I spent the weekend in New England, where my brother-in-law Stuart and I played at two poker rooms.

First was Foxwoods, in Ledyard, Connecticut. It’s still the largest poker room on the east coast, though with a diminished player pool now that casinos in adjoining states have taken some of its business. Speaking of the players, I have always found those in the northeast (here and in Atlantic City) live up to their stereotype as louder and more aggressive than those in other regions. That’s still true at Foxwoods, but I don’t mind it because it means there’s always conversation at the table, even if it’s a debate about whether the nearest TV should have the Red Sox or Yankees game on. It’s better to have banter at the table than ten people sitting there in stone silence, and the aggressiveness usually means more action pots.

Though the Foxwoods staff does a good job of filling seats at dozens of games running simultaneously, I was surprised to find two things missing that most other poker rooms have: charging ports built into the table, and food service. In fact, even if you go to one of the many take-out places upstairs in the food court, you can’t bring it back and eat while you play. Another complaint I have about poker at Foxwoods is that cash plays. While any cash put into the pot is quickly turned into chips by the dealer, when you get into a hand against someone, you have to regularly ask how much they have rather than just eye-balling the size of their stack. It’s annoying, and most other poker rooms have banned cash from the table. Foxwoods should follow suit.

There were several tables of 2-5 PLO going while we where there, so that’s the game I played exclusively, but I could have chosen 2-5 no-limit hold’em or any level of limit hold’em from 5-10 up to 40-80, or stud starting at small-stakes and running all the way up to 75-150, or the big game in the room, 150-300 mixed games, where the table was covered with massive amounts of black hundred-dollar chips.

There were two things that marred our Foxwoods experience, neither of which was poker-related. First, even though the hotel we stayed in (one of about four on the giant property) was supposedly all smoke-free, our room had a distinct smoky smell. Stuart complained at checkout, but the weekend manager didn’t have either the power or the desire to make things right for us. Fortunately, on Monday morning, a well-written email from him to her superior got some satisfaction in the form of a rebate for our stay. The other disappointment was dinner at one of the upscale restaurants, an Asian place called Red Lantern. I ordered shiu mai (shrimp dumplings) and some stir-fried chicken and vegetables. The dumplings they brought were terrible — as if they had just been defrosted moments earlier, and looking nothing like good shiu mai should — and the chicken wasn’t much better. The waitress didn’t charge us for the shiu mai after we complained, but neither of us left that place satisfied, although Stuart seemed to enjoy his chicken lettuce wraps appetizer.

The other casino we visited was Twin River, in Lincoln, Rhode Island. It’s a massive complex (a former race track) with the poker room on the second floor. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of ambient noise because it’s surrounded by the rest of the casino, as well as a few food places right off the rail (Dunkin’ Donuts among them, of course — you can’t go anywhere in New England without being within walking distance of Dunkies!). Speaking of restaurants, if we’d stayed long enough to have dinner, I would have insisted we dine at the wonderfully named Wicked Good Bar and Grill.

Twin River doesn’t run any PLO games, to our disappointment, and the 5-10 no-limit hold’em players looked like a bunch of rocks and young pros, so we played 2-5 no-limit hold’em. Unlike Foxwoods, Twin River doesn’t offer high-hand jackpots every half-hour, but that means they also don’t take a rake for it, which is fine with me, since those jackpots tend to go to people playing at the lowest limits, where there are more tables, and thus the chances of hitting a big hand are more likely. As at its competitor to the south, Twin River doesn’t have charging ports or food service, but it did have one very entertaining dealer. His name was Cayce, and when someone would bet $75, he’d announce “three green circles.” If the bet was $15, he’d say, “he bets Mickey Mouse” (if you put three red $5 chips in the right configuration, that’s what they look like). At one point, a player bet $145 and Cayce told us, “It’s a quarter to two!”

Only half the table got it, but I loved it.