
Received a bit of sad news this evening. Harrah's Tunica is shutting down as of June 2, 2014.
This is somewhat disheartening due to the fact that Harrah's Tunica was the first place that I ever played live tournament poker.
January of 2006 was the first year I ventured down to the "Grand Casino Tunica" as it was known then.
I had played a bit of online poker from 2003 to 2005 and decided that I wanted to try my hand at live tournaments. The Grand had a decent spread of events during their circuit stop and so I made the trip down from Virginia.
If you have never made the trip down to Harrah's Tunica, you are missing a sight, especially at night. It was an impressive property and the tournaments were well run by Johnny Grooms.
My tournaments didn't go so well but I did very well in satellites. Earned my way into three of the events I played and cashed out for close to $3,000 otherwise. That event essentially bankrolled my next two tournament stops. (I didn't play above a $500 buy-in for the first six months I played live.)
Unfortunately, that was the first and probably best memories I had of the property. Soon they became Harrah's Tunica and the property slowly went into a state of overall decline.
I'm not necessarily talking about the physical state. The casino was still gorgeous and the rooms still comfortable, but the staff was lacking. Also, the action in the poker room just wasn't there. The casino went under a couple of renovations, including the removal of the poker room from the second floor and putting it on the ground floor in the corner.
The upstairs room was great and the tournament area beside it was convenient. The move downstairs made going to play live action a bit of a pain and you felt like you were in the corner and not in a poker room, which is really the reality of the situation.
Also, when they closed the sports bar on the second floor and redid the buffet as the Paula Dean buffet, that nearly convinced me to quit going there.
When I visited the property during a non-Circuit event, the poker room was virtually dead. Gold Strike or the Horseshoe was the place to play. (That's now just the Horseshoe because Gold Strike's room declined and is now closed.)
My last visit was January 2013. I played in a couple circuit events but for the most part did not enjoy the trip because much of the staff was going through the motions and the action was all but dead outside of the tournaments. I actually played more over at the Gold Strike than I did at Harrahs.
I definitely hope that the property is sold to another party in the near future so that many of the jobs can be saved, but I am curious as to how well it will be run. That is a massive property to manage and it makes me wonder who would want to run it.
My hopes is that the next owners will put a bit more focus on improving the poker room and the general customer service of the property.
For now, I am town whether to go visit one last time before they shut the doors for good (as a Harrah's property at least) or just make a short trip up to Atlantic City. My head says go to AC but my heart says to go make the 11 hour drive to visit the ol' girl one last time.