Turning Stone Casino


The only game in town - surprisingly well worth it

by Adanthar on 08/25/2007. Adanthar has played this room less than 5 times.


Average rating (1-5 chips; 5=best): 
 
Overall Impressions
 
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With the recent crackdown on live poker in NY, Turning Stone is the only place in the state still offering a regular, legal game; other than the city's private games (where nobody even carries any money on them anymore for fear of police raids or robbery; the games now operate on IOU's), it's the only place to play midstakes or high stakes no limit for a three hour or more drive in any direction. Some casinos would simply stop caring about service at this point and never put another dollar into poker again, but TS runs a surprisingly great room in the middle of a property undergoing tremendous expansion. In a decade or so, this place will be another Foxwoods (I mean that in a good way) or Borgata AC; for now, it's a great mid-level room where the management takes care of its players, does everything the regulars ask (again, I mean that in a good way) and understands poker. I certainly enjoyed playing here and would gladly come back again.
 
Atmosphere
 
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The main poker room has a few dozen tables and mostly spreads low-midstakes games (up to 2/5 NL and 20/40 limit, along with some Omaha and stud) with a 5/10/20 NL game and a few electronic SNG tables thrown in. The big game is a 5/10/20 300 min buyin, although that only runs a few days a week, but during the HPT tournament series that goes on a few times a year, this can go up to 25/50 NL and 100/200 limit. On top of that, the management will spread whatever a couple of the regulars want, from HORSE to triple draw.

Physically, it's a solid room on par with most of the usual stops in Vegas; while a little cramped during the HPT, it's probably fine during the offseason. The lighting is excellent, the chairs and tables are in good condition and regularly replaced, and there's an easy to read electronic waitlist system. The tournaments take place in a big conference room nearby which is a little more plain and not quite as well lit, but more than adequate.
 
Dealers
 
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Again, surprisingly, the dealers are more competent than they have any right to be in a 'only game in town' situation. Most if not all are faster and sharper than 90% of the ones in Vegas, and disputes are resolved quickly and easily; there are also no issues with weird games (i.e., you won't see too many flops dealt out in a razz game.) On top of that, the floor is also knowledgeable about the game, while the TD is a 2+2 poster that took a huge amount of input into the tournament structure and type (including a 6 max and bounty event this year.)
 
Food and Drink
 
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In a very nice touch, during the tournaments, the staff puts out a free buffet at one end of the room - a light muffin/fruit/croissant selection early and some pizza/sandwiches/wraps at dinnertime. Food service is available at the tables, although I doubt that it's ordinarily comped (I didn't play cash enough to know.) Regardless, the room is a minute or so from a small food court.

Non-alcoholic drinks are available, but since the resort is still negotiating to get a liquor license, there's no alcohol on the premises (yet.) Once that happens, there's no doubt the drinks will be easy to come by.
 
Wait Time/Overall Service
 
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The waitlist is handled electronically, much like the better casinos in Vegas/AC, and you can call ahead up to an hour or so. Wait times didn't seem to be above 30 minutes for any game, although that probably changes when the tournament's not going on.
 
Comps
 
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There's a very nice poker rate of $80-85/night (for an otherwise $250 room) with 6 hours of play or a tournament registration, along with a rudimentary comp card system that's mostly used for food and nearby gas.