play poker in New England

Where to Play Poker in New England: A Guide to Popular Games

The vibrant New England poker scene offers a wide variety of options in a very small geographic footprint. In less than 3 hours you could drive from the room (with 10 or more tables) furthest north, Lakes Region Casino, to the one furthest south, Foxwoods. The region’s largest city, Boston, sits dead center of the poker action.  Drive a little more than 90 minutes north and you are at the Lakes Region Casino, 90 minutes south to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, and then 90 minutes due west to the newest venue, MGM Springfield. Five poker rooms in southern New Hampshire are within about 45 minutes of Boston as well. In short, there are a lot of options for the New England poker player. So how does one decide where to play poker in New England?

Some of it comes down to personal taste.   You may just select your favorite rooms, as we did recently. But if you have specific criteria for your preferred game, there’s data available that can help guide your decision.

We have long had a decent idea which venues have the most active cash games, and which tournaments draw the largest fields. But, as data analysts by trade, we decided to take a more statistical approach to our investigation. During the month of January 2019 we used  PokerAtlas and Bravo Poker to track cash and tournament activity for all New England sites which provide live data on either site. On weekdays, we collected numbers at 8pm each night for cash play, and tracked tournaments after the registration period closed. On weekends, we tracked cash both at 2pm and 8pm and the number of entries for all tournaments.

Caveats about Data Collection

There are definite gaps in our data collection efforts used to determine where to play poker in New England. Most importantly, Foxwoods, one of the largest venues, does not report the number of entries for their daily tournaments.  So assessing Foxwoods’ tournament potential takes a bit of guesswork, relying on our own experience and reports from others who play there. The Lakes Region, The River, and Twin River (which only offers cash games) do not report any data on Bravo or PokerAtlas. Again, we can cull some information from personal experience and other sources, but the data isn’t as objective. Feel free to contact us , if you would like to help us capture data for future updates.

Further, things are always changing in the New England poker scene. This is particularly true for poker tournaments. Many rooms tweak their structures. Some introduce entirely new tournaments and phase out ones that are not drawing well. With Hampton Falls and Seabrook experiencing recent ownership changes, we expect more change and innovation in the next few months. We ultimately intend to add a page to our website with average numbers updated regularly. So check back in a couple of months if you want to track changes in New England poker play.

play poker in New England

General Observations about Poker in New England

In tracking the stats, we learned a few general things. For example, Wednesdays are the poker dead zone.  There are about 25% less cash tables active on Wednesday compared to the surrounding Tuesday and Thursday evenings. You will even find more cash tables on a Monday at most rooms than you will on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, cash tables nearly double on Friday and Saturday compared to those found in the middle of the week. In the tournament realm, players across the New Hampshire venues will find that each room has specific cornerstone tournaments which draw large turnouts. Overall, it’s apparent that poker in New England is here to stay. Many rooms have consistent, bustling cash and/or tournament play.

So Where Will I Find Poker In New England?

Below we have set out a number of scenarios to help those seeking a “good game” to find the poker sweet spots across New England.

Scenario 1: I’m Looking For a $1/$2 NLH Cash Game in the Middle of the Week

In New England, there is a great equanimity in midweek $1/$2 cash games.

Imagine you have finished an early Thursday night dinner in Worcester MA. You are willing to drive a bit (60 to 75 minutes) for a reasonably active cash game. The world is your oyster.  There are at least 6 rooms across 4 states where you’ll likely find between 5 and 7 tables of $1/$2 no limit.  Take the MassPike West, and an hour later you’ll be selecting from 6 to 8 tables at the MGM Springfield. Head due south into Connecticut and Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun await. Head southeast and you’ll be at Twin River in Lincoln RI in under an hour.  Or go northeast into New Hampshire to play at Boston Billiards in Nashua or Chasers in Salem. All of these rooms offer decent $1/$2 cash  games on almost any day during the week except Wednesday.

 

APT

Scenario 2: I Want a Reasonably Sized Tournament in the Middle of the Week

Weeknights do not offer the tournament volume that weekends do. But there are still a number of nice options across New England if you have a free evening and are willing to take a drive.

Among the New Hampshire rooms, Tuesday and Thursday nights at Manchester are hard to top. Not only do they typically draw 50 to 75 players, the $50/$50/$50 (entry/rebuy/add-on) format results in a large prize pool. The structure can drive some wild play, but if you can handle it, there are big potential rewards. Other notable mid-week New Hampshire tournaments can be found at Boston Billiards Monday at 6pm and Hampton Falls Tuesday through Thursday at 5:30pm. All of these typically draw between 30 and 50 players.

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun offer multiple tournaments on weekdays. You can play from morning to evening most days in Connecticut. Mohegan gets between 40 and 60 players for their weekday evening games. The high point is their Wednesday 6pm $120 tournament (25K in chips/20 minute blinds) which will occasionally exceed 60 players. Foxwoods, while not reporting their numbers, has multiple midweek tournaments along with frequent special “series.” While the primary focus of this article is on daily action, it’s always worth checking the Foxwoods page for specials. For example, they just completed their Winter Deep Freeze Poker Challenge with buy-ins ranging from $250 to $1,200.  In March, they have their 18-day Foxwoods Poker Classic.

 



 

Scenario 3: It’s the Weekend and I Want My Pick of $1/$2 and $2/$5 Tables

Once again, there is an amazing diversity of options. In New Hampshire, you can find 6 to 8 tables of $1/$2 No Limit and 1 to 3 tables of $2/$5 on almost any Saturday at Boston Billiards, Hampton Falls, or Chasers. In Southern New England, you can find 12 to 15 tables of $1/$2 and 2 to 5 tables of $2/$5 at MGM Springfield, Twin River, Mohegan Sun, and Foxwoods.

Cash games fall off considerably on Sunday at all sites…except Chasers. Chasers is typically filling all 17 of their tables on a Sunday. Their early decision to discontinue any investment in tournaments has clearly paid off substantially. Chasers’ cash games are the most consistently attended across the week. And from Thursday through Sunday, they are at nearly complete capacity during the evenings and on weekend afternoons. Even on Monday through Wednesday evenings, they are generally at 50% or higher capacity.

On Sundays, MGM and the Connecticut rooms still offer 6 or 7 $1/$2 tables, but the numbers resemble weeknights more than they do high flying Saturdays.

From New Hampshire through southern Connecticut, there is an incredible range of cash and tournament poker options throughout the week. Click To Tweet

Scenario 4: I Want a Medium to Large Weekend Tournament with Good Payouts

Most tournament players seek a large field with good payouts. Many rooms have keystone weekend tournaments and players tend to flow across multiple sites. In New Hampshire, Hampton Falls rules early Saturday afternoon. Their 1pm tournament has recently added a re-buy option and moved from a $90 buy-in to $125. The increase in price has not slowed this tournament down at all – in fact, quite the opposite. Turnouts for this tournament have always been strong: ranging between 80 and 120 players. The re-buy and increased buy-in have drawn even more players, with a recent Saturday drawing 158 entries and offering a top prize of $4,771 .

Knock out of the 1:00 at Hampton Falls, and you can head across town to play the 4pm in Seabrook’s $50 single-entry tournament. You’ll likely join 90 to 120 other players and see top prizes over $1,000. Seabrook follows the 4:00 with a 7:30pm tournament with a $40/$40/$40 (rebuy and add-on options). That tournament draws 60+ players as well.

In Nashua on Sunday, The River offers a fairly unique format in their $5 Fin, which typically draws between 30 and 50 players. If you chose, you could buy-in for only $5 (2,000 chips). However, for $55 at registration you can add 20,000 more chips (which most players do). There are rebuys in $20 increments (5,000 chips) and an add-on at the first break for another $50 (15,000 chips). These various add on options lead to some interesting strategic decisions during play. Seabrook’s Sunday 4pm tournament mirrors its Saturday offering. Even though it draws fewer people than Saturday, you can expect between 60 and 90 entries.

Mohegan Sun generally has 2 tournaments on each weekend day, one at 11am and one at either 5pm or 6pm. These generally yield between 40-60 players.  The MGM Springfield, meanwhile, draws up to 100 entries for their Sunday 11:15am event. Foxwoods has more options for times, cost, and format. They have 4 to 5 tournaments a day with buy-ins of $60 to $300. The $300 tourney has a $30K guarantee, so you know that field is large. Foxwoods also offers a couple of regular bounty tournaments and on Sunday at 6pm, a Survivor format (our favorite!).

Scenario 5: I Want to Play Cash Games Other Than $1/$2 or $2/$5 NLH

One word: Foxwoods.

On any given day, Foxwoods may have as many, or more, tables of games other than $1/$2 or $2/$5 NLH as all other rooms in New England combined. Whether it is limit Hold’Em, higher limit NLH, Omaha, or Stud, Foxwoods is unrivaled.  Friday night through Saturday night, 20 cash tables are typically open for games other than $1/$2 or $2/$5 NLH.

Honorable mention among non-casino rooms goes to Chasers in New Hampshire. In addition to their sterling numbers in $1/$2 and $2/$5, Chasers also consistently offers tables of higher stakes NLH and other games like PLO.

So Where Should I Play Poker in New England?

Pretty much anywhere. After reviewing the data, it’s clear that you can’t go too wrong when looking to play some good poker in New England. From New Hampshire through southern Connecticut, there is an incredible range of cash and tournament options throughout the week. And the options are only expanding. More tournaments are being launched. More PLO and Stud cash tables, and even tournaments, are popping up. And, of course, the Encore in Boston is projected to join the fray later in 2019.  There is clearly an avid poker playing population in New England. The many existing options have arisen to meet the demand, and there is no reason to believe that there aren’t more to come.

 

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