Monday, October 5, 2009

Foxwoods: frugal except for the lobster

Foxwoods is about three hours from my house, so to go in a day and come back seems a bit much. Sometimes I can manage friendly company and that makes it a good six hour visit with some gambling in the middle, but otherwise it is a long run for a day's gambling. The Yankee Trails bus is a good deal, making up most of the cost of the trip in a free buffet, and I will do that on occasion, but seating can be tight and it means I can never play late night poker.
I like the poker best late night on the weekends, especially Saturday. Players who rarely play are drawn in for a night of fun and regulars who come every day may take that night to do something with the family. Some may even want to avoid the rush of unknown opponents. So for table selection it is hard to beat Saturday night.
Unfortunately, Foxwoods is not Vegas when it comes to room value. Slot players may get free nights, but rooms at the casino or in surrounding hotels are expensive on the weekends. an hour away I can get something for fifty bucks, but not close.
I can expect on a good winning poker run to win on average not much more than a hundred dollars. It seems counterproductive to take the trip just to see my meager and hard won profit eaten up by a room I hardly use.
Last winter in Florida I bought a Dodge Gran Caravan which holds a twin sized mattress that with good bedding can be made up to be a traveling bed. I decided to see if I could sleep in my car at the casino.
I learned that at both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun there are RV park areas, but these are restricted to RV's and vans do not count. Seems unfair. However, my good buddy Jimmy Morey claimed that Foxwoods would not bother me if I slept in my car, either in the parking garage or in the parking lot near the RV parking area.
So I gave it a try.
I discovered that the parking garage is just a bit too noisy. The cars come and go and there is a rhythmic beat of the tires against the seams in the concrete that interrupted easy sleep. I moved to the outside lot and found it fine. There were cleanup crews making a bit of odd noise and an infrequent car, but in general it was quiet enough and no one disturbed me or three of four other sleeping folks.
I do need to rig up some curtains for the intense parking lot lights, and perhaps I'll get some of those airplane blinders. I have noise reduction earphones, but they are awkward to sleep with and earplugs might also reduce noise. Also, next time I will park in the sleeping lot and take the shuttle in to the casino so that I don't have to drive even a short distance if I have been drinking.
I really did not sleep very well this time. But the newness of it made me a both a bit anxious and excited as well. It was my first experience sleeping in the van and I was as excited as I remember I used to get when I went tent camping. Often the first night I would be so wired that I'd just get up and spend it by the fire with just a few hours sleep. I was so pleased with the comfort of the mattress and in general with myself for finally taking the adventure, that I was not ready for much sleep.
Also, although October here is supposed to be cold, this was an unusually warm weekend and I was surprised at how warm the van stays. I had prepared blankets and expected to be sleeping cold, but perhaps just body heat alone keeps it warm. The windows certainly steamed up. You'd think I was having more than just a rest by myself.
Also, I played poker until after 2 AM and was awake just after sunrise, and I tried too locations, so I had not given myself much sleeping time. What is nice about having the bed in the back of the van, is that I could also head out for a midday nap if I liked.
This trip I just decided to do the one day. I don't like driving at night, but I still had a good bit of the second day to play, leaving at 3 to get home by sunset. What this added to Saturday night was the ability to play late, drink run, catch a show, and so get more out of my six hour travel time.
What I realized is that had I wanted to stay longer, I could pay with those travel coupons for Sunday night at a nearby motel, catch up on sleep and then do a third night of gambling with van as enough rest before heading back. This would bring my hotel bill down to Vegas room prices. If I sandwich in a 50 dollar room, I can use my sleep apnea machine and catch up enough sleep to make the other two nights just five hour naps in the van and that would better fit my poker patterns.
Also, it gives me a good bit of flexibility. I always have the van as backup, a comfortable place to go if the frugal opportunities dry up.
The coupon hotel deals can not be counted on.
Foxwoods will often give a decent poker rate on a room, but you have to play first and then call over the floorman who decides. In Vegas I can make frugal reservations and know I have a place. At Foxwoods eventually I certainly would get stuck paying full room price.
It is all very exciting. I think I have finally found a frugal approach to going to Foxwoods.


I had accumulated about $40 in comps, so I could eat at the buffet for free, and that would have been the frugal choice, but I like these two eating places and I hit both of them.


I like this spot. I see the reviews praise the breakfast, especially the cinnamon French toast, but this time I went for lunch. They gave me a carafe of good coffee for $1.59 so there was no waiting for refills. That was a good start just before poker and beats any coffee at the casinos.
I ate crab cakes. Sides could be chosen. I had a green salad and a sweet potato. The salad was fine but fairly barren except for two kinds of lettuce. The sweet potato was excellent. The sides could be refilled for free but I had enough.
Great homemade biscuits also came with the meal and real butter was there if I dug through the offerings or asked.
Another choice is blueberry muffins. Perhaps I'll try that next time.

I ate my Saturday supper meal at Pollo Loco in the casino. I really enjoy their chicken. This time I had the healthy choice, breast of chicken, veggies, and a salad. The chicken still was well marinated and everything was really tasty.


This place is pricy, but I treat myself to it if the weather is right. Lobster on a picnic table with plastic silverware is just to funny to miss. This time I ordered a larger lobster, one and three quarter pound. If you pay enough, they have really huge lobsters. This is the oversized menu.

They crack them just right so there is next to no work in the eating. The tail is sawed in half length wise so the meat is an easy find. The sides are weak, a bag of chips and cole slaw, but you eat in a pleasant marina and watch the boats come and go.

For more photos of this lobster spot, see last year's trip report

Sunday morning I ate breakfast at the Foxwoods buffet. It is pretty basic with three egg stations set up for fewer lines and the basics of breakfast. Smoked fish, however, was very plentiful. They had a white fish, salmon, pickled herring, and a smoked fish salad. They did not, however, have capers or horseradish sauce for my favorite way of making smoked salmon. Perhaps next time I will carry my own along with some Frank's hot sauce. Places more often have Tabasco and it is my least favorite hot sauce.
I did find hidden in the bottom recesses a few crumbs of what might be called crispy bacon (for the search for crispy bacon in Vegas click here) and they were enough. Grits were there as well as oatmeal, the ice cream was working with plenty of toppings, and there were plenty of sticky pastry offerings. The pineapple was good. The coffee was just barely passable.
In the main section they also offered a delightful pecan sauce like the sticky bun with no bun. I did not have iced cream, but next time I'll put some of these night big pecans on the vanilla.
The price was $10 and I was happy to see that unlike Vegas, Sunday was not an excuse to gouge the gambler with cheap champagne and double buffet prices. I see from my redng that hey have also done that in the past. Perhaps it taught them that few would come out for that.
breakfast opened at 8 AM and there was a waiting line, but it did not take too long.
I ate for free on the poker comps accumulated on my card.



Wandered into a great show at Foxwoods. Perfect for me as I love the old lounge music, loved Dean Martin and I remember Julius LaRosa.

And he did sing
"Eh, Cumpari" in this show. There was quite a bit of Italian in the show, even some Italian humor.

I remember well the flack when Arthur Godfrey fired him on the air. Godfrey lost more for that insensitive stunt.
At 79 he is still performing and was on stage singing in full voice. It is not what it was fifty years ago, but it still was fun.

Dean, of course, is dead but his songs were there in the voice of his daughter Deana Martin along with some rare old footage of her dad in the family during which she sings on stage with his taped voice. She has a great voice. Her use of the stage is a bit awkward, but in a Vegas black sparkling dress she sure had one sexy wiggle.

There were plenty of pretty women in this show. The entire band was women. It was called the Diva Band.

The cost of the show was thirty dollars. I caught a ticket from a guy unloading extras for twenty, but afterwards I found out that had I waited I could have got a seat for five from the same guy who was wanting to move his inventory just before the show started. I'll remember next time to check around show time for these guys and make an offer. I had a fine seat and the show was easily worth the money. Plenty of Sinatra in a style so close it seemed as if he were singing. This was better than the Rat Pack in Vegas show at the Plaza.

I was also happy to have begun to scale back on the gambling and remember some of the other benefits on these trips. It is part of my return to the more frugal trips and it will insure I don't lose during the losing cycles. Since my poker playing lately has been rewarding me like other folks slot play, this is a good strategy.


Except for one $20 session on a poor paying slot, and another on a double bonus (short pay of 9-6) for amusement, I played live low limit poker.
Session one - $4 -$8 Foxwoods
The first hour of this session was the killer. I got great cards and lost hand after hand until I had bought in for $260. It was a hard start. I played from 2-7 PM and then went to Pollo Loco and to a show.
Session two - $2-$4 - This was better. Fine table of loose passive players and I drank rum, joked around with the younger folks, and had the best time. I won $83.
Session three - A little $2 -$4 and then $3 - $6 at Mohegan Sun. Both were at tables with experienced, fairly tight players. I lost at the $3-$6. These were the regulars who knew one another. I could not budge them.
Final trip count - lost $370 including $20 on slots.

Memorable hands.
I don't remember most of my Foxwoods hands. My mind is a blank.
I did a good bit of raising on the button with draw cards when everyone was in. No one ever reraised this bet and generally I could see the flop and a free river. I did hear the groans of people who waited for me to bet the turn so they could raise, but by the river I could fold unfulfilled draws.
One I do remember was my 4-6 of diamonds. By the turn I had the straight and when I raised, some guy without cards and a pass to talk, speculated that I had pocket aces.
How else explain a bet on low cards flopped.
He had no business with his mouth open, but I could see that it got my call from another fellow with something more than pocket aces. On the river I caught my runner/runner diamond flush, took a chance and bet it, and my opponent called again, probably still thinking I had high pockets.
That button raise on draws at a 2-4 loose passive is a great play. The poorer players get caught or give it to me for free. The better players get confused and call anything more than a high pair and even if an ace flops, the turn is usually free.

I want to go again and play more late night 2-4. I can't make much money, but I sure have a better time with the younger folks. They don't get mad if I beat them. They just laugh. The only one mad at me at the 2-4 was a older serious fellow who bet his king when the flop came A-K-2 and I had A-8. I called. He checked the turn which was a 5 and I checked as well. He bet the river, a 3 and I called and showed my ace.
"You got an ace," he bitches, " Why didn't you bet it?"
I should have been quiet, but I snapped,
"The real question is why you bet your king. I'm beat by A-2 and A-5 and A-3 as well as every other ace with a kicker higher than 8. You are beat by anything that calls you."
He shut up. But I'd have done better to say that I'd misread my hand and thought I had other cards and kept him in the dark.
At Mohegan I had a royal flush draw and caught an offsuit ten on the river for a nice straight. It was beat by four tens. Had he held the club and the spade made my royal, it would have been a bad beat jackpot.
I also had a nice straight flush draw at what would have been the high hand award for the morning had I caught turn or river.

I lost with K-K to one opponent who had A-A.

I made the best player at the table mad at me. I checked my A-K when two aces came on the flop. I checked again when the turn brought a king and then raised my opponent and I bet on the river. Had this guy been a poorer player I would have gotten a raise or two. He held the K-K for the lower flop. but I had raised preflop so he figured me for A-A or A-K

Many of the regulars were annoyed with me. I would not play often, but I might play in ways they did not expect. These regulars had good, solid rules and wanted me to be predictable. It annoyed them that I might fail to raise them off a hand at the $3 level and then get two free cards and fold or bet out something that they did not expect.
Still, they beat me. They were less annoyed then. They figured I had it coming.
Playing the way I was playing I needed a bit of luck and did not get it. Once they were mad at me, I had to really tighten down and just play good cards. They would pay me off if I did, even bet into me to push me. However, they would not let me push. But I did not get the cards. I sat a long while and was going to be seen again as a rock if I bet, so I called it a morning.
Perhaps it is bad to play against the standard pattern of the math, but it seems otherwise I just join the group of players who pass around the pots and exchange money on a regular basis. The house then takes the only profit.

I best like playing at night with young folks who are still in party mood mixed with first time players. The old guys are just too serious. They are friendly at first, but dull, and they don't get a laugh when a river card saves someone's second best. If it is their card they do this disingenuous apology.
This is limit poker.
The river is often a good bet.
Certainly it is a huge part of the game.
I got caught in one bad river.
I played a 6-9 and on the turn I caught a straight with my six and my nine made it the nut. There were two diamonds and both my opponents were on diamond draws. I bet. Guy with queen high raised me and the second player called. This is an unusual play at a good table. We called. Of course, the river was a diamond and queen high was good enough. I missed not only a nice pot, but a good bit more that would have been bet if others had a smaller straight.

The tables at Foxwoods were better at keeping full than those at Mohegan, but both places suffer from walkers. There is a "third man walking" rule which as far as I can see is a joke. If I say anything about it, there is always some reason the dealer is not going to actually do anything. It is there to threaten, but no one has chips locked up. I think the locals get a free ride on walking.
No rake reduction either. If the casino was losing, I bet the third man walking would be enforced.
The whole thing is maddening and perhaps I'll be the fourth man walking next time, skip the blind, wait for it to come around and cut down on being blinded to death.

Also, both places now rake a dollar for bad beats. Players like these promos. I don't really get it. In every other way these guys like to win because their skill and math is better than the opponents, but the all is luck bad beat lottery is talked about over and over. I suppose that since the money is used for promotions, it is the best lottery ticket I can buy, but I'd rather play without it.
Of course, the only time I have been at a table where quads beat quads in all these years was at the Palms where there was no bad beat and quad kings beat quad nines.


Great color starting in the trees. Autumn is here with summer temps.

Lee is a great first stop for coffee and a bathroom break.
I saw gas for twenty cents cheaper in Massachusetts. Connecticut was a few cents higher than New York.
For some reason both times the Mass pike was free. They just picked up my toll ticket.
Coming home on Sunday the traffic was perhaps as crowded as coming on a weekday.

The GPS is awkward in a few spots. I lost signal outside Foxwoods after turning the wrong way. There is a place where 2A turns right and then immediately left that must be new right outside Mohegan Sun. The verbal prompts around Hartford and Springfield don't distinguish the exits well enough in traffic. So be certain to know the route numbers. There is a confusing sign to head toward I-90 when passing Springfield. I stayed straight and another I-90 exit came.

There is a rest stop not far from Mohegan Sun which might be an easy sleeping spot. I saw it on the way to Abbott's Lobster in the Rough.


Mohegan parking at the Riverview seemed best for access to the live poker room.
At Foxwoods I parked at the Pequod but might better use a Rainmaker parking option

Carry hot sauce and some sauce for the smoked salmon.

Check just before the show for people unloading unused tickets. Offer $5 for $30.

Small tube half reading glasses for looking at GPS fine print and still being able to see for driving.

Nite time sleep aide


Blonde4ever said...

Enjoyed the report!
Especially that clip of Julius!

Dewey said...

Thanks so much. That whole fight between Godfrey and LaRosa is a strong and early memory for me. It generated so much discussion in my family that I can revisit the emotion of the times and hear my mother, grandmother and aunt discussing the issue. I had just turned seven and had grown up listening to Godfrey while my mother ironed. I probably thought of him a a nice old fella, an extension of the family who had now a dark side. The talk of it would go on quite a while.

There is good detail in this Godfrey wikipedia.

Scott said...


I am worried. As an occasional follower of your blog, why are you sleeping in a car?? You are too funny. As always I enjoy your stories.

Scott's wife Margaret

Dewey said...

I am an old camper, Margaret, and try as hard as I can to be a frugal traveler when I gamble so I can justify the losses. I hate paying $80 for what will be 5 or less hours of usage.
Glad to hear from you.
Hi to Scott