GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Even before the announced high noon grand opening, the new poker tables at Island View Casino were filling up. Poker Room Manager William Vineyard calls it a good, but not entirely unexpected turnout.
"The Gulfport market has always been very strong for poker," says Vineyard. "The Island View made the decision to go ahead and add a poker room with the other offerings they have here at the casino. I opened with seven tables. So, so far, so good."
Vineyard says while the gamblers may not look and act like the poker players you see on TV, winning big is always the number one goal.
"That's what everybody wants to do," says Vineyard. "They want to be the next Chris Moneymaker. Go from a $45 buy in to a $2.5 million first prize."
Roy Thompson of Ocean Springs had the honor, or luck, of winning the room's first pot.
"First hand, $7,500," says Thompson.
He says the poker players on the Gulf Coast are like family, even when you're taking their money.
"It's a socializing event," says Thompson. "You sit here and shoot the bull and talk with everybody. And you get harassed by other people."
But he and his poker faced friends had only good things to say about their new place to bet and bluff.
"It's a nice room, friendly," says Thompson. "They've got a lot of things for the players here. It's just a good room for this side of the coast. The good thing about it is you sit here for hours and you hope you play the best you can and walk away a winner. Then you walk past all the slots."
The Island View poker room features 9 smoke free tables, frequent promotions, and multiple levels of play and limits. It's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.