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Best of Vin Narayanan

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Top-10 things to experience at Foxwoods

8 March 2010

Earlier this year, Gary Trask, Dan Igo and I identified the casinos we wanted to visit in 2010. And Dan had identified Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut as one of the places he wanted to travel to. As luck would have it, I ended up traveling to Foxwoods before Dan did. Like Dan, I had never been to Foxwoods before, so this list is based on my first impressions after spending a weekend there.

10. Stadium Sports Bar
When you want to watch a big game on TV in Las Vegas, you head to a sportsbook where you can both bet on the game and watch it on a big screen. When you're at Foxwoods, you can't bet on the games themselves -- single-game betting outside of Las Vegas is illegal. But you can watch the games in a great sports bar. I watched the USA-Canada gold medal hockey game and the Michigan State-Purdue basketball game at the Stadium Sport Bar and had a great time. In fact, the atmosphere in the bar for the USA-Canada game was downright electric. You could almost feel everyone in the bar urging the Team USA to come from behind and beat Canada. And when the Team USA tied the game at the end of regulation, the roar was the loudest I've ever heard in a sports bar. And I've been in plenty of sports bars. Canada ended up winning the gold, but the people in the bar left satisfied they had been part of a special experience. And that's what sports bars are about -- along with good food, good drinks, lots of big screen HD TVs and good service, all of which the Stadium Sports Bar had in abundance. Plus, all was not lost after Team USA lost to Canada. Michigan State beat Purdue, making more than a few customers happy.

9. Bingo hall
I'm not a bingo player. I don't even like the bingo song teachers forced us to sing as kids. In fact, the only bingo related item I've ever liked was an episode of Las Vegas that focused on bingo. And the only reasoned I liked that was because Vanessa Marcil was playing the bingo. That said, I had to check out the bingo hall, and I'm glad I did.

When Foxwoods was built in 1986, it was a high-stakes bingo hall.
So to a certain degree, I was returning to Foxwoods' roots by visiting the bingo hall. The other reason I wanted to visit see the bingo space is it seats 3,600, which simply enormous. And when I eventually made my way there, I wasn't disappointed. The room was sold out when I arrived, so I didn't get a chance to play. But I did get a chance to walk around. And 3,600 people playing bingo is an impressive sight. The room is around the size of the Amazon Room in the Rio, which houses the World Series of Poker Main Event. And the sight of people as far as the eye can see playing bingo is pretty amazing.

It was also interesting to see who was playing bingo. I had expected to see a decidedly older crowd in the bingo hall. Instead, I saw people in their 20's, octogenarians and everyone playing between. In many cases, there were three generations of families playing together.

I'm not going to rush out and play bingo after this experience, but that shouldn't stop you from checking out the scene. It's impressive.

8. "Asian" gaming room
One section of the Foxwoods gaming floor was filled with "Asian games" like Pai Gow Poker, Pai Gow Dominoes and Sic Bo. And that section of the casino was crowded. Every table was filled. The aisles were crowded. And the noise and energy that filled the area would make anybody want to gamble. The one game that was available in this room that you don't see anywhere is Pai Gow Dominoes. It looked like a lot fun. And I plan on learning about it so I can play it on my next trip there.

7. MGM Grand rooms
I stayed at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, and is like staying at one of the best casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. My room was plush, well appointed and incredibly comfortable. The king-sized bed was one of the most comfortable I've ever been in. But what I really liked was the flat-screen HD TV that was in my room actually had HD service!! One of my pet peeves is hotels that put great flat screen TVs in the rooms, but haven't paid for the HD service. And frankly, that's most of the hotels out there. So when I discovered the HD services -- and the NFL channel -- I was a happy camper. Other things of note: free WiFi (are you listening Vegas?!!), huge bathroom and shower and a great view of the scenic Connecticut countryside.

6. Affordable tables
Finding an affordable table at either the MGM Casino or in Foxwoods (the two properties are connected, but have separate gaming floors) is pretty easy. During the day, I found plenty of $10 blackjack tables at Foxwoods. At night, $15 blackjacks tables were the norm at MGM Grand, and there was always room at the $10 craps tables.

5. MGM Grand Theater
This is a 4,000 seat auditorium that doesn't have a single bad seat in the house. I snagged the very last ticket to comedian Steve Harvey's show and ended up sitting near the top of theater. But I could see and hear him clearly and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

4. Craftsteak
Great service. Great food. Great atmosphere. That's the best way to describe chef Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak. Craftsteak is a true fine dining experience. The waiters know everything about the menu -- from where the vegetables are grown to which wines will go best with which meals. The servers are discreet, ensuring that glasses are full, plates are cleared and the dining experience is flawless -- all without interrupting the flow of conversation at the table. The food is flavorful and fantastic -- and be sure to try the mushrooms. Odds are you've never tasted anything like them, and you'll order them again the next time you're there. This is the one place you have to eat at if you're visiting Foxwoods.

3. G Spa
The G Spa in the MGM Grand at Foxwoods is a 21,000 square-foot zone of peace. I didn't try the exercise machines, which are there if you want. I did try a massage, which was fantastic. After the massage, I hit the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi -- all of which were excellent. The showers in the spa have an assortment of shower heads and shower jets that just need to be tried once. So if you're visiting Foxwoods, indulge yourself and hit the G spa.

2. Acres of slots
If you like to play the slots, Foxwoods is the place for you. It has more than 7,600 slot machines. At times, it seems like the casino floor is slots for as far as the eye can see. If you can't find a slot to play at Foxwoods, you're just not trying.

1. WPT World Poker Room
There are poker rooms. And there is the poker room at Foxwoods. The WPT World Poker Room at Foxwoods has 104 tables and is open 24 hours a day. The poker room spreads a wide variety of games. And it was fairly crowded whenever I visited. The poker room, like the bingo hall, is awe inspiring. And unlike bingo, I play poker. So for me, this is the top thing to see at Foxwoods.

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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.