Horseshoe Tunica | Back To Life!

Prior to this Horseshoe Tunica poker trip, I had experienced one of the most stressful stretches of my life. I was being massively hit from all sides: personal, business, creative, etc. I felt like I was under constant attack. This is coming from someone who never admits to experiencing stress because, well, I usually don’t feel stressed. I might have always kept it inside, which can be dangerous. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that I always try to look at the good side of things.

I saw it this way: This Tunica trip came at the perfect time. What better time to drive 10 hours solo in the car while listening to your favorite jams? I received several texts during this trip. I replied to this many: 0. I was too relaxed.

I also came to a realization on this trip. No matter what people say, they always want what’s best for them, which is fine. It’s just human nature. Therefore, I decided to do the same. Instead of being the ‘always friendly’ guy and replying to everyone, I cherished my solo time and chilled the hell out. I’m back from my trip now, and since returning, I have felt more at ease. That’s what Tunica does for you.

As always, I’m going to be transparent. Is Horseshoe Tunica like Harrah’s Cherokee in regards to aesthetics? No. But while Harrah’s Cherokee offers a stream and mountains, the energy level is high. That’s a good thing when you’re in the mood for high energy. If you want to decompress, go to Horseshoe Tunica. When you’re in your room, it’s like you’re on another planet. It’s quiet and chill while also comfortable. And when you’re in the poker room, everyone is friendly and they really do an excellent job on efficiency. It’s an overall very chill vibe.


Getting back to the car ride, something unexpected happened. I had no plans on thinking about a book idea or anything like that. But that’s usually how it works. Out of nowhere, a story concept came to me. In fact, I outlined the entire story in my mind and went over it again and again until it made sense.

This story has no association with The Dark Side of the Felt trilogy, but if there is a book I wrote that is closest to this one, it’s A Darker Side of the Felt. That book is fast-paced and a little crazy. I hope it reads like a movie. I really hope it reads like a movie!

As far as this book goes, you’re probably not going to love the title, but it will all make sense down the road. The title: Bro. That’s it. Just … Bro. It’s not what you think. Is it ever?

I was a little pumped about this concept, but I didn’t re-explore it until a few days later because I wanted my subconscious to work out any important details my conscious might have missed. When I grabbed my nighttime Bing (not binky) and wrote out my thoughts, it seemed to be more of a short story than a book. At first, I thought: There is no way I can turn these ideas into a full-length book. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Nobody reads short stories. Only my most loyal readers have read Twisted Sick and Mindful of Tricks (two short story compilations that have nothing to do with poker).

After being disappointed, I told myself: Wait a second! You can make this into a full-length book. As long as you make up your mind to do that, you will do that. So, that’s where I’m at on Bro. A lot of other books to publish first.

I just submitted The Poker Player for publication on Amazon (hopefully published by the time you read this), and then I have to publish SPATS 100 (applying SPATS to tourneys), 19% (dumb but entertaining book), Sharks on The Strip (poker strategy book), a book completely about bluffing (forgot the title right now), etc.

In the near future, I will write Vegas Daily 2: Tyler vs. Christine, Vegas Daily 3: Tyler vs.?, Felt Hopper: Atlantic City (needs to be completed from two years ago), Felt Hopper: West Virginia (for my own entertainment more than anything else), 50 Levels of Run Bad, and many more. I’m probably forgetting a few.

Also, Keith Napier will be narrating The Poker Player, and Basic Training: Texas Hold’em for Beginners was just submitted for approval on audio. Might be a few weeks. I’m trying to get as much done as possible before Covid-19 ends and I can focus on the movie again. Speaking of the movie….

I’m currently reading a book by Nikki Sixx—bassist and songwriter for Motley Crue. He has some very important messages in there. One of them really hit me. As his popularity increased, his happiness decreased, which related to not knowing who to trust. I already have the lack of trust thing built in, so if the movie is a success, I might be headed down an interesting and dangerous road, where I literally trust no one except myself. Here’s the irony though. A writer’s best content often stems from pain. If my purpose is to tell stories, then pain is necessary. If my best work is ahead of me due to pain, bring the pain. As long as I’m the only one being hurt.

Well, shit. That’s a lot of personal stuff when writing about Horseshoe Tunica. But I love it. I want my readers to know who I am. If a reader doesn’t appreciate that, they’re not a fit for my material. Never change who you are in an attempt to please others. I went down that road many times. It never works. I will never do it again. Find your tribe and spend your time with them.

When I write about my journey, it connects me with the right people. Or they connect with me. Either way. I can’t do the shallow writing thing. Would I really be different, and would you really be as intrigued if I wrote: ‘I was on the edge of my seat when dealt KK in the Cutoff and my opponent raised 3x BB. My heart was beating out of my chest and I could feel a rush of adrenalin.’

That might sound like good writing to you, but it’s cliché as hell. You can find it in almost any poker book. I’m never going to be cliché. I’d rather barf on my socks.

Tyler vs. Cliché

Betting Line: Tyler -1200

I also love being able to write freely here for another reason. I recently wrote college finance articles for a client. She loved my work. But when I put a storytelling twist on two of the articles in a batch of four, she didn’t like it. I admit that I didn’t follow the rules. Why do you think I’m a poker player and writer? I’m not good at following rules! If I’m not happy with something, I leave. I have a very rebellious nature. Is it right? Hell no! Is it me? Fuck yes! I could try to change, but that would be forcing the issue, like trying to force the action in a loose 2/5 NL game. That’s a bad idea. Let the action come to you. Speaking of action….


I never win on travel days, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway. I entered a small tourney and had Brian (friend and WSOP Circuit dealer) directly to my left. For some reason, this is when I decided to answer my texts (between hands). As expected, I ended up having to handle some drama during this tournament. Brian said to me after, “Hey, you didn’t pay attention to that tournament at all. And you jammed with Q4!”

“I only had three Big Blinds, I was on the Button, and it was suited.”

I lost that hand to K4 in the Big Blind.

In the second tourney, I was the chip leader the majority of the time (massive chip lead for hours), and 1st Place was paying just shy of $2k. Not bad for a night’s work. When down to 10 players (two 5-handed tables), I immediately got into it with Mr. Wife Beater. No … he didn’t beat his wife. I don’t even think he had a wife. He was just wearing a Wife Beater, which is a white tank-top.

He kept chirping, so I jumped in.

“I’ll make a deal with you,” I said.

“Okay.” He stared at me from across the table.

“If I hit this flop, I promise to slow-play it.”


I held KQ and raised 3.5x the Big Blind from the Cutoff.

Mr. Wife Beater called from the Big Blind.

Flop: K3T

He bet half the pot.

I called (sticking to my word).

Turn: 2

He bet half the pot.

I called (still sticking to my word).

River: T

He bet the pot.

I tank-called.

He tabled T5 and went on a verbal rampage.

“You told me you were going to slow-play it!” he shouted. “And you did! You slow-played your ass out the door.”

“I still have chips.”

“Yeah, about half of what you had though!”

“I remember you,” I said. “You know a guy that plays in here, right?”

“Probably. Who?”

“That guy. He said he knew you.”

“Gonna need more info than that, bro.”


“Hee-Haw?” He shot me a puzzled look. “Who the hell is that?”

“Hee-Haw!” I made a donkey sound. “He said you two were best friends.”

“Oh. I see where you’re goin’.”

Later in that tournament, when we were down to eight players and I was second in chips, an older fellow jammed for 40% of my stack when I held 55. I could tell he was weak and giving up. When I eventually called, he said, “Good call. You’re ahead.” But I couldn’t be that far ahead with 55.

He tabled J8.

Board: 728KQ

I lost two pots after that. I eventually busted on the Bubble +1 against Mr. Wife Beater when I held KT and jammed. He called with JT and the flop came: JJ2. He told me, “I knew you was gonna do that! I knew it! I got you!”

“Yeah, but I was ahead.”

He didn’t understand that.

In the third tournament, I once again built up my stack. When I limped in a hand in the middle of the tournament, another player said about me, “I have been playing with this dude for hours and I haven’t seen him limp once. I wonder what his limping range is.”

I didn’t even realize I was being that aggressive. Jim told me the same thing at Naples-Fort Myers Poker Room. I’m not an AGGRO player. I’m very TRAPPY. But if it’s 5-handed, I’m going AGGRO. Only live though. Not online. There is a reason I don’t go AGGRO online, but I’m not going to reveal it here.

On one hand, two players were all-in ahead of me when I held K♣ T♣. If I called, it would potentially cost me 40% of my stack. On the other hand, if I called and won this hand, I was in the driver seat. I knew I was behind, but you need to win these pots if you want to ship a tourney. As you might have guessed, I called.

They tabled AK and JJ.

Flop: K3T

Turn: 3

River: 5

A lady across the table from me said she folded KT.

“Do you know where Dollar General is?” I asked her.

“Yes. It’s right down the road.”

“You can buy your balls there.”

We all had a good laugh, including the dealer. Please understand that I would only say this if I could tell the woman was laidback and fun, which was the case.

She loved it, cracked up, then reached her right hand under the table and made a motion like grabbing herself and said, “I already got my balls.”

“Could have fooled me,” I said. 

I cruised to the final table, disguised 97o with a 3.5x BB pre-flop raise, turned a straight, and called an all-in on a non-paired board. Villain tabled a set and the board paired on the river. I went from chip leader to short stack.

Prior to that, when I was still the chip leader, the short stack at that time asked for a Bubble Save. I agreed and said to him, “You probably thought I would say no.”

To my surprise, he said, “No, I knew you’d say yes, Tyler. I don’t think fifty dollars is a big deal to you.”

“There have been times.”

“I know.”

When I was at Hard Rock Hollywood two years ago, I asked the dealer, “You look familiar. Have you ever dealt to me before?”

“No, but I know who you are. You’re that writer guy.”


Honestly, if my popularity is more than I think, I have no freaking clue. I’m always surprised by this stuff. But I do appreciate it. The best is when someone I don’t know approaches me, shakes my hand, and tells me how much they enjoy my books. That is the ultimate!!!

Anyway, I climbed my way back in the tourney. When it was three-handed and we were about even in chip stacks, I offered a chop. We were taking a long time, and I could tell the dealers weren’t thrilled. I knew this because I caught a glance that one dealer made toward Ross. That glance meant: They’re not chopping. I have seen this glance from poker dealers many times in poker rooms. We ended up chopping three ways for $521 each, which was a net of $446.

I lost the tourney the next day, but somewhere in there (Tuesday night), I played an online cash session. It was during the radio show and after the free online poker tournament during the radio show. Listen very carefully to what I’m about tell you. REALLY LISTEN! Sorry for the caps but I want you to understand this because it’s so important!

In that free online tournament, I jammed with AKo when I had 18 BBs. Villain called with A6o and hit the 6 on the flop. Bad call on his part, but that’s not the point. At first, this was disappointing, but it led to me playing the online cash game for real money, where I was +$489.19.

Here’s my point. If I had won the AK hand in the free tournament, I would have entered the cash game at a different time. It’s very unlikely I would have been +$489.19. At the time of this writing, my cash game record since I started keeping results again is 18-15 and +$1,142.02. That’s good but not amazing. If you take $489.19 off there, it’s getting a little scary.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, this has nothing to do with poker. I could have sat there and been upset about the AK loss in the free poker tournament, but what would that accomplish? Instead, I went with the flow and it worked out. Listen to the signs the universe provides. It will lead you to happiness. The correct energy is always there, blazing a trail for you. Follow it.

Now let’s talk about food!


If you go to 8 Oz, I recommend the Big Ass Salad. It’s not actually called Big Ass Salad, so don’t order it that way. The pizza at 8 Oz isn’t great but it’s not bad at all. If you like greasy burgers, this is also the joint for you.

JB’s Café is another good option, but it’s best for breakfast food and sandwiches. The burger is okay, but I wouldn’t recommend the steak.

If you want steak, go to Jack Binion’s Steakhouse, but only if you have a lot of credits or you can afford a house on a lake. The bread here is good but a little fancy, and the French fries are solid. They forget the mac n’ cheese but I was full so no big deal. Iceberg Salad is as it sounds.

If you go to Lucky 8 Asian Bistro, go with the Pepper Steak. Chicken Lo Mein should be your backup option (huge portion).


Horseshoe Tunica is a destination for relaxation, good food (as long as you know what to order), friendly people, and soft competition. If that doesn’t sound like a quality destination to you, then you probably enjoy Golden Corral for food and entertainment. Just sayin’.

♠ Tyler Nals | pokerjournal.org