NOTE: This review was updated in September of 2019 to reflect substantial changes in poker room location, cash room activity, and tournament offerings.
The Foxwoods poker room was our first regular live poker venue (outside free pub poker). Thus it holds a special place in our own poker journey. Like many novice players, our experience started with “Wow, we’re doing really well! This is easier than we thought!” Which of course transformed into “Guess we’re not as good as we thought” in due time. Nonetheless, we have spent many fun evenings at Foxwoods through the years. When Foxwoods announced that it had moved its cash room from the dark lower level to a brand new room on the casino’s main level, we were intrigued. We ventured down to Southeastern Connecticut to check it out and update our review.
Setting and Non-Poker Amenities
The approach to the Foxwoods complex elicits a common reaction: “There is no way there is a large casino in the middle of these sparsely populated woods.” Then the vast structure appears like a mirage in the distance. Foxwoods’ long-term, and much-maligned, ad campaign “The Wonder of it All” actually does have 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 Tower) 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 Outlet) 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. As a full-service casino, it has high-end shopping and dining as well as many cheaper alternatives. Foxwoods has particularly improved its offerings in the casual and quick dining department adding small food court in its main hallway.
The Fox Tower is a 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 awe inspiring 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 remains the largest poker room on the East Coast, sporting 147 tables as of this writing. As indicated earlier, the primary Foxwoods cash room moved from the “basement” to the main casino level. The former room was dark, aging, and a bit claustrophobic. The new cash room boasts high ceilings, excellent lighting, and lots of space between tables. The old room had a portion with an open ceiling to upstairs table games which caused sections of the poker room to be very smoky. Now, the poker room is sealed off from the casino floor by full walls and automatic glass doors. In fact, you can walk through a smoke-free casino to get to it on one side.
While they were at it, Foxwoods upgraded everything related to player physical comfort. New chairs are well-padded, although oddly neither on wheels nor adjustable. The tables are large, with padded rails and new felts. There are cup holders at each seat, as well as phone charger outlets. The chips are clean and look new as well.
Tournament action remains where it has always been, but is now right outside the cash room. The tournament area also has a high ceiling and an open feel. Tables are well-spaced, but not newly updated as in the cash room. There is a large bar area right next to the tournament room and the sportsbook is just steps away.
The Foxwoods dealers we once among the most skilled we have experienced. However, our tournament experience on our most recent trip indicates that dealer migration to the other new rooms in New England (MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor) and local competitor Mohegan Sun may have taken its toll. Many of the dealers who remain appear to have lost some of their enthusiasm, and some of the new ones seem less skilled. To be fair, we did not play cash during this visit, so it’s possible that cash game dealers were stronger in general.
The poker floors at Foxwoods have always been welcoming and adept at finding spots at cash tables. They also run tournaments fairly seamlessly. We noticed no changes in this area. The wait staff remains among the hardest working we have seen. There is a lot of space to cover at Foxwoods, and they are always circulating.Foxwoods redesigned and relocated its cash poker room with great results.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 (see Cash Game activity below). Even before the arrival of the new casinos in New England over the past year plus, Foxwoods had seen its volume decline. Having said that, it remains a consistently active room.
As you would expect, high activity 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. At Foxwoods we have played with some of the craziest, loose aggressive players we have ever seen, to the point that the table becomes unplayable for those of us who find a table dominated by that style challenging. Fortunately, it’s easy to pick up and move to one of the many other tables and 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 on Saturdays: 15K guarantee $300 buy-in with 30 minute blinds and 25,000 starting stack.
However, as with most major poker rooms around the country, the daily tournaments are just a piece of the puzzle. Foxwoods poker room has a WSOP circuit series 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 the tournament calendar and plan ahead, you’ll likely be able to hit one of these bigger events.
As an aside, Foxwoods also recently resumed its cash Bad Beat jackpot after it went away for quite some time. Foxwoods has maintained nearly constant high hand giveaways as well. Best of both worlds, as rooms typically have one or the other, with most opting for high hands.
Cash Game Activity
As of August 2019, the Foxwoods poker room runs about 4-6 $1/$2 NLH cash tables and 1-3 $2/$5 tables on most weekdays. On Monday evenings they typically see 10-12 tables of $1/$2 and 2-4 tables of $2/$5 due to special high hand promotions. On weekends there will be about 8 to 12 $1/$2 tables and 2 to 4 $2/$5 tables, peaking on Saturday night. Where Foxwoods continues to excel is having active games other than $1/$2 or $2/$5 NLH. If you want high limit games, Omaha, or other poker variants, Foxwoods, along with the newly opened Encore Boston Harbor are your best bets in New England. Nearby Mohegan Sun, competes well with Foxwoods in the lower levels of NLH, but does not sustain the variety of games that Foxwoods offers.
Overall Assessment of Foxwoods
Foxwoods poker room remains one of East Coast poker’s power players. However, the arrival of MGM Springfield in 2018 and, more importantly, Encore Boston Harbor in 2019 has changed the entire poker landscape in New England. The Foxwoods poker room may never regain the kind of volume it had at one time. However, there is still plenty of both cash and tournament action. The casino itself is huge with much to offer in dining, entertainment, and shopping along with high-quality hotel options.
What Foxwoods does offer is a very different setting than the urban locales of the MGM and Encore – forests and hills instead of densely populated city blocks and highways. The beaches and quaint towns of Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut are also just a short drive away, making this a good poker vacation destination. Foxwoods may no longer be the undisputed king of New England poker, but the investment in the new cash room shows that it’s not giving up being a major player.
Update: See why we think Foxwoods is one of the Best Poker Rooms in New England!
- Tournament Structures
Foxwoods is the largest poker room on the East Coast with a deep history of providing a quality poker. The new cash room is bright, smoke-free, and comfortable. Even if the volume is down from its best days, Foxwoods still remains an active room with a wide range of player styles and quality. The casino itself offers many options for dining and shopping. The complete package makes Foxwoods a solid poker vacation option.