As we recently covered, a good poker tournament is hard to find right now. And New England is no exception. The two Massachusetts casinos (Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield) have made clear that they are in no rush to return to poker play. The single Rhode Island Casino (Twin River) keeps promising the return of poker, but it has yet to happen. Finally, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have happily opened their poker rooms, but have been slow to bring tournaments back (see note on this later). All of the above leaves New Hampshire as the only game in town for those seeking New England tournament poker action.
Fortunately, there are three tournaments now running in New Hampshire that we really love. In fact, we feel quite comfortable saying that these are the three best tournaments in New England at the moment.
Filotimo Casino Monthly $240 Tournament
Filotimo Casino, the recently remodeled Casino in Manchester, New Hampshire definitely has the most poker tournament action in the state (really, in all of New England right now). This cardroom runs three tournaments a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evening, and Saturday afternoon. Each of these tournaments regularly draws 90 to 120 players from as far away as Connecticut and New York. The structures are decent and the play is good, although fairly aggressive due to the $50/$50/$50 ($60/$60/$60 on Saturday) structures. The majority of players rebuy and/or add on. So while these tournaments read as cheap, most players are firing multiple add-ons.
The tournament that puts Filotimo on the Best Tournament in New England list, however, is their monthly $240 tournament. This tournament is generally held on the last Saturday of the month at noon. However, if you want to be guaranteed a seat at the start, you will need to arrive by 10am at the latest. Many players arrive even earlier and enjoy breakfast at Filotimo’s restaurant, The South Side Tavern. Breakfast is only served there this one day a month and is a set meal. We have had it, and can highly recommend it.
The monthly tournament at Filotimo regularly features more than 200 players from all over New England. The structure is strong, with 30-minute levels starting at 100-100 and gradual blind increases. Players receive 30,000 starting chips with an optional $10 dealer add-on for an additional 10,000 starting chips. Big blind antes kick in at Level 3 (200-400-400). Unlike the cardroom’s weekly tournaments, this tournament is a freeze-out. There are no rebuys, no re-entries, and no add-ons. Prize pools are generally large, and first prize can grow over $10,000. Additionally, Filotimo staff does an excellent job overseeing such a large tournament pool. Dealers are good, floors are attentive, and waitresses circulate frequently.
Boston Billiard Club and Casino $250 Tournament
The Boston Billiard Club and Casino, is a casino/pool hall/restaurant near Nashua, New Hampshire. The BBC features a well-run poker room with a lot of cash action. While the BBC has not brought back regular tournament action (largely due to the popularity of its cash poker), it has been holding an excellent $250 tournament about once a month this summer.
Unlike Filotimo, the BBC $250 is not run on a regular schedule and does not accept alternates. This tournament is a Two Day which you must sign up for in advance. Ninety slots open about two weeks in advance of the tournament for entry on Friday and Saturday (for a total of 180 slots). Each day plays down to either 18 players or level 14, with survivors returning on Sunday for the second day of play. Again, this tournament allows no add-ons, no rebuys, and no re-entries.
Players start with 50,000 chips at 100/100 with 30-minute blinds. The blind structure for the most recent tournament can be found here. As you can see, the levels are reasonably gradual, with the big blind ante kicking in at level 6. The Boston Billiards Club is another very well-run room with excellent management, good food, and comfortable surroundings.
The sheer size and structure of this tournament make it one of the best tournaments in New England right now.
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Keene Casino Monthly $150 Deepstack Tournament
The Keene Casino is less central than Filotimo or The Boston Billiards Club. Keene is found in southwestern New Hampshire, and the closest city of any size is Brattleboro, Vermont. As a result, Keene is a relatively sleepy cardroom, with generally smaller tournaments. However, on the last Sunday of each month, Keene features their $150 Deepstack. The Deepstack typically sees 65-80 entries, drawing from both Keene Casino regulars and other players from across the state (and current, New England). As with the tournaments listed above, the Deepstack allows no re-entries, add-ons, or rebuys. However, like Filotimo, Keene holds an alternate list when the tournament fills.
Keene’s $150 Deepstack features, quite simply, the best poker tournament structure currently existing in New England. Players receive 40,000 chips (with optional $10 dealer add on). Blinds are 30 minutes long, start at 100/200, and feature a small blind (rather than big blind) ante starting at level 5. What’s more, level 5 is a repeat of level 4 (400/800) ,with only the addition of the small blind ante. Level increases are so gradual as to be almost painless.
Keene Deepstack Structure
Theoretically, there are levels beyond 15, but 15 generally gets you to the final table, and I don’t know what comes beyond! As with the rooms mentioned above, Keene has great tournament staff and good management. The kitchen and serving staff are not as strong as that of Filotimo or the BBC, but are definitely adequate.
Although smaller than the tournaments above, the Keene Casino Deepstack features one of the Best Tournaments in New England due to its incredibly playable structure.These are the best poker tournaments in New England right now.Click To Tweet
The Future of Tournaments in New England
While these are the three best tournaments in New England at the moment, the poker landscape is always changing. Recently Foxwoods announced the reintroduction of a weekly Wednesday tournament. This tournament will have a $280 buy-in, start at 4:10pm, have a starting stack of 30,000 and feature 25-minute blinds. The tournament will be limited to 20 tables 9 handed (so 180 players). The structure sheet can be found here.
While it has not yet started, I imagine that the Foxwoods Wednesday tournament will quickly join the tournaments described above as one of the best tournaments in New England.
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