Introduction to Part 1
When a street thug takes your cash, they call it a crime. But when a casino does it, well, it’s simply chalked-up to bad luck. Funny, since it seems at timesJ. 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.
that the only difference is that you don’t spend hours trying to reach a street thug.
Kidding aside, successful casino gambling is tricky business. Almost invariably, the odds are stacked against you, requiring a lot of skill, discipline, resolve, and guile to prove successful. While you can’t always expect to win, no matter how good a player you are, neither do you need always lose. It just takes a little extra effort and determination to learn the basic rules for successful gambling and make them a part of your play.
Rule #1: Learn first, play later.
Often because of some basic familiarity, gamblers dive right in and start betting before fully understanding all of the attributes, risks, and subtle nuances of the game. Even players who have been gambling for years are sometimes at a disadvantage because they learned the mechanics of a game, and not its intricacies. What’s the house edge
? Is the strategy the same for two decks as it is for six? Eight? Can I (or should I) hedge my bet? Should I always play the maximum coins on a straight multiplier slot machine?
Unless you can easily answer all rules and strategy questions for the game(s) you play, you increase the house's edge and hand over more money than you otherwise would. Wanna start down the path towards successful Internet gambling? Learn the ins and outs of the rules and strategies, practice in the free play mode, and don’t risk any real cash until you’ve mastered the game.
Rule #2: Bet sensibly.
With very few exceptions casino gambling
is negative-expectation entertainment. That is, the games are designed to favor the house, and in the long run even the most skilled players will ultimately lose. Craps
, Caribbean stud poker
(sans card counting
)—just about every game subjects players to their insidious bankroll-depleting nature.
Of course, the house’s edge varies from game to game, with some being minimal or only moderately costly, while others are simply horrendous. Complicating matters even further, even the best games commonly have bad betting options built in that can wreak havoc on the bankroll
. For example, craps is a relatively low vigorish
game that offers many sensible bets such as the combined Pass/Odds (2X) at 0.6%. Yet just a little farther into the table sits the “Any Seven,” a horrible wager costing a whopping 16.7%! Similarly a blackjack player could find a decent game online with a vigorish lower than 0.5% (depending on the rules) but give into fear or temptation and take insurance
, and suffer an edge of about 7.0% on the bet. In short, whatever your game, be sure you know which bets are good and which ones are bad, and stick with those that offer the house a mere pittance for your action.
Rule #3: Gambling is like sex—slower is better!
Speed can be a good thing. It wouldn’t be much of a race if all of contenders in the Kentucky Derby simply trotted along at a comfortable pace. Sex, on the other hand, isn’t typically an activity where a speedy delivery gets high marks. And neither is gambling.
Because of the house’s edge attached to each game, gamblers are perpetually paying for the luxury of playing. And the faster you play, the more hands you see, or the more reels you spin, the quicker your bankroll is depleted. This can become even more threatening in the computer-generate online environment where the games move much faster than they do in a real casino. So slow it down. Take a few breaths in between each hand, or count to five or ten. Do anything you can to lower the number of bets made every hour. True, this won’t reduce the house’s edge one bit, but it will keep you playing longer and help you to develop one of the toughest skills in gambling: self-control.
Rule #4: Choose the best game versions
One of the greatest features of online gambling is the freedom of choice its accessibility offers. Rather that being at the mercy of location, players can select from hundreds and even thousands of casinos in search of the best games. And since online casinos need to operate with a global approach, players can often use international rule variations to their advantage. For example, here in the U.S., roulette players are pretty much stuck with the double-zero
version of the game—which features a “0” and “00” and a vigorish of 5.26%. Online casinos, however, frequently offer French or European versions of the game that feature a single zero
and the “en prison
” rule where even money bets that land on zero either return half the bet to the player, or it becomes imprisoned with the outcome decided on the next spin. The edge on this version is drastically lower—2.70%
Rule #5: Avoid costly side bets.
More than a few casino games offer optional side bets that proffer large jackpots should you be lucky enough to overcome the long odds. Games like Let it ride
, Caribbean stud poker, and certain versions of Blackjack and Roulette are among the most common culprits, luring players in with potential paydays in the hundreds of thousands. While these can be very tempting, it’s best to beg off such action in favor of the main game at hand. Why? Most of these side bets have a vigorish hovering somewhere in the 25% range—that’s $25/hour when 100 decisions are made hourly. That’s simply just too costly a wager to make for such little chance of success.
Next time Part 2: Rules #6-10 of your Internet gambling survival guide.