Lakes Region Casino Poker Room

Lakes Region Casino Poker Room Review

The Lakes Region Casino poker room has perhaps the prettiest setting of all of the New Hampshire poker rooms.  Nestled about a half an hour above the state capital of Concord and 15 minutes below Laconia, this poker room sits on a hillside surrounded by trees. “Bucolic” is an understatement. The Loudon race track is just a few miles down the road, so things get crowded when events are happening there.

Route 106 which passes in front of the casino is a gateway to the Eastern Edge of Winnisquam Lake and the southern edge of Lake Winnipesaukee.  So the summer and fall vacationers provide some traffic. But mostly the Lakes Region Casino provides a relaxed country setting for players in central New Hampshire.

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Keene Casino Poker Room

Keene Casino Poker Room Review

The Keene Casino poker room lies on the periphery of the New Hampshire poker room scene.  Located in southwest New Hampshire, Keene draws  a completely different player-base than the highly competitive central-eastern region. Unsurprisingly, this gives it a distinctive character.

Unfortunately, we visited Keene Casino on a very slow Saturday (it was a very nice day in June).  We registered during the first level and were the 6th and 7th people to do so. Although management assured us that people would continue to buy in, the tournament maxed out at 9 entries.  No cash tables started while we were there. A couple of people wandered in and played blackjack. There were a lot of staff milling about with little to do. So this review should probably come with an “incomplete” stamp.

Setting and Non-Poker Amenities

The journey to Keene provides a pretty, bucolic ride. There are no major highways that run through Keene, so you’ll approach from one of the smaller New Hampshire country highways. Keene itself has about 23,000 residents and is the seat and largest city of Cheshire County.  As with many former mill towns of New England, the area swooned with the manufacturing declines of the 20th century.

Keene has successfully recreated itself into an artsy, bustling destination. It is now a quaint college town (Keene State College and Antioch University New England are located there) amidst the scenic Monadnock mountain region. Although there are signs that Keene is still in transition. Several storefronts on Main Street are looking for tenants, and social services buildings abound.  On the other hand, there are a number of interesting restaurants and clearly an active arts culture.

The Keene Casino poker room is housed in an attractive brick building a half mile west of Main Street.  Directly across from the front door is the Elm City Brewing Company. Inside, the poker room is no less attractive, with a brick interior and skylights in the ceiling.  The 4 table cash area is on the first floor, has an all glass sunroom with roulette and blackjack tables. Upstairs is on open loft with a 6 table tournament area. The wood beams further the rustic warm appeal.  It is definitely the sunniest card room we have ever played in. However, the random clutter propped up against the walls does distract from the positive feng shui a bit.

There was space for a restaurant and bar.  But there was so few players, and little eating, that it’s hard to assess food quality and service issues. A waitress did not visit the table at any point during our play.

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Manchester Poker Room Table 2

Manchester Poker Room Review

The Manchester Poker Room and Casino is one of the longstanding members of the active New Hampshire poker scene. Among the larger, most active rooms (15 or more tables) in the state it occupies a unique niche.  It is the one room without a competitor within several miles.  Less than half an hour south in Nashua the Boston Billiards Club and Casino is yoked with The River Casino. Newcomers Chasers and Cheers lie two miles apart, battling it out in Salem. While over on the coast, about 40 minutes East, the Hampton Falls and Seabrook poker rooms compete for both cash and tournament players.

But in the center of  southern New Hampshire, the Manchester Poker Room and Casino stands alone. The room shows signs of that independence: confident, unique, but perhaps a bit insular. All told, Manchester offers an alternative poker experience in New Hampshire.

Setting and Non-Poker Amenities

The Manchester Poker Room is just a minute off Route 293, an offshoot of route 93, the major north-south expressway that bisects New Hampshire.  Despite its geographic convenience, when you leave the highway it’s a bit tricky to find.  The poker room sits behind a set of retail stores, and its sign is not very prominent from the road.

South Willow street is packed with strip malls, fast food outlets, car dealerships, and gas stations.  On the opposite side of Route 293 is the Mall of New Hampshire. So if you have shopping and dining needs, you will be well-served in the immediate area.

The poker room used to be a small movie theater and retains tell-tale remnants of that history, such as box office windows.  The Poker Room shares the building with the Manchester Bingo Room. The poker room itself hosts a few table games as well.

The South Side Tavern also lies between Manchester’s two separate poker rooms, and provides food and beverages to the poker rooms. The Tavern’s menu is extensive, with a wide array of appetizers, sandwiches, salads, pasta, pizza, and dinner entrees. We have not eaten there, but we have heard positive reviews of the food. A full bar is available, and the tap and bottled beer selection looked good. You won’t go hungry or thirsty here!

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Foxwoods Poker Room Review

Foxwoods Poker Room Review

The Foxwoods poker room was my first regular live poker venue (outside free pub poker). Thus it holds a special place in my own poker journey. Like many poker forays, my experience started with “Wow, I’m doing really well! This is easier than I thought!” Eventually that became “Guess I’m not as good as I thought I was.”  But I have spent many fun evenings at Foxwoods as well. Both the poker room and the casino complex at large have much to offer.

Setting and Non-Poker Amenities

The approach to the Foxwoods complex elicits a common reaction: “There is no way there a large casino in the middle of these sparsely populated woods.” Then the vast structure appears like a mirage. The sight never fails to invoke awe.  Foxwoods’ long-term, and much maligned, ad campaign “The Wonder of it All” actually has some merit.

Built on Mashantucket Pequot tribal grounds, Foxwoods started in 1986 as a bingo hall. In the early 1990s it added table games and slots, and evolved into a full blown casino. The poker room followed in 1995. The Grand Pequot Tower hotel opened in 1997 and the luxurious MGM Grand (now Fox Towers) followed in 2008. Various casino rooms surround and link the hotels along with numerous restaurants, and a large concert venue. The inevitable outlet mall (an 85-store Tanger) joined the complex in 2015.

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BestBet Jacksonville Poker Room Review

BestBet Jacksonville Poker Room Review

The BestBet Jacksonville poker room is one of largest and best known of the Florida card rooms. It is also one of the best rooms you’ll ever enter. Spacious, nicely appointed and replete with amenities that are generally only part of a large casino setting, Bestbet sets itself apart from other freestanding poker rooms. While there were a few areas BestBet fell short, overall it is a top flight room.

Setting and Non-Poker Amenities

BestBet Jacksonville is on the east side of the city, half way between the city center and the Atlantic shore. As an aside, when we visited we stayed in Atlantic Beach/Neptune beach area and it was great. Neptune Beach has fantastic restaurants in a very small walkable footprint.  Atlantic beach sports gorgeous, endless beaches and a laid-back vibe. At 15-20 minutes from BestBet, a visit to Atlantic Beach offers a great poker/beach combo vacation.

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