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.
If you plan on walking from one end of Foxwoods to the other, you’d better be in shape. The complex covers an enormous footprint. A full service casino, it has high end shopping and dining as well as many cheaper alternatives. The Fox Tower is a particularly great luxury stay. If you do make a reservation, grab a corner room if you can. These are big beautiful rooms with great showers and some great views. Various local off site hotels are within a reasonable drive if you are looking for something cheaper. For a more complete vacation experience, I suggest staying a bit further away along the Connecticut or Rhode Island beach areas during the summer. Mystic Connecticut is a personal favorite of ours, pretty much all year round, and is only a 20-minute drive on country roads from Foxwoods.
Foxwoods Poker Room Comfort
Foxwoods has the largest poker room on the East Coast, sporting 147 tables as of this writing. The primary Foxwoods cash room is on the casino lower level. It forms a kind if L with two wings. The registration desk is where the two wings meet, and the cage sits in one of the far corners.
In many areas of the lower floor, tables are wedged tight and moving around is a challenge. The chairs are standard issue, no great padding and comfort like you’d find at a smaller but more upscale room like the Aria. The room is quite dark. While the poker room is non-smoking, the center of the room is open to the upstairs poker room and other gaming tables where smoking is allowed. On a busy night the smell of cigarettes is moderately strong. In general the air downstairs a bit stale.
Tournament action is held right above the cash room on the casino’s main floor. The tournament area has a higher ceiling and is a bit less claustrophobic.
The decor in the Foxwoods poker room is in desperate need of updating. It lacks the sleek and airy feel of a poker room like BestBet Jacksonville or even a full scale casino like the Borgata. Foxwoods feels a bit gritty and old school. Nothing wrong with that, but it evokes a different experience than some of the newer, more nicely appointed rooms.
With the established room’s history pre-dating the poker boom, there is a feel of experience and confidence. Almost all of the dealers are well skilled. They do, however, vary quite a bit in personability. Some of the dealers are great characters and set a vibrant and fun tone at their tables. Others look like they hate their jobs and the players as well. The excellent floors have always been welcoming and adept at finding good spots at cash tables. They also run tournaments fairly seamlessly. Wait staff are among the hardest working I have seen. There is a lot of space to cover at Foxwoods, and they are always circulating. Drinks are free at Foxwoods when playing cash poker.Foxwoods is the largest and most active poker room on the East Coast.Click To Tweet
Players at Foxwoods
Years ago the Foxwoods poker room was always hopping on weekends and holidays and frequently during weekdays as well. One New Year’s Eve, for example, it seemed like every table was filled. But turnout is not as robust as it used to be. That said, there is still plenty of action and a variety games – several to dozens of 1/2 NLH tables, some 2/5 NLH, as well as various PLO and Stud games most evenings. There are usually more active tables here than at the nearby competitor Mohegan Sun.
As you would expect, the big draw results in a wide array of players. Even at 1/2 tables, you will run into grinders trying to make a living and college students playing for the first time. We have played with some of the craziest, loose aggressive players we have ever seen, to the point the table becomes unplayable for those of us who find a table dominated by that style challenging. Fortunately, it is easy to pick up and move to one of the many other tables to take another shot.
Poker Tournament Structures
Foxwoods daily tournaments look a lot like those at many major poker rooms – not terrible, but you better be prepared to play fast. Buy-ins generally range from $60 to $160 with 15 to 20 minute blinds and starting stacks of 10,000 to 20,000. Currently, Foxwoods has one bigger weekly tournament: 20K guarantee $300 buy-in with 30 minute blinds and 25,000 starting stack.
However, like the major poker rooms around the country, the daily tournaments are just a piece of the puzzle. Foxwoods poker room has a WSOP circuit event in August each year and WSOP Main Event qualifiers in May and June. There are Mega-Stack series for higher buy-ins and better structures, holiday weekend tournaments, and many other rotating special tournaments. If you check out their tournament calendar and plan ahead, you’ll likely be able to hit one of these bigger events with superior structures.
As an aside, Foxwoods like many poker rooms, has moved away from the large bad beat promotions for cash games and instead runs constant high hand promotions. In the past Foxwoods frequently had bad beats max out at several hundred thousand dollars. Apparently more frequent high hand giveaways are a greater draw, and seem here to stay.
Overall Assessment of Foxwoods
Foxwoods poker room remains one of the East Coast poker power players. However, the more recently built mid-Atlantic casinos have likely siphoned some of the players from the New York area south instead of north. The Foxwoods poker room may never regain the kind of volume it had at one time, but there is still plenty of action in both cash and tournaments. The casino itself is huge with much in dining, entertainment, and shopping as well as high quality hotel options. The beaches and quaint towns of Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut are just a short drive away, making this a good poker vacation destination.