Professional gamblers answer frequently asked questions about online gambling in this Blackjack Forum article. The article discusses how much players can expect to win with online gambling, how to carry out online gambling, and the strategies necessary to win at online gambling.
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By Arnold Snyder
© 2005 Arnold Snyder

Q: Is it legal?

A: 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 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 work out other deposit and withdrawal arrangements. A number of others have contacted us to tell us that, after a thorough review of the new law, they have decided to continue accepting U.S. players, and have already worked out new deposit and withdrawal methods.

See our Recommended Deposit Methods and Offshore Banking Options for more information. Deposit methods accepted at various online casinos and poker rooms are included in the casino listings on our Top Rated Online Casinos and Bonuses page and our Online Poker Bonuses and Deposit Methods page.

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.

Q: How much money do I need to do this?

A: Anyone with $500 that he or she can afford to gamble with can afford to get into this venture. $1000 would be better, for a quicker start, but $500 you can afford to risk is sufficient. Most of the deposits you’ll make will be smaller than this, usually $50 to $200. You need the extra funds because you may wish to have money on deposit at more than one Web casino simultaneously. It sometimes takes days (and even weeks) to withdraw your funds from a Web casino. Ideally, it would be best to have $5,000 to $6,000 in order to take advantage of some of the more lucrative bonus offers that allow larger deposits and pay bigger bonuses. But you can build up your bank as you play and take advantage of these bigger bonuses when you have the funds.

For more information on bet sizing and bankroll management for Internet casino bonus play, see Blackjack Betting and Risk for the Basic Strategy Player in the Blackjack Forum Gambling Library.

Q: Do I need to know any special strategies for the games?

A: Absolutely, but the strategies are not that difficult. One nice feature about gambling on the Internet is that you can have your strategy right out on your desk as you play. For blackjack, you simply need to know basic strategy.

Q: How much time is required for this?

A: That’s another nice feature about Internet gambling. The Web casinos are all open 24/7, and you can play sessions of any length you desire, whether a few minutes or a few hours. The actual amount of time it will take you to earn your bonuses will depend on various factors that I can’t analyze precisely for all players. If you have a dial-up modem, the games will be slower than if you have a DSL connection. If you already know the basic strategy for a game, you will play faster than someone who must consult a chart to make decisions. Some casinos’ software is fast, and some software is slow. How much you are betting per hand to meet your WR is also a factor. Depending on all of these factors, you may spend from 30 minutes to many hours playing for each bonus you collect.

Q: How much will my hourly win rate be?

A: Your rate of profit will depend on all of the time factors described above. You will also be spending time on the clerical chores of reading the bonus offers and T & C, figuring out the bonus values, copying the necessary information, and bookkeeping.

Q: If I have $1,000 exactly to try this out, what is the chance that I would lose my whole $1,000 just due to bad luck?

A: I would put the chance of this at slim to none providing you are careful about choosing reputable casinos and bonus offers (lists of reputable Internet casinos are provided through the links at the left), you play the accurate basic strategy for the games you enter, and you follow the advice on this page and on the Traditional vs. Sticky Bonuses page for sizing your bets according to your bankroll and the type of bonus you are playing.

With a small bankroll, you must play more conservatively—which will lower your hourly win rate—in order to protect yourself from simple bad runs of cards (which occur in all casino games). You should never deposit all of your bankroll in one casino. If your bankroll is small, you should be making many small deposits and withdrawals at numerous Web casinos over time.

Players do lose money on individual bonus plays even when the bonus provides them with a significant advantage over the house. If you use an extremely conservative betting strategy—say making all bets of $1 to $2—then I would have to say that your chance of losing all your money would be close to zero if you avoid playing in rogue Web casinos with cheating software. With such small bets, assuming you are playing for the most generous bonuses, you would be extremely unlikely not to show a decent profit for your dollar investment. The bonuses really are that advantageous. But you must decide how much risk you want to assume by playing at a higher level, and what your time is worth to you if you play at a lower level.

I advise any person considering this venture to not play with money that is dear to her or him. You do not gamble with the rent money. If you have only $500 or $1,000 that you can afford to gamble with, then I would suggest starting out very conservatively. Go ahead and play with $2 bets for your first few bonuses. Just take the hours it takes to do this and keep your peace of mind while you’re learning and building confidence. When your bankroll gets up to $1500 or $2000, and you can see the process is working for you, then get a bit more aggressive. Make bets of $4 or $5. Always play at your own comfort level.

For conservative players on small bankrolls, there are certain types of bonuses (called “sticky” bonuses) that will have little value to them until their bankrolls have grown to at least $1500 or $2000. This is because the sticky bonuses must be played more aggressively in order to extract their value, and aggressive play is always more risky. Wait to play these after your bankroll has grown a bit. The traditional (non-sticky) bonuses, and “pseudo-sticky” bonuses, however, will still have value for you, and need not drain your funds with bad fluctuations. For specific advice on bankroll requirements for sticky bonuses, see the Traditional vs. Sticky bonuses link at the left. ♠

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  Online Gambling Frequently Asked Questions
Arnold Snyder answers frequently asked questions about online gambling, including how much money you need to win at online gambling, how much you can expect to win, and what types of online gambling bonuses to play.