Welcome to our ultimate online gambling guide that will cover everything from different types of casino games and handy betting systems to bankroll management tips, reliable online casino reviews and, of course, online gambling safety. Our veteran gambling expert Michael Kaplan gives you a unique insight into all aspects of your favorite pastime. Let’s get to it.
Online vs. Land-based Casino
Serious, all-around gamblers don’t spend a lot of time differentiating between playing online and playing live in brick-and-mortar casinos. It’s all about getting down, finding action, carving out some kind of an edge. Wherever those things can happen is the option of choice.
Download an app and it’s as if you have a casino inside your computer.
That said, however, there are differences between playing online and playing in person. Generally speaking, there is a convenience factor to playing online. Download an app and it’s as if you have a casino inside your computer. Pull up to your desk and start placing bets. On the other hand, though, if you want a cheeseburger for lunch, you’ll be making it yourself or ordering in as opposed to wandering away from the table and eating what, hopefully, is one of the best burgers in town that has been comped by your casino host.
One more upside to online: You can play with cryptocurrency or fiat currencies. Crypto generally does not fly in the brick-and-mortar casinos. And sometimes the online casinos will match deposits (or percentages of deposits for newly signed up players). Make sure to hunt for those opportunities. They are unheard of in physical casinos.
Casinos, however, also provide a fun and lively environment in which to gamble. It’s nice to stand around a craps table with a dozen or so other dice lovers, cheering on the shooter and groaning together when said shooter craps out. At home, it’s a little less exciting, though you can be getting it on while wearing boxer shorts and a tee shirt and fielding work calls. Professional tip from one who knows: Don’t answer your phone in a brick-and-mortar casino and try to convince your boss that you are working hard at home.
Here, then, are tips for gambling live and gambling virtually, plus explanations on how they differ from one another.
Online Poker Tips – Shuffle Up and Deal
Poker is one of the most popular games you can play online and for good reason. The stakes range from pennies to thousands of dollars, tournaments run around the clock and online poker is the perfect way to get good at the game. Because hands move so quickly, you get in way more play per hour than you do in a brick-and-mortar casino. Without being waylaid by the shuffling of cards and the pokiness of live play, serious players can learn a lot very quickly. It was the proving ground for reigning superstars like Tom “Durrrr” Dwan and Andrew Roble. They both set themselves up to become two of the most fearsome players on the circuit by cutting their teeth online — winning millions in the process. Talk about earn while you learn!
Once the game gets more expensive, it pays to be aggressive and to steal antes and blinds whenever possible.
If you like playing tournaments, here is a simple piece of advice: Play tight in the early stages before the antes kick in. Once the game gets more expensive, it pays to be aggressive and to steal antes and blinds whenever possible. Target players who will think, say, three times before calling a shove (and don’t be one of those players). If you get knocked out online, no sweat There’s likely to be another tournament loading up at that very moment. Once you get good and are playing at a positive expectation, you can compete at more than one table at a time. This allows you to increase potential winnings without going up against tougher players.
One thing that online poker does not allow for is the recognizing of tells and the hiding of your own. Depending on your style, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. There is also the opportunity to play every poker variant imaginable. The online world is not only about Texas hold’em and Omaha high/low. (Low stakes Paduki, anyone?) Additionally, if you are new to the game and awkward about handling cards or pitching chips into the pot, those factors will not come up when you play online. Finally, if you’re just figuring things out, you can keep a playing guide or software right alongside you to see correct moves under various circumstances when you play online. Do not try that in a land-based casino.
How to Win Online Roulette? Spin the Wheel
Roulette is a fun game to play in the casino for the simple fact that you’re in there with a bunch of other people and it comes with a social component. There is also something cool about the traditions of the game, seeing the ball dropping into the spinning wheel, sitting tight as you hope for your numbers to come up, high-fiving the guy next to you when they do. An advantage of playing live is that you might occasionally find a biased roulette wheel. Since the physical wheels are mechanical devices, they have been known to favor certain numbers. Keep your eyes open and you can win lots of money playing them. Super sharp Billy Walters did that in one of Steve Wynn’s casinos and totally cleaned up.
Some online casinos offer multi-wheel games in which you can bet on several different wheels at the same time.
On the other hand, when you play online, you can get various bonuses, such as free spins, just for playing the game. You’d be hard pressed to find that in a regular casino. Also, you can take as long as you want to make a decision on where you want to place or for how much. In a casino, you’ve got to get your bet up quickly, before the next spin. Additionally, if you play in an American casino, there will be a double zero, which reduces the odds of your number hitting. Online, you can play European roulette, which presents a better deal for players. Some online casinos offer multi-wheel games in which you can bet on several different wheels at the same time or else play mini-roulette where there fewer numbers to contend with. Though it looks like a favorable deal, the betting odds will be no better than standard roulette. But you might find it to be more entertaining.
Online Slots Tips for Beginners
Everyone in search of a quick gambling fix has dropped a couple of quarters into a slot machine and tried their luck. Back in the day, these machines were known as one-armed bandits. And the nickname was apt: over time, the devices were mathematically designed to take your money and a handle on the side, which got pulled down to activate the game, resembled an arm. These days, the machines are as animated as videogames, operate with the press of a button and pay off with slips of paper, which get converted to cash at the cage. So, there is no wonderful jangling of coins as they shower through the machine after a winning spin. Damn you, technology!
Take a shot on progressive slot machines. These are funded with a little takeaway from every win and pay big if you hit the jackpot.
Considering all that, the actual play of an online slot machine versus one in a brick-and-mortar casino is pretty much the same. One advantage of playing online: the payouts are usually a little bit better. The same machines – and more – tend to be available online and you don’t need to drive anywhere if you want to take fortune for a spin.
Online or in land-based casinos, if you are looking for the truly big score, take a shot on progressive slot machines. These are funded with a little takeaway from every win and pay big if you hit the jackpot. Yes, lucking into said jackpot is like winning the lottery. But who has a problem with winning the lottery?
Online Blackjack Strategy – Counting to 21
Blackjack is a great game in that players can actually influence the outcome of each hand. You decide when to hit or stick, split or double down. The same cannot be said of roulette or craps. Learn to card count, play the game in a brick-and-mortar casino and you will be playing at a tiny advantage. Don’t bother learning to count and stick with scrupulously playing basic strategy and you play at a disadvantage of only .65 percent. But that means doing every basic strategy play, every time. So, you always split 8s and you always double down with 11, so long as the dealer is not showing an Ace. If you don’t know basic strategy, grab a blackjack chart and follow everything that’s on it.
One drawback of playing online is that you play way more hands per hour.
Playing online means that you will be gambling against what amounts to a continuous shuffle machine. That is fine, as it will essentially shuffle the cards after every hand. It’s a game killer if you want to card count. So, you won’t be able to do that online. But you can do it in a brick-and-mortar casino when you play games that do not used continuous shuffle machines. One drawback of playing online is that you play way more hands per hour. Since you are playing at a disadvantage, it will cost you more money. Sure, you can get on a heater and win like mad, but, long-term, you will be mathematically guaranteed to lose.
One way to minimize that, online or in the casino, is to find games that offer the best odds for you. That means you want games where blackjacks pay 3-2. Options with 6-5 payouts are rampant and a rip-off. You also want the dealer to stand on a soft 17, you want to be able to double down on any two cards and split non-Ace hands at least three times.
All that said, playing blackjack in a casino, with other players, all praying for the dealer to go bust, will be more fun. But playing online will have a convenience factor that can’t be beat. You can play multiple hands online, just like you can in the casino. Then there is live dealer blackjack in which you have a dealer dealing and sit with other players in the game. One cool feature there is the bet-behind opportunity in which you can bet on another player’s hand. Just hope he’s got a basic strategy card in front of him, or you might lose money due to his goofball plays.
Craps Tips and Tricks – Roll the Bones
Like blackjack, craps ranks among the most popular games in the brick-and-mortar world. That is hardly surprising. Walk through any busy casino and it’s a good bet that there will be a scrum of gamblers crowded around the dice table. When things go well, and the shooter is on a rush, it almost feels as if the table is levitating, such is the energy all around it. No wonder people are splashing chips across the felt, screaming for boxcars and field bets, and not really caring whether or not they get the best of it.
The online minimum is $1 per roll. Good luck finding that in Vegas or Macau or wherever.
Play at home on your laptop or smartphone and you will not get the same kind of adrenalized experience. On the upside, however, consider the old saw about being able to play in your boxer shorts and order in a pie from your favorite pizza joint between rolls. It’s also a way to learn the game without the pressure of being in a crowd full of wise guys. Plus, you can generally play for less at home than you can in a brick-and-mortar casino. The online minimum is $1 per roll. Good luck finding that in Vegas or Macau or wherever.
As far as the actual play goes, my advice is to make craps into a simple game: Forget about splashing chips (digital or otherwise) around the table. Simply initiate a passline bet and take maximum odds. The odds bet has you playing even money against the casino. The house has no advantage on that bet, though you will get a little carved up on the passline bet. Going against the casino, without finding an advantage that the house frowns upon (if you find one, God bless, and please let me know what it is; we don’t care if the house frowns), even money is as good as it gets.
Video Poker Tips – Poker on the Screen
When we think of poker, we normally think of sitting down at a table and playing against a bunch of flinty eyed gamblers, hiding our tells and trying to read theirs. Video poker is a whole other animal. You play on a machine, with digitized cards being dealt onto a screen, and you play against a pay-table rather than against other players.
Without a pair of Jacks or better, hold all single Jacks or higher.
The classic video poker variant is Jacks or better, which is five card draw and you need at least a pair of Jacks to win anything. The payouts are based on the rarity of your hand. For example, a pair of Jacks pays even money, while four of a kind earns out at 25-1. Sounds like a good deal, until you realize that the true odds of hitting four deuces is 1 in 4,909. So, it’s not going to happen all that often. To give your yourself a fighting chance, online or in the casino, here are a few strategy tips: Without a pair of Jacks or better, hold all single Jacks or higher; hold three or four cards to a straight or flush; hold pairs of any kind.
An advantage of playing online is that you can usually find no-money versions of the game. You’ll kick yourself if you draw a royal flush – something that happens 1 out of 650,000 times – and receive no payout, but, on the upside, you can get a feel for the game before blowing any money at it. You also might be able to find better odds in an online casino than in a land-based casino. Either way, the best game for players, after you get a feel for Jacks or better, is the deuces wild variant. Play correctly and it’s pretty much even money. Here are a few things to keep in mind: four deuces is the best possible hand; if you don’t have any deuces keep all paying hands; if all you have is a non-paying pair, hold onto that and draw three fresh cards.
Armed with this knowledge, there is only one thing left to do: Go get ‘em, kid!
Casino Bankroll Management
Whatever game you’re playing, remain cognizant of the cash you are willing to lose in a session and what your winning threshold will be. If you are somehow playing at an advantage – say, counting cards at blackjack or sitting at a poker table that is 100-percent loaded with fish – then you want to play for as long as you possibly can. Playing at a disadvantage, even if it’s .5 percent, keep in mind that you are lucky if you win and likely to lose. In the former case, quit while you are ahead rather than hanging in there until you lose your winnings and then some, and find yourself chasing to get back in the black. Don’t risk more in a single session than you are willing to drop.
Find a range that you are comfortable playing at, put up your bets and have fun.
People will tout various betting systems or brag about playing with house money (if you win money, it’s your money; it is no longer the house’s money; and you should treat it as such). Don’t listen to them. Find a range that you are comfortable playing at, put up your bets and have fun. If you hit your win or lose threshold, cash out or call it a day and have a nice dinner or watch a movie or spend time doing whatever it is that makes you happy.
Online Gambling Safety
One advantage of playing in a brick-and-mortar casino is that there is generally no question as to whether or not you will be able to cash in your chips and exit with a pocket full of money. You have your chips, you go to the cage, you get your cash – unless you’ve pulled off some mega play and pissed off the casino-bosses mightily (but we’re probably not dealing with that here). Online can be a little more complicated. You need to rely on the site to actually be above board and pay you. If they don’t pay you, your recourses are limited.
Play on a legit site and getting paid should be quick and not tricky at all.
One way to keep from getting completely hosed is to make deposits with baby steps. Initially, put in $100 instead of $1,000, play for a bit and make a withdrawal. That will give you an idea of the wait times for receiving money and how tricky it will be to collect. Play on a legit site and getting paid should be quick and not tricky at all. If it is affiliated with a known company or casino, that is one way to minimize the likelihood of being disappointed when it is time to collect.
Fly by night sites are worth avoiding – even if they offer bonuses or odds that are too good to be true (they are!) – and you should stick with operations that get good reviews online and have no grumbling from players. It’s also worth limiting the hours you play. Since you literally have a casino in your pocket, on your smartphone, keep in mind that you don’t want to spend every spare minute of your time gambling. It can become an expensive hobby.
Whatever site you play on, whatever game you choose to play, remember that this is all about having fun at a leisure activity. So, ante up and enjoy!