Director of Poker Operations Terry Chiaradio Speaks Candidly with Barbara Rogers
At first glance, Foxwoods Resort Casino resembles a gigantic mirage towering above the treetops—an intimidating sight for some! But in spite of its size, Foxwoods Casino is easy to negotiate; from the parking garage to the poker room, you will feel welcome and at home.
Terry Chiaradio, the Director of Poker Operations has been at Foxwoods since 1992, starting her career as a dealer. Now responsible for 600 employees and 94 live action tables, Terry and her team have just finished up a WSOP Series that included a main event payout of $888,568 with 591 players competing. After this very successful event, I caught up with her.
It’s easy to see why Foxwoods Resort Casino continues to enjoy national acclaim as an elite gaming destination. Right on the heels of the WSOP in Vegas at the Rio, Foxwoods stepped up to the plate and offered the WSOP Circuit Event. This instantly gave poker players the chance to set their sights on another big win.
Barbara Rogers (BR): Leaving Las Vegas for Foxwoods proved to be wildly successful putting the coveted WSOP ring an plenty of money into a field of appreciative poker player’s hands. Players from all over the country showed up at your doorstep. Just how many did participate?
Terry Chiaradio (TC): The Foxwoods Poker Room is the premier poker room in North America with continuous play and a professionally trained staff, ideal for events of the WSOP caliber.
We were thrilled with the turnout and the results this year.
For the August 2013-2014 WSOP Circuit Event we had a total of 4,341 (+3.4%) entries and a total prize pool of $2,233,173 (+2.7%).
BR: And how did this compare to last year’s WSOP?
TC: For the March 2012- 2013 WSOP Circuit Event we had a total of 4,197 entries and a total prize pool of $2,174,890.
BR: Foxwoods has, for a long time, held the distinction of being one of the largest casinos in the world. And it’s been a big deal for a player to say they played Foxwoods. Now with all these plans for new casinos being built in the New England states, the competition will be tough. I suspect you have been involved in meetings where this has been discussed. What will Foxwoods Casino do to maintain their foothold and to stay on top of THEIR game?
TC: We are continuing to strengthen our relationship with the WSOP, improve amenities in the poker room and build guest relations and loyalty with our existing guests. We continue to have increased volumes in our tournaments and looking to build future tournaments to meet guest demands.
In addition, there are 380 dealers on staff and 98 of them are 10+ year employees. The poker boom and opening of our new poker room (from 2003-2007) saw a large hiring increase and during that time frame, 216 dealers that came on the team are still with us today. There’s a lot to be said for dealer retention and it’s very important to us. Our dealers continue to provide exceptional customer service and build relationships, especially with our loyal customer base. When you come here, you’re family.
Foxwoods is not only the best poker room in the country, but we’re also the ultimate resort destination, offering countless amenities to poker players that are second to none. You can jump into hot live-action play, indulge in a mouthwatering steak, get drinks at the nightclubs, watch a show at the MGM Grand Theater or Comix and stay in world-class accommodations at any one of our four hotels – and that could happen all in one day.
Foxwoods is also constantly evolving and growing – we are currently remodeling parts of the main concourses with beautiful, refreshed new storefronts and adding even more to our shopping and dining options. Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods is scheduled to start construction later this year. It will connect the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Hotel to the Grand Pequot Hotel with more than 85 new outlet stores. Lastly, our ultra luxury hotel -- the Grand Pequot Tower Hotel -- is in the process of a floor-to-ceiling refresh adding a gorgeous new design concept to all guestrooms and hallways.
I think all of these things set us apart as an ideal destination for not only poker players, but anyone looking for an exciting getaway.
BR: Your cash room is a Mecca for poker players. With close to a hundred tables, I know the action never sleeps in that room. Have you seen any change in the number of players since the onslaught of new casinos across the country?
TC: Foxwoods has been able to maintain our reputation as one of the busiest rooms across the country. We have more than 100 tables, each featuring around-the-clock action. Seven days a week, we offer No-Limit Hold’em tournaments where weekly payouts are over $200,000 and guarantees total $55,000. With at least five tournaments a day, plus Sit & Go events to choose from, players can experience more action and compete alongside the big names in poker with a chance to walk away with professional-level payouts.
BR: You have the Foxwoods World Poker Finals coming up next. What are you expecting as compared to this recent WSOP Circuit Event? This will be hard to top.
TC: This year, Foxwoods World Poker Finals is celebrating its 20-year anniversary, signifying its importance to our loyal customer base that has come year after year. Throughout its history, the tournament has really made quite a name for itself among the poker community continues to be one of the premier events on the world poker scene. Starting Oct. 20, the World Poker Finals will be a two-week series offering a variety of 21 events to meet player demands. We anticipate our entries to total 5,000+ players with a projected prize pool of $2.5 million. The tournament is open to the public, giving anyone the opportunity to mix it up with top pros and amateurs alike, so come try your hand!