San Diego: One of our favorite cities

Our 5 Favorite Cities in the US

As we ponder our Poker Pilgrimage, we need to decide where our year of travel will take us. We have three basic criteria for places to earn a spot on our journey, a location must either have a poker room (or rooms: Hello Las Vegas!) we want to visit, be a spot that we have never been but would like to go (such as Charleston, SC), or be one of our favorite cities, and thus worthy of a return trip. Today, we thought we would share our five favorite cities and start to pin some way-points on our journey.

 

Boston, MA

Boston: One of our favorite cities
The Boston Skyline

Boston is an easy one. We live in the Boston area, and thus this is where our journey will begin. Boston has history, museums, culture, natural beauty, and sports teams galore. For the first time visitor we would recommend the aquarium, the science museum, Faneuil Hall, a walk down the Freedom Trail, a walk along the Charles River, taking in a game (Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, or Bruins depending on the season), and a visit to any of the many historic and beautiful outlying towns. Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and numerous New Hampshire cardrooms are within a couple of hours if your poker jones needs to be fed.

 

Washington, DC

One of our favorite places: Washington DC
Washington Monument at Night

Washington DC is next on our list. DC is a beautiful city replete with monuments, museums, an excellent zoo, and of course our seat of government. One of my favorite things about Washington is that many of the attractions (more museums than you can count and the zoo!) are completely free. You could spend days exploring the city without paying a single entrance fee. I dare you to name another city where this is the case.  Also, if you lean toward the political, you can plan a visit to Congress or even the White House. Also not to be missed are the amazing Arlington Cemetery and the (sadly expensive) Spy Museum. If your thoughts take a turn toward poker, Maryland Live! is only 45 minutes away and the new MGM National Harbor is just a few minutes drive from the heart of DC.

 

New Orleans, LA

One of our favorite cities: New Orleans
Jackson Square, New Orleans

We love New Orleans so much that we got married there! While we probably wouldn’t pencil New Orleans in for a summer visit, the weather is lovely in the late fall or early spring. So many things make New Orleans one of our favorite cities. We love the food, the music, and the very spirit of the city. While we do our best to avoid the craziness of Bourbon Street, neighboring Chartres and Royal offer a wealth of interesting stores, galleries of local artisans, and cafes. Frenchman Street hosts numerous hardworking musical acts every night of the week. And if you are fortunate enough to be in the city for one of their many parades, the joy of the people is infectious (again, Mardi Gras is perhaps out of our comfort zone, but the St. Patrick’s parade we experienced was a delight). On our most recent visit we went to the new World War II museum and were blown away by the experience. Sadly, Harrah’s Casino in the heart of the city would not make our top five poker destinations, but it is there for those looking for some cash play. There are also riverboat casinos nearby that we have yet to investigate.

 

San Diego, CA

San Diego: One of our favorite cities
Hotel del Coronado, San Diego

Over on the Left Coast, we have two favorite cities.  First, San Diego has beautiful weather practically year round. It has the ocean, and it has all of the culture that one could wish for. From the museums and beauty of Balboa Park, to the missions and Mexican restaurants of Old Town, San Diego has something for everyone. San Diego also hosts the world famous San Diego Zoo and my favorite, San Diego Safari Park. Nearby you will find the wine-making area of Temecula, and Julian, known for mining and apple pie. It’s even a quick drive to Tijuana, if a visit to Mexico tickles your fancy. San Diego offers a number of poker rooms which we look forward to exploring on our big trip.

 

 

San Francisco

San Francisco: one of our favorite cities
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

While we have never been to San Francisco together, we both list it among our favorite cities. As with the other destinations on our list, San Francisco has a wealth of experiences to offer. Some of our favorites are Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, the Exploratorium, and nearby Sausalito. Visitors must check out Coit Tower and ride the famous trolley cars in order to claim that they have “done” the city. Most will find a visit to Alcatraz worth their while as well. The Bay 101 is the most famous poker room on offer, but several other rooms are in close proximity, making San Francisco a worthy poker stop as well.

 

So there you have it: these five favorite cities will serve as anchors on our initial intinerary for our Poker Pilgrimage. Now we can start our map!

Map of our Favorite Cities
Our Very First Trip Map!

What are your favorite US Cities? Help us plan our trip!

 

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Best Gifts for your Favorite Poker Player

5 Great Gifts For Your Favorite Poker Player 2018

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. However, we love all of the products and services listed here. We promise! For more information, see our Disclosure page.

You know who they are. She’s your sister who takes every vacation in Las Vegas. Or maybe he’s your dad who is up late playing on Poker Stars every night. Now it’s you’ve got to wrap your mind around finding them a gift. Poker Pilgrims would like to help you out with suggestions for great poker gifts for the player in your life.

Great Poker Gifts

  • A book to curl up with would be at the top of our list of poker gifts. Which book, you ask? Here are some of our favorites:

For the Beginner: We love Phil Gordon’s Little Book series, starting with The Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold Em

 

 

 

Poker Tournament FormulaThe Tournament Player: Arnold Snyder’s Poker Tournament Formula is a must read for any player who wants to get serious about tournament poker

 

 

 

Poker Cash GamesFor the Cash Player: Harrington gives some good solid advice in Cash Games (How to Win in No-Limit Hold ‘Em Money Games) Vol. I that still holds up today.

 

 

 

Peak Poker PerformanceFor the Experienced Player who wants to enhance their play: We love Peak Poker Performance by Dr. Patricia Cardner and Jonathan Little from D&B Poker which covers the mental and physical aspects of being ready to play your best game.  If only we could do a better job of following their advice!

 

Positively Fifht StreetFor anyone looking for a great poker read and crime story: James McManus’ Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binions World Series of Poker

 

 

 

Great Gifts
Happy XMas! by Mrskyce
  • A set of beautiful and durable playing cards  is a great poker gift to enhance the home game: We love these Copag Cards and use them heavily at our own kitchen table
  • A subscription to a poker training site to help them brush up their skills. We are admittedly biased here, as Advanced Poker Training pays us to do work (and blog) for their site. However, we can honestly tell you that their approach to training is the best that we’ve seen. Rather than just offering a series of videos and articles about how other people play poker, APT invites you to play your preferred game (tournament, cash, sit n go, whatever’s your poison). They then analyze your play and send out a weekly plan with practice exercises and advice. A membership at APT is one of our favorite poker gifts to give.
5 Great Gifts For the Poker Player in Your LifeClick To Tweet
  • A fun poker t shirt: There are a variety of t-shirts out there. However, we have created a few Ts for our own personal use, that you are welcome to gift to your loved one.

 

 

  • If you’ve got real money to burn, every poker player’s secret dream is a buy in to The WSOP Main Event for a mere $10,000. If that is a bit out of reach, perhaps a buy in to a smaller event at a card room near you.

 

We hope that our list of great poker gifts for your favorite enthusiast has been helpful. I know that I would love to get any of the above (hint, hint Paul). If you have ideas for other good poker gifts, let us know in the comments below!

 

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Mohegan Sun Poker Room

Mohegan Sun Poker Room Review

Winding through the Mohegan Sun Casino to find the poker room is not easy task. You have to pay pretty close attention to the signs at every bend. However, the journey will likely prove worth it.

Appearance

Unlike some casino poker rooms dropped amidst the hustle and bustle of slot machines and table games, the Mohegan Sun room has it’s own space.  One enters through glass doors into a room with high ceilings and reasonably spaced tables. The decor is professional and pleasant, giving the entire room a nice look and feel. The chairs are comfortable and the tables generously sized.

Registration for cash table wait lists appears immediately as you enter, and the staff is welcoming and accommodating. on my most recent visit the1-2 NL list was fairly long, but they opened a new table soon after I arrived which cleared much of the list. In the end, I got a seat within 15 minutes.

Mohegan Sun
Mohegan Sun by joevare

I have played both cash and tournaments at Mohegan Sun Poker Room, and have consistently found the dealers to be professional and skilled. They rarely make errors or seem uncertain, and the card shufflers move the action along briskly.  On weekends there are often many cash tables running with a variety of limit and no-limit games. Mohegan Sun draws a pretty wide span of player skill. One ATM machine at the table re-bought a stack of $100 five times during my 3 hours there with no apparent limits to the hands he would play.  There were also a couple of very skilled players who extracted maximum value from their made hands and rarely showed down poorly.

Tournaments at Mohegan Sun Poker Room

Most of Mohegan Sun’s daily no-limit tournaments have reasonable buy-ins (most ranging from $75 to $150) with decent structures (such as $150 Saturday tournaments with 20K starting stack and 25 minute blinds).  Mohegan also hosts larger buy-in events during special series, like the $1,100 buy-in with 100K guarantee during their Fall Showdown.  Again, the tournaments I have played there tend to have a fairly wide range of player skill and an equally wide range of player attitudes, with some welcoming and gregarious, and some visibly irritated by what they consider the poor play of others.

Mohegan Sun provides a quality poker experience amidst a large casino settingClick To Tweet

Serving staff is attentive in seeking drink orders, circulating frequently and delivering promptly. The one downside to the room is the open dance club that lies right outside. On a Saturday night it was in full swing, and the music and intense bass beat was very loud in the poker room. Even with my headphones turned up, the noise was a bit distracting.

The Mohegan Sun casino is a large full-service casino with a variety of gaming, entertainment, and dining options. The Connecticut WNBA team plays its home games there in the summer and top comedy and music acts visit on a weekly basis. The casino is set in the Eastern Connecticut woods, fairly close to a major north-south highway (route 395).  As a bonus, it is a mere 15 minutes from Connecticut’s other major casino, Foxwoods. It is also just up the road from lovely Mystic Connecticut, which is worth visiting in its own right.

 

Overall

Mohegan Sun provides a quality poker experience amidst a large casino setting. If you are a poker player visiting New England, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods should be priority destinations.

 

Building a Budget

Building a Budget for a Dream

Although our Poker Pilgrimage is still five years away, we spend a lot of time thinking about its viability and about building a budget for our dream. We are fortunate to work as consultants and thus know that we will be able to take our jobs on the road.  However, a year of travel (and poker!) will certainly lead to reduced hours, and a wide variety of costs (gas, food, lodging for a start) that are different than those we face today.

Building a Budget
Building a Budget
Image by GotCredit.com

We also hope to reduce hours with our primary income source on this trip. While our main hustle pays well, it is not our favorite way to spend time. So we are actively looking for side hustles, both small and large, that will help increase our income as we are building a budget for this trip.

On the other hand, we plan to give up our apartment and one of our cars. We will also reduce or eliminate costs that we bear today. Initial targets include gas expenditures and groceries. Our Pilgrimage budget will help us get an idea of the costs we can expect during our year of travel, and tell us how much we need to start saving today.

Building a Budget for a DreamClick To Tweet

This is only a rough initial budget. We intend to update our budget regularly as we take deeper dives into each aspect of our trip. These posts can be found in our “Building the Stakes” thread. We will also keep our most current budget posted on our Trip Status page.

For our first budget, we share our original baseline estimates for our yearlong trip.

Monthly Budget CategoryAmountNotes
Lodging1800Assumes $60/night at VRBP or AirBNB
FIOS0No cable
Utilities0No Utilities
Phone / Internet Access150Need to Explore Options
Health Insurance (couple)1200Need to Explore Options
Car Insurance (1 car)60
Groceries300Need to estimate
Accounting230
Gas400Need to calculate
Car Property Tax50
Medical100
Dining600Need to estimate
Entertainment200Need to estimate
Gifts200
Household0No household!
Poker1000Need to estimate
Charity50
Emergency Fund100
Total6440

As you can see, we are starting with a very rough estimate. Over time, we will fully explore each of the items above to refine our budget. We will share each of these explorations in a post so that you will learn the financial ins and outs of long-term travel along with us.

If you have any questions about our initial budget, feel free to ask in the comments.

 

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Hampton Falls Poker Room Review

The Poker Room at Hampton Falls

Hampton Falls Poker Room is the best poker experience in New Hampshire for the player looking for a well-run room, quality dealers, and reasonably competitive play. If you want to match wits with tournament players who can actually fold correctly, well, your chances here are far better than many of the other local rooms. We have played them all, from Seabrook to Chasers.

The cash games at Hampton Falls Poker Room can get fairly wild with loose aggressive play being a seeming badge of honor. But the tournament play is fabulous.

 

Hampton Falls Poker
Upstairs at Hampton Falls

Hampton Falls Poker Tournaments

Hampton Falls Poker Room has some of the best value tournaments in New England. the Friday and Saturday 1pm tournaments are our favorites: $90 entry fee with 30,000 chips, 30 minute blinds starting at 25-50, antes starting at level 4, and levels that increase gradually enough that the tournament does not become a shove-fest after hour 3.  In fact, if you plan to money in this one, set aside 10-11 hours of your day. This tournament typically draws 70 to 130 players.  Skill levels vary, but not many “bingo” players are chasing gut shots to the river.  However, there are plenty of solid, unspectacular players who can be exploited. Hampton Falls also features special monthly tournaments with higher buy-ins (e.g., $250) that tend to draw big crowds.

Hampton Falls has a nice two floor design, with reasonable space between tables and comfortable chairs for a non-casino poker room. The lighting is decent and for those who want to beat the summer heat, the room is kept very cool.

Staff

Aside from tournament structure, the major differentiator between Hampton Falls and its local competitors is the quality of the dealers and floors.  Most dealers are fast, friendly, and knowledgeable.  There are a few weak spots, but they do such a good job rotating dealers that you are rarely saddled with a mediocre dealer for very long.  There are few issues, but when there are the floors maintain control and have the respect of the players. They know the rules and are able to articulate the logic behind their decisions clearly. Hampton Falls features the most professional staff we have encountered outside of a major casino or very large cardroom.

Hampton Falls has some of the best structure tournaments in New EnglandClick To Tweet

One downside is that the food is fairly mediocre.  We have tried a few things on their menu, with the fried appetizers certainly solid, but nothing stands out.  We ordered a grilled chicken sandwich once and it was basically a protein delivery system at best: unseasoned breast slapped in a humble bun with wilted lettuce and a tomato slice keeping it company.  Generally the food and drink crew are well staffed; they circle frequently and are attentive, but we have seen some complaints of food taking a long time when things are bustling.

 

 

On the other hand, you’re not here for the food, you’re here to play some poker. Hampton Falls Poker Room delivers the best poker experience in Northern New England.