Seabrook Park

Greyhound Casino & Tavern at Seabrook Park Poker Room

The old Seabrook Park poker room needed a facelift like no other poker room in New England. Seabrook’s glory days had passed long ago, and the physical plant was crumbling down. From a roof that leaked even when it wasn’t raining, to chairs that felt like torture devices, Seabrook poker had seen better days. Earlier this year, new ownership came in and immediately announced plans to renovate the building. Unlike most construction projects in New England, their “immediately” actually meant “now”, and their initial timeline lasted weeks, not years.

The renovation is still ongoing, with the next wave scheduled for August 2019.  Tournament poker will ultimately move to the other half of the building, next to the racing simulcast. However, the first wave is complete, and boy, what a difference. Out of the ashes, the Greyhound Casino & Tavern at Seabrook Park has risen. We have banished our old review of Seabrook Park poker to the archives, now irrelevant. We will update the current review once Phase Two renovations are complete.

 

Seabrook Park

Casino Setting 

Seabrook Park is conveniently located less than a mile off Interstate 95 (exit 2) in New Hampshire. The site housed live greyhound racing before it was banned in New Hampshire and still features indoor stands facing a long abandoned track.  There remains a very active, simulcast racing area (the last remaining simulcast site in New Hampshire). There is a massive parking lot out front, so finding a space is never an issue. The exterior remains pretty humble and worn, but belies the quality of the new poker room inside.

If you are wrapping poker into a wider experience, Seabrook Park is just a few miles from several of the largest beach communities in New Hampshire. About 20 to 25 minutes north on 95, you can enjoy one of New England’s best small cities, Portsmouth. Or you can head a bit inland to one of our favorite towns, Exeter. Finally, just up the road is another New Hampshire poker room, Hampton Falls Poker.

Seabrook Park Non-Poker Amenities

The cash poker area features several blackjack and Mississippi Stud tables, a roulette wheel, and about 12 stations of electronic table games. The current cafe style “tavern” has been completely refinished with a nice faux wood floor, several high-top tables and seating around the bar area.  In a nice touch, the tabletops are embedded with old Seabrook Park poker chips. The beer options have been significantly expanded and improved with the addition of  nice IPAs and regional microbrews.  Seabrook Park fortunately retained its long-time cook who makes some of the best card room food we have experienced. While we have not eaten from the redesigned menu (which has a nice range of reasonable price options), other patron reviews are mixed.

The simulcast racing room is always hopping on weekends. Several poker players split their time between race betting and intermittently playing their hands.

Seabrook Park Poker Room Comfort

The 12 table Seabrook Park tournament poker room’s physical transformation has been phenomenal. From a broken down and uncomfortable environment, the room is now warm and inviting. The room features subdued but rich paint and rope-wrapped columns. The new cartoon “classy greyhound” logo provides a playful effect.  Rooms are carpeted and currently in great shape.

The tournament area used to have the bright, institutional halogen lighting that made you feel like you were in a carpeted high school cafeteria. The new recessed lighting in the sloped ceiling creates a softer tone (some complain it’s too dark, but we liked it). The tournament chairs are better than in the old room but not great in terms of comfort. Tables sit close together and ten handed play feels pretty tight around the table. All felts are brand new, although the chips remain the same. There are several small TVs mostly featuring racing.

Greater attention has clearly been paid to the cash poker side of the house. There are about 7 cash tables sharing space with the tavern and game table area. The cash chairs, while not adjustable, are well-padded. New tables offer drink holders and USB ports. Large TV screens play various sporting events, and there is a lot of energy in the room in general.

Note that you can no longer eat food at the Seabrook Park poker tables. While inconvenient for some, this rule will help preserve the quality of carpets and felts. Seabrook offered a small $10 all-you-can-eat buffet (coconut shrimp and mac-and-cheese the day we visited) during the first 15 minute break. Of course, it is all-you-can-eat in 15 minutes, so hardly a relaxing dining experience.

 

Seabrook Park Poker

Poker Room Staff

One of the reasons we stopped playing at the old Seabrook Park room was the uneven quality of dealers. Dealers also rotated far less often than in other rooms. If you started with a bad dealer, sometimes you were stuck with that person for almost two hours. Seabrook Park did and does feature some excellent dealers, but the ratio of excellent to weak had slipped.  Fortunately, Seabrook Park’s transformation appears to have prioritized retaining the best dealers. These skilled dealers are also among the best poker people we have encountered. During our most recent visit, we did not encounter a bad dealer in the bunch. Polite and attentive wait staff at Seabrook circulates frequently.

The one downside of Seabrook Park’s current staffing lies with floor personnel. While some are excellent, others are very inattentive, particularly during tournaments. During two recent tournaments, calls for the floor were ignored while multiple floors chatted among themselves. At one point we were well below the number of players required to break the sixth table, with multiple tables being down several players. However, the table break did not occur until the end of the next break, with players  scrambling for their new tables as dealing resumed.

The Seabrook Park poker room transformation has been phenomenal.Click To Tweet

Players at the Seabrook Park Poker Room

The players at Seabrook Park encompass a wide range of both age and ability. They tend to be tight passive or loose passive. Most players are long-term regulars, so a sense of familiarity and camaraderie predominates. Seabrook Park also features a number of “characters” – most very pleasant and entertaining. However, a contingent of players who seem to be miserable playing poker frequent Seabrook as well.

Tournament Structures

Seabrook Park offers a couple of weekday tournaments (Tues/Thurs $60, 20 minute blinds, 16,000 chips, no rebuy/reentry).  However, the tournament mainstays have always been the late afternoon tournaments on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All three of these tournaments feature 20 minute blinds, 15,000 chips, and no rebuys or add-ons.  While the Sunday tournament remains $50, the Friday and Saturday games increased to $75. The price increase has resulted in decreased turnout. The Saturday 4pm tournament regularly topped 100 players last year. Recently 60 to 80 players appears more typical.

The former Friday and Saturday evening tournaments $40 entry/$40 rebuy/$40 add-on doubled to an $80/$80/$80 format which has also dampened turnout. Likely these increased buy-ins are smart economical choices for management – more rake per person with less dealers needed – but many long-time players are clearly not fans. Tournament rakes are set at the state-mandated 20% (part of which goes to charity).  While a 20% rake may not seem great to some, they are nothing compared to what we encountered in South Florida.



Cash Game Activity

The Seabrook Park Greyhound Casino poker room remains at the lower end of cash poker activity compared to its immediate New Hampshire competition. Weekdays offer at most 1 to 2 $1/$2 tables, and rarely anything else. Saturdays, typically feature 2 to 3 $1/$2 tables. Hampton Falls and particularly Chasers (about half an hour west in Salem, NH), offer much more cash action.

 

APT

 

Overall Assessment of the Seabrook Park Poker Room

We admit to an emotional component to our embrace of Seabrook Park’s rebirth. Despite its former  challenges, Seabrook was our first regular poker room. We feel great affection for many of the dealers and other players. When the dealer quality declined and Seabrook’s other challenges became more glaring, we sought other options. Kudos to the new ownership for Seabrook’s rapid transformation.

The Seabrook Park facility has come far from the fading relic it was just a year ago. The environment and playing experience have been enhanced immeasurably. With consistently strong dealers and a warm, inviting physical environment, Seabrook Park should now be more competitive with other New Hampshire rooms.

  • Comfort
  • Tournament Structures
  • Personnel
3.8

Summary

The Seabrook Park facility has come far from the fading relic it was just a year ago. The environment and playing experience have been enhanced immeasurably. With consistently strong dealers and a warm, inviting physical environment, Seabrook Park should now be more competitive with other New Hampshire rooms.

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