First came PCA, then Los Angeles. Well, kinda. Now, the PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour returns to the East Coast for its second season. The Mohegan Sun property, complete with its stunning hand-crafted interior, spread across 240 acres along the Thames River in Uncasville, Connecticut, will once again fill up with hundreds of poker players for one of the nation’s largest poker tournaments of the year.
Tucked between Boston and New York, the Mohegan Sun has over 300,000 square feet of gaming space including a bustling poker room with more than 40 tables, over 130,000 square feet of shopping and more than 40 places to treat your taste buds. That’s right, all under one roof, in what feels like the middle of nowhere, for the perfect escape from a busy lifestyle. When I went last year, I only left the complex once for a peek at the surrounding area and to catch a taste of the friendly local service, which involved eating a pub meal at a cute little tavern just around the corner from the casino. Now, if only I could remember the name of the place! Besides that, there really is no need to leave this perfect combination of nature and the artificial entertainment that we all love inside a casino. Here's Kristy Arnett giving us a tour of the complex, including the packed-to-the-rafters poker room offering plenty of juicy cash games.
Last year's five-day event attracted a whopping 716 players, each paying $5,000 to form a prize pool of more than $3.2 million. The top spot, with $750,000 to go with it, went to Vanessa Selbst who absolutely bulldozed the final table (cue the Team PokerStars Pro patch)! Although it’s not just about the Main Event during the NAPT. The schedule of 35 events includes the ESPN2-televised Bounty Shootout that Jason Mercier won last year. The Shootout also will run again, with a $10,300 buy-in. To welcome players to the East and kick off the Main Event festivities, PokerStars hosted a party at Ultra 88. Of course Kristy Arnett was there with the camera to bring you some of the highlights, mainly consisting of Ryan D’Angelo's dance moves.
The one unfortunate thing about partying here is that the liquor licenses don’t allow any service of alcohol after 2 a.m. I remember walking the floors of the casino one night searching desperately for an open bar or a cocktail waitress. Much to our disappointment, we had to send ourselves off to
our mini-bars bed instead. On the other hand, one thing you can find in the middle of the night is food. For those who suffer with late-night munchy cravings, the Chef’s Deli will be your savior with authentic New York-style sandwiches served around the clock, conveniently located on the way back to the hotel from the poker room.
During more human hours, pick up a giant plate of nachos and a cocktail while getting serenaded by some sort of live band at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, or for some delicious mini burgers that make a perfect prop-betting subject then head to Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain where our hard-earned $20 delivered plenty of laughs as PokerNews' Live Reporting Manager Donnie Peters fit this plate of burgers in his mouth at once. #dinnerbreakantics
If basketball and steaks tickle your fancy, then you’re in luck as you will probably walk past the giant Michael Jordan's Steakhouse every day on your way to the tournament area for a teasing. For some fancy dining then Todd English’s Tuscany is a must-visit for a rustic Tuscan fare tucked behind the stunning waterfall in the center of the complex.
But, I've saved the best advice for last. My favorite spot of all is Leffingwells Martini Bar, a bar tucked inside a three-story mountain in the middle of the gaming floor. Conveniently located just outside the front of the tournament area, you can peacefully sip on a martini while “under the stars” with the world’s largest indoor planetarium dome overhead.
There are so many reasons why NAPT Mohegan Sun is worth the journey. I would love to be returning again this year, but instead I will be Peru-bound for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour in Lima! Of course, you can follow all of our live reporting from both of these events from Twitter by following @PokerNews_Live.