The opening of the MGM Springfield in August 2018 brought in the era of full-scale casinos in Massachusetts. It beat the highly anticipated Encore Boston Harbor’s opening by a full year. MGM Springfield and Encore became Massachusett’s answer to the Connecticut poker scene, represented by Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, and the many small venues in New Hampshire. We visited briefly on January 1, 2019, but the tournament that day had only 2 tables and 26 people on the waitlist. Apparently several dealers had no-showed and the ones that were there were being used on the more lucrative cash tables. After waiting through the first level, we gave up and headed to Foxwoods to play later in the afternoon. Then of course came the room closures caused by the pandemic in 2020. It took a while for MGM Springfield, and many other rooms to come back full strength. In August of 2023, we decided to give the MGM Springfield poker room another go.
The MGM Springfield is right off routes 91 and 291 in Springfield, with very easy access. The adjacent parking garage is large and free. The casino’s urban setting in a medium-sized city attempting reclamation presents some challenges. Apart from the casino, there is not a lot in the immediate area to attract visitors.
However, the MGM Springfield builders did an excellent job integrating the look of the complex into its immediate neighborhood. The casino does not overwhelm its surroundings or look out of place. In fact, if you do not see the MGM signs, you would not be aware that there is a casino here. The building’s brick and stone facades are stylish without being ostentatious. Inside and out, the complex reflects a merger of the modern and the retro-traditional. One such feature is the MGM’s beautiful outdoor courtyard that sits in front of a refurbished castle-like armory.
Also, the extended region offers some attractions. There are the quaint college towns of Northhampton and Amherst within about 30 minutes up Route 91. And for nature lovers, the Berkshires to the west offer many great hikes and views. There is Vermont a couple hours north and the Connecticut state line immediately south of Springfield. As a part of a larger trip, Western Massachusetts has a lot to offer, especially for those lover nature or a slower pace.
The MGM Springfield complex is moderate in size. Navigating the casino floor reminded us a bit of the ease of The Rivers in New York. The MGM has all the features of a full-service casino (i.e., slots, table games, restaurants, and a hotel), but is very manageable to navigate. The interior of the property continues the modern-urban, attractive, but understated feel. A stone walkway loops around the central gaming area, with brick and stone walls. Like The Rivers, the entire casino is non-smoking.
Although there are a couple of upscale restaurants, most of the food offerings are moderately priced. The food court, the South End Market, offers a decent array of offerings at a good value. There is a lobster shack, an Asian noodle spot, a grill, a diner, and a taco spot. Heather got spring rolls and pot stickers from Wicked Noodles, both of which were very good and very inexpensive. I went to Macho Taco, and had a couple of chicken tacos and an ear of elote. All of that was cheap too, but none of it was very good.
MGM Springfield Hotel
We also stayed at the MGM Springfield Hotel, which was quite nice overall. We selected one of the Stay Well rooms (supposedly better air quality, comfortable beds, etc.) for a bit more than a standard room. Overall the room was quite nice with a comfortable bed and a great shower. One oddity is that it does not have a dresser to put clothes in. It also had only one chair. Not sure the Stay Well upgrade is worth it, as we poked our heads in a standard room and it actually did have a dresser and a second chair. We figure part of the Stay Well deal is having less furniture to clean.
We took advantage of the rooftop outdoor pool for an hour in the afternoon, and that was very pleasant. The pool was very clean and not too cold. In addition to very comfortable lounge chairs, it offered large outdoor couches. There was also a hot tub.
Note that the MGM Springfield is right in downtown Springfield. We were on the State Street side. Until about 9:30pm the street noise, even on the fourth floor, was quite loud. There were car stereos blaring and motorcycles constantly going by. After that, things settled down, and we were not bothered by street noise as we slept, but we did run out white noise machine. There were ear plugs left for us on the night table, so we suspect noise has been a problem for visitors in the past.
The MGM Springfield Poker Room Comfort
The 15-table MGM Springfield poker room is walled off from the rest of the casino. This, as well as the high ceiling, keeps the noise levels down nicely. Table spacing is generous, and the adjustable, wheeled chairs are comfortable. The temperature in the room was fairly ideal. The lighting over the tables was very good. The room in general is very attractive with some modern architectural touches and some more traditional ones.
The poker room has a couple of particularly nice features. There is a self-serve drinks station, offering coffee, juice, soda, and water. There are also low tables that move around the room to be used to rest drinks or food. Finally, the MGM poker room actually boasts windows! To the outside and everything! It was very nice to experience a poker room that did not feel like it was built in a basement.
The tables were nicely sized and very clean. They had auto shufflers, padded rails, and USB ports. Chips and cards were in good shape and branded. From top to bottom, definitely a very well-put-together physical environment for a modern poker room.
Poker Room Staff
Ok, we need to start off with the fact that we are a bit snake-bit in our attempts at playing tournaments at the MGM Springfield poke room. As we mentioned, in 2019 they only had two tournament tables running and we could not get off the waitlist. This time, we had tracked this Sunday night survivor tournament on PokerAtlas for a couple months and saw it was a 7:15 start. So we registered at 5:20, got some dinner and walked around the casino a bit, arriving back a bit after 7pm ready to play. The problem was the tournament had started at 5:15pm!
Apparently, the information was wrong on PokerAtlas, which gets its information from the rooms, for weeks. A couple of other players piped up to say that they also just arrived only to find out they were nearly two hours into the event. The fact that we had actually registered right after the actual start, looked at our slips which did not have the time on them, and just went with our assumption, was pretty frustrating.
In retrospect, we were more irritated with ourselves for not checking Bravo (which is their official tournament registration/clock provided) or gone deep enough on the MGM site to see their listing. Or we could have confirmed when we registered, which we almost always do in a new room to us. However, at the time, we were irritated and let the floor know that, showing him the incorrect listing on PokerAtlas. It was certainly not his fault, it is the room manager’s responsibility to make sure the information is correct on these sites. The tournament director seemed a bit flustered by our complaints.
To their credit, they did not post our stacks when we registered at 5:20 and failed to take our seats. Thus we had not chipped off. They gave us a full starting stack and seated us when we arrived.
After this tough start, our experience with personnel was good. The dealers were very good in general, keeping the action moving and managing the table well. Wait staff circulated frequently.
Players at MGM Springfield Poker Room
Because of the point at which we entered the tournament, with everyone starting to get short-stacked, it was hard to judge the players stylistically. Most of the action was fairly wild and aggressive. Players were making loose calls, and chasing and knocking players out with inferior starting hands. There was a large age range, and a few women were in this small tournament. Looking around, the cash tables had a similar mix of players. Players in general ranged from silent to very friendly, no one was particularly unpleasant.
As of this writing, the MGM Springfield poker room hosts five weekly tournaments. The Sunday tournament is, yes, 5:15pm, and is a $185 (with dealer add) Survivor Tournament with a 20K starting stack. Tuesday offers two tournaments: an 11:15am for $155 (20K starting) and a 7:15pm Bounty tournament for $200 (20K starting). Thursday’s 11:15am has same structure as Tuesday’s. Finally, Saturday at 11:15 is a $260 (25K starting). All tournaments have 20-minute blinds, except for the Saturday event when the blinds go to 25 minutes on level 7 and after.
Twenty-four people entered this Augustt Sunday Survivor tournament. However, when we tracked tournaments earlier this year, MGM generally would get around 60-70 players for most of their events. The structures are generally fair, not spectacular for buy-ins that range from $155 to $260, but we’ve definitely seen worse.
Cash Game Activity
On this Sunday evening, the MGM Springfield poker room was running 12 active cash tables with waiting lists. From our recent tracking of cash games (see our cash game activity update), MGM Springfield is pretty consistently active. During weeknights, they get 7 to 9 $1/$2 tables, and 10 to 12 on weekends. There will be anywhere from 1 to 3 $2/$5 tables throughout the week as well as 1 or 2 tables of $4/$8 Limit. Occasionally, they may also spread a higher limit NLH game. Cash play at MGM seems fairly embedded and competes well with rooms in the region.
Overall Assessment of the MGM Springfield Poker Room
The MGM Springfield poker room is an attractive, comfortable, and very active poker room. Its 15 tables are almost always filled during weeknights and weekends, with a few cash play options ($1/$2, $2/$5, $4/$8 Limit and occasional higher NLH game). They have also redeveloped the tournament scene since the pandemic subsided. They now offer five tournaments per week. The dealers and staff are generally solid. However, make sure to double-check your tournament times so you don’t end up stuck as we did!
MGM Springfield is the only game in Western Massachusetts, as they are over an hour from Encore Boston Harbor and the Connecticut casinos. But, they seem to have invested in their poker scene. It is not just an afterthought to the rest of the casino. The casino and hotel overall are quite nice, even if the local area around the facility does not have as much to offer as some urban casinos such as Jack Cleveland. Despite our tournament hiccup, we came away impressed with MGM Springfield.
The MGM Springfield poker room is an attractive, comfortable, and very active poker room. Its 15 tables are almost always filled during weeknights and weekends. MGM Springfield is the only game in Western Massachusetts, as they are over an hour from Encore Boston Harbor and the Connecticut casinos. But, they seem to have invested in their poker scene.