You are here

Turning Stone Live Poker Review: Empire State Poker Heaven?

NY State Map

We here at Professional Rakeback are fanatics about poker. This enthusiasm most often manifests itself when we're discussing online poker sites, but we also have a love for the game as played in brick-and-mortar cardrooms around the world too. We recently found ourselves at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, which is a small upstate town far away from the bustle and lights of NYC. We decided to compose a thorough Turning Stone live poker review for anyone else who's curious about what to expect when playing poker at this venue.

Keep reading for a detailed account of the games offered at Turning Stone, the promotions you can look forward to, the location of the cardroom, and everything else you need to know if you're a poker player looking for some action in Central New York.

Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY, has a 32-table poker room

Location:Verona in Central New York
Hours: 24/7
Promos: High Hand, Bad Beat Jackpot, Progressive Cash, TS Rewards, Room Rates
Tables: 32
Rake: 10% to $5 + $2 promo drop
Miscellaneous: More than a dozen TVs in cardroom. USB phone chargers at tables. No smoking.
Food/Beverage: No tableside food service. Free non-alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages not free.
Pros: Multiple promotions, large playing area, 18+ gaming
Cons: Out-of-the-way location, little non-NLHE traffic

Turning Stone Poker Room Locale

Turning Stone Casino is part of the community of Verona, New York, a small town with a population of fewer than 10,000 residents. It's about 30 miles east of Syracuse and 100 miles north of Binghamton. The Oneida Nation owns the land that Turning Stone sits upon, making it a tribal casino.

Given its location away from major population centers, Turning Stone basically had no choice but to become an all-in-one destination resort in order to attract gamblers from far away. Therefore, you'll find several different hotels (two of which are off-property), many restaurants, multiple golf courses, shops, an RV park, bars, event halls, and meeting facilities in addition to the casino, poker, bingo, and sports gaming that you would expect.

Turning Stone is a sprawling property that contains a lot besides just a poker roomTurning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY

It can be difficult to navigate such a large and sprawling property. However, it's pretty easy to get to the poker room. The main casino section is on the first floor, and it is within this area that the poker room lies. Look for “Casino Blu,” and then it will be hard to miss the sliding doors granting access to the cardroom.

Turning Stone Poker Games

Cash Games

The most common type of poker game found at Turning Stone is No Limit Hold'em with $1 and $2 blinds. One or two games of this type run virtually always around the clock with perhaps four or five during busier periods.

There's generally always a table of $1/$3 NLHE active as well. This is almost always a “BBS” or “buyin for biggest stack” game whereby the minimum buyin is set at $100, but you are able to buy in up to the amount of the largest stack present on the table. After the game has been running for several hours, it's not uncommon for a stack or two to exceed $1,000, which encourages newcomers to buy in deep and leads to plenty of action with chips flying back and forth in abundance.

Occasionally, a $2/$5 NL Hold'em game gets going, but for the most part, the $1/$3 BBS format generates as much action and pots as large as a normal $2/$5 table, so the tendency is for more $1/$3 tables to open rather than a $2/$5 getting off the ground. Low-stakes Limit Hold'em, around $2/$4 or $3/$6, is the only other game to see much action and that only a few times a week. Pot Limit Omaha cash is mostly absent except when a major tournament is running during which it is sometimes popular amongst tourney players who have busted out.

Traffic levels at Turning Stone are highly variable with as few as two ring games running during slow periods and more than 10 during busy weekends. The fact that this resort is practically in the middle of nowhere likely contributes to this phenomenon as there are not really very many people who just walk in off the street and decided to put in some time in the poker room.

The rake is 10% up to $5, and there's an extra $2 taken to fund promotions. This is about standard and average compared to other live poker rooms in the United States.


There are usually two MTTs a day, one starting at noon and the other at 7 p.m. ET. The buyin is typically $100 + $25. On some days, there's an additional third tourney in the afternoon or evening with a higher buyin of around $150 or $175.

Beyond these regularly scheduled tournaments, Turning Stone also hosts major events, like the Empire State Poker Championship and the World Series of Poker Circuit. While these special events are taking place, the normal tourney schedule may be suspended.

While large-field tournaments are taking place, the space and staff devoted to ring games is understandably reduced. This process may sometimes be taken too far with cash game waitlists often hitting double digits while tourneys are underway.

Poker Promos

There are quite a few promotions offered by the Turning Stone poker room to entice people to walk through its doors. Here are the details on the most important of them:

Bad Beat Jackpot

The Bad Beat Jackpot at Turning Stone is active in any cash game with five or more players dealt in. Four of a kind TTTT or better must go to showdown and lose. In addition, both players must use both of their hole cards in composing their final five-card hands. The pot has to be $10 or more (excluding the rake) to qualify. When the Jackpot is hit, the loser of the hand receives 40% of the total, the winner gets 20%, and the remainder of the table splits up 40%.

Unlike similar jackpots found elsewhere, this one cannot really reach monstrous proportions before being hit. In fact, the jackpot total is capped at $25,000. When this threshold is reached, a Reduced Qualifier Event is held on the following Sunday.

During the Reduced Qualifier Event, the normal requirement of having quad tens lose at showdown is reduced every hour. At first, the ranking of the quads needed gets lower and lower every hour until it reaches quad deuces. Then, aces full of kings becomes a valid BBJ hand, followed by aces full of queens, aces full of jacks, et cetera. If this still doesn't suffice to ensure a jackpot win, then the normal requirement of using both hole cards is waived and a hand will qualify if both players use at least one hold card to make their final hands.

High Hands

Every day, the highest hand during any given time period is rewarded with a cash prize. The minimum hand to qualify is a full house. On Mondays and Thursdays, the high hand each hour from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. gets $100. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the prize remains at $100 but the high hand is awarded every half hour rather than every hour.

On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the format of the high hand changes and is not constant week to week. Usually, the timeframe shifts later by a couple of hours while the prize pool increases to $250 or $300, and the qualifying period is generally set at half an hour although this sometimes decreases to 20 minutes.

Progressive Cash Board

Every Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., hands of quad deuces and higher are eligible for a payout of at least $200. Each specific hand of quads and straight flushes, e.g., quad fours, quad kings, 7-high straight flush, Q-high straight flush, starts with a $200 award attached to it.

If a hand is hit and the payment made, then it is removed from the list of prizes for the remainder of the day and will appear on the next day with its value set at $200. However, if a particular hand strength is not achieved on a given day, then the prize is increased by $100 to begin the next day of the Progressive Cash Board.

The Progressive Cash Board is active for NL games with blinds of at least $1/$2 and limit poker with blinds of $3/$6 or higher. The prizes for certain hands have occasionally exceeded $3,000.

Poker Room Rates

Turning Stone advertises special room rates for select tournaments and for four hours of cash game play. The specific dollar amounts of these special rates are not displayed currently on Turning Stone's website, but in the past, they have been $85 Sunday – Thursday and $125 Friday and Saturday.

TS Rewards

In order to play poker at this establishment, you must sign up for a TS Rewards Card. This is a simple procedure that involves giving your ID to poker room, rewards desk, or cashier personnel.

Then as you put in time at the tables, you'll accumulate Tier Credits and Points on all your play. The Tier Credits determine your placement in the TS Rewards program, and Points can be used to pay for meals, drinks, and merchandise at any of the on-property retail outlets. The rate of points accrual in poker works out to about $1 to $1.50 per hour of tracked cash game play.

Your points can be used at Turning Stone's nearby sister properties – Point Place Casino and YBR Casino – although the benefits of this arrangement will likely only appeal to those who live in Central New York. One drawback of these smaller casinos is that neither of them hosts a poker room.

Turning Stone has partnered with Caesars Rewards to allow members to match their tier status and transfer their Points back and forth with Caesars' Reward Credits. However, the rate of point exchange is 2:1 in both directions. For example, you can trade $100 worth of Caesars Rewards Credits for $50 worth of TS Rewards Points or exchange $100 in TS Rewards Points for $50 in Caesars Rewards Credits. Needless to say, you're almost always better off leaving your Rewards Credits and Points with the organization where you earned them rather than paying this exorbitant vigorish on the point conversion.

Turning Stone Poker Room Ambiance

The poker area of Turning Stone is separated from the Casino Blu section of the property by an automatic sliding door. Casino Blu is the smoking-allowed section of Turning Stone, but the cardroom itself is non-smoking, and the glass door prevents smoke from entering the poker arena. Yet the placement of the poker room within the property means that smokers can step out for a quick smoke without having to walk very far at all.

The poker room is located in the Casino Blu section of Turning StoneStep Through the Sliding Doors to Enter the Turning Stone Poker Room

One would think that the solid door separating the poker room from Casino Blu would make the cardroom basically its own enclosed space. However, this effect is marred slightly by the fact that there are two exits on the opposite side of the room that do not have any doors. These passages lead to a relatively quiet part of the casino though, so the poker room actually feels as though it were a completely walled-off location.

There are 32 tables present, and they're far enough apart that the room does not feel crowded. The high ceilings contribute to this feeling of spaciousness. The decor is tasteful, and, although not exactly luxurious, it is a step above standard casino furnishings.

The tables have green felt with yellow highlights. There are USB charging ports next to each seat. The tables and chairs do not have cup holders installed, but movable cup holders are provided for the convenience of guests.

The games here are generally good. As a tribal casino, this facility adheres to tribal law in most matters rather than state law. As a consequence, the minimum gambling age here is 18 rather than 21, so Turning Stone draws in quite a few college students who may not be as familiar with the game of poker as their older compatriots. The $1/$3 No Limit BBS tables in particular feature plenty of loose action and should prove quite profitable to any experienced poker grinder.

The other side of the poker room leads to a smaller section of the casinoView From Outside the Rear of the Poker Room

Beverages and Dining

Turning Stone provides non-alcoholic drinks, like coffee and soda, for free though you ought to tip the waitress. However, it charges for beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. There's no tableside food service.

If you do wish to obtain meals, there are plenty of options within the Turning Stone Resort although none of them are especially close to the poker room. The Food Hall has six low-cost eateries, serving burgers, sandwiches, tacos, pizza, and the like. For a step up in quality, you can try the diner-like Emerald or Upstate Tavern, which offers hamburgers, salads, cheesesteaks, meatloaf, and other filling servings. Italian cuisine beckons from Pino Bianco while fans of Japanese dishes might wish to try Sushi Sushi.

The most luxurious option is the TS Steakhouse. It's located on the 21st floor with its own dedicated elevator and stunning views of the surrounding land. Besides steak, there's also lamb, lobster, shrimp, and a variety of side dishes and appetizers. If you do opt to try out the Steakhouse, reservations are recommended.

Miscellaneous Facts

There's a dedicated cage inside the poker room for chip purchases and redemptions. However, it's not always open. When the poker cage is closed, you must purchase chips at the floor podium and redeem them at the main casino cage, which is on the other side of the casino from the poker room. You may reload your stack directly from the dealer at the table.

Straddling from under-the-gun is permitted for exactly 2 times the big blind. Restraddling is not allowed. It is possible to straddle on the button but only by unanimous consent of the other players at the table. In practice, button straddling is rare.

The room has some dozen or so televisions mounted to the walls. Some of these tend to show major sporting events while others are dedicated to displaying tournament status or the current High Hand information.

Turning Stone Poker History

New York used to be a casino-free state, but in 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed, and a gaming compact between New York State and the Oneida Nation was signed in 1993. Turning Stone opened its doors that same year, but it took several more years for poker to appear, which it did when a 15-table poker room opened in September 1999.

In early 2006, the poker room was expanded from 15 tables to its current size of 32 tables. This secured its position as the largest cardroom in New York, a distinction that it retains to this day despite the appearance of competing poker venues in tribal and commercial casinos.

On March 16, 2020, Turning Stone closed down due to COVID-19. This closure lasted only a few months, though, as the poker room was back in operation on June 10, 2020. In March 2022, Turning Stone hosted its first WSOP Circuit series with 15 events, including a $1,700 Main Event. There are plans to continue to host other WSOPC tournaments going forward.

Turning Stone Poker Conclusion

The Turning Stone poker room is a professionally run facility with a decent amount of peak traffic. The games are beatable, and the entire resort-casino complex has a lot to offer in addition to poker. This is a fine place for an evening of poker, perhaps with dinner and a show thrown in for good measure.

However, during slower periods, you might only find a couple of tables running. If you're a fan of limit poker or PLO, then you'll probably not be able to get a seat in a game you like unless you're willing to wait a long time or frequent the room only during busier times.

The remote location of Turning Stone also counts against it. There aren't any other cardrooms in the area, so once you arrive at Turning Stone, you're basically stuck there as far as poker goes. There's little reason to make a special trip to Turning Stone either unless you have other reasons to visit Central New York or are a resident of this part of the country.

Those who are between the ages of 18 and 21 may be an exception. Because there are so few 18+ cardrooms in the country, these young, aspiring players might well find that Turning Stone is the most convenient cardroom at which to practice their poker game at least until they're a few years older. For most other people though, there are more convenient options than Turning Stone.

Other Opinions of Turning Stone

Before publishing any live cardroom review, we like looking across the internet to see what others have to say. This lets us confirm that our experiences were inline with what the poker community as a whole has reported and allows us to round out our review with information that we might otherwise have missed. Below, you'll find a few posts from real-life players about Turning Stone Poker:

Twoplustwo's jelloman finds Turning Stone's rake to be better than competitors
Redditor Jkpoker13 isn't impressed by the game quality at Turning Stone
JA15 on PokerAtlas thinks Turning Stone “is a very nice poker room” in spite of a few faults

Play Online Poker From Anywhere

Unlike Turning Stone, to which you must travel in order to play, online poker is accessible from virtually anywhere. There is greater game selection on the internet too, including many limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha games.

To find out more about online poker and the various options available, check out this page concerning offshore poker in the United States. It's perfectly legal for you to play at internet poker sites as explained in this page about the legality of U.S. online poker.

Other Live Poker Room Reviews:

Photo of Jake Rake

Jake Rake is the head poker writer at

He eats, sleeps and breathes poker and online gaming. This is a man who reads every online poker forum morning, noon, and night, for the last 17 years, trying to find fun and interesting information to share with our readers.

Jake has become an ardent student of crypto-currency since it was first introduced in the online poker world in 2013 and he thus has eight years experience covering this field!