Monday, January 28, 2008

Mohegan Sun has New Poker Room!

Well, almost. Mohegan Sun has poker for the first time in over four years. But there still is no actual Mohegan Sun poker room.

Mohegan Sun used to have a great poker room, but that room closed on Labor Day, 2004, with the announced reason that there wasn't enough interest in poker in New England to support two poker rooms. This left Foxwoods with a monopoly on live casino poker in New England. This also meant that Mohegan Sun's poker room was closed, allegedly due to lack of a player base, during the period that will be remembered for the greatest increase in poker players in the history of the game.

As of October 2007, however, Mohegan Sun has poker once again. Well, again almost. They have PokerPro poker machines. No dealers, no chips, no cash at the table, and no cards. Everything but the play itself is done by a computer – like playing poker on the Internet, only with the opponents all facing each other around a large table that is in essence a large computer screen.

I have posted this month on these PokerPro tables (see past blog entries)

For Mohegan Sun management, they might have the best of both worlds. They have poker tables that generate revenue and that also make the casino an acceptable destination for poker players. But they don't have any poker room dealers, cashiers, chip runners, floor people, or other staff, which may have contributed to the earlier difficulties regarding the room. And of course, no...or lots fewer cheaters.

There still are plans to open a separate, enclosed, poker room. Different people claim different dates. Officially, it will open some time in August, but it might be earlier, later, or never – especially if these automated poker tables generate a decent income.

The 'poker area' is not in a segregated room but on the main floor of the casino, nestled in and among slot machines. There are eight PokerPro tables. These tables can be programmed for any limit of stud or hold'em, including no-limit, with any blind or ante structure desired. They can also be set up for tournaments.

The machines work much like an individual's computer screen at home, but with some significant differences. Players need to create an account with a cashier, which they can easily do at a window near the poker room. Each player has an individual screen before him which displays his individual two cards. They are face down until the player touches the image of the card on the screen, at which point a corner is turned face up revealing the card to the player. A player needs to shield his virtual cards from players on either side to make sure that his hand isn't inadvertently exposed – just as with real cards. This is not hard to do, though it does take a small amount of attention. Here, you have to beware of cheaters.

Each player indicates his betting action and the size of his bet by touching the screen in the appropriate place. It takes a little getting used to but is quite intuitive, especially for the poker player used to playing on the Internet.

There is a large screen in the center of the large table around which the players sit. The large screen displays the community cards. It also shows the virtual chips that have been wagered and displays the pot size, just as in an Internet poker game. The only difference is that the image is significantly larger than the actual size of a standard casino playing card – making it easier for a player with poor vision to read the board.

The game is still raked, and rather significantly, considering that no dealer, cards or chips are provided. Players pay $4.75 per half hour of play. There are no comps given to players. The house figures that the $.25 a half hour less than $5.00 a half (the rate charged at Foxwoods) is essentially the same thing as a $.50/hour comp to players. Though there are usually only no-limit games being spread there, they also offer limit hold'em, most commonly $3/6. There is a rake in those games of 10% with a maximum of $3.50 per hand. For the moment there is no stud.

Overall, it's a good room for anyone who likes no-limit – especially now before the poor players lose their money or the really excellent players find out about it and start to converge on it.