In the fall of 2017, Chasers entered the competitive Southern New Hampshire poker scene with a bang. Granted a smallish bang, at only 16 poker tables, but the immediate returns have been very good. On any given night Chasers fills a large portion of those tables with active cash games. Although, we don’t play a lot of cash poker, we came away impressed on the Tuesday evening we stopped in to the new venue for a tournament. There was a lot of energy in the room and the cash players were clearly excited about this new Salem, NH poker room.
Chasers Poker Room occupies the basement of a now defunct Chinese restaurant. From the outside, the building does not inspire confidence. As you enter, the initial impression is “this is dark.” But the dark feeling quickly yields to a nice homey feel, atypical for your average poker room. There is a small bar immediately to the right of the door, with seating and a few high top tables. Along the right wall is an attractive brick fireplace which we assume will never be used. In front of this wall are the table games: roulette, blackjack, and a couple of poker variations played against the dealer.
Although the room has a dark feel, the tables are very well lit from above. We had no problems seeing the cards. The chairs are padded and very comfortable, especially in comparison to some of the surrounding New Hampshire rooms. The footprint of the room is not huge, however, so the tables are a bit cramped.
Chasers Poker Room
Chasers Poker Room Staff
For the 42nd most populous state, New Hampshire has a large and vibrant poker community. In a very small radius, there are currently at least seven active poker rooms, including one of our favorites Hampton Falls and another, Seabrook, that has seen better days. Many of these rooms lie close to the Massachusetts border, still waiting for legal casinos, and pull from the the northeastern Mass poker population. The upshot is that everyone knows one another: players, staff, owners. The competition for quality dealers and floors is as intense as the play at the tables.
Chasers did well in securing some of the better available talent when it opened. Being first to market, ahead of down-the-street rival Cheers, certainly helped. Chasers managed to lure some of the friendliest and most skilled dealers from existing rooms, and clearly trained their new dealers well. We played a tournament without issue. Floors were visible and active. The wait staff seemed a bit stretched thin, but were attentive and working hard.
Clearly Chasers has overcome the pre-opening concerns that its branding and logo are insulting to its potential clientele. A lot of the better cash players in the area have made their way here. The tournament we played had very few weak players as well.
However, any poker room draws the gamblers. Along with the typical high hand promotions that fuel the active cash rooms in New Hampshire, at one of our tournament breaks Chasers had a single hand event, the No Chip Flip. In the No Chip Flip players buy in for $50 each. One Hold ’em hand is dealt and the top two hands win with the cash, after the house rake of course. Not our cup of tea, but the room was abuzz as it played out, and the house grabbed like $130 for 3 minutes of action.
Tournament Structure at Chasers Poker Room
Frankly, it is clear that tournaments are not the focus at Chasers. Understandably, the success with cash, and the room’s small number of tables, would make focusing on tournaments unwise. Currently, Chasers runs regular tournaments on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. As with most new rooms, tournament offerings are in flux month-to-month, so check before you go. Most of the current tournaments are $100-$125 buy-in for 20k-25K in chips and 15-20 minute blinds. On the higher end of buy-ins in the area for 15-20 minute blind levels. Certainly nowhere near the value of the Hampton Falls $90/30K chips/30 minute blinds events held at 1pm on Fridays and Saturdays. But that Hampton Falls tournament is one of the best regular structures I have seen across the country, so not the standard by which any room can be held.
On the Tuesday night we were there, the tournament got 34 players. Not a great field, but not atrocious for a weeknight in New Hampshire. There were no dead stacks, so in the early stages we played shorthanded for awhile. Because tables are at a premium at this venue, they fully filled the first two tables before opening a third.
Overall Chasers Review
In a crowded and competitive poker landscape, this new seemingly humble room has made its mark. Starting with creating a comfortable environment and hiring good personnel, Chasers has made all the right decisions. On any given night, Chasers rivals Hampton Falls and the Boston Billiards Club in Nashua for the number of active cash tables. Management knows what works and how to get the players in the seats. While some other local rooms look vulnerable long-term, Chasers seems to be here to stay.