There’s a lot more to online gambling than casino games. Anyone who has followed the World Series of Poker for the past few years knows that slowly but surely online poker players haveJ. Phillip Vogel is considered a leading authority in online gambling. He has written for most of the major gaming publications worldwide including Casino Player, Strictly Slots, Gambling Online, Bluff, and many more. He is also the author of a series of best-selling gambling books collectively titled The Real Deal. He is the founder of online watchdog site TheOPN.com at www.theopn.com and currently serves as the Editorial Director for Poker Life magazine. started to creep in from anonymity and take center stage. They¹ve even had the audacity to win the main event for two years running.
But online gambling isn’t just poker, either. It’s everything. Every form of gambling you can imagine (and more than a few that you can’t) from progressive slot machines to bingo halls, international lottery drawings and sports betting. There are even more than a few sites where you can bet on the winners of reality television shows or what the last digit will be at the closing bell of the Dow Jones.
The point is, that before you even dare to venture into the cyberspace void in search of new gambling adventures, you'd best know what you’re looking for and how to find it.
Getting Started: Finding the Best Sites
Although becoming a successful online gambler involves many steps, the most crucial one is also the most obvious - finding a place to play. Or rather, finding a good place to play. Despite the Internet so often being likened to the ‘Wild West’, online gambling itself is a far cry from those wicked saloons of old. The increased competition, a higher level of player awareness, and the development of 'watchdog sites' that patrol the online gambling industry has made it a relatively safe medium.
However, just because it’s safer that does not mean it's devoid of risk. Nor does it mean that all sites are created equally. Sometimes, even the most well intentioned site may not be quite up to par, resulting at best in an unsatisfactory experience and at worst a complete fiasco. Luckily, avoiding such problems is relatively easy--it just takes a little effort and a little bit of homework.
Below are some of the basic steps you need to follow when looking for a new online gambling site:
Make sure that the site is reputable. Always find out everything you can about a site before depositing a cent. Read site reviews in respected gambling magazines, visit gambling portals and check out what’s being said about the different sites.
You might also consider visiting online gambling forums or chat room (available on many gambling portals) where players meet to discuss gambling topics. There you’ll find first-hand accounts of player experiences that may help steer you towards or away from a particular site.
Ask yourself: Does this site fit my needs? Although choosing an online gambling site requires a lot of objectivity, it is also a matter of personal taste. It doesn’t matter if the site is praised on every forum and in every magazine, if it doesn’t have what you’re looking for it’s pretty much useless. For example, if you’re the sort of gambler who likes to mix it up, playing a little blackjack then maybe a couple of pulls on the slots while waiting for the results of the Yankee game, you need a site that caters to both casino gamblers and sports bettors. On the other hand, if bingo is your only love, you’ll need to refine your search to include only sites that offer it.
See for yourself. Once you have narrowed down your selections to a manageable level, begin visiting the sites and examining them. Really study them. Are the graphics top quality? Did the designers put some thought into the site's development or does it have that 'thrown together' look?
Does anything about the site make you feel uncomfortable or wary? Your answers to these questions will help to determine if the site is a worthwhile contender for your business or just some fly-by-night operation.
For a little extra insight, consider calling the site’s customer services department with some basic questions to see what kind of a response you get. If the associate is hesitant or unable to answer your questions, seems uninterested, or is just plain rude, consider that this might be the type of service that you’re likely to receive should a real crisis arise.
Now that you have found a place worthy of your attention, the next step is getting down to the business at hand: becoming an online gambler.
Becoming a Player
In days past when the number of online casino could easily be counted on a single hand, getting online, downloading the software and establishing an player account was a tedious series of events that made the trip to the local casino more than worth it. But as technology advanced, so too did the entire process and what we're left with is the streamlined progeny of those early pioneers.
In Part 2, we’ll discuss the technical side of online gambling including computer requirements and software options as well as how to open and fund your player account.
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