Magic City poker room

Magic City Poker Room Review

The Magic City poker room is one of the smallest card rooms in South Florida. Magic City carves out a specific niche in the southwest corner of Miami away from the larger rooms to the north like Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood and Isle Casino Pompano Park.  Its closest rival is the larger Hialeah Park (which we were unable to fit in on this trip). Magic City’s poker room has a diverse clientele (except in terms of gender).  The room’s proximity to Downtown Miami and Little Havana presents nice opportunities for a day of sightseeing, cultural immersion, dining, and poker.

Casino Setting 

The Magic City Casino lies on the west side of Miami, right outside the northwest edge of  Little Havana. It can be accessed via the Dolphin Expressway (route 836) to the north, route 968 to the south, and route 953 to the west. In other words, it’s conveniently accessed  from any direction – at least as convenient as possible considering South Florida traffic and stop lights!

If you have the time, walk around and definitely eat in Little Havana.  The Calle Ocho is a great area to stroll around and grab lunch or dinner. Ice cream fans might enjoy Azucar.  They had some creative flavors like Burn in Hell Fidel, a chocolate spiced with cayenne, Guava, and Mango. Poker players will enjoy checking out the intensive domino action at Maximo Gomez Park. The day we visited, there were some heated chess matches going on as well.  If you head west down 8th Street toward Magic City, you’ll come across Versailles Cuban Bakery, offering a range of goodies from pastries and cakes to sandwiches and meals.

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play poker in New England

Where to Play Poker in New England: A Guide to Popular Games

The vibrant New England poker scene offers a wide variety of options in a very small geographic footprint. In less than 3 hours you could drive from the room (with 10 or more tables) furthest north, Lakes Region Casino, to the one furthest south, Foxwoods. The region’s largest city, Boston, sits dead center of the poker action.  Drive a little more than 90 minutes north and you are at the Lakes Region Casino, 90 minutes south to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, and then 90 minutes due west to the newest venue, MGM Springfield. Five poker rooms in southern New Hampshire are within about 45 minutes of Boston as well. In short, there are a lot of options for the New England poker player. So how does one decide where to play poker in New England?

Some of it comes down to personal taste.   You may just select your favorite rooms, as we did recently. But if you have specific criteria for your preferred game, there’s data available that can help guide your decision.

We have long had a decent idea which venues have the most active cash games, and which tournaments draw the largest fields. But, as data analysts by trade, we decided to take a more statistical approach to our investigation. During the month of January 2019 we used  PokerAtlas and Bravo Poker to track cash and tournament activity for all New England sites which provide live data on either site. On weekdays, we collected numbers at 8pm each night for cash play, and tracked tournaments after the registration period closed. On weekends, we tracked cash both at 2pm and 8pm and the number of entries for all tournaments.

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Mohegan Sun Poker Room

5 Best Poker Rooms in New England

The New England poker rooms are our home turf. We’ve played at all of the major ones (10 tables or more), and several small rooms as well. Our go-to rooms have changed over the years, depending on budget, whether we were into cash or tournaments at the time, and staffing. Our very first go-to room, Rockingham, near Salem New Hampshire, no longer exists.

Nationally, the New England poker room scene has a lower profile than Florida, California, or Las Vegas. However, with 13 rooms less than a 2 hour drive from Boston, this region offers one of the most vibrant and diverse poker environments in the country. In southern New Hampshire alone there are seven decent to very good poker rooms within a 20 mile radius. With the Encore slated to open in Boston later this year, the  poker climate is only going to get richer in New England.

We have developed an approach to evaluating rooms, and written reviews of most of the New England poker rooms.  With dozens, if not hundreds, of New England poker room visits under our belts in the past few years, the time has come to name our favorites. We present them in no particular order, as some are favored over others for very different reasons.

The Poker Room at Hampton Falls

Why Top 5 in New England Poker Rooms?: The number of weekly tournaments, some with very good structures (see below). In fact, the best low-cost tournament structures in New England can be found not at Foxwoods or Mohegan sun, but right here in Hampton Falls. Hampton Falls has two levels, so the bigger tournaments have their own space downstairs apart from the cash and table games. The room is wood paneled, bright and airy and offers a nice atmosphere for tournament players. Finally, the floor managers at Hampton Falls are fabulous. We have not seen more professional, knowledgeable floors outside of a major casino.

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MGM Springfield Poker Room Review

MGM Springfield Poker Room Review

The opening of the MGM Springfield in August 2018 brought in the era of full scale casinos in Massachusetts. It beat the highly anticipated Encore’s target opening by a full year. With the first legal poker room in the state, the MGM Springfield is an early indicator of Massachusetts’ ability to match up against the established Connecticut poker scene. Economic indicators in the first months have been mixed, but generally the start has been strong. The MGM Springfield poker room has been growing over its first 4 months, recently adding a few weekly tournaments.

The Caveat

We celebrated the 2019 New Year with a visit to the MGM Springfield poker room (a 75 minute drive for us) and its standing Tuesday morning tournament. We came away unfortunately frustrated, and able to assign only an incomplete score to the MGM Springfield poker room itself.  In short, we came to play a New Year’s Day tournament, and despite arriving just 5 minutes after the start, found we were alternates 14 and 15.  This seemed surprising, as the room was not nearly full. We discovered that the MGM was only able to run 2 tournament tables because (they claimed) several dealers had called in sick.  A regular player, however, commented that management did not plan for an uptick in volume on New Year’s Day. This indicates that the Tuesday tournament has a small showing in general. So buyer beware if planning to play a tournament here in the near future.

One of the floors did open a third table during the second level and dealing himself, but that still left us out in the cold.  By level 3 the alternate list was back up to 15-18 people beyond the 30 seated. As that level neared an end with no additional dealers in sight and the next level bringing the starting stack  down to 50 blinds, we abandoned hope, got our money back, and headed to Foxwoods.

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Boston Billiards Poker Room Entrance

The Boston Billiard Club & Casino Poker Room Review

Holding down the New Hampshire poker scene at the central Massachusetts border are the Boston Billiard poker room and The River.  The Boston Billiard Club (or BBC) offers distinct advantages to the Central Massachusetts and Southwest New Hampshire poker player. Making inroads against the established Manchester Poker Room 15-20 minutes north, and the cash game venue Chasers to the east, is no easy task however. The BBC is currently seeking to broaden their appeal, revamping their website and adding a couple of new poker tournaments to their weekly schedule.

Setting and Non-Poker Amenities

The Boston Billiard poker room is just a couple of minutes off Route 3 in New Hampshire, about 10 minutes north of the Massachusetts line.  The neighborhood doesn’t hold much promise, as The Boston Billiard Club sits in a nondescript industrial park. However, the inside of the Boston Billiard Club quickly sets a very upscale tone. You walk into the attractive open space of a large billiards room. Up and to the left is an equally attractive bar area, to the right the greeter station and then an event room with a few pool tables. That event room is particularly stunning, with elegant wood framed bookcases encircling the room. There are several comfortable chairs and couches around the main and event room. The difference in tone between the outside and inside of the BBC is among the greatest we’ve seen. Only the Playground Poker Room near Montreal even comes close.

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