Friday, August 5, 2005 - Sunday, August 7, 2005
Foxwoods Poker photos
Purpose: To play poker in the largest casino in the world
The poker group had been talking about taking a trip to Foxwoods to play poker (and possibly play in some WPT satellites). As a bonus, this was my first visit to Connecticut (and Rhode Island, since we flew into Providence)!
The Poker Room
We were excited about visiting a new poker room, especially such a large room! With 76 tables, it was the largest room that any of us have played in by far. The size of the room lead to a phenomenon where everyone disappeared once we entered the premises. We went hours without knowing where some of our friends were playing! The room was fairly nice, although we thought it was odd that stained glass (and regular) windows let natural light into the room. This required the patrons at some especially bright tables to wear sunglasses for a legitimate reason! I don't think that I've ever been in a poker room or casino with windows to the outside world!
Poker: Long Waiting Lists
Unfortunately, it had some of the longest waits that any of us have ever experienced. The waits were comparable (or even longer) than the waits that we experienced at Borgata in Atlantic City. The first night I played $1-2NL and had to wait over 2.5 hours. When I added my name to the waiting list, there were 95 people ahead of me. The waits for the other games weren't quite as long, but they were still fairly horrendous.
Poker: Time Drop
One of the biggest disadvantages, aside from the long waits at all times of the day during the weekend, was that the no limit games had a time drop instead of a rake. The $1-2 NL game had a $5/hour drop, which I quickly found out was quite insane. The $2-4 NL game is better proportionately at $6/hour, so most of us who played no limit ended up playing the $2-4 game instead. We calculated that as a group, the 3 of us who played solely no limited paid around $1000 to the time drop! This is probably over twice as much as we would have paid to the rake from our winning pots. The time drop occurred every time the dreaded light went on, which happened on every hour and half hour. It always seemed to happen much more often, and every time we would all complain about it. Poker players are quite good at complaining (even the bad players are good at something at least!).
Poker: Last Call
Another thing that really surprised us was that there was a "last call" for alcoholic beverages! Most of us almost never drink while playing poker, but it affected us indirectly as there were far less inebriated players in the wee hours of the night. Usually, the drunk patrons are pretty good ATMs.
Poker: Shared Tips
I've heard that this is true of other casinos, but I have never played in a poker room where this is true. All 3000 of the dealers shared tips rather than our tips going directly to the dealer who dealt the hand. I don't like this as well considering that I like to tip more when I'm happy with my service, and I like for those tips to go to the better dealers. The good thing is that I think I saved some money on tips considering that I didn't feel compelled to give extra tips to the good dealers!
Poker: Less Breaks
Due to the time drop as well as the insane waiting lists, we were unable to take as many breaks from the table. It's a bit more difficult to justify walks around the casino when you're paying $6 every 30 minutes (regardless of whether you're at the table!!). As a result, we had very few "real" meals during our weekend. We basically had to grab food before and after sessions and scavenge quickly for nearby food to bring to the tables.
Poker: Total Time at Tables
We did spend quite a bit of time at the tables. Gabe, Jeremy, Terry, and I were on the same schedule. We played about 7 hours on Friday night, 18 hours on Saturday, and 2.5 hours before leaving for the airport on Sunday.
Poker: WPT Satellites
Foxwoods does have the most well defined satellite structure that we have seen anywhere for a major event. They have 3 levels: Act I ($60, single table), Act II ($225, single table), and Act III ($1050, multitable). Each level wins tickets to enter the next level, and Act III winners gain a ticket to the November WPT $10k event. Brian played several Act I satellites and one Act II satellite. He won a ticket to the $1050 event, and he played in it on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, he did not win a ticket, but we were all very excited as this was the highest buy-in live event that any of us had ever entered. Kudos to Brian!
Poker: The Foyer
Many of the limit games were played in a mythical place: The Foyer. We were quite confused when directed to the "Foy-yay" shortly after we arrived to the poker room for the first time. The Foyer was an area of poker tables past a set of casino table games, making it somewhat "hidden" from the main part of the room. The Foxwoods staff would tell a player to go to The Foyer, and 90% of the time the player would be confused. The Foxwoods staff would then repeat "THE FOYER" a bit louder this time (as if that clears it up) or give some kind of vague directions.
The bathrooms were conveniently located next to the smoke-free poker room. Two things of note about the restrooms: the smoky hallway and the cleaning staff. The hallway was very hazy and smoke filled. Since the poker room itself is non-smoking, most of the players use this hallway as their smoking room. The good thing about the restroom is the cleanliness, especially for a casino restroom. The restroom next to the poker room always had at least two or three people from the cleaning staff wiping countertops, refilling toilet paper and paper towels, replenishing seat covers, cleaning toilets and floors, etc.
Poker: Secret codes
Our group had our very own language in the poker room when trying to find out the "schedule" and estimated departure times. For example, when asked, "How much longer are you going to play," one might reply "Hrm, I don't know. Why don't you go find Gabe/Terry/Jeremy/Kerry and see what they think?" This translates to "Hey, when are we leaving? I'm ready to go to bed." and "I'm not sure, but I'm definitely not ready to go now. I'll go back to the hotel if everyone else is ready, but I'd like to play as long as I'm allowed to stay here." Another example would be when someone says "I'll play for one more drop," it really means "I'll probably play another four drops at least." And apparently, "I'd like to get 6 hours of sleep" translates to "Please set the alarm clock for 11am, which should give us approximately 4 hours of sleep." This one I was unaware of until after the fact.
We didn't spend too much time in the rest of the casino, but we did notice one important detail -- NO WHEEL OF FORTUNE! We were very surprised and saddened by this observation. You'd think that the largest casino in the world would have this part right at least.
Getting to Foxwoods
One of the issues which will probably prevent us from going to Foxwoods too often (aside from the poker disadvantages) is that it was difficult to get a good itinerary and price to either Hartford or Providence. We were also not able to get a direct flight to either airport. Both airports were about an hour from the casino, which is somewhat of an inconvenience. Because of this (and checking into the hotel), we didn't arrive at the casino until close to midnight on Friday.
Staying near Foxwoods
Unfortunately, the hotel rooms at Foxwoods were too expensive compared to other options nearby. We ended up staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Plainfield. The hotel was about 15 miles from the casino, which wasn't too bad but somewhat inconvenient. We had to coordinate playing and sleeping schedules since we had to rely on the rental cars. Terry and Jeremy shared a bed in the hotel room, and at some point during the first night, I realized that only one person was in their bed. I glanced around the room, and was unable to spot Jeremy until I looked down at the floor in between the beds and saw Jeremy sleeping on the floor. Apparently, Terry rolled over and took over the bed when Jeremy took a bathroom break. Instead of pushing or rolling him back to his side, Jeremy just decided to sleep on the floor. HA!
Breakfast before Bed
By the time we returned to the hotel each night, the breakfast spread was out in the Holiday Inn lobby. We all grabbed muffins and bagels on the way to the room to get our nightly "nap." Terry took advantage of the pancakes and waffles as well, which lead to an amusing moment when he bit into a very crunchy waffle after the rest of us had settled in complete silence for several minutes. We were trying to get a 2-hour nap in before we had to check out of the hotel in the morning. The crunch broke the silence and resulted in the rest of us bursting into laughter at the loud crunching. We managed to get 4 hours of sleep on the first night and 2 hours of sleep on the second night.
Rental Car Adventures
The rental car was typical - a crappy Pontiac Grand Prix. We couldn't figure out how to turn on the interior light without opening the door (which Terry did while we were on the highway so he could look at the map on the way to the hotel from the airport until I handed him my pen light). We had issues with opening the trunk (we almost decided we could do without the trunk just before we figured it out). The car also had fun, helpful messages such as "check gas cap" and "headlamps suggested."
Wheelchair Crossing. Really.
One the way to the casino on the first night, Gabe told us that he had just passed a "wheelchair crossing" sign. None of us believed him. "Are you sure it wasn't a tractor crossing sign?" "If it was, it was a really bad tractor!" "Was it a really good wheelchair?" "Maybe it was a 'people with big butts' crossing?" Later, we all saw the wheelchair crossing sign and finally believed Gabe's story. On the last day, we managed to see a wheelchair crossing sign coupled with the tractor crossing sign!! We are still confused about where the wheelchairs are coming from or where they are going...the road had no obvious cross streets. We imagined that the wheelchairs come bounding out of the trees as a deer might.
Thank You, iPod
The iPod saved us from hours of country music at full blast since Terry was in the control of the radio. We all listened to a random selection of songs from my iPod in 10-30 second snippets. It was entertaining at any rate (and better than listening to country)!
Can you watch my bags? Teeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrryyyy Leeeeeeeee. Shoulder driving. Hot air balloons. Corn. Did you bring the key? Muffin toss. 2L2R. Flashing lights and incessant beeping on the plane. Genius ideas.