The Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York sits about halfway between Albany and Buffalo. While Turning Stone is in a less populated section of New York, the convenience of being right off I-90 makes it very accessible. Accessible is a good word to describe Turning Stone in general. This is a full service casino with many dining options, a full suite of slots and table games, and several hotels/inns. Turning Stone’s moderate size and brighter than normal casino atmosphere give it a very welcoming vibe.
That vibe continues in the poker room. An airy room with comfortable chairs and exceptional dealers, Turning Stone’s poker room quickly vaulted to the top of our list.
Setting and Non-Poker Amenities
Beautiful exterior landscaping and a serpentine building structure provide an attractive drive-up to the casino. The main Tower Hotel rises at the right edge of the casino, giving Turning Stone an attractive vertical dimension. At the other end of the complex, The Lodge is a freestanding hotel, which is gorgeous from the outside.
Turning Stone is a full service casino that features a massive bingo hall, numerous slots, and smoking and non-smoking gaming options. For the kids, there is a small arcade area. The areas outside of the gaming rooms are unusually bright for a casino. Skylights above most of the restaurant entrances lend to a bright airy atmosphere. It is refreshing for a casino to have natural interior light anywhere. The gaming areas, however, were warmer than most casinos. While it was a summer afternoon that we visited, it wasn’t an extremely hot day. Perhaps this was a downside of the natural lighting; it may be a challenge to keep Turning Stone fully air conditioned.
As first-time visitors, we got some free slot play when we signed up for player cards. I got $15 but Heather got $50. After our poker tournament, we quickly played enough video poker to cash out $48 of those $65 “free” dollars. So that was a nice bonus.
Turning Stone Poker Room Comfort
The approach to the poker room is through the very smoker friendly part of the casino. However, the room is separated by a double glass door, so not open to the rest of the casino. Where we sat, the air was fresh without any wafting smoke. There is also a back entrance through a hallway that wraps around the gaming area. That became our way to access the room to avoid walking through the smoky slot machine area. In contrast to the casino at large, the poker room was nice and cool.
The poker room boasts 32 tables. There were about 10 tables of cash active during the time we played a tournament on a summer Saturday afternoon. The room was spacious, with plenty of room to navigate around tables. The room itself was attractive enough. Nothing unusual or striking other than the ceiling with a central chandelier. But the room was neat, clean and had a modern feel. The medium height ceiling gave the room an airy feel, not as closed in as say Foxwoods. The table felts were new. The chips were a bit nondescript, but clean. The chairs were reasonably comfortable.
Poker Room Staff
Cutting to the chase: Turning Stone has the best dealers I have experienced as of this writing. Just their abilities, made this experience unique. At once the fastest and most efficient dealers I have ever seen, they also maintained a warm, friendly, and relaxed demeanor. And this group of dealers never made a mistake in the tournament we played. Never, not even a small one. It is hard to even comment on the quality of the floors. They didn’t have to do much given the dealer quality. The whole tournament and room at large had a professional and well run aura.
The only real service issue was that the waitresses did not circulate often enough. A few players expressed frustration with the time it took to put in a drink order.Cutting to the chase: Turning Stone had the best dealers I have experienced as of this writing. They made our poker experience unique.Click To Tweet
Players at the Turning Stone Poker Room
The players were a mix of regulars and a few passing through types. They were generally friendly in the small tournament that we played. However, there were a couple of irritable players at the table. There was a large contingent of older loose calling stations. Most pots were multi-way, and it wasn’t easy to get anyone off a draw or medium strength hand. However, that meant there was great profit to be made in over-betting for value.
Not everyone was able to shift strategies late in the tournament. A few players chipped down too far, and others ran ill-timed and unnecessary bluffs. This worked for us, as we were able to maneuver long enough to both end up in a 3-way chop. Along with the 2 bounties we each won, and defending our own of course, this tournament offered us a decent payday despite the small number of runners (just 23).
Turning Stone hosts multiple daily poker tournaments. We played in a Saturday 4pm bounty tournament. The buy-in was $100 with $25 of that in the form of a bounty. Starting stacks were 10,000 with a 2,000 add-on if you registered 45 minutes before the start of the tournament. Almost all daily tournaments at Turning Stone have a 10,000 starting stack. Most have a potential add-on, either through early registration, a dealer add-on, or prize pool add-on for additional chips. Blind levels were only 15 minutes. However, they went up gradually enough that it didn’t feel like the radical turbo of most 15-minute blind level events.
Turning Stone, even in this small tournament, has adopted the big blind ante (kicking in on level 4) Increasingly popular, and likely de rigueur in all card rooms soon, the big blind ante really helped move things along. Paired with the high speed and skill of the dealers, this helped compensate for the short blind levels. Another small but nice feature of the tournament was an automated tournament clock voice. The announcement at the end of each level was helpful when a floor was otherwise occupied.
Overall Assessment of the Turning Stone Poker Room
If you don’t live in upstate New York, Turning Stone is schlep to get to. If you’re taking a trip through the Northeast, maybe hitting Niagara Falls and New York City or Boston, Turning Stone might be a convenient overnight Access is easy, right off I-90. For the poker player, Turning Stone offers a nice smaller casino experience. It boosts a positive atmosphere in the non-gaming areas and a comfortable, attractive poker room.
But the main selling point for the Turning Stone poker room is a group of dealers that set a new bar for speed and skill. Fast, skilled, knowledgeable, and friendly, the Turning Stone dealers are as close to ideal as one can imagine. Turning Stone has nailed this important dimension of the poker experience.