NOTE: This review was updated in September of 2022 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. We visited again in the past few months to play a WSOP satellite, and see how the room had evolved.
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. Today Foxwoods is a shade of its former self. Many of the stores and restaurants have shut down. The facility is not as bright and shiny as it once was, and general gambling traffic appears to be down. Nonetheless Foxwoods still has much to offer, especially to the poker playing population.
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.
Although now showing its age, the Fox Tower remains 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 likely remains the largest poker room on the East Coast, despite its significant reduction in footprint. The poker room sports 52 tables as of this writing. The poker room boasts high ceilings, excellent lighting, and lots of space between tables. The old room (circa 2018) had 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 relatively new. In the past year tournaments have been brought into the poker room. There are no longer “cash” and “tournament” poker areas at Foxwoods.
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 remains one of the best poker rooms in New England.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 (of the then 170 tables) was filled. But turnout is not as robust as it used to be (see our Cash Game Activity table for New England). Even before the pandemic, 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 no longer hosts daily tournaments. Currently, Foxwoods hosts three tournaments a week with varying buy-ins and structures. The Sunday tournament is the most expensive ($360) with the best structure (40k chips, blinds 25-30 minutes long). Thursday’s tournament is $160 for 25k chips and 20 minute blinds. Wednesday’s structure falls somewhere in between. Sunday is also a freeze-out, while Wednesday and Thursday offer unlimited re-entries for the first couple of hours of the tournament.
While Foxwoods still has the occassional special tournament (such as the WSOP qualifier that drove us there in May), their tournament heyday has passed. Foxwoods, like so many rooms has decided that tournaments are a money loser and are holding as few as they can get away with, it seems. Note that tournament offerings are changing throughout New England by the month. So be sure to check Poker Atlas for up-to-date offerings before you plan a visit.
Cash Game Activity
As of early 2022, the Foxwoods poker room runs about 6-8 $1/$2 NLH cash tables and 2-4 $2/$5 tables on most weekdays. On weekends there will be about 10-13 $1/$2 tables and four or five $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 is 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. 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.
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 their continuing investment in poker shows that it’s not giving up being a major player.
Foxwoods is the largest poker room on the East Coast with a deep history of providing a quality poker. The poker 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.