Characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room

Twin River Casino Poker Room

Poker Room at Twin River Casino, Lincoln, RI.

What are the Characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room? Well, I’m not much of a poker player. My experience is limited to home games and two great tries at the Fargo Poker Tournament at Mohegan Sun. Today I present what I’ve found about best casino poker rooms.

Related Post – FARGO Poker at Mohegan Sun – Thoughts from the “Newbie”

Six New England casinos have poker rooms. Changes have taken place with a few as well. Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods have moved their poker rooms.  Encore BH has added its poker room to the casino landscape with its opening. For information about games, tournament, and general info, check out the following links:

Hollywood Poker Room, Bangor ME

Twin River Poker Room, Lincoln RI

Mohegan Sun Poker Room, Uncasville CT

Foxwoods Poker Room, Mashentucket CT

MGM Springfield Poker Room, Springfield MA

Encore  Boston Harbor Poker Room, Everett MA

“What makes a good poker room?”

Poker player preferences are as different as the casinos themselves. I found that a consensus on what makes a good poker room was not easily found. However, poker players do agree on the following Characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room.

A few basics did pop up often enough to be considered in today’s post. The room’s rules should be clear and the dealers should be pleasant. The ambiance, surroundings and chairs should be comfortable. That being said, without a lot of experience, I checked out poker forums and asked the question “what makes a good poker room?” To quote Paul Harvey, “here’s the rest of the story.”

Concerning the Rake

The “rake” is the scaled commission fee taken by a card room operating a poker game. It is generally 2.5 to 10 percent of the pot in each poker hand, up to a predetermined maximum amount.  Obviously, most players prefer a lower rake %.  Low rake is sometimes switched with time charge, especially in the early mornings. Some players actually had decisive limits – 5 percent rake and a $3 maximum per hand, 10 percent with a $4 maximum is the highest that should be charged.

Also, a “Bad Beat Jackpot” is not preferred. What is a “bad beat jackpot”? It’s  when a poker room pays out an amount of money if a very good hand (usually Quad Eights or better) ends up losing to another hand. This “bad beat jackpot” is usually divvied up between all of the players at the table who participated in the hand that was played. In most circumstances, the loser of the hand will receive 50% of the bad beat jackpot, the winner of the hand will receive 25%. The remaining players will split the remaining 25%.  The “bad beat jackpot” accrues over time and grows based on how much rake the poker room is collecting.  The low rake combined with fewer BBJ’s are preferred.

Concerning Comfort

MGM Springfield Poker Room – most comfy in New England?

Most players like what everyone in a casino prefers – a comfortable place to play. One player said, “The poker room exists to generate rake and the best way to generate rake is to provide an atmosphere that people enjoy. If I ran a poker room, I wouldn’t be in the “Poker” business, I would be “hosting a party and a party atmosphere” Make the poker room fun. Hire and train competent staff. If the room more fun it increases your drop.”

In particular, quiet is most conducive to a comfy atmosphere. The room should be clean, good-looking, and well-lit, with nice chairs and cushions, and bathrooms. MGM Springfield is said to have most comfortable chairs in New England’s poker rooms. Many players admitted they prefer a poker room with space, especially at and between the tables.

When it comes to smoking, most players seem to be changing towards a non-smoking poker room. One forum member said “I’ve  played in rooms where smoking is allowed and it’s horrible.” Most poker rooms are moving to non-smoking.

Comfort can be a product of the way management enforces good etiquette and good behavior making players feel comfortable.  Consequently, our next consideration is the Management of the Room.

the Management of a Poker Room:

The first part of what management controls is getting to the table. An almost unanimous response was that it was important to quickly get from waiting list to seated at a table.

Foxwoods Resort Casino. Waiting for a game.

Every room needs someone on duty 24/7 who knows all the games who knows all the correct rulings. They must be accessible to the dealers and the players. Great managers are guys who know when to intervene and guys who know when to let the players handle their own situations.

The sign-up desk should be warm and friendly, not ignoring its patrons.  In the first place they need to welcome players. “Greeting people poorly is a very common problem in poker rooms,” said one player. “If you aren’t a people person, don’t work the sign-up desk.”

Floor people should also have some people skills instead of having an assertive, officer-like attitude. A friendly person who approaches situations professionally and makes informed decisions will please more people in the long term. Correctness is most important but you can make correct decisions and still be pleasant. The Poker Room Staff

Good dealers are a must,

Other support staff like cashiers, chip runners, wait staff are all very important. In particular , the vest poker rooms should have great dealers. Being a good dealer is not that easy. Some people think a great dealer tells jokes and gives his sports picks. Others think a great dealer never says a word except what has to be said to call the game.  Dealing a good poker  game includes keeping the bets inline, being sure the players are playing in turn and helping those keep up with the bets made. Accordingly, rude players really takes its toll – and poker players have many interesting quirks that make them seem rather eccentric.

poker dealer

Here are “good dealer traits” that were mentioned mostly:

  • Most of the dealers have been here at least 4+ years.
  • Good dealers deal a decently paced game
  • Don’t talk too much
  • Know the game left and right
  • Very courteous especially to the losing players.
  • Provide a consistent experience as other dealers (which suggests better training by management)
  • Treats 1-2 (limit) players like 10-20 (limit) players. (i.e., treating all players like they’re important)

Wait staff should represent the positive aspect of the service industry. Visiting players, people on vacation and regulars expect polite and fast cocktail service with a smile.

Concerning the Games

Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine

Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine

The most important Characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room hover around a wide mix of games. Good games seem to be the most important factor, one that the house has little control. Players who make good games tend to flock to the best run rooms. So, the clientele ultimately plays the most important part of good games. What a revelation!!!

lower considerations and THE FINAL CONCLUSION

Service with a smile.

Can you believe that being treated well was more important in my findings than free food, drinks, and comps? Promotions, and all the amenities were important, but not if the place was a mess, run poorly, and made the players uncomfortable with the game. Heard this before?  Sure, SERVICE COUNTS. It’s the same old thing we have been saying for years, as we see casinos change to a business first model instead of the service / hospitality model we were used to in years past.  It’s the same for any part of the casino, not just the poker room. Happy players means repeat business of the best kind.

So, what are the most important characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room?

  1. Efficient and caring Management which….
  2. will attract the best clientele, raising the interest and packing its poker room, which….. 
  3. makes the rake small, and provides tournaments and a variety of games.

It seems so simple. Too bad it’s more often a thing of the past….and that’s the rest of the story!



The Casino Poker Room – Beginner’s Guide


Sure you play poker – at home with others.  You know those crazy dealer’s choice games where some players make-up crazy rules like “no-peak, wild follows the queen, extra card if you stay in…..and on windy Wednesdays, we play with two wild cards….”That’s why you need to read The Casino Poker Room – Beginner’s Guide.


Those experiences don’t make you ready for the casino poker room. I HAVE played those home games, and I know NOT to step foot in a poker room just yet. It takes some study. The whole poker boom ten years ago, started by Chris Moneymaker winning the World Series of Poker out of no where, gave young and old the idea of “I can do that!”

Related Post – FARGO Poker at Mohegan Sun – Thoughts from the “Newbie”


Chris Moneymaker, poker player.

The Casino Poker Room – Advice Time

So, what do you need to know about starting?  Here’s some advice from experts:

Start low bets ($1-2, or $2-4) and limit tables.  Stay away from “no limit” at first. – Mark & Dr. Mike from their “You Can Bet on That” podcast.

Great Podcast fpr Craps, home poker games, and all sorts of gambling advice.

Great Podcast for Craps, home poker games, and all sorts of gambling advice.

Bill Burton from gives the following pre-play advice – “In a casino you don’t just walk up to a table and sit down. When you enter the poker room you must sign in at the desk. You tell the host what game you are interested in playing. If there is an opening you will be seated immediately. If the table is full they will take your initials and call you when there is an opening. Some casinos have a large board where they will write your name or initials or they will write your name on a list. Either way you will be called when it is your turn.”

One of my favorite all-time movies - "the Sting"

One of my favorite all-time poker movies – “the Sting”

By the way, Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold’em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. Bill is the inspiration for The Casino Poker Room – Beginner’s Guide. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for continues to outline common mistakes. He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Bill’s Burton’s Common Beginner’s Mistakes 

Betting Out of Turn – You must wait until the player to your right acts.

Making a String Bet – If you are going to raise you should announce “raise” when it is your turn. If you don’t announce a raise, you must put the bet and the raise in at the same time. If you put in the bet and then go back to your stack for the raise you can be called for a string bet” which is not allowed and your raise will not be at pokerNot Knowing What the Bet Is – You have to know what the bet is when it is your turn. You must pay attention to amount of the bet and if the bet was raised.

Folding Instead of Checking – Sometimes if the player does not like the next card dealt he will immediately fold when it is his turn. If you are first to act you can check. If everyone else checks, you get to see the next card for free.

Careful with those chips

Throwing Chips Into the Pot – Place your bet in front of you. This way the dealer sees that your bet is correct.

Not Protecting Your Cards – It is up to the players to protect their cards at all times.

Throwing Away a Winning Hand – The cards speak for themselves. Don’t immediately throw in your cards if someone calls out a better hand. The dealer will declare the winner of the hand. Sometimes you may have a better hand than you thought you had.guys-playing-poker-cigarsLosing Control of Your Emotions – Keep your emotions in check. Veteran players as well as newcomers make this mistake. It is one that should not be made by anyone!

Playing Too Many Hands – Many players crave the action. They feel that if they are not involved in the hand they aren’’t really playing the game. Successful players play fewer hands. .

Playing Too Long – If you play too long you may get tired or even bored. This can cause you to make mistakes or play marginal hands. If you start to get tired leave the game.

Advice from Toby Bochan, also from

Don’t Talk About Your Cards While the Hand is Still Going On – Once you’ve folded, it’s tempting to chat about what would have happened if you had stayed in, but if anyone who’s still in the hand hears, it’ll give them information that they might use to their advantage.

play-pokerIf You Show One, Show All – If you win a hand before the showdown but want to show your cards anyway, you can’t just show them to the one player to your left or right, you have to turn them up for the whole table to see. After all, why should only the lucky players next to you get to know what you were holding?

I hope that helps – you as well as me.  Someday you might see me trying my luck.  I’ll be wearing my T-Shirt!


10 Reasons to Attend Fargo Poker at Mohegan Sun in 2019

I spent ALL day at Mohegan Sun with the folks from Fargo Poker and Cousin Vito’s Casino Podcast.  This brief post today will hopefully make you consider adding it to your schedule in October, 2019.

Special thanks to Tracy & Rick for a great experience. My new craps buds – Cousin Vito, Mikey9s, Bogan, and Ron for an outstanding time together and great shooting the dice. My new friends from Fargo Poker. (Good luck to the new Fargo-like event in Maryland.) And, the outstanding hospitality from staff and dealers at Mohegan Sun for helping to make it a fabulous event.

Mohegan Sun poker room

I’m kinda borrowing a similar format that Jeff Foxworthy uses in his “You Might Be A Red Neck” comedy. But this group is far from being rednecks, and here’s why you might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

1.If you always wanted to try a poker tournament and didn’t know how to start… might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

2.If you want to meet great people who are both friendly and supportive of new poker players… might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

3.If you want to receive a little token of appreciation when busting out… might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

4.If you want to play $5 Craps on a Saturday night on a table reserved for only Fargo poker attendees….you might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

5.If you want to meet the Queen of Fargo, Tracy, the best host EVAH!… might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

6.If you want to get good rates to stay at Mohegan Sun on a weekend… might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

7.If you want to talk poker strategy with experienced players who love to talk poker… might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

8.If you want be a part of a NY vs. Boston rivalry during a poker tournament… might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

9.If you play a Midnight Madness poker tournament after playing $5 craps… might want to attend Fargo 2019 at Mohegan Sun

10.Finally, if you want to play VERY competitive poker in numerous tournament events in a friendly, jovial atmosphere instead of playing with grinding out, grumpy-faced, head-phone, sun-glasses wearing, no fun Phil Ivy wannabees, …….

you might want – NO, you should

plan to attend Fargo at Mohegan Sun in October of 2019

NETG Will be there – see you THERE!


Remember – When gambling, embrace the math – not the myth!