How to Win in Online Casinos
Online Casino Bonus PlayBy Arnold Snyder
© 2015 Arnold Snyder
Unlike casinos in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, the best online casinos give generous bonuses. These casino bonuses are literally free money, and can be very valuable to players.
They have this value even though they often come with strings attached. What are the strings? If you accept a bonus, you must usually give an online casino a specified amount of action on its tables or slots to cash out your bonus and/or winnings. This action is called the wagering requirement (wr).
Some Internet casinos and bonuses are better for one type of player than another (professional gamblers learn to play every type of game, so they can make money on every kind of bonus). Be sure to look for special offers and the best online casinos for your preferred game, including real money blackjack sites.
A recently-passed law will be changing the best ways for players to deposit and withdraw money from online casinos and poker rooms. Because the options are changing rapidly, please see our deposit and withdrawal recommendations for up-to-date information.
For more information on how to win in online casinos, read below.
Is Online Gambling Legal?
Online gambling and poker are legal in most countries. In the U.S., recent administrations have beenvery hostile to online gambling and poker. (Harrah's spent a lot of money lobbying Congress to kill online casinos, which they saw as competition for their brick and mortar casinos.) However, though the Congress recently passed a law that may make transferring funds to and from online casinos and poker rooms temporarily less convenient, it did not pass a law that makes playing in online casinos and poker rooms illegal in the U.S.
According to gambling attorney I. Nelson Rose, the 1961 Federal Wire Act made betting over the telephone wires on races and sporting events illegal in the U.S., but federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the 1961 Wire Act applies only to sports and race betting, not online casino or poker play. The new law does nothing to change that.
Some online casinos and poker rooms have decided to stop accepting U.S. players for now, while they figure out the best ways to handle deposits and withdrawals for U.S. players. A number of others have decided to continue accepting U.S. players, and will work out new deposit and withdrawal methods as needed.
We will report on further developments.
U.S. players should also check their local state law before playing online. There's a lot of legal debate on whether state law applies to online gambling and poker, since the actual betting occurs outside of the state. We don't really know the answer to that, since no player has ever been charged. For players' information, the states that have passed anti-online-gambling laws are: Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington, Indiana, Nevada, Oregon, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and South Dakota.
Free games are available at every casino and poker room we list for any players restricted by law from playing with real money.
The Online Casino Bonus Play
The basic premise is simple: You deposit money in an online casino account. Let’s say it’s $100. Because you are a new customer, the casino adds a “bonus” of an extra $100, so your account now reads $200. Hey, that’s great! Let’s cash out now!
Yeah, right... It’s not quite that simple...
You can’t withdraw your funds yet. If it was that easy to make $100, the online casinos would have all gone broke long ago. The casino requires you play a certain amount before you can withdraw your funds. We call this the wagering requirement.
How much do they require you to wager? You look at the casino’s Terms and Conditions, which you’ll find from a link on their home page or promotions page, and you see that at this particular casino you have to wager five times the amount of your deposit and the bonus money combined. Then you can withdraw any amount of your deposit and bonus that’s left, plus any winnings from your play.
That wagering requirement will be strictly enforced. If you withdraw any funds prior to meeting this requirement, the Terms and Conditions may specify that you will lose the full amount of the bonus and any winnings from your play. (Some Internet casinos won’t allow any withdrawal of funds before meeting your wagering requirement—not even of your original deposit.)
So, you multiply your $200 (your deposit plus bonus) times five, and you realize that you must wager $1000 before you get to keep any amount of the bonus that’s left after this gambling, plus any winnings you have during this play. You may wager this $1000 any way you want. You may place ten $100 bets, or two hundred $5 bets, or a thousand $1 bets, whatever you prefer, so long as you put a total of $1000 into action.
Is This A Good Deal?
Yes, it’s a very good deal since this casino allows you to play their 6-deck blackjack games, where the house advantage is only one-half of one percent (0.50%) over a basic strategy player. And you know basic strategy.
(If you don't know basic strategy, you can follow the Correct Blackjack Basic Strategy on a Wagering Requirement Chart available at Blackjack Forum Online.)
Or they let you play video poker or Pontoon, with a similarly low house edge. Or the bonus is big enough to cover the house edge on whatever game the casino requires you to play.
You pull out your calculator and quickly determine that one-half of one percent of $1000 is only $5. That means that if you play perfect basic strategy until you’ve given them a total of $1000 of action, you would expect to still have $195 remaining, for a $95 profit on your $100 investment. Not bad!
So, you play through your $1000 in action at their blackjack tables, but unfortunately, you have a bad run of cards, and you wind up with only $165 in your account at the end of your play session. Well, a $65 profit is at least a profit, and you know that in the next casino you may have a good run of cards, leaving you with more than your $95 expectation. In the long run, you’ll sometimes win more than your expectation, and sometimes less, but for every time you play a bonus like this, you’ll average a $95 profit.
That, in a nutshell, is how it works. The bonus money that the online casinos give to new players is worth more than the cost of meeting their wagering requirements.
Let’s get familiar with some of the terminology used by professional gamblers who specialize in online casino play.
Definition: The deposit is the amount of real money you deposit with the casino or poker room cashier for the purpose of wagering on their games.
For convenience, we abbreviate all of these terms. The Terms and Conditions are the T & C. The wagering requirement is the WR. The deposit is D, and the bonus is B. If our WR is five times the deposit plus bonus, we would say that the WR is 5DB. Some casinos state their wagering requirement as a multiple of the deposit alone. If a WR is ten times the deposit, we would say the WR is 10D. Get used to these abbreviations because you will use them for every online casino you visit.
How to Win in Online Casinos: The Process in a Nutshell
Here’s the basic process for making money playing in online casinos, from getting in to getting out:
2) Gather information about what bonuses online casinos are offering.
3) If you see one that looks good, you click on it to get the details.
4 ) If the details still sound good, you go to the Terms & Conditions page to find all of the terms you must adhere to in order to meet the wagering requirement.
5 ) You then multiply the deposit and/or bonus by whatever factor the T & C specify as the WR to find the total amount you must wager.
6) You then check the T & C to see if any of the casino’s games are disallowed from qualifying for the WR. After you find what games are allowed, you multiply the WR times the house percentage against you, to find the cost of playing the game to meet the WR.
7) If the profit looks reasonable based on the amount of time you estimate it will take you to meet the WR, you check the T & C to see if the bonus is automatically entered into your account, or if you have to jump through any other hoops to get that bonus.
For example, some casinos specify that you must enter a “code” to apply for the bonus either before or after depositing your funds. Others may require you to email a request for the bonus. Or you may be required to bet a small amount of your own money before the bonus funds are added. Some may state that the bonus will automatically be added to your account, but that it will not appear in your account for some number of hours.
8) After ascertaining the hoops you must jump through, you make a record of all the details.
9) You now deposit funds with the casino cashier via your Neteller account or Ecocard account, and proceed to jump through any hoops necessary to get your bonus credited to your account.
10 ) Finally, you enter the casino and play your game of choice, keeping track of the total amount of money you bet, so that you know when you have met the WR.
11) You withdraw your funds and celebrate (but only after recording all the details. Always keep a record of details and withdrawals until you've gotten paid.)
12) You can make a lot of money playing in online casinos, and it's fun. Just be sure to follow the advice above and play only in reputable online casinos with good bonuses.
13) For more information on how to win in online casinos, read the articles in the Win Online Table of Contents, at the left of this page. ♠
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