The first time I played at this Boston-area poker public poker room, I had just returned from a trip to Las Vegas. My mind was still shaking from the overload of beautifully appointed, meticulously managed poker rooms such as the Venetian, the Wynn, and Caesar's. I didn't know quite what to expect. I only knew that the nearest full-service room was at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut, nearly two hours away. This place, The Silver Fox, was a short twenty-minute ride from my house – just a few minutes north of the Boston city limits. I was ready for anything, no matter how plebian. Hey, it was action in my backyard.
What I found did not disappoint me, though it did surprise me. The physical layout of the place left a lot to be desired. But I didn't care about that. There was a ton of no-limit hold'em tournament action.
The set up is this: Though poker is officially illegal in Massachusetts, they play no-limit hold'em tournaments legally under a 'charity raffle and bazaar' license. This gives them the ability to have the equivalent of a Las Vegas night. But they do it on a regular basis, with different charities on different nights of the week. They're open now Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6PM to midnight. They spread sit-and-go tournaments, and a couple of large multi-table no-limit hold'em tournaments as well. There are no cash games. All of the tourneys are no-limit hold'em. There are house dealers.
They also offer a few casino games like blackjack and roulette. But don't even think about playing them. The rules favor the house enormously. Ties go to the dealer in blackjack, for example. The payouts in roulette are minuscule compared with a standard casino. They appeal strictly to the addicted gambler who doesn't care about odds or winning.
But the poker is worthwhile. The house takes what appears at first to be a rather large rake. 20% of the prize pool goes to the charity/house. But upon closer examination this is actually better than average. Most charity tournaments charge a minimum of 25%. Many charge 50%. Even at Foxwoods, for the smaller tournaments the house takes 20% plus a 3% fee for the dealers. It may be that a 20% rake is unbeatable. But at least it's no more unbeatable than the rake in other poker tournaments in and around New England.
The level of play, from what I saw in the two tournaments I entered, was below average. Folks seemed to be at the Silver Fox to have fun with their buddies, gamble it up, talk loudly, razz opponents, and play poker in a relaxed environment. There may have been some very experienced and serious tournament players in attendance, but I didn't come across any.
There were just about 150 people playing at sit-and-goes while I when I arrived. I got into one $60 event fairly quickly and was lucky enough to win it. I then used my winnings to buy into a $100 multi-table tournament and got busted out within the first two hours – missing the money by quite a bit. There were about 70 players competing against me. Though I didn't see any pros or even any exceptionally talented amateurs, there were a few guys who played in these events regularly.
These charity tournament rooms frequently change the types of tournaments they offer. This room is no exception. The most recent lineup of scheduled tournaments was as follows. On Tuesday and Thursday nights they announce the following:
[*]A $60 tournament starts at 8pm (4,000 in chips)
[*]A $150 multi-table sit-and-go starts at 10pm (4,000 in chips)
[*]$30, $60, $150 and $250 sit-and-gos are available all night.
The $30 tournament is a turbo ten-player tournament. Players start with 2,000 in chips. It pays $125 for 1st, $75 for 2nd, and $40 for 3rd and has ten-minute rounds.
The $60 tourney is a nine-player tournament. Players start with 2000 in chips. It pays $300 for 1st and $120 for 2nd and has 20-minute rounds.
The $150 tournament has six players. Players start with 4,000 in chips. It pays $480 for 1st and $280 for 2nd place.
The $250 tournament has six players. Players start with 5,000 in chips. It pays $800 for 1st and $400 for 2nd place.
Soft drinks only are available for purchase on the premises. No other food or drink is available at the Silver Fox, but there's a sub and pizza place next door where I picked up a tasty sandwich before I played. I noticed some players bringing this food into the poker room, but officially it's not allowed.
The Silver Fox is worth visiting and playing at if only because one of the only convenient, public, and legal poker rooms within a short drive from Boston. The fact that a charity is being helped by your business, at least somewhat, is a nice little extra. For me, at least, the lack of ambiance is more than made up for by the relatively soft level of the competition. I'll play there again gladly.
I'd suggest calling first to confirm the schedule for the night.
The Silver Fox
530 2nd Street