- Gambling: Casinos, Player's Club, Bingo, Poker, Table Games, Slots, Video Poker, Keno, Race Book
- Non-Gambling Games
- Booze, Bars, Nightclubs
- Comparison to Mohegan Sun
- Comments and Suggestions
Foxwoods is an enormous casino resort located in Ledyard, Connecticut. It is the largest casino in North America, and for a while was the largest casino on the planet. It could be described as a small city under a single roof. Foxwoods offers something for everyone.
The tribe behind Foxwoods is the Mashantucket Pequots. In the early 1600s the tribe had approximately 8,000 members, but the Pequot War from 1636 to 1638 nearly wiped out the entire tribe. In 1973, the only Pequot member still living in the area died. Tribal members who were not living on the reservation began moving back to reclaim the land, and the tribe was granted federal recognition in 1983.
The Mashantucket Pequot Bingo Hall opened on July 5, 1986. Growing success at the bingo operation eventually led to the construction and opening of the Foxwoods casino, with table games, in 1992. Expansions continued, slot machines were added in 1993, and a poker room in 1995. In 2008 the MGM Grand at Foxwoods was opened.
Today, Foxwoods employs 10,000 people and occupies 4.7 million square feet. By comparison, the Pentagon occupies 3.7 million square feet. According to their website, an average of 40,000 people visit Foxwoods every day.
Gambling options at the property include 6,300 slot machines, 350 table games, a 4,000-seat bingo hall, a keno lounge, and a race book. Connecticut gaming reports indicate that Foxwoods had approximately 8,300 slot machines in the second half of 2008, but this number has since dropped to around 6,300 in 2012, presumably because the space occupied by slot machines has been replaced with table games.
Foxwoods and nearby Mohegan Sun both pay 25% of their slot machine revenue to the state of Connecticut. The agreement between the tribes and the state is that if any other casinos are opened within Connecticut borders, the 25% slot revenue payments will cease. Since that is unlikely to happen, both casinos must continue to share their slot revenue with the state. However, in struggling times, it is no surprise to see the number of slot machines decrease and be replaced with table games, because the tribes keep 100% of table game profits. This explains why 2000 of Foxwoods' slot machines have disappeared, and why the casino is not afraid to replace slots with tables.
Foxwoods has several individually-named casinos throughout the property, which are:
- MGM Grand at Foxwoods (slots and tables)
- Grand Pequot Casino (slots and tables) / Hampton Club (high-limit slots) / Club Newport International (high-limit tables)
- Great Cedar Casino (slots and tables)
- Festival Slots Casino (slots only)
- Rainmaker Casino (slots and tables) / Non-Smoking Slots (slots only)
- Stargazer Casino (invitation-only high-limit casino on the 25th floor of the Grand Pequot tower)
The player's club currently awards 1 point for every $150 wagered on slots, and 1 point for every $340 wagered on video poker. Table games earn points, but the formula is not disclosed. 1 point is worth $1 when spent at a restaurant or shop (or on bingo admissions), and 50¢ if redeemed as cash back.
The current player's club structure has the following tiers:
- Wild (entry level)
- Royal (highest level)
There are a few player's club locations throughout the property:
- Across from the California Pizza Kitchen, outside the Great Cedar casino
- Near the buffet, outside the Festival Slots casino and the Rainmaker casino
- Inside the Grand Pequot casino, at the entrance/exit closest to the MGM walkway
- Inside the MGM Grand casino
- In the bingo lobby
One of Foxwoods' main attractions is its bingo hall, which seats around 4,000 people, making it the largest bingo hall in the world. Two bingo sessions are run nearly every day of the year. The bingo hall is actually two and a half bingo halls. The main room seats about 3,600 and is divided by an "invisible wall" into non-smoking and smoking sections. Normally an "invisible wall" does nothing to keep smoke away from the non-smoking section, but the design at Foxwoods is intelligent: the air current is directed towards the smoking section, which keeps smoke away from the non-smoking section.
At the back of the main room is the smoking video bingo room, which has 90 video bingo terminals. Even though the main hall is half smoking and half non-smoking, there is also a large non-smoking room with regular tables, 41 video terminals, and 100 video terminals which have a slot machine beside them so that people can play slots while they play bingo. These slots are muted and make no sound other than internal clicking. When opening a door to the non-smoking room from inside the main bingo room, or from the Festival Slots Casino located outside it, a rush of air will hit you, ensuring that all smoke stays out of the non- smoking room.
The layout of the bingo rooms at Foxwoods resembles this:
In the main bingo room there are 4 giant monitors (one in the center of each side), 24 camera monitors, 14 bonanza bingo boards, and 11 regular bingo boards. In the smoking video bingo room there are 3 camera monitors, 1 bonanza bingo board, and 1 regular bingo board. In the non-smoking bingo room there are 13 camera monitors, 6 bonanza bingo boards, and 6 regular bingo boards. The bonanza boards have a blue background and say "BONANZA" vertically (to the left of the numbers) instead of "BINGO." The boards with a black background are the regular boards. There are also 2 keno boards in the main room and 2 keno boards in the non-smoking room.
You can play paper bingo, video bingo, or both. If playing video bingo, you must buy at least two admission packages, and you can play at a video terminal or you can use a video tablet. If you play at a terminal, you must sit in either the smoking video bingo room or the non-smoking room where the terminals are located. Here is a picture of a video bingo terminal screen:
The video terminals let you select a theme from choices such as classic, beach, winter, autumn, technology, and others. The picture above is displaying the "Technology" theme. You can also change your daub style, and there is an option to hide your card's numbers. In the game above I had it set to hide my numbers, which is why there are question marks in each square on the card in the lower left. Here is another picture of a video terminal using the "Marine" theme where the best card was one number away from bingo:
If you use a video tablet, you can basically sit anywhere. To acquire a video tablet you must give your player's card and driver's license (or other form of ID) as collateral, and will get them back when you return the tablet at the end of the session. Here is a not-so-great picture of a video tablet using the 4-card view (there was no way to photograph it without the overhead lights reflecting in it):
Comp points (1 point = $1) can be used to purchase up to two bingo admission packages. If you paid cash (or used a credit or debit card) for your bingo admissions, you can get comp points for that. Keep the ticket(s) and receipt with you after the session is done. Head to a player's club location and give the representative your player card and bingo admission ticket(s), as well as your receipt if you played video bingo (a receipt is required if you hand them more than 2 admission tickets). I think there is a maximum of 4 admissions that can be redeemed for comps at the same time, even if you bought five admissions (four on a video terminal and one paper admission). You will be given 10% of the admission price of each ticket back in the form of comp points, which will become available at 6:00 the following morning.
Weekday and weeknight sessions are typically $10 or $15 per admission with regular games paying $300, $500 or $700. Saturday and Sunday sessions draw the biggest crowds, especially the morning sessions, and have the largest admission prices and prizes. The weekend morning sessions will usually have at least a $20 admission with regular game prizes of $1199. A $40 admission will have regular game prizes of $3000; a $50 admission will have regular game prizes of $3500, and a $100 admission will have regular game prizes of $7,000. The "Octoberfest" session costs $250 per admission and pays $15,000 for each regular game. The largest session is the annual "Firecracker Bingo" which typically occurs on the first Saturday of July. This session costs $500 per admission and pays $20,000 for each regular game. The Firecracker Bingo session is a simultaneous celebration of July 4th, America's Independence Day, and July 5th, the anniversary of the opening date of the bingo hall which begat Foxwoods.
Each session has a "Super Jackpot" game played near the end of the session. For lower-priced admissions, this game offers a large prize for filling a card within 48 numbers, and a consolation prize otherwise. Higher-priced admissions have no 48-number restriction, and a second-chance prize for a smaller prize than the primary prize. At the $500 Firecracker Bingo the primary prize is $1,000,000. I attended the 2009 Firecracker Bingo, and there was a single winner who won the $1 million by herself. In the 2012 session there were 4 winners who split the $1 million prize.
A typical admission package consists of 9 cards for the regular games, 6 cards for the earlybird games, a "U-Pick-Em" card (where you choose the numbers yourself on an 8-number card, pictured on the right), and a single Bonanza card. Some sessions are "Mystery Envelope" sessions where each admission also includes an envelope that typically contains a single card for a free game not printed on the schedule, player club reward points, a food coupon, and a ticket for a free keno bet. One of these envelopes will contain a ticket for a free wheel spin (more on that later), at least one will contain a ticket for an instant-win cash prize, and at least one will contain a "VIP" ticket. The first number drawn for the first regular game is the "VIP" number, and every time it is drawn during regular games (including the first game) throughout the session, regardless of whether the number is needed for that game, anyone holding a VIP coupon will receive a cash prize (usually $20, possibly more on higher-priced sessions). Sessions with an admission price of $50 or more have 12 cards per admission package instead of the standard 9.
Be aware that the numbers have about an 8-second timer at Foxwoods, which is faster than most local bingo venues. While I would normally play 24 cards at a local bingo, the most cards I can comfortably handle at Foxwoods is 18, particularly because of the "Triple Bingo" games which can become troublesome when you get close in multiple ways on multiple cards.
Two of the special games are worth mentioning. The last special game played before intermission is the "Money Machine" game. It is a 2-pattern game, and the winner of the second pattern will go up on the stage and have 60 seconds inside the "Money Machine." It resembles an old-fashioned phone booth with money flying around inside it; the goal is to grab as much cash as possible and slide it through a slot to the worker on the outside. Below is a picture of the Money Machine empty (left) and while someone was inside it (right). I apologize for the blurriness of the second image; it is difficult to take good pictures inside the bingo hall without getting caught, because taking pictures is not permitted. In the image on the right, the player who won the second pattern of the game is inside the booth with money flying around him/her. The worker on the outside is pulling out whatever money the player can pass through the slot. Whatever the worker pulls out is added to the base prize that the player already won:
I have never entered the "Money Machine," but on my recent visit I overheard multiple people describing the best strategy to use inside it: Place your left arm vertically along the bar in the corner to left of the worker (from your perspective inside the booth). This will help catch several bills and prevent them from continuing to fly around you. Scoop these bills with your other hand, fold the stack in half, and slide the bills through the slot to the worker on the outside. Repeat this process until you run out of time. The workers even appear to describe this strategy to the winning player before he or she enters the booth. The slot that you must slide the bills through is about a quarter of an inch tall. The worker on the outside generally pulls the money out as fast as possible, as soon as he or she can grip it. The average amount withdrawn from the money machine is usually between $150 and $400.
The other special game worthy of mention is the "Money Wheel" game, which is the first special game played after intermission, and is also a 2-part game. The winner of the second part will go on stage and spin a money wheel where the possible prizes are $500, $750, $1000, and $5000. Three of the $500 spots also award an additional spin. This is the wheel that someone who finds a "free wheel spin" coupon in their mystery envelope gets to spin. Here is a picture of the money wheel:
Here is an analysis of the Money Wheel:
|$500 plus spin again||Dark Blue||3||0.057692||$ 28.846154|
|$5,000||Light Blue||1||0.019231||$ 96.153846|
The average initial spin is worth $649.04 by itself,
and $688.78 after additional spins are factored in.
For both the Money Machine and Money Wheel games, if there are multiple winners, they will all go to the stage and draw from a deck of cards. The person who draws the highest card will enter the money machine or spin the money wheel on behalf of all of the winners. Note that whatever is taken from the money machine or spun on the wheel is added to the base prize, and the total amount is split among the winners. For example, if there are four winners, the base prize was $500, and the wheel spin lands on $500, then each winner gets ($500 + $500) / 4 = $250.
If you have never played bingo at Foxwoods before, the following advice will be helpful:
- You do not have a valid bingo unless you have the last number called. This means two things: (1) If you are one number away and see the number you need in the monitor, do not call bingo because you do not yet have bingo. The number has to be called by the caller before you can bingo on it. (2) If you have a bingo but do not realize it until after the next number has been called, your bingo will not be honored. At a recent session someone missed out on a $7,000 prize that they would have won by themselves had they called bingo as soon as they got it.
- If you call bingo, make yourself heard. Don't call bingo softly from the opposite side of the room as the caller and expect to be heard. When you bingo, hold your paper card(s) in the air and keep them there until a floor worker arrives to verify your bingo. If you are only playing video bingo and have no paper cards to hold in the air, hold up the game schedule or some other piece of paper instead. Raising your hand is not enough, because people are raising their hands frequently (sometimes with money in them) to indicate that they wish to buy additional cards from a floor worker. If you have a bingo, you need to stand out from all of the people who have their hand in the air, so hold your winning bingo card (or some other piece of paper) in the air.
- If you are not playing the Quickie games, do not go up and use a soda fountain during one. The callers announce this before each Quickie game. If you ignore this advice, prepare to be yelled at by the players sitting right near the soda station.
- The floor workers are there to sell bingo cards and to verify winning bingos. They cannot play your cards for you if you need to go the bathroom, for example. They also cannot call bingo for you either.
- It is customary to tip the floor worker who verifies your bingo and pays you your winnings. A tip of 2% to 10% is typical; the larger your prize, the smaller the percentage.
- Bring a pen. Some people also bring tape or glue sticks to keep multiple sheets of cards together. Also, while not a necessity, you may find it helpful to bring a staple remover with you as well. This is because each admission package has two staples in it: the Bonanza and U-Pick-Em cards are stapled to the book of earlybirds, and the book of earlybirds is stapled to the book of regular games. If you don't remove the staples carefully, you might mangle the series number of one or more cards, which is one of the items used to verify each bingo, and is where the staples are usually located. If the series number can't be read, your bingo might not be honored.
A typical session has the following games:
- Bonanza: This is a coverall game with a progressive jackpot. Soon after doors open, the caller calls the first 40 numbers for the Bonanza game. These remain lit on the blue Bonanza boards throughout the rest of the session. You cover the first 40 numbers on your Bonanza card(s), and at the very end of the session, the game is played until someone fills a card. The jackpot is won by filling a card within 48 numbers, otherwise a consolation prize is won by the first person to bingo. The last time I left, the Bonanza jackpot was $54,500. It is not uncommon to still need 9 or more numbers after the first 40 have been called, making it impossible to win the jackpot on such a card. Some people purchase several extra Bonanza cards but only keep those which have the most numbers covered. (You would need 554,101 Bonanza cards to have a 50% chance of winning or splitting the jackpot, so don't plan on winning it.) Foxwoods used to allow you to buy Bonanza cards on your video terminal, but no longer does. Only paper Bonanza cards are offered now.
- Warm-ups: these are small, paper-only games that are played before the action gets started. Each "set" of warm-ups consists of five games, all of which can usually be won by getting a straight line or the four corners. Prizes are often only $50, and I've seen a $50 prize be split 10 ways. Higher-priced sessions may offer larger prizes on the warm-ups, and sometimes they will double the prize if you call bingo within the first 5 numbers.
- Earlybirds: There are five earlybird games, and a book of 6 cards for each earlybird game is included with each admission. These earlybird books have 3 columns and 2 rows, as opposed to the standard 2 columns of 3 rows. You can purchase extra earlybirds for your video terminal or tablet.
- Specials: There are eight special games throughout the session. They are spaced out in such a way that you might get bored if you didn't play them, but alternatively, if you don't play them they could be good to take a break every couple of games. For $10 you can get a book of 3 cards for all 8 games, or for $25 you can get a "Value Book" which has 9 cards for all 8 games and comes with a "free black game" which is a single card for a fast-paced coverall. The cost for special cards remains constant regardless of the session, yet the prizes fluctuate based on the session. For example, at a session where the regular games pay $700, the specials will also pay $700 (as the consolation prize if applicable). For sessions where the games pay $1199 or more, the specials will pay $1199. Specials can be added to your video terminal or tablet; you can add up to 6 value books on a video device (54 cards for $150).
- Regulars: These are the regular games. A typical session will have around 18 regular games. You can purchase up to four admission packages for play on a video device (on $50 and higher sessions, this is 48 cards; on lower-priced sessions this is 36 cards).
- Quickies: These are fast-paced coverall games. There are four Quickie games throughout each session; most people who play them will purchase a "set of Quickies" from a floor worker. The numbers are displayed on the monitor before being called, so they aren't as fast as possible, but still fairly fast. You cannot play Quickie games on a video device; they are paper-only games.
- Free Games: During "Mystery Envelope" sessions there will be a single card inside each envelope for a "free" game, which usually has an orange border. It will typically be played right before the first regular game, even though it is not printed on the schedule. People who purchased a $25 "Value Book" of specials will receive with it a similar single card for a "free" game, which usually has a black border. During "Mystery Envelope" sessions this game will usually be played before the third regular game; for non-Mystery Envelope sessions it will be played right before the first regular game.
- Winner's Choice: This game is only offered in bigger sessions. It is a paper-only game that you must buy from floor workers ($5 for a sheet of 9 cards). It is played immediately after intermission and has two patterns (a double bingo then a triple bingo). If you win the triple bingo pattern you will go on stage to choose a stuffed animal to reveal a prize ranging from $500 to $2500, and you get to keep the stuffed animal. If there are multiple winners, they will each draw from a deck of cards, and the winner with the highest-ranking card chooses the stuffed animal; all winners will split the chosen prize. There is no base prize for the triple bingo pattern; the prize select from the stuffed animal is the only prize for that pattern.
The bingo hall has a food counter inside it called the "Lucky 7 Café" which offers diner-type foods such as omelette sandwiches in morning sessions, and burgers, Philly cheese steaks, and pizza (by the slice or whole) in evening sessions. There are also sides and desserts, and free beverages. Two self-service soda and coffee stations can be found in the main room, and one in the non-smoking room. Food workers will go around the room once or twice to take food orders if you wish to remain seated; and will also wheel around carts containing beverages, popcorn, and desserts at various times.
Reservations are recommended for larger sessions, especially if you wish to reserve a video terminal or tablet. This can be done directly from Foxwoods' website, or you can call them at 1-800-PLAY-BIG, which is 1-800-752-9244.
The smaller sessions tend to have several hundred people playing, and the larger sessions often have over 3000 people playing. In the worst-case scenario, there could be almost 100,000 cards in play during each game of a sold-out session. It is common to never get close to bingo before someone wins, no matter how many cards you are playing, and no matter how empty the bingo hall appears to be. Simple patterns are almost always won as soon as they can be. For example, a hardway bingo will almost always be won as soon as a B, I, N, G, and O have been called, or on the fifth B, I, G, or O. Expect multiple winners on most games.
Rare things can and do happen at Foxwoods bingo. At a recent sessions someone won the Super Jackpot game - a coverall - in 45 numbers. I have played at a $100 session where the regular games paid $7,000 each and I called bingo on one of the regular games, but so did 129 others. You needed the top line or the bottom line, and they went 29 or 30 numbers without calling any Is. It took 45 minutes to verify all of the bingos, and my share of the $7,000 prize was a mere $54. The staff did a great job keeping track of all of the winners on that game.
It is a unique experience to play bingo at Foxwoods during a high-priced, sold-out session. When someone needs only one number and sees it appear in the monitor, they usually inform their neighbors. People at the surrounding tables overhear this and mention it to people near them, triggering a domino effect. The news spreads across the giant room like an aural tsunami wave; silence is replaced with an exponentially-increasing rumble of chatter until nearly everyone is talking, usually about how close they were and what number(s) they needed. Then everyone instantly falls silent when the caller starts calling the number in the monitor and the dreaded "Bingo" call is awaited. Once it is heard, thousands of "awww"s are uttered simultaneously. The same thing happens at every local bingo venue I have ever played at, but to a much smaller degree. Experiencing it at a sold-out Foxwoods bingo session is simply indescribable.
You only need to be 18 years of age to play bingo at Foxwoods, however, you must be 21 to play in (or walk through) the non-smoking room because of the slot machines inside it, and because its exit puts you inside a casino.
Foxwoods has a poker room with 114 tables, making it the third largest poker room in the world. Games offered include Texas Hold 'em, Omaha Hold 'em, Omaha High/Low, Seven-Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud High/Low. H.O.S.E is also sometimes offered, and there are usually at least four tournaments every day.
I have never been inside the poker room, so I can't offer much more information about it. It is located directly below the Rainmaker casino. Some of the tables are visible from the Rainmaker casino through a large round opening to the lower level.
The casinos at Foxwoods collectively contain over 350 table games. The chip tray at most tables has a metal border with miniature fans around it which direct smoke away from the dealer. I don't know how effective they are, but I think this is a nice gesture on the casino's part in terms of protecting dealers who don't care to inhale second-hand smoke.
Foxwoods is very strict in the sense that you cannot do anything until the dealer is done. For example, you cannot pick up or look at your cards in face-down games such as Pai Gow Poker or Three Card Poker until all of the hands have been dealt and the remainder of the deck has been moved from the shuffler to the discard rack. You cannot look at your tiles in Pai Gow until all 32 tiles have been distributed around the table.
Most baccarat tables are mini style and offer the Dragon Bonus side bet. Mini and midi baccarat can be found in the high-limit Newport room within the Grand Pequot casino. Table limits on midi baccarat tables are $100 to $15,000 with a $2,000 maximum on the tie bet. However, Foxwoods will usually accommodate anyone who requests to bet more than the table max. Big table baccarat is rumored to exist in the invitation-only Stargazer casino.
Excluding the invitation-only Stargazer casino (where the blackjack rules are unknown), there are three sets of rules in use throughout the property:
Newport Room High-Limit
- Blackjack pays 3:2
- 6 decks
- Dealer stands on soft 17
- Late surrender
- Double on any 2 cards
- Double after split
- Split 3 times to make 4 hands
- Aces and Ten-value cards can be split once
- One card to split aces
The house edge is 0.4%.
- Blackjack pays 3:2
- 6 decks
- Dealer hits soft 17
- Late surrender
- Double on any 2 cards
- Double after split
- Split 3 times to make 4 hands
- Ten-value cards can be split once
- Aces can be split twice
- One card to split aces
The house edge is 0.5%.
- Blackjack pays 3:2
- 8 decks
- Dealer hits soft 17
- Late surrender
- Double on any 2 cards
- Double after split
- Split 3 times to make 4 hands
- Aces and Ten-value cards can be split once
- One card to split aces
The house edge is 0.6%.
Vegas rules are used, where a switched-to 2-card 21 is treated as 21 and pushes if the dealer ends up with 21 or 22. The house edge is 0.58%.
The standard paytable is used, and a $1 progressive side bet is also offered.
I only saw one table, located in the Grand Pequot casino.
3x-4x-5x odds are offered. The field bet pays double on both 2 and 12.
Crazy Four Poker
Standard paytables are offered for the Super Bonus and Queens Up bets.
High Five Poker
The ante game has a house edge of 3.57% (and an element of risk of 2.13%) with optimal play, and the side bet has a house edge of 4.81%. There are two tables with this game, both in the Grand Pequot casino. If you are in front of the cashier cage (with your back facing the cashiers), both tables are located in the second row, with dealers facing the cashiers.
Let it Ride
Let it Ride tables offer the standard base game paytable, a side bet for the initial 3-card hand (with the 1-4-5-30-40-50 paytable which has a house edge of 5.39%), and a $1 side bet for the final 5-card hand.
Money Wheel (Big Six)
According to their website, the Joker and Logo spots pay 40:1 instead of the standard 45:1.
Pai Gow (Tiles)
Banking and co-banking are allowed, but prepaying of commission is not. If you invoke the co-banking rule, which I have never seen done anywhere, then your hand must be set the house way. Table limits are $25 to $5000 at all times. Talking while setting hands is supposedly not allowed, but I have never seen that rule enforced.
The turn to bank zig-zags between players and the dealer; if the player in position 5 banks, the dealer must bank again before the player in position 6 may bank. Also, when selecting the tile delivery, you may not touch the tiles; you must tell the dealer how you want them delivered. I think they only offer four deliveries: the standard house way, cup say, jung quat, and the dragon. All of them can be delivered either of the two ways (house way and cup say from left-to-right or right-to-left, jung quat from the top or the bottom, and the dragon head-to-tail or tail-to-head).
At Vegas casinos, when setting your hands, you typically place your two 2-tile stacks side by side. At Foxwoods you must place them perpendicular to each other in a "T" shape. Playing them side-by-side (as is done in Vegas) indicates that you are surrendering or forfeiting the hand. For example, if you know that you have lost once the dealer sets their hand, you can slide one of your tile stacks parallel to the other to indicate that you surrender. When you do this the dealer will collect your bet without exposing your tiles. This is helpful to avoid being on the receiving end of well-meaning but incorrect "advice" if you make the right play but it results in a worse outcome than the house way. For example, if you played 0/9 instead of 4/5, and the dealer has 3/Gong.
You are allowed to play 2 hands at pai gow (if the table isn't full), but one of them must be set the house way. The dealer will place a "House Way" tag beside that hand, and will set it using the house way when he or she gets to that hand.
The table layout is as follows: position #1 is the dealer's hand; positions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are for player hands, and position #8 is a hand that nobody gets to play. Foxwoods does not use an unnumbered dealer spot and player spots numbered 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 like most casinos offering pai gow do. You might see a mostly-full table with the #4 spot empty. Sitting at a full table pai gow table can be uncomfortable in position 3, 4, 5, or 6 because there is not much room for each player spot. Positions 2 and 7, the ones on either side of the dealer, are the most comfortable ones to be in.
There are 6 tables in the Asian table games side of the Rainmaker casino, and 3 tables in the Newport room of the Grand Pequot casino.
Pai Gow Poker
Most Pai Gow Poker tables offer two side bets: "Emperor's Challenge" and "Pai Gow Insurance." I think they misunderstand the purpose of the "Pai Gow Insurance" side bet. The word "insurance" in the bet's name implies that it protects the player's bet if he is dealt garbage. However, Foxwoods pays this side bet only when the dealer is dealt garbage, which makes no sense. If the dealer has a garbage hand, the player's original bet is likely to win anyway and therefore needs no "insurance."
You may play up to 3 hands of Pai Gow Poker (if the table isn't full), however, the third hand must be set the house way; you can only set 2 hands yourself.
The house way used at Foxwoods is as follows:
No Pair: Play the second and third highest cards in the low hand.
One Pair: Play the pair in the high hand and the highest two kickers in the low hand.
High pair is Jacks or better: Always split.
High pair is 7s to 10s: Split unless you can play an Ace in the low hand.
High pair is 6s or lower: Split unless you can play an Ace or King in the low hand.
Three Pair: Play the highest pair in the low hand.
Three of a Kind:
Aces: Play an Ace and the highest kicker in the low hand.
Kings or lower: Play the highest two kickers in the low hand.
Two Three of a Kinds: Play a pair from the highest set in the low hand.
Straight, Flush, Straight Flush, Royal Flush:
With no pair: Play the two highest cards in the small hand which leave a straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush in the high hand.
With one pair: two highest cards in the small hand which leaves a straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush in the high hand, except play a pair of 10s through Kings in the high hand with an Ace (or Joker) in the low hand if it improves the low hand.
With two pair: Use the Two Pair strategy.
With three of a kind: Play the pair in the low hand and the straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush in the high hand.
Full House: Play the three of a kind in the high hand and the pair in the low hand.
Two Full Houses: Play the three of a kind in the high hand and the highest of the two pairs in the low hand.
Four of a Kind:
Jacks or better: Always split.
7s to 10s: Split unless you can play an Ace or King in the low hand.
6s and below: Never split.
Four of a Kind with One Pair: Play the pair in the low hand.
Four of a Kind with Three of a Kind: Play a pair from the Three of a Kind in the low hand.
Five Aces: Play a pair of Aces in the low hand unless keeping the aces together puts a pair of Kings in the low hand.
All of the tables I walked by were double-zero. I am not sure if they offer single-zero roulette in the high limit Newport room, but they might.
There are two tables, both in the Asian table games side of the Rainmaker casino, right as you walk in on that side from the hall. They are located by the Pai Gow tables.
Typical rules and payouts are used. Redoubling one's bet is not allowed.
Texas Hold 'em Bonus
The ante game follows Vegas rules (on winning hands, the ante pays even money with a Straight or better, otherwise it pushes), and the side bet follows the Atlantic City paytable (the top prize is a pair of Aces, paying 30:1).
Three Card Poker
Foxwoods offered the 1-4-6-30-40 Pair Plus paytable for a long time, but eventually switched to the horrifying 1-3-6-30-40 paytable, more than tripling the house edge on it. They have also installed a $1 progressive jackpot for being dealt AKQ in Spades. Dealer flashing is mostly precluded because they slide a yellow cut card underneath the dealer's hand before moving it from the shuffler to the table. However, it is sometimes possible to catch a glimpse of the bottom dealer card as he/she slides the cut card underneath it if they slide it underneath the hand from the front. You will most likely have to be sitting in a position on the dealer's left, or in the middle of the table, in order to see this if it happens because there is usually a plastic shield in front of the shuffler which prevents it from being seen from the first couple of positions on the dealer's right.
You are allowed to play up to 3 hands (at a non-full table) of Three Card Poker.
They are everywhere, and lots of them. The most recent report for June 2012 indicates that Foxwoods has 6,286 active slot machines (although that figure includes video poker machines). Slot games available include old-fashioned cherries/sevens/bars games, games with multi-player bonus rounds such as Monopoly, and brand-name slots like Wheel of Fortune, Wizard of Oz, Grease, Sex and the City, and countless others.
The video poker at Foxwoods is not so great. The best non-progressive games can be found on machines in the following locations:
- between the restrooms and the Hampton Club (high limit area) in the Grand Pequot casino (3 machines)
- inside the high limit area of the Great Cedar casino (2 machines)
- inside the high limit area of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods (1 machine)
These machines all offer the following games at $25, $50, and $125 per hand (they are 25-coin machines with $1, $2, and $5 denominations):
- 9/6 Jacks or Better (99.54%) at $25/hand but 9/5 (98.45%) at $50 and $125 per hand
- 30/30/30/8/5 Bonus Poker (98.48%)
- 940/50/17/5 Joker Poker (98.44%)
- 9/6 Double Double Bonus (98.98%)
- 25/15/9/4/4/3 Deuces Wild (98.91%)
- 9/6 Triple Double Bonus (98.15%)
Another bank of machines worth mentioning is located in the Great Cedar casino, with a large screen above them saying something like "Progressive Video Poker" and showing 3 or 4 jackpot prizes. It is located about halfway between the cashier and the keno screen, and consists of 8 machines in a circle. The machines all have 3-play, 5-play, and 10-play versions of Jacks or Better, Joker Poker, Deuces Wild, and Double Double Bonus, for quarters only. Each n-play group of games, and each hand within them, have their own progressive prizes for hitting a royal flush. To clarify, the four 10-play games have 10 different royal flush jackpots, none of which are shared with the 3 jackpots in the 3-play games or the 5 jackpots in the 5-play games. The best base game is 9/5 Double Double Bonus. If you go to the main menu and look at the jackpot amount shown beneath each 3-play, 5-play, and 10-play DDB game, you can determine how close each game is to the break-even point. The 3-play game is break-even at $5,831.01, the 5-play game is break-even at $9,718.51, and the 10-play game is break-even at $19,437.26. Those figures assume an optimal strategy which is adjusted for the increased royal flush payouts. The last time I played, the 5-play game was returning 99.99% when I sat down, and over 100% when I left. A word of caution if you play on these machines: nearly all of them have sticky buttons. If you normally play fast, you'll want to slow down before hitting the Draw button to make sure the cards you wanted to hold were in fact held.
Foxwoods has several multi-hand machines (3-play, 5-play, 10-play, 50-play, and 100-play) and many novelty video poker games including Big Times Draw Poker, Double Down Stud, Double Pay Poker, Double Super Times Pay, Multi-Strike Poker, Quick Quads, Spin Fever, Spin Poker, Super Times Pay, Super Times Pay Spin Poker, and Ultimate X Poker — but they all have horrible paytables.
Foxwoods heavily promotes their keno, probably because the house edge is so high. There are drawings every 6 minutes, and keno screens are located throughout the facility (including the bingo hall), as well as a dedicated keno channel on the televisions in each hotel room.
Several types of keno are offered:
- "Regular" keno is the standard offering.
- "High Roller" keno has higher-variance paytables than regular keno.
- "4 Corners" keno is an all-or-nothing $1 bet that pays $250 if all four corners (1, 10, 71, 80) are drawn.
- "Edge" keno is a $3 bet on the 32 numbers around the edge of the keno ticket.
- "Top/Bottom" and "Right/Left" keno is a bet on the two horizontal or vertical halves of the keno board.
- "Ticket to Ride" keno, which I will describe below.
- "Pequot Progressive" keno, which I will also describe below.
The bet which returns the most is the $1 four corners bet, returning 76.58%. The best bet in regular keno is the 6-spot game, returning 70.63%. The other bets (excluding "Ticket to Ride" and "Pequot Progressive" keno) all return between 61.29% and 69.64%.
"Ticket to Ride" keno is a 6-spot game for $1, although I am not sure if they actually sell these tickets: you are given a "Ticket to Ride" keno ticket when you redeem a "free keno bet" ticket received in a bingo session's Mystery Envelope. Matching 4 numbers pays $2; matching 5 numbers pays $5, and matching all 6 numbers pays $500. The average return for a $1 bet is 13.7¢, for a horrific house edge of 86.3%.
"Pequot Progressive" keno is a fixed $3 bet per ticket and you must select (or quick pick) 20 spots. You win the progressive jackpot by catching at least 13 of the 20 numbers. The chances of doing so are about 1 in 110,595. The following paytable is used:
|14||Jackpot + $2,500|
|15||Jackpot + $5,000|
|16||Jackpot + $10,000|
|17||Jackpot + $15,000|
|18||Jackpot + $20,000|
|19||Jackpot + $25,000|
|20||Jackpot + $30,000|
The Pequot Progressive would become break-even with a jackpot of $146,581.69, however, each game is limited to a maximum aggregate payout of $100,000, therefore the game will never be break-even and is never worth playing.
The main keno location (where the drawings are performed) is in the Grand Pequot casino; there is also a keno booth in the bingo lobby. There may be a couple of other locations where you can buy keno tickets.
Sports betting is (discriminatingly) restricted to 4 states by federal law, so Foxwoods offers betting on what they are legally allowed to: horse racing, dog racing, and jai alai. I know nothing about these types of betting, so I can't offer much insight into Foxwoods' offerings here. I can, however, tell you where the race book is located. It is inside the slot machine area of the Rainmaker casino; if you enter the non-smoking casino entrance (between the Hard Rock and Dunkin Donuts), turn left, and keep walking straight into the other room, eventually you will see the Race Book entrance on the back wall.
There are 4 hotels at Foxwoods, offering over 2,200 rooms and suites:
- The Great Cedar Hotel, located inside the main facility. The following picture shows (rather poorly) the scenery visible from the Great Cedar hotel lobby, between the escalators which bring you up to or down from the casino level:
The following images show various shots of a hotel room that has two queen-sized beds:
- The Grand Pequot Hotel, also inside the main facility. The following pictures show the Grand Pequot hotel lobby, waiting area, and the hotel room I had in the Grand Pequot tower:
- The MGM Grand at Foxwoods, located inside the MGM Grand tower, and connected to the main facility by an indoor walkway. At my walking speed, it takes about 5 minutes to get from the area just outside the Grand Pequot casino to the casino floor of the MGM Grand. The following pictures show the hotel room I had at the MGM Grand, and the outdoor pool located behind the hotel:
One thing worth noting about the MGM Grand hotel rooms is that they only contain showers, no tubs. If you prefer a bath to a shower, do not book a room at the MGM. Also, the markings on the shower control were wrong about which direction was hot and which was cold. I had to turn it to "C" to get hot water. Perhaps it was labeled by someone whose primary language is French. The shower head was like the black-market "Commando 3000" shower head from that episode of Seinfeld. It was oversized with lots of water outlets, and had excellent water pressure. It was wastefully wonderful.
- The Two Trees Inn is not accessible from the facility without going outside, but it is still part of Foxwoods. The rates tend to be relatively low (and rooms often available) because you have to either drive to/from it or take the casino shuttle, which runs continuously (24 hours). It is possible to walk to and from it, but it would probably take at least 10 minutes to do so, and involves crossing a road. I stayed in this hotel the first of my two recent visits, and it is respectable; it is certainly above average. (I apologize for not taking any pictures.) It is a good value which is often ignored by gamblers who don't like the fact that it isn't connected to the main facility. If you're booking a last-minute room, Two Trees Inn is often the only option available. In terms of quality, it is roughly equivalent to a Holiday Inn Express.
I have seen Friday and Saturday night room rates approach $700 per night when few rooms are available. That is for people who have no play history; pretty much anyone with a player's card and some play history can receive free nights on Sundays through Thursdays and reduced rates on Fridays and Saturdays. If you are Crown level or higher, you will most likely be eligible for a free room for any night of the week. If you are planning your first visit to Foxwoods, you should book a room as early as possible to secure the lowest rate you can get.
There is an arcade across the hall from the Slots 360° section of the Great Cedar casino. Children are of course permitted should you wish to teach your young ones how to insert money into a machine to play a game at an early age. I have never been inside it, but I have heard that it is a two-story arcade.
A relatively new bowling alley and lounge cleverly named "High Rollers" can be found outside the Grand Pequot casino entrance/exit near the MGM Grand walkway. According to their website, this bowling alley is a "35,000 square-foot venue, with an innovative menu and two full-service bars, features a capacity of 1,000; 20 bowling lanes including six VIP lanes; four professional billiard tables; two-level lounge with a piano and 50-seat marble bar; more than 60 big-screen high-definition televisions, one massive 103" screen; and three private rooms that can accommodate 20 to 100 guests, as well as function space for up to 800 guests."
The golf course at Foxwoods surrounds the Lake of Isles. Its website says that the golf course occupies 900 acres. Here is a satellite image (courtesy Google Maps) of the golf course, and the Foxwoods facility just south west of it:
More information about the golf course can be found at its website, www.lakeofisles.com.
If you feel the need to have your face covered in goop and cucumbers placed over your eyes, you have two options: the Norwich Spa, located on the 9th floor of the Grand Pequot tower, and the "G Spa" which is located in the MGM Grand tower.
Foxwoods gets some big names in show business, such as Jerry Seinfeld, typically performing at the theater in the MGM Grand. However, and this is only my opinion of course, they don't seem to get any (or many) current musical artists; they only seem to get musical artists well after their prime. I have never been to nearby Mohegan Sun, but whenever I check tour listings for bands I would consider seeing, they always seem to have Mohegan Sun as a stop on their tour, and never Foxwoods. Your musical tastes may of course differ from mine.
Foxwoods has a lot of shopping options of various types inc