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Best of Madeliene Bizub

Gaming Guru

 

Craps, Crawfish and Culture on the Coast

8 March 2000

It's been said by those involved in it that "La Cosa Nostra" means "this thing of ours", which leaves much to my active imagination. I can understand the wiseguys' dilemma, though, in trying to describe something while simultaneously denying it's existence--I'm a Southerner. I find it equally fruastrating to describe some of the eccentricities of my Southern culture, so I've just decided to take the easy way out and use the mob term. "This thing of ours" is sometimes a curse, sometimes a blessing, but often entertaining to watch when someone from other parts of the country come up against it with confusion and dismay.

I've been fortunate to have traveled and lived in many parts of the country, and each area does, indeed, have it's own "culture"; traditions which left me baffled, food that was foreign to me, and accents which left me doubting the inhabitants were speaking English; so I am understanding of the confusion. I am even kind about it...well, after I quit laughing, of course.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast area attracts many visitors from other areas, especially in the winter months when folks "come on down" for a little relief from the harsher weather, hoping for an infusion of cash and sunshine to cure the winter doldrums. It's becoming quite common for me to hear the now familiar accents of Boston, New Jersey and even New York, mixed in with the drawls of the southerners around the gaming tables, restaurants and shops along the gorgeous coastal area. It's wonderful music to my ears, at least, and by far more entertaining than the rock & roll music most of the casinos seem so insistent upon providing. These visitors have made us all far richer than we were before, and I don't mean monetarily.

On occasion, though, some incidents have occurred that made me realize that for some people coming to the Mississippi coast area is like visiting a foreign country would be for me. Just this past week, a woman with a decidedly New Jersey accent thought we were cooking up roaches down here and serving them up on the buffet. Though, seeing the way some folks eat at these buffets, that may well be a way to finally exterminate roaches from the face of the earth, I personally hope it doesn't come to that. What she was seeing were the piles of crawfish always available at the seafood buffets, but screeching out "MY GAWD! They've got roaches in the buffet!" is not something you want to do in a crowded casino restaurant, unless you haven't seen enough action at the tables.

Now, I agree that crawfish are decidedly buggy looking, cooked whole with their little heads intact, eyes still glassy--but they don't resemble roaches. Crawfish are red, and some of the roaches down here are much larger than most of the crawfish I've seen. Perhaps it's because the roaches get to live so much longer than most of the poor crawfish do.

There's also times at the gaming tables that misunderstandings develop, and it's not always the Northern visitors that cause the frackus--it's the Alabama ones. I found out this past week that in Alabama 3 + 2 = 6. Let me explain: I was playing craps, and a group of young Alabama boys were playing at the opposite end of the table from me. I knew they were from Alabama, because they had on "Roll Tide" tee shirts and were extolling the wonders of Alabama football to all within earshot. The table was "cold", everyone was hemorrhaging money, moods were brutal, and there were more than a few Bud Lights mixed in to the batter, too. One of the Alabama boys was rolling the dice and the point was 6. He rolled a 3 and a 2. I saw the dice clearly since they landed right in front of me. They didn't wait for the stickman's call, however, they just started yelling "SIX! SIX!". When the stickman called "five, fever five", a near riot broke out. Alabama side said the dice rolled a six, casino side said five, and all others "plead the 5th". I thought it might be advisable for the boxman to ask them what two numbers they saw that made the roll total six instead of five, but, I confess, he didn't take me up on the suggestion. My guess is they really thought that 3 + 2 = 6, but I can't verify that. I thought it would make a great new stick call, when the 3 and 2 are rolled they can just call it the "Alabama Six". Some of those same old tired stick calls must get pretty boring after you've done that job for a long time.

In light of these and other incidents, I thought it might be helpful if I explained a few things about what to expect in and around the southern coastal area, just in case anyone is planning a trip down here for some great gaming, wonderful seafood, delightful weather, and that difficult to define, but very real--"Southern Hospitality".

I've recently moved to the Gulf Coast, and am also--as they say--born and bred a Southerner. It's likely the only thing I can claim to be an expert on, so I created the following list. Perhaps you might want to shrink it down, and have it laminated--bring it with you when you visit--like some of the novices bring their basic strategy cards with them right to the Blackjack table. That way, everyone will know you're new but have studied up on the right way to do things!

  1. "Bullfrogged it!" This is a call at the craps table that I've never heard anywhere else except Mississippi. It means that the shooter rolled a point on the come-out, then "came right back" with the point on the second roll. It is not called "froglegs"--that's something you eat.
  2. Crawfish come from fresh water, but are still in abundance at the seafood buffets, as are catfish, which also do not come out of the ocean. I've suggested that they call the buffets "See Food", but so far the idea hasn't started a trend.
  3. "Ya'll" can be single or plural. If you are in a restaurant and the waitress asks, "What ya'll having?"--she is asking you specifically for your order--not the entire table's. If you are alone and someone says, "How're ya'll doing?" don't look around for the presence of other people. That's a dead giveaway that "yer not from around here." Please do not attempt to fit in by referring to someone as "you all". That always refers to a group and, besides, it's tacky.
  4. The vast majority of roads are paved now, but if you happen to drive down a street and there's a thin layer of broken up oyster shells--turn around quickly. I can guarantee you that you are lost and not headed for any place you'd likely want to be.
  5. If you want some real "Southern Hospitality"--don't go to the Beau Rivage. The folks over there know about as much about hospitality as hogs know about vacation.
  6. If you think you see roaches in any eating facilities, quietly ask for verification. If you do, in reality, see roaches, then you've likely not followed my advice about the the oyster shell roads. (See item #4.)
  7. Don't eat chitlins or souse. You'll just have to trust me on this one. Pickled pigs feet are most likely out also, but at least you know what you are getting.
  8. Ma'm (pronounced Mayam) is how every woman over the age of 16 is addressed. It's not a sign of your dotage creeping up on you. For example, "How're ya'll tonight, Ma'm?"
  9. 3 + 2 = 6.
  10. "Fixin' to" is a term which means either something is about to happen or someone is getting ready to do something, depending on the circumstances. For example, "I'm fixin' to get a Blackjack," is equally appropriate usage as, "I was just fixin' to take down my bets, honey."
  11. "Jeat yet? Y'ant to?" This is not a foreign language. This is southern English asking, "Did you eat yet? Do you want to?"
  12. When you are leaving, a common salutation will be, "Ya'll come back now, ya hear?" I can assure you that it's a sincere request, and I have little doubt you will want to follow that recommendation. (As long as you steer clear of any oyster shell roads).
Madeliene Bizub
Madeliene Bizub is a craps aficionado and an experienced gambler who is making
quite a name for herself in craps circles. She contributes to many internet
gaming sites and her opinions are well respected.
Madeliene Bizub
Madeliene Bizub is a craps aficionado and an experienced gambler who is making
quite a name for herself in craps circles. She contributes to many internet
gaming sites and her opinions are well respected.