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CONNECTICUT TRIP REPORT: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun

by Joe "Reload" Freda

Joe Freda has been an avid gambler and writer for the past two decades, covering casino and sports wagering. His efforts include several years of articles at Sportsbook Review and Don Best Sports, while enjoying trips for blackjack, craps, and poker throughout North America and the Caribbean. Freda can be reached at joe_freda@yahoo.com or through Twitter (@ReloadSports).

Introduction

After some time in Atlantic City at Resorts and Trump Taj Mahal, it was back to my home turf in New England with visits to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. The pair of southern Connecticut rivals are located 10 miles apart, with competition more fierce than ever for business from their regular patrons.

Foxwoods Resort Casino (350 Trolley Line Blvd. Mashantucket, CT)

Foxwoods has been North America's largest casino for over a decade now, with its main gaming pits consisting of Grand Pequot, Great Cedar, Fox Tower, and Rainmaker. The Grand Pequot also features the high-limit Club Newport International room tucked away to its side, while the 25th floor's Stargazer looms above for the venue's most premium players.

Blackjack games consist of eight-deck shoes through the main floor of all pits, with 75-85 percent penetration. The dealers hit soft 17 on these tables, with minimums generally ranging $10-25. Several $1 tables are offered at times in the Fox Tower, but they are "fee based," with a charge of 25 cents per hand if your wager is less than $10.

High-limit areas like Club Newport, Stargazer, and one group of the Fox Tower's tables, feature six-deck games with the dealers standing on soft 17's. Penetration generally is a one-deck cut from the half dozen (80-85 percent), with no mid-shoe entry permitted. Surrender is offered on all main and high-limit tables.

The deep penetration makes the blackjack games at Foxwoods some of the best you will find in the northeast; however, along with that comes the realm of game protection. During 2015, I was asked to no longer wager above the table minimum after many years of mixed results in Mashantucket. I had just finished enjoying a private patio lunch to start Memorial Day Weekend, watching Nik Wallenda open the property's new outlet stores with an intense tightrope walk. After that, I started playing blackjack in the Club Newport room and was the one who "fell flat" with the pit's news.

Since those days, I have moved on to other games like craps, baccarat, and Pai Gow Poker. I also maintained all of my rewards points and player status, enjoying events and promotions when they came along. This past April, I received an offer for a free MacBook Pro computer if I earned 1000 points through the specific weekend. Although 18 hours of Pai Gow Poker may not seem exciting to many, I ground it out and finished with 1045 points to send me over the top. I was also surprised with a comped corner suite for that trip, which surely helped soften wounds from the prior year.

During the month following that endeavor, I had mainly focused on craps. Foxwoods presently offers 10x odds, giving shooters a chance at some of the lowest house edge possible. The tables through various pits have different degrees of bounciness to them, and some may agree with your style more than others. My favorite has been the one in Club Newport with its old-fashioned green felt, and shooters rolling for high stakes. I recently tailed one gentleman who used a "3V" (dice control) set (3-3, 1-5, 4-4, and 6-2) that made the table happy, with a hot roll of 6's and 8's coming through.

In May, I visited Foxwoods for the Kentucky Derby and its traditional buffet spread in the Grand Pequot ballroom. Although my bets on "Exaggerator" went down to "Nyquist," who held on to win, I enjoyed mint juleps and was even featured by Foxwoods on Twitter. Later that night, I lost a few ‘pumpkins' at Pai Gow Poker but enjoyed getting a free round of Johnnie Walker Blue for the ladies at my table to celebrate Mother's Day.

I eventually moved over to craps in Club Newport and had a long night of chasing that ultimately paid off. My use of the "Hardway Set" (2-2, 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5) helped me hold my own, while mixing in place bets on the 6 or 8. I also leveraged the "Five Count" on myself and others to get come bets added that had their share of payouts.

The table had several shifts of great crews, with very little heat for not hitting the wall at times when tossing the dice. As a new craps player, my dice can especially go all over the place. Once in a great while, I have even had a "kill shot" happen with the ‘bones' stopping way short without a bounce. Sometimes I think the late, great, Bill "Ace-10" Burton's spirit is looming through the Connecticut woods and making the dice fall right on the point.

Sunday morning I was still at the same table and got paid a surprise visit by dice-control legend Bob "Mr. Finesse" Convertito, who was visiting Foxwoods for the first time in several years. While Bob looked on, I sevened out during a long roll of trying to make a point of "4," but did cash a couple of come bets. Bob and his friends fared well over at the Great Cedar pit's craps table, but my all-nighter left me a little too spaced out to tag along.

Overall, Foxwoods still features one of the region's best gaming experiences with the kinds of offerings it has across the board. As long as your bets are not high enough to set off the "smoke detectors," you will find a friendly staff and some of your best chances to come out ahead. The rewards points can also add up nicely, with lots of ways to treat yourself after some long days at the tables.

Mohegan Sun Casino (1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville, CT)

Mohegan Sun has not had a lot of changes since my visits last summer, with blackjack conditions relatively the same. Nearly all tables still feature favorable rules that include the dealer standing on soft 17's and surrender available, while penetration remains tight at the 65-70 percent range. The "Triple Status" days remain your best opportunity to get the most of the property's comp structure, and are worth a shot if you have the time.

Since blackjack has remained rather...

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