BILOXI -- The Beau Rivage Resort & Casino had a great year in 2015, general manager Marcus Glover said, and MGM Resorts International invested millions to start this new year with three renovated spaces at the casino.
A new chandelier shimmers in the lounge of the remodeled high-limits room.
To the left of that space is a new non-smoking room that got a slot-machine upgrade and new decor. To the right is the new poker room that by far is the largest -- and most colorful -- in South Mississippi.
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"The poker room move was initially temporary due to these facilities upgrades, but became permanent based on overwhelming positive feedback," Glover said. "We listen to our players and as a result the poker room has a convenient new address on the casino floor."
The new poker room is in what had been Memphis Q restaurant. Murals painted on the brick walls give it an uncommon look.
The Beau Rivage's exterior is so beautiful people have come to expect a high level of decor, Glover said. The high-limits area needed to be rejuvenated, he said, and the other spaces benefited from the improvements.
Gas lamps flicker on the perimeter of the high-limits room with its 126 slot machines arranged on the left, eight table games to the right and a lounge in the center. It has a bar and its own cashier.
"We call ourselves a hospitality-based organization," Glover said, adding the high-limits room at the Beau Rivage is as much about superior service as it is about style.
The old room was dark and closed in, said Robert Williams, director of slots.
"We've taken this to the complete opposite side," he said. The room is 30 percent larger, open for socializing and decorated in linen colors to exude Southern hospitality.
The room was completed just before Christmas and Williams said customers appreciate the greater variety, with slots ranging from $10 to $100 machines.
The new non-smoking room was another opportunity to implement feedback from the guests. It's adjacent to the existing non-smoking area in what had been the poker room and together the two areas offer 270 slot machines.
Machines by just about every manufacturer are in the new room and Williams said the denominations were raised from a $10 max to $25.
Poker may be fading in popularity at many casinos, but "you would not be able to tell by our poker room," said Patrick Duffy, director of table games.
Every seat at the 16 tables was full and a waiting board indicated who was next to play. The room is slightly larger, but instead of adding tables the management added more room between the tables,
"Poker players are creatures of habit," Duffy said, and the Beau wasn't sure the players would like the poker room to move after 10 years. They do, he said, and the number of players is up.
The Beau hosts at least one poker special event a week and two or three championship events a year. A two-week tournament is in progress, and poker manager Johnny Grooms expects as many as 2,200 players.
For the last several years, the Beau has set a record in Mississippi for the number of players. There were 2,321 for last year's tournament.
"That's one of the biggest in the United states," Grooms said.