MGM Springfield Trip Report – Multiplier Day and More

MGM Springfield

It was a cold, but sunny and beautiful day for a drive – to MGM Springfield for Multiplier Day! Multiplier Days are a favorite time to gamble for those of us at NETG. As low to mid-roller recreational gamblers, we try to get the biggest bang in the quickest and most enjoyable way possible. Bert & I both had tier-matched up to Platinum at MGM Springfield.  For some players, a higher tier seems like a meaningless quest, but not us. Let me tell you why.

There are little perks to higher tiers that a low to mid roller will never experience. One of the biggest is line passes.  If you ever go to a rewards desk, a buffet or hotel check-in when its crowded, don’t anyone tell me a line pass for higher tier cards isn’t important!  Some casino rewards include multipliers for your play, and for Platinum, Bonus on Points Earned Playing Slots at M life Rewards Destinations Nationwide is 30% at the platinum. Play slots, earn 30% more points, as compared to 10% at Pearl, or none at lowest level Sapphire. Same thing for Bonus on Express Comps – points for dining, merchandise, etc., Earned at M life Rewards Destinations Nationwide. Platinum also gets free Valet parking at MGM Springfield. After the number of times we have visited using Valet Parking, I saved over $200 – half of a day’s bankroll for us.

Tier Matching is worth the effort whether in New England, Atlantic City or elsewhere. But be careful to give them some play as well.  Work with the hosts, even if you don’t have a “personal host,” and see what else a higher tier brings.  Remember, if you don’t inquire about the availability of comps, you wont get them. Ask – the worse that can happen is the politely say “no.”

Now to our Trip Report at MGM Springfield.

TAP Lunch

TAP at MGM Springfield

TAP is very spacious restaurant and bar.  They have changed the process of having to wait in line for a seat at the bar – a great thing, because instead of waiting 20 more minutes, we were able to get a seat at the bar. Unfortunately, we were met by an overworked, stressed out bartender who greeted us with and explanation on how we would have to wait due to low staffing.  How about that MGM hospitality we often here abut and at least greeting us with a “hello, how are you?” before hearing that.  We could see how hard he was working and wasn’t into stressing him out more than he was.  We were able to assure him we weren’t in a rush, which he appreciated.

The food was good – moist pulled park with fries (I had coleslaw as a substitution.) Considering how busy it was, our food arrived quickly. Within 40 minutes we were out to the casino to do battle. But first, a brief stop at the kiosks.

Kiosks

I think the Kiosk problems are getting better, although at bust times, lines can be horrendous. The kiosks are now all centralized in the area the Games Sense room on the casino floor.  Walk out the parking entrances, past TAP, and you will see them. Basically, all kiosks are consolidated to this one area. “Disney” lines are roped off. BUT (here is our recurring theme) there is a special line for Platinum & Noir – much like pass liners at the MLife Rewards Desk, and Cashier.

Suggestion – before gambling any day, but especially on multiplier days, take a screen shot of your MLife mobile app showing your account points. This can be used to compare your earnings at the end of your session.

Art in the Game

From Left to right – Mike Tyburski, Chris Marion, Binbin, and Chris Dimauro

Another reason for driving to Springfield was to meet up with Chris DiMauro, of Art In The Game – a podcast and closed Facebook group that discusses gaming at MGM Springfield and all that the City of Springfield has to offer, including economic developments as well as dining & entertainment events around downtown. Chris D. has put in a lot of time to spotlight Springfield and it’s new tenant  MGM. If visiting MGM Springfield for the first time, ask to join the Facebook group and listen to his podcast (you might find an NETG guest appearance!) We had a blast at the walk-up bar, playing video poker, getting great service from Teresa (Chris calls her the best bartender in the place) and then enjoying a meal and drinks at TAP. A fun afternoon before the gambling which was about to take place.

Promotions

Back to our point about how Tier Matching counts. Slots have a high house advantage – anywhere between 85 – 90% on penny slots. One way we are able to raise the percentage is what is worth, which bring a higher tier in consideration. This Multiplier promotion gave a higher multiplier to your earned points according to your tier. Sapphire – 2X, Pearl – 3X, Gold – 4X, and Platinum / Noir – 5X. Our six hours, a 5X multiplier adds up!

It was also Winning WINSdays – a chance at winning FREEPLAYevery 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. All guests actively playing at a slot machine is entered to win, with someone winning every 30 minutes. I’d like report how winning works, but unfortunately the names Bert or Binbin were not called.

Gambling

Inside MGM casino

Sorry table game players – not much of a report here for you.  Same news – no All Tall/All Small at craps tables ($10 minimum lowest), and 6:5 blackjack rules on $10 & $15 tables.

However, slot play was favorable – at least for one of us.  I left with $100 more than I came with, and included over 6 hours of slot play.  Not bad.  While the slot inventory is good, there seems to be an overabundance of some and a lack of other possible brands. But, overall, it has something for every slot player.

At one point, I was up enough to try Triple Triple Bonus video poker.  This game defines volatility. Two-pair = 1 credit, three-of-a-king = only 2 credits, and a straight only = 3 credits! The full house/flush ratio is 7/5.  This game is listed on VP2Free as a 96.55% game.  The big tease about TTB is the quad bonus – the payout for Four of a kind, Aces w/ 2,3,4 & Four of a kind, 2, 3 ,4 w/ Ace equals 4000 credits just like a Royal Flush.  Enticing?  Make sure you have an extensive bankroll to survive it’s volatility.

Video Poker at MGM Springfield has been my biggest gaming complaint.  At the quarter level, it’s hard to find anything over 96%.  Remember, that includes trying max bet for the Royal Flush.  Without max bet, payback is lowered 2%, that would be nothing at MGMS over 94% without max bet. VP players – be aware of your paytables. Some players play less than Max bet and play a higher denomination.  Thanks to Mike Tyburski for showing me that Bonus Poker at the dollar level is a 7/5 game – a 98% game. Without the 5 coin max, it reduces to 96%, but without the high volatility and 2:1 for two pair.

BEVERAGE SERVICE IS STILL TERRIBLE

For a second straight session, both my wife and I had terrible beverage service on the casino floor.  It hasn’t improved for me over five visits. It just seems completely understaffed. The wait-time, if you are lucky enough to order, is so long for slot players that most people have moved on to another slot. Table games are no better. One time playing Pai Gow poker, I had to ask the dealer to ask the pit boss if someone could be sent over!  Hey MGM, it’s one thing to offer free beverages – it’s another to actually serve them!

Hotel

I am still asking to get an upgrade for a suite, just so I can take pictures for all of you reading this.  It was a very busy week, with New Year’s Eve on the horizon.  The standard rooms are still pretty comfy. One little plus is that the window curtains keep the room dark for you late sleepers. Two little bottles of water are a nice touch, and the rooms are still clean and interesting.  My only complaint is that the shower doors still make me feel like I’m in a jail cell – but that’s probably just me. One additional nice touch is the motion sensitive blue light in the bathroom for those “during the night wake-ups” – just a little light provided to “get ‘er done.”

I strongly suggest you ask for the 2nd floor. The ceilings are higher in the rooms, giving a more spacious feeling, and it’s the same floor as the Coffee & Tea Room. There is only one of these, so all other floors visit the 2nd floor as well. Lines formed this Thursday morning, but its easier to watch if your a few rooms down.  And it’s next to the other casino elevator that brings you down across from the “Walk Up Bar.”

Suggestion – to remember your room # and not worry about your room key, the MLife mobile app has all your information if you are staying in the hotel. AND, it includes your room key – how cool is that.  Just call up your app, get your room key, hold it to your room door at the key spot and Voila! – your in your room.

THE DRAW

I am still enjoying MGM Springfield more than I thought.  But my best offers and gambling options still come from Connecticut. In a future post, I will tell you why I still prefer Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods. But for now, I’m surprising pleased with the overall impression of MGM Springfield.

Binbin

Remember when gambling – “Embrace the Math, Not the Myth!”

MGM Springfield – Looking Back Three Years Ago

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

Believe it or not, years ago, when MGM Springfield wasn’t built yet, NETG looked into our crystal ball and had some random thoughts and concerns for the future.  The following post was three years ago.  Any additions will be in green italics.  Otherwise, it’s posted here as it was three years ago. How did we do with our crystal ball?


I want MGM Springfield to succeed.

There, I said it.

I want it to bring revenue for an economically needy city, I want it to be beautiful and to enhance the rundown parts of Springfield.

thI want it to be another casino jewel in New England to solidify southern New England as a gambling/tourist destination.  MGM, Wynn, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Twin River – all large casinos with amenities to provide for vacations & stay-cations alike.

But I still have doubts to accompany the excitement of a top-class resort venue and their journey to 2018.  So here are random thoughts about the MGM Springfield project and related issues:

The original plans were impressive, but now take away the tower, lower the parking garage by two floors, and move the apartments in the opening of the video further away from the casino.  Inside, MGM Springfield looks similar to Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas (Sumerlain), with restaurants outlying the casino, and the essential “Center Bar” made so Important by the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas long ago.  It has modern looks like MGM’s latest “Aria,” but much brighter. (BTW, it’s not even close to looking like Red Rock in Nevada, except for restaurants on the perimeter)

VIDEO CLIP – MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis explains changes.   (sorry, not accessible three years later)

No free alcohol on the Casino Floor -Plainridge Park Slot Parlor

No free alcohol on the Casino Floor -Plainridge Park Slot Parlor

Will MGM & Wynn be powerful enough to influence a repeal to the “NO Happy Hour” Law in Massachusetts?  Imagine no alcohol freebies on a casino floor owned by MGM & Wynn – blasphemy! (Originally, free drinks were to be limited to non-alcoholic.  Good for all that it was changed)

MGM Atlanta

MGM Atlanta

MGM is a giant in the gambling industry and shouldn’t have any trouble separating their concerns in Macau & Las Vegas.  But their project in Atlanta, the first casino in Georgia, might be more of an interest than Springfield.  Massachusetts hasn’t been the most welcome state in the country concerning Wynn & MGM’s interests.

MLife Rewards Club of MGM

MLife Rewards Club of MGM

I’m encouraged about then East-West connection the rewards club, MLife, will provide.  Earning points in Springfield that can be used in Las Vegas & Biloxi (MGM owns Beau Rivage Resort Casino there) is exciting!  Let’s face it, MGM does own some incredible properties.  Imagine earning connections to stay at Bellagio in Las Vegas! (In fact, country connections, now including Borgata – still jointly owned with Boyd Gaming three years ago – is a huge reason fir playing at MGM Soringfield)

MGM dismisses everyone else in New England (except Wynn) as no competition. Eliminating the hotel tower is disappointing.  Yet, their “hotel on its side” plan idea is supposed to be the thing that distinguishes them from the Foxwoods & Mohegan Suns of the world.  Sorry MGM, we know you are big stuff in the gaming industry, but rationalizing a downgraded hotel as game changing in the casino industry is just insulting.  New Englanders just aren’t that naive and stupid.

MGM Springfield

New rendering of MGM Springfield’s, minus the Hotel Tower

Speaking of the comparison to Connecticut’s casinos, if the Nutmeg State’s casinos (including a third in the Hartford area) are not a threat to MGM Springfield, why the law suit, why the comparisons to CT instead of watching out west to New York State, and why say you want a casino in CT (Bridgeport) only to have pulled out of Foxwoods?  Hypocrisy I say. (Since then, MGM bought the Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway in New York. That’s only 55 miles away from Bridgeport, CT.  Also, their recent interest in buying Encore Boston Harbor showed a lack of wanting to keep MGM Springfield. MGM continues to look like PacMan – trying to gobble up everything in sight.)

Changes in design plans DO happen all the time, and rising costs are sighted as the reasons for these changes – whether it’s a Mall, housing project, or a casino.  I’m more concerned with what MGM is going to bring to gamblers.  So, MGM, I ask you – what advantage do I have spreading my money in Springfield compared to other New England options?

Poor VP Pay outs in many MGM properties. Jacks or better at 7/5.

Poor VP Pay outs in many MGM properties. Jacks or better at 7/5.

Will MGM have the same poor to mediocre Video Poker paytables that are in all their other properties?  The exception is Borgata in Atlantic City which they share with Boyd Gaming. You’re going to have to make your gambling options better if you seriously want to compete with CT & RI. (Guess we nailed that one!)images (3)I wonder what plans MGM Springfield has concerning smoking.  The options provided for smokers at Plainridge Park seem almost punitive.  Massachusetts Casino Law has the entire casino as non-smoking. (A plus to some, minus for others)

I have so many other thoughts, questions and requests concerning MGM Springfield, but they will just have to wait……….my brain hurts, time for a break.

Tomorrow its a look at Thanksgiving dining promotion at New England’s casinos. (Actually, we will re-post our 2018’s Thanksgiving Dining, Gambling and Event promotions tomorrow)

Binbin

(Thanks for going back in time with us.  MGM Springfield is still evolving.  I wonder how different it will be three years from today?)

 

 

MGM Springfield Trip Report

First and foremost is congratulations to MGM for bringing a resort destination to Springfield and dire help for a city struggling.  The first weekend estimated 150,000 people passed through the property doors. The opening day festivities were a tribute to a long awaited addition to Springfield and New England. And now, our MGM Springfield Trip Report – Day 1

Sunday, August 26th – third day open.

Sign from I-91        courtesy NETG

Bert & I (Bin) were able to take advantage of an offer to stay and check it out.  We were happy to see it inside & out. We decided to use Valet which is just a little further down from the self parking area. Self Parking is free. You must pay for valet parking – and I don’t mean a couple bucks to the attendants.  Unlike Las Vegas MGM properties, there is no swiping of the MLife card for free valet parking. However, as  Platinum members, we received free valet parking.  If it IS like Las Vegas, Gold and up MLife cards will provide free valet parking – but remember to still tip! More later on the cost of valet parking.  With car taken away, the adventure was about to begin this Sunday afternoon at check-in.

Cluster Upon Cluster

Getting around isn’t easy during high occupancy times. There isn’t enough space around perimeter to get around. To make matters worse, the Movie Theater on the 2nd floor has escalators that empty onto the the casino floor in the same vicinity as TAP and the Self Parking elevators. Let’s hope it works.

Hotel Lobby

Area of Lobby next to Starbucks, features antique Big 6 wheel – courtesy NETG

Another nook in the lobby – dig the chairs! courtesy NETG

As you walk into the hotel lobby, you stop and look around for a minute.  This is not your typical hotel lobby.  With numerous quaint sitting areas, all showing tribute to Springfield’s history, it looks more like a series of relaxing parlors. The lobby includes, well what should we call it…….oh, Lobby Bar! “The place to be for after-work socializing, a drink before dinner or to kick-start your staycation……….enjoy a signature seasonal cocktail specials or let the mixologist create a personal drink just for you.”

Lobby Bar courtesy NETG

The lobby is located at the hotel entrance across from Red Rose Pizza, so it’s an easy stop with friends. Check-in was easy – while there was a line, it moved quickly with excellent service.  Questions were answered about valet parking, (ask at the desk to be sure you qualify for free valet and they will take care of it for you) and we were off to our room.

As we walked to the elevators (or as you walk anywhere on this property) we found more interesting touches in the decor. Walls across from elevators  look and actually feel like 10 foot high book bindings.  The elevators have glass doors, so you see the inside of the elevator casing as it climbs from floor to floor.

Hotel & Room

Getting out onto the 2nd floor, we passed metal tubing with glass lenses representing Dr. Seuss glasses, Springfield’s own children’s book author and illustrator. It is one of the many “whimsical” design elements which pays tribute to locals such as Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel and Emily Dickinson, among others.

Our hotel room was modeled in industrial “chic” – beds have a hide-a-bed look, wood floors, dark colors, brass light fixtures, with a wall of pictures of Springfield history giving it a cozy, den type of feel. The rooms are smaller than most, but is made to feel larger with no bureau (2 draws in closet, one between beds,) and with a TV & multiple USB & AC connections flush to the wall. The TV can also be accessed through Bluetooth. There is no coffee maker (probably influenced by an in-house Starbucks). The bathroom is functional, sink space good for one comfortably, and I still think the shower, while large, clean and powerful, looks like a jail cell with it’s doorway design and white brick inside.

TAP Sports Bar

Huge screens, and many TV’s throughout TAP Sports Bar. Great atmosphere – courtesy NETG

The TAP Sports Bar is going to be one of the shining stars of this property. With numerous large TV’s, brick walls everywhere, tin roof sections, and a large center bar, it offers a great mix of 21st century sports bar with 20th century decor.  Dining and beer menus are  limited, but the list includes good food and great beer.  Our meals included the the Hall of Fame Burger and the Rueben, both outstanding.  The Rueben had at least 6-8 oz of lean pastrami.

This Rueben at TAP is full of pastrami – courtesy NETG

For brews, NETG recommends the Iron Duke Baby Maker Irish Porter and the Back East Porter drafts. Go big and upgrade to a 24-Oz. draft for an additional $3, or bigger to a 1 Liter Mug for an additional $6. A sampler of any 5 Draft Beers is $14.

In back of Tap is the Arcade, but it seems for only 21+.  Bowling is the main focus with 10 lanes of Ten-Pin Bowling (not the New England style candle-pin originally announced) It includes a few “millennial” games – shuffle board, corn-hole, etc., and a few video games. It also has a small bar.

The Pool

A very nice area around the pool is great to get away from the clatter of people and slot machines. Quiet, with places to sit and socialize along with the usual pool amenities.

CASINO

Before we called it an early night, we looked around the casino, checking out the slot inventory, the video poker, and the table games, just to get a fresh first look.

We first noticed the MLife lines for new cards were long and very slow. Thank goodness for level pass lines!

Inventory of slots is good – lots of newer games. Enjoying your slot play may not necessarily depend upon the variety of slots, as much as space between the machines and seats. Slots are very close together.

Not a lot of space in slot aisles – courtesy NETG

Except for the two wide aisles, there is maybe 3ft between seats. Anyone using a  scooter or walker could have a difficult time negotiating through the aisles. Be prepared to get bumped by many while playing.  If one person stands behind a player, there is barely enough space for one person to get through. Numerous slots were turned off, or waiting for service, but that would be typical for so many new machines – 2500 with video poker included. No doubt, your newest fave slot is on this casino floor.

OTHER CASINO OBSERVATIONS

Opinions concerning decisions being made by MGM’s gaming approach will be saved for another time.  But, here are random observations about rules, dealers, and casino management:

  • All blackjack tables use continuous shuffle. BJ lowest minimums – $15,  most are $25, 3/2 dealer stands on 17, with a Super 4 progressive. An additional side bet offered, not seen in many places, is the InBETween side bet (the primary goal is the dealer’s up card to fall between the player’s initial two cards) with an over 5% house edge.
  • Pai Gow – dealers very green, with players advising dealers about correct play, no player banking allowed, fortune bonus is $5 increments only. Even though $1 bet is not allowed, envy button is still used (?) Minimum starts at $25
  • 3 Card Poker – One player mentioned players can only pick up cards with one hand. Makes it kinda difficult.
  • Other Table Game Gambling Minimums – 4 Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Holdem Progressive, Casino War, Criss Cross Poker & Chase the flush all $15; Monday afternoon were starting at $10
  • High Limit Lounge – not big, maybe 10 tables mostly of Bac, BJ.
  • Great rugs throughout property. Here is the casino rug. – courtesy NETG

    Video Poker is not a priority of MGM. There isn’t even a lot of VP present -19 Multigame single line bartops, two banks of Triple Play, a few Ultimate-X – totaling 34. At quarter level – Ultimate X ($.25 and up) no nickel machines. Pay tables are not good  VP2Free website says “nothing playable.” .  High Limit – Still disappointing, even at higher denominations. $5 includes 9/5 JOB, 8/6 DDB,BP is 7/5, and not many games, all bartops.

  • You will not find any Video Keno, since the state of Massachusetts thought it would negatively impact the state lottery – one of the highest revenue producers in the state.
  • 5 Craps tables – minimum $15. Very close to each other.
  • Baccarat – all have Royal 9 Progressive.
  • There is no VIP Lounge available for Platinum or Noir players.
  • Apologies for no poker room coverage at this time.

RESTROOMS

I know this is a little weird to comment on bathrooms, but there was something I’ve never seen before.  At the sinks (in the men’s room – this reporter does not know first hand about the women’s restrooms) there are three spouts – soap, water and warm air blower to dry your hands. (Ok, I thought it was cool….whatever…..)

DINING

Hearth Grill breakfast options. – courtesy NETG

We ate breakfast in MGM Springfield because we were staying there.  However, the breakfasts were disappointing. There are three limited breakfast options. South End Market has 2 – Hearth Grill & Bill’s Diner, Starbucks near lobby makes three.  Both South End places served breakfast basics – no omelets, pastry or fruit offered.  Just eggs, egg sandwich, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and home fries. In a pinch, this would be just fine.  Breakfast at Hearth Grill – $9, your choice of scrambled eggs, turkey sausage links, sausage links, bacon, & home fries.  But remember, this is supposed to be a 24/7 Destination Resort with hotel guests. more is expected.

Our meal at Cal Mare, however, was fantastic. Our meatballs appetizer with garlic bread were cold when received, but quickly taken care of for us.  Our waiter Brandan was exceptional with his attention, knowledge and humor. Their drinks menu had some different and enticing cocktails, but I quickly saw and ordered one of my favorite beers, from New England -Berkshire Brewing’s Coffeehouse Porter.

Eggplant Parmesan a la Cal Mare – courtesy NETG

For our entree we ordered the Eggplant Parmesan which was amazing, with a perfect ratio of cheese and crispy, tasty eggplant – the best eggplant parm I’ve ever had. We split it to have room for dessert.

Chocolate Budino left, Chocolate sorbet on right, courtesy NETG

So we tried the chocolate budino, (a thick salty, caramel chocolate pudding with hazelnut crunch), and the chocolate sorbet, with shaved dark chocolate slices. Both were heavenly.  Cal Mare is definitely fine dining and could be accompanied by a movie or even an event at MassMutual. This place is reason alone to dine at MGM Springfield.

OOPS!

We are early to bed, early to rise people.  I’ve always said that morning is the best time in the casino. So, our last night was an early to bed night. After falling asleep, we received a call from the front desk, asking if they should check our thermostat.  Apparently, some other room called for service, but we were called by mistake.  These things are to be expected early on after opening.  But MGM showed why they are head and shoulders above most in service and hospitality. Apologies were given, front desk next morning apologized, and I received a personal email referring to the situation again.  Nice touch, greatly appreciated.

Did I mention Valet Parking is paid for if your Sapphire or Pearl? Two days would have cost $56!  Thank you MGM for the Tier-Matching Party!

The Draw

The Armory from the back courtesy NETG

Self Service Beverage area, courtesy NETG

We felt that MGM Springfield missed the mark in a few areas, but overall, offers quite a bit. The building itself is amazing. The outside Plaza area is beautiful and relaxing. During winter, they will offer ice skating. TopGolf is a fun and unique experience. More dining is expected, as actor-restaurateur and Dorchester native Mark Wahlberg will be adding a Wahlburgers. A non-smoking casino is a draw to many these days, and rightly so. The casino also has two self-service drinks stations with coffee, juice, soda, etc., NETG previously reported that drinks needed to be paid for, but when gambling, drinks are free. Remember to tip the staff! Thanks to Christopher DiMauro for setting us straight in his Facebook community Art In the Game, MGM Springfield Gaming Arts & Entertainment Group. Anyone interested in MGM Springfield should check this community out.

Kringle’s Candles in the Old church which was moved to that spot, courtesy NETG

Let’s not forget what this will mean for the City of Springfield. NETimeGambling hopes this helps raise Springfield as one of the great New England cities it once was.  The future looks bright – and you can bet on that!

Binbin