6 Best Weekly Poker Tournaments on the East Coast
Our most recent addition to Poker Pilgrims is our poker tournament information page. We include buy-ins, rake, evaluation of structures (S-point calculation), and most notably, the average number of entries (if available). All this data allows the user to assess regular tournaments across the United States. To that end, we thought we would share the six best regular poker tournaments on the East Coast in 2023.
The big headline? things change. Trying to wrangle these tournaments is like playing whack-a-mole. You think you have a handle on it, then some room changes its tournament days, buy-ins, and structure. If you are reading this after April of 2023, you’ll want to double-check that the tournaments we suggest still exist with the details we share.
Given that change is the only constant, anointing any tournament as the “best” would seem a fool’s errand. However, we also observed that many of the successful tournaments have more staying power. And even when they do change, they remain attractive.
Criteria for the Best Poker Tournaments on the East Coast
Our recommendations are based on the following criteria: the quality of the poker room overall, the “value” of the tournament (i.e., how much quality play you get for your buy-in), the average number of entries, and the rake for each tournament. We have been to the majority of the rooms on the East Coast (see our room reviews for any specific room you may be interested in).
We also focused on tournaments that are spread every week or almost every week, not big monthly tournaments or repeated episodic special events. Some rooms, such as the Borgata or Daytona Beach, host frequent special events or series that are excellent. Here we focus on tournaments that are available every week. Finally we note that you could fill a top 10 list completely with tournaments held in the state of Florida. But we tried to offer some geographic diversity, in case Florida is quite a distance from your home.
Without further ado…
The Best Poker Tournaments on the East Coast
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa (Florida): Monday Night
Description of Tournament: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, hosts a tournament Monday night at 6pm. The buy-in is $180 with a 30,000 chip starting stack and 20-minute blinds. Unlimited re-entries are offered before the start of level 7. There is a 10K guarantee for this tournament.
Why is this one of the 6 Best Poker Tournaments on the East Coast?: First of all, we were quite impressed with Seminole Hard Rock Tampa when we visited. This poker room is professionally run and comfortable to play in, with plenty of other activities and food options available. The room itself offers very active cash play, so if you knock out of this tournament there will be plenty of cash options to play.
Despite the relatively quick 20-minute blinds, the ample-sized starting stack and slow blind structure give this tournament a very good structure. Big-blind antes do kick in right away, but there are 6 levels before you reach 500-1000. At the first break (after that sixth level), Tampa smartly runs off the 100 chips, so the players and dealers don’t have to deal with these small-value nuisance chips when the blinds are at higher levels. No more of that player making a 3x raise using 28 individual chips. To compensate for the lack of 100 value chips (meaning 600-1200 and 800-1600 levels are not possible), after the 500-1000 levels they have both a 500-1500 level and a 1000-1500 level. As you can see above, the structure stays very gradual after that as well. Nine levels between 1k/2K and 6K/12K in a $180 tournament? Nearly unheard of.
Finally, the turnout for this tournament is very good, averaging about 100 entries per week. So there is no problem getting to that guarantee. Rake is a quite reasonable 20%.
Filitomo Casino and Restaurant (New Hampshire): Saturday Afternoon
Description of Tournament: Filotimo Casino and Restaurant poker room (previously Manchester Poker Room which is still how it is listed on PokerAlas) offers a very popular tournament Saturday afternoons at 1pm. The entry fee is $160 ($150 = $10 dealer add-on) for a 35,000 chip starting stack and 30-minute blinds. Note that Filotimo alternates this tournament on Saturdays with a similar tournament sporting a $250 buy-in with a 50K starting stack. Both have similar structures, so your decision is a matter of whether you want to choose a week with higher buy-ins but a bit more play with deeper stacks.
Why is this one of the 6 Best Poker Tournaments on the East Coast?: Through many changes over the years, including recently in ownership, Filotimo remains one of the premium poker tournament venues in New England. Filotimo offers a nice space to play, an active sports book, and a small but quality restaurant offering a wide array of dishes. The outside of the poker room looks pretty humble, but the interior is quite comfortable and pleasing to the eye.
This tournament has a decent structure for the money, not the best we’ve seen, but respectable. They also get 110-130 players pretty consistently, so with either a $160 or $250 buy-in payouts are pretty good. Count on these fields to include many regulars without fail. Rake, including dealer add-on, is an OK 24%-25% depending on the size of buy-in, so not the best but not terrible overall.
Filotimo ran tournaments through much of the pandemic when other rooms in New England did not. They are committed to tournaments, and players are, in turn, committed to them. While Filotimo is not the most active cash room in New England by any means, on Saturday afternoon/evening they will have 3-4 tables of $1/$2 to play once your tournament run ends.
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Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood (Florida): Monday Night
Description of Tournament: Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, like it’s sister room in Tampa, offers a tournament Monday night at 6pm. The entry fee is $150 with a 15,000 chip starting stack and 20-minute blinds. There are unlimited re-entries before the start of level 10. There is a huge $30K guarantee for this tournament!
Why is this one of the 6 Best Poker Tournaments on the East Coast?: OK, from Hard Rock Tampa, we’re just venturing across from the west coast of Florida to the east coast and sticking with the same Hard Rock brand, but… a $30K guarantee for a mid-week $150 buy-in! That’s pretty unique right there. You guessed it – these fields are huge, like 240 people or more. Allowing people to buy in up through the break after level 9 helps really generate activity on a weeknight. When we visited Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood we came away impressed on so many levels. It is definitely a great venue overall, both the casino and the poker room itself.
As with the Tampa tournament, the structure is great despite starting with half the opening stack size as the Tampa Monday night. There are 8 levels before you reach 500-1000, and very gradual blind increases after that. You’ll get a lot of play for your $150 entry. Like Tampa, they also get rid of the 100 value chips early, right before going to 500-1500. A 22% rake is again within what is expected at this price point.
Big fields, big payouts, and a professionally run room! What’s not to like?!
Maryland Live! (Maryland): Tuesday Night
Description of Tournament: At Maryland Live! this tournament runs Tuesday nights at 7:15pm. The entry fee is $200 for a 40,000 chip starting stack and 15-minute blinds. Note that this is a double green chip bounty tournament ($50 bounties). Unlimited re-entries are offered before the start of level 7. There’s a $10K guarantee.
Why is this one of the 6 Best Poker Tournaments on the East Coast?: For starters, Maryland Live! is one of the best poker rooms on the East Coast – maybe even in the entire country. The personnel, not just in the poker room but the entire casino, are the friendliest group of people we have ever encountered. The large two-floor poker room is attractive and comfortable. The only drawback is that it can be loud when it’s full – and it seems like it’s always full because, well, it’s exceptional. The cash game scene is very active here, with a great range of games spread.
The fact that we are recommended a tournament with 15-minute blind levels tells you how much we like the room. However, the deep starting stack and relatively gradual blind structure offers much more play than your typical 15-minute affair. It’s not quite a bargain for $200 but it’s not bad either. Also, the 7:15 launch gives people time to get from work to the poker room on a weeknight.
Derby Lane (Florida): Wednesday Night
Description of Tournament: This tournament runs at Derby Lane Wednesday nights at 6:30pm. The entry fee is $100 with a 25,000 chip starting stack and 20-minute blinds. Re-entries are allowed. There’s a $10K guarantee.
Why is this one of the 6 Best Poker Tournaments on the East Coast?: Derby Lane is one of our wild, freewheeling favorites. Housed in a former dog track, this room does not have as many amenities as a full-service casino. The dealers are also a bit more variable in terms of quality. But the play in Derby Lane’s tournaments is wild and fun. If you can settle in, go for the ride, and accept that you’ll see some crazy things you’ll be fine. Derby Lane features a lot of players with a lot of personality, but mostly they are good-natured.
This Wednesday tournament provides excellent value for your $100. The starting stack is fairly deep and the blind structure gradual. Also, at only a 19%, this is one of the lower rakes you’ll see for a tournament under $150. With a $10K guarantee, they of course get large fields, averaging about 160-165 players on a typical Wednesday. Many of those 160 entrants are rebuys. The cage remains very active throughout and some players push the “unlimited” rebuys until registration closes to the max.
If you like peaceful, logical tournament play go elsewhere. You want to walk on the poker tournament wild side? Derby Lane is your jam.
Mohegan Sun (Connecticut): Monday Morning
Description of Tournament: This tournament runs at Mohegan Sun on Monday morning at 10:00am. The entry fee is $155 (including $5 deal add-on) for a 20,000 chip starting stack and 20-minute blinds. Re-entries last until the start of level 7.
Why is this one of the 6 Best Poker Tournaments on the East Coast?: Like its nearby competitor Foxwoods, the Mohegan Sun poker room has been renovated over the past couple of years. It is an attractive and comfortable room in a fabulous casino setting. While the casino complex itself may lack the massive scale of Foxwoods, currently it’s probably a slightly nicer experience overall. The Mohegan poker staff is also generally quite strong.
As far as this specific tournament, it’s nice to have a midweek morning option. Mohegan hosts a few morning events during the week. This one is generally the best attended. Look for around 120 entrants. Like Derby Lane, the rake is right around 19% (including dealer add-on). The structure is solid for a 20-minute blind level event.
Whether you find yourself in New Hampshire or Florida, you can find a great poker tournament nearby. We recommend each of these 6 tournaments, and hope that they stay around for a good long while. These are definitely 6 of the best poker tournaments on the East Coast.
If you are interested in more information on poker tournaments in the US, be sure to check out our poker tournament activity tables. For cash play, see our cash activity tables. Finally, if you just want to find a poker room near me, see our newly updated map of poker rooms in the US!
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