INTRO TO SMART ONLINE CASINO GAMBLING
INTRO TO SMART ONLINE CASINO GAMBLING
By Deep 21 and Nothing But Net
© Blackjack Forum Online 2004
Playing in online casinos can be fun and can even provide an edge for knowledgeable players. You can play the same games you play in Vegas (and more) with the same odds (or better), for high stakes or low stakes or free, and you can do it in your kitchen, in your pj's. Or you can do it from your local coffeehouse (but not in your pj's there). Wherever there is an Internet connection, you can play online.
Since the online casinos can't give you a comped suite, a show, or dinner, they give you money to play with instead. These free bonuses can add greatly to the power of a lucky streak or reduce the pain of a bad streak.
This is not to say that players who gamble online have never experienced any problems. Many Internet casinos are honest, providing fair games, prompt payouts, and good customer service—but not all. Some have been found to use cheating software; others do not honor their bonus offers; others take six months (or longer) to pay you if you win.
The links we provide online players at Blackjack Forum Online are only for casinos we personally trust. They are the premium online casinos, and we say that on the basis of a lot of player experience, and a lot of win/loss records, with them and others. Near each link, you will find information on what the casino's software and games are like, what types of sign-up bonus and follow-up bonuses are offered, how good the customer service is, and also anything we don't like about the casino.Getting Started at Online Gaming
1) Is It Legal?
Online gambling and poker are legal in most countries. In the U.S., the current administration is very hostile to online gambling and poker. 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. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, has confirmed this by letter to us.
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 have been impressed by the diligence with which the online casinos and poker rooms we list have been making sure U.S. players get money that is owed to them.
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.
2) Read the Terms and Conditions
Most of the misunderstandings between players and online casinos come from a player’s misreading of a casino’s Terms & Conditions. Read them carefully! Most casinos require you to give them a certain amount of action (called the Wagering Requirement) before you can withdraw the bonus money. Some never allow you to withdraw the bonus money, only your original deposit and your winnings. (For more information on types of bonuses, see "Traditional vs. Sticky Bonuses.") In almost all casinos some games are excluded if you receive a bonus. Sometimes the applicable Terms & Conditions are listed in several areas of the casino’s web site—be sure to look for Promotional or Bonus Terms & Conditions, as well as the casino Terms & Conditions. Make sure you can live with a casino’s terms and conditions before you deposit money or accept any bonus money.
3) Deposit Methods for Internet Casinos
A law was passed in the U.S. recently that is changing the ways players in many countries can make deposits to and withdrawals from online casinos and poker rooms. See our current deposit recommendations for online players for the best options.
4) Prepare to Win
If you play, you may win. If you win, you may want to withdraw your money. (If you're like us.) Some online casinos require that you send them proof of who you are before they send you money. You could fax this info but it's easier and more reliable to email. So:
* Get a scan of your driver’s license (front and back)
* Get a scan of a recent utility bill (just the top portion with your address)
* Get a scan of a bank statement (again, just the top portion with your address)
Make sure that the name and address are the same on all these documents, and that they are the same name and address as the ones on your casino account. Scan the documents to a digital image and be ready to attach that file to an email to collect your winnings. The casino will notify you by email if they require you to do this.
5) Keep Careful Records
Some players have reported occasions where money was improperly deducted from their accounts at an Internet casino, either during play or between visits to the casino. It has happened to us as well, at both shady casinos and highly reputable ones. Some of the improper deductions have been quite large.
To protect yourself from such glitches, you should play only at reputable Internet casinos and always record your balance at the end of a session, whether you logged out deliberately or accidentally got disconnected. Then check to make sure that your balance is what it should be when you return to the casino. Notify Customer Support before resuming play if there is any problem.
6) Stay Welcome
Most casinos reserve the right to limit or refuse action from players they deem to be "bonus hustlers" or "bonus abusers."
Bonus "abusers" typically play the absolute minimum required to receive and cash out a bonus. In the past, these players would often bet both red and black on roulette at the same time, or both the "pass" and "don't pass" at craps, in order to grind through their wagering requirements with minimum fluctuations just to cash out the bonus. This is why you will often see craps and roulette excluded from the games allowed for fulfilling the wagering requirement for a bonus.
Internet casinos try to detect and withhold bonuses from such players, just as traditional casinos try to detect and restrict the play of card counters. Sometimes the language on bonus abuse in the casinos' terms and conditions can be pretty scary—"If we decide you are abusing our good faith effort to suck you and your paycheck into our site, we will take away your first born son, not to mention your bonus and ALL your winnings!"
Much of this is just a scare tactic. The casinos we recommend may bar you from receiving future bonuses (most common) or may just shut down your accounts if they feel you are a bonus hustler. But you will still receive all the money you've got coming.
What can players do to remain welcome at Internet casinos? If a casino offers you a bonus, by all means take it. But don't grind through the wagering requirement betting $1 per hand until you have wagered the bare minimum. Do not collect the bonus and withdraw your money right away. If you play more than the absolute minimum required, play without receiving a bonus sometimes, and leave your money in your account for a while, the casino will regard you as a good customer and treat you as such.
And there is one thing that will anger online casinos more than any card counter will anger a Vegas joint—trying to play under more than one name. If you share a computer with someone who would like a separate account at a casino where you play, clear it with the casino first to avoid misunderstandings.
Inside the Online Casino
Each of the online casinos uses a particular brand of software to deal their games, arrange deposits and withdrawals, and offer customer support. You might find yourself thinking, hmm, this Jacks or Better game in Golden Palace looks a lot like that Jacks or Better game in Casino Europa. That's because they both use Playtech software. The themes may be different, but it is the same software, the same buttons, the same games. If you are comfortable with a particular software, you might want to stick with it. Then, if you feel like a change, try another one.
Do be aware that the rules or payouts offered on a game (and thus the house edge!) may be different on different software—or even at different casinos that use the same software. The lower the house edge, the better for you. More information about determining the house edge is available elsewhere on this web site.
2) Customer Support
You might want to contact the casino for help—to ask about a withdrawal, find out how a game is played, get help with the software, or to find out what the terms and conditions are if they are not clear to you. Most internet casinos will have toll-free phone numbers you can call to talk to customer service—a real plus. (We also really like casinos that have an online chat feature.) There will also be an email option. You can access this contact info from within the casino software and at their website. Don't be shy about asking if you are confused about anything.
Remember that the friendly dealer who won't let you hit your hard 19 isn’t available at an Internet casino. Be careful where you click! ♠
[Editor’s Note: We cannot guarantee that you will win at any internet casino. Gambling is always risky. Also, please be aware that Internet gambling is illegal in some jurisdictions. The casinos we list provide free games for entertainment if Internet gambling is illegal where you play. Check the laws in your jurisdiction before you play for real money.]
For more excellent information on online casinos, check out the Independent Reviews of Online Casinos at Best Online Gambling.
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||Smart Online Gaming
You can win in online casinos if you use winning online gaming strategies and play on online casino bonuses. See this article for the basics on preparing for smart online gaming.