We first visited Encore Boston Harbor poker room in 2019 shortly after it opened. At the time it boasted 72 poker tables, had a booming cash room, and ran regular tournaments. There were a few hitches from the start: long wait times to play, controversy and changing policies over the cost of the parking garage, and shock at the high cost of food. However, Encore Boston Harbor quickly became the number one poker room in all of New England, eclipsing even Foxwoods in its early success. Then came the pandemic. And the shutdowns.
Encore Boston Harbor poker room today, while a perfectly respectable room, is only a shadow of the room we experienced in 2019. Today’s room sports a mere 25 tables (a number that had just increased from 15 on the day we played). It offers no tournaments, and has, for most of this year, been laboring under severely abbreviated hours. Granted, those 15 tables were almost always full with long waiting lists behind. But Encore Boston Harbor poker room is no longer in the conversation of top poker rooms in the country.
We were certainly curious to see how this room held up now, independent of its more vibrant history.
Setting and Non-Poker Amenities
Encore Boston Harbor casino and hotel rises about the lower skyline of Everett Massachusetts. While the neighborhood is decidedly industrial, Encore has created an oasis of green space throughout the peninsula on which it sits.
Encore covers a large footprint, encompassing the casino, luxury shops, a number of restaurants, and a large hotel and convention center. As expected for a Wynn property, everything is extremely upscale (and expensive). The lobby features a seasonally changing flower sculpture, as one might see in Las Vegas, and everything is polished to a high shine.
The casino itself is expansive and also has a very upscale feel. The large playing space features numerous slot machines, table games, electronic table games, and a Caesar’s Sports Book. Around the edges of the main room, one finds restaurants, high-limit rooms, and private gaming spaces. A second level sports more table games, restaurants, a bar and nightclub, and the poker room itself. Additional slot machines take up the space formerly inhabited by about 47 of those 72 long-lost poker tables.
Encore Boston Harbor Poker Room Comfort
The Encore Boston Harbor poker room is located on the second floor above the main cashier. Although it has its own space, the poker room does not have solid walls and is fully open to the main casino. Much of the former poker room’s expanse is also now filled with slot machines. Fortunately, since this is a non-smoking casino, the poker room air quality does not suffer. It is quite noisy, however, with the sound of all of those slot machines.
The Boston Harbor Encore poker room contains 25 very well-spaced tables, is very bright overall, and the tables are mostly well-lit. The room is broken into two discrete sections. On this day, the $1/$3 tables were in one section and all other games in the second. Both rooms have high ceilings and are very attractive in an uncomplicated, sleek way. Small TVs ring the top of the walls. The music mix playing in the casino was as eclectic as I’ve heard, and very enjoyable as background music.
The tables feature auto-shufflers, padded rails, drink cups, and USB ports. The felts, chips, and cards are all branded. The chips are generally clean, although a few of the white $1 chips could use a scrub. The cards are well-sized and easy to see. Although they do not have arms, the chairs are well-padded, adjustable, wheeled, and extremely comfortable. The padding on the seat is particularly soft and deep making it one of the most comfortable poker seats I’ve sat in at a poker table.
Play for the cash games is 9-handed and it felt plenty roomy at the table.
Poker Room Staff
The floor staff was very organized starting cash play at the beginning of the day, and they circulated throughout making sure all was going well. Often in cash-only rooms, the floor staff can become disengaged and only show up when there is an issue. This was not the case at Encore Boston Harbor. Even better, the dealers were all excellent as well as personable in a professional reserved style. Wait staff came to bigger stakes tables first, but eventually got over to the $1/$3 tables. Given this was a late morning session and staffing everywhere is at a minimum they seemed to be doing a good job.
Players at Encore Boston Harbor Poker Room
The players on this Tuesday morning were fairly quiet and focused. Almost everyone at the table knew what they were doing. Mostly there was solid pre-flop play with people showing down pretty strong when they won hands. Play was generally tight-aggressive, but there were some limped multiway pots as well. There were also some large pots that ended up with one or more players all-in, but the circumstances tended to make sense. Players were diverse with a wide age range, and several women were playing in the room including four women at my table.
Cash Play Activity
There were eight cash tables running on the Tuesday morning that we visited Encore Boston Harbor. According to PokerAtlas, on all 7 days per week (weekday afternoons and evenings and all weekend), Encore Boston Harbor gets 9 tables of $1/$3, 3 tables of $2/$5, 2 tables of PLO, and 1 “other” table. Note, these numbers were recorded when there were only 15 tables, and if you do the math, Encore filled them all. And whenever you checked on PokerAtlas wait lists were huge.
The day we visited was coincidentally the first day of expanding to 25 tables, and when we checked, 24 tables had opened up by late afternoon with notable wait lists. Expect full capacity at all popular times in the afternoon and evenings. You can sign up on PokerAtals remotely to get on the wait list as you head out. Alternately, arriving when the poker room opens at 10am is a good strategy to make sure you get a seat.
If you are interested in cash poker play in New England, be sure to check out our Poker Room Cash Activity Map.The Encore Boston Harbor poker room is a top-flight room with excellent staff; however, it's still plagued by 'what could have been.'Click To Tweet
Tournament Structures and Activity
The Encore Boston Harbor poker room does not currently run tournaments.
Overall Assessment of Encore Boston Harbor Poker Room
The Encore Boston Harbor poker room is a top-flight room with excellent staff contained in a world-class facility. The demand for cash poker here is intense and led to an increase in capacity from 15 to 25 tables. Expect those tables to be filled most of the time and wait lists to be extensive. Beyond being noisy because it the room is exposed to nearby slot machines, there’s not much to not recommend here.
However, Encore Boston Harbor still plagued by ‘what could have been.’ Prior to the pandemic, this was one of the most active rooms in the country for cash and tournaments and offered a great space for players. We understand that there are greater casino-wide financial considerations, as poker is just not as profitable as slots and other table games. Still, it’s a shame for the New England poker playing community. Encore Boston Harbor still has the makings of a great room, but is just so much smaller in scale than it might have been.