Will Zynga plus Wynn equal a Win?

Nevada is the first state in the US to offer legal and regulated online poker within the state. This has had a number of casinos in the state excited, however they face one problem. None of them are currently in the online poker business. Offering an online poker room is significantly different than operating a real world poker room in a live casino. One takes physical space, chairs and tables, dealers and chips. The other has to recreate all of that online.  It takes programmers, developers, graphic artists, online customer support and so on. Even a top live Las Vegas casino with a full staff probably doesn’t have the right staff to create an online poker room.

So, they could start hiring and start developing and build an online poker room from scratch. It would take months, require lots of testing, and need to be certified as fair and safe.  And while they’re doing that, the competition would be looking for a faster way to get out in the market.  But there’s another way a Las Vegas casino can launch an online poker room and that’s to go into partnership with someone who already does online poker. Someone who has the virtual tables and virtual cards and virtual chips in place.

Which is what Wynn Resorts is doing. Wynn had been talking to PokerStars last year but then PokerStars was pushed out of the US market as part of the April 15th Black Friday Poker Shut Down. So Wynn wasn’t going to do very well with them. Now it looks like they’re talking with Zynga Poker. Zynga is a million dollar poker room with plenty of online players in the US to pull from. The trick with Zynga is that they’ve  long been running play money games using Facebook as a platform. This means that they’ve never run into issues with real money games in the US. But since they’ve been wanting to move into the real money market, a partnership with Wynn could be in the cards for them.

We know that Wynn Resorts has already applied for one of Nevada’s online poker licenses. Zynga has not. So far, Nevada has granted licenses to Bally Technologies and International Gaming Technologies.  William Hill, a popular British bookmaker, has applied but not yet been granted a license.


Change video poker games if the odds are better

I’m a great fan of Jacks or Better video poker, and it’s probably one of the most popular games out there. But good video poker players soon learn the value of the pay table when it comes to video poker. The advice is usually to look for a 9/6 pay table. Doing this is easy. Look at the pay table under the payout for a single coin bet. You should see a 6 by the payout for a Flush and a 9 by the payout for a Full House. This is full pay table.  But I’ve discovered that knowing that alone just isn’t always enough information. See, casinos know that players are looking for the 9/6 reference in the payouts and sometimes we may over look other payouts.

The second thing I now check is the payout for a Royal Flush at the maximum coin bet. Those great video poker odds you see are calculated on the idea that there is a large jackpot payout for a Royal Flush paid at the maximum bet.  Now by large, I’d like to point out that one of my favorite online casinos for Jacks or Better pays out 4,000X for a 5 coin bet if I hit a Royal Flush.  Another casino that keeps trying to convince me to play with them pays out 400X for a royal – so one tenth the amount.  So I keep not playing their games. And about once every six months, they give me a few bucks to try their games again.

So, this time I decided I needed to have a strategy that let me play video poker on their site without sacrificing the odds more than I wanted to. I started checking the games and the pay tables. Oh, none were as good as their competition. Perhaps this is why they have to keep giving away free money. But I did discover that Double Double Bonus Poker will pay out 800X for four aces. So even though I hate sacrificing the 2X payout for two pair, I decided it would be better to play the double double bonus poker game than Jacks are Better.  I hit four aces early in my play and so far this decision is working out. So, keep an idea of what you need to look for overall in pay out tables and check out sites like gamblingcasinos-online.com to see if they casino you’re playing at stacks up against the competition.


Should gambling and social media mix

Everywhere I look I see news of gambling and social media mixing. Today the news is that PartyPoker wants to invest $50 million in social media over the next couple of years. IGT has taken over the DoubleDown Casino on Facebook. And Zynga, famous for its Facebook games, is reported to be looking into real money gambling. But, I’d would advise a little caution on the side of players when it comes to mixing social media and gambling. Even when the gambling isn’t real money gambling.

The problem I see with mixing gambling and social media has absolutely nothing to do with gambling funds and everything to do with advertising your gambling fun to everyone in your social media network. Which, in the case of Facebook, comes down to the problem that none of us really seem to able to grasp what Facebook means in terms of privacy. The vast majority of Facebook users don’t even know when Facebook makes changes to the privacy policy that can have massive effects on their life. This isn’t because these people are somehow naïve and unaware when it comes to social media. It’s because Facebook tends to try to hide what they’re really up to because otherwise people start screaming. So, let’s simply the Facebook privacy terms – if you are on Facebook, you have no privacy. None. Just give up the idea now. It’s not even you have no privacy regarding what you post. You have very little privacy about things others post unless you go in a tweak your settings.

Skip work to hit the casinos with a friend? What happens when your friend tags you in Facebook and suddenly the boss, who thinks you’re home dying from the flu, sees you at the blackjack table with a drink in your hand?  Yeah. Not good. But what about those free play slot games. They’re harmless. Or are they?

On Facebook, I regularly get a notice of all the games my friends played. It’s part of advertising the games. So, if you play SlotsFarm, your friends will see that posted to their wall. If your boss is your friend, he’s going to see that you play slots. Or that you spent time “recently” at the DoubleDown Casino. Now, the first thing you don’t want is your boss wondering what “recently” translates to and if it means during the work day.  The other issue could come about if your boss considers gambling, in any form, to be an unacceptable hobby. There’s a report in the news right now about a priest under suspension for gambling, even though there is no evidence that he used church funds. Some people just don’t approve of gambling and in my opinion, my gambling hobby is none of their business. Unfortunately Facebook doesn’t agree with that. Which is why even for my free play gambling games I keep accounts at real online casinos.  They don’t broadcast my habits to everyone I know.


Will the Aussies get legal online poker

In many ways, the gambling laws Down Under have mirrored the gambling laws in the US. When it comes to online poker, Australian law makes it illegal to run an online poker site, but not illegal to play at one. So, from a player’s perspective, all the risk is on the online poker room’s side. Or seems to be. We’ve learned from the downfall of Full Tilt Poker and the Cereus Network that when the authorities go after a poker room, players find that they can’t get to their funds. This article from latimes.com give a good idea of what happened with the US poker sites shutdown, an act that made the poker world sit up and take notice. Mostly because the failed sites also took down money from people in countries where it was perfectly legal to play poker.

Now, Australian players have been in the same position US players were in. They could play at online poker rooms who were willing to accept Australian players, but they had no protection if the site went belly up because the government wasn’t really able to step in and pursue funds from players who’d been involved in questionable legal activity. How much a player lost was going to depend a lot on their level of play.  A microstakes player might be out a hundred dollars. A big stakes player could be out thousands in poker funds.

But now the news is that the Australian government (australia.gov.au) is considering legalizing and regulating online poker. This would be good for players in the country since they would be able to play on online poker rooms who meet the requirements set by the Australian government and would potentially have more legal recourse to seek restitution should something happen to their funds.  Now, if we can just get the US government to realize that regulation is in the player’s interest, we’ll be another step ahead.

ocation without your knowledge. When you read an article somewhere, Facebook will tell everyone what you’ve been reading.  And when you play a game, guess what, Facebook announces it to the world.


This tendency of Facebook to tell the world what everyone is doing has led to some embarrassing consequences. And sometimes job threatening consequences since more and more people find that they are connected to their coworkers and even their boss on Facebook. Sure, you may want to spend a little time relaxing by playing slots, but do you want your boss to know that you like to “gamble”?  Even if you don’t play for real money, he’s going to see – this person plays gambling games.

Unless you’re comfortable with the entire world knowing that you enjoy some time at the slot machines, I recommend avoiding the social media games and just setting up an account at a recommended online casino. Even if it’s just for a free play account. If you are in the US, you can find a list of great casinos at http://onlinecasinosforusa-players.com   So, avoid the social media play for now if you want to be a little more private about your slots interests.


Rocketfrog comes to Facebook

There’s a new online gambling application on Facebook and this one promises real prizes for playing on it. This idea sounded like it would be astounding popular with players, so I went to check it out. The application is called Rocketfrog, and will show if you use the search command on Facebook. Now, I’ve played Zynga Poker and the Double Down Casino on Facebook, so I wanted to see how RocketFrog stacked up against them. After all, Rocketfrog is being brought to use by Tom from MySpace. I still remember the day I joined MySpace and Tom became my friend. I was worried about poor Tom who seemed to have so few real friends that he desperately needed to be my friend.

Then MySpace and I parted our ways.  I haven’t thought about MySpace in years, but when I do, I still remember the clunky, over-designed pages from the nineties. Back when we discovered that we could put photos on a page and we cluttered our pages with photos. Well, welcome to Rocketfrog, a site with all the elegance of a MySpace page.

Now, the prizes are only for playing in certain tournaments and are provided by advertisers in return for advertising space. The space seems to pretty much take up all of Rocketfrog. The current sponsor is a DJ who is giving away shorts. I can’t tell you what the tournaments are like because I’ve never gotten past the page that shows me a video from the DJ and his company. So, I haven’t won any of the valuable shirts.

So, I hopped over to the fun play games like video poker, slots and roulette. Ugh. There are ad photos everywhere. The same effect that I essentially ran away from on MySpace.  And I’ve run away from Rocketfrog. Sorry, Tom. I know we were once friends, but there’s only so much one puts up with for a chance to win a shirt from some guy I’ve never heard of.


Too small for online poker

The State of Delaware is now looking into joining the online poker world, which is a bit of  a surprise considering that Washington DC dropped its online poker efforts after determining that they just didn’t have enough potential players to keep a poker room going. Delware is among the smallest states is size and population with only about 1 million residents. And we can’t guarantee that all one million of them are poker players.  But Delaware may have found a solution to its small size. See, Rhode Island is yet another small state with an interest in online poker. And then there’s West Virginia. I’m not sure what to say about West Virginia, but apparently they too have an interest in online poker and could use some help getting online poker off the ground.

So, now the three states are discussing joining forces, which would mean a combined population of 3 million people to draw players from. You can find useful information like this on http://www.data.gov/ Of course all 3 million won’t be poker players, but the combined efforts would be helpful to keep poker rooms running and tables seated with players.

Meanwhile New Jersey is still struggling to get its online gambling legislation past Governor Chris Christie and the GOP big money donor blockade that seems to present. But should they succeed, there are hints that Massachusetts may be interested in combining forces with New Jersey for online gambling efforts.

As online gambling continues to grow, I expect we’ll see more states combining efforts and building larger playing pools. Also if a leader in the gambling industry like Atlantic City or Las Vegas can become involved in running the operations, it may allow smaller states to take advantage of some revenue without having to worry about evaluating and regulating the actual casinos.


Practicing card counting online

Now I’m not necessarily advocating card counting, because live casinos don’t like it when you card count. (I won’t tell on you if you try though), and I know that you can’t use card counting at an online casino. It just won’t work.  See, in order to count cards, you have to know how many decks are in use so that you know how many of each potential card value are left.  Let me explain with one of the simpler card counting systems.

In the High Low system the 2 to 6 cards are given a value of +1 and the 10 through Ace cards -1. The 7, 8, 9 cards are zero and can be ignored for counting purposes. Now the idea behind this system is that low cards benefit the dealer so the fewer of those LEFT in the deck, the better for the player.  Now, here’s where online free play comes in. One of the first steps to learning to count using this system, or any of the others, is to learn to do the math with speed and without being obvious. Casinos won’t let you carry a calculator onto the floor and they’ll notice if you’re keeping score on your cocktail napkin.  The old fashion way of practicing the count is to just use a deck of cards.  But why not login to your favorite online casino in free play mode and head over to the virtual blackjack table.  If you don’t have favorite casino yet, check out usaonlinecasinosite.com for some top recommendations.

Now, you won’t see exactly the same results you do with a live table since there are no decks in an online blackjack game so no limit of to the number of low or high cards.  But you can still practice tracking card values and mentally doing that plus one / minus one math as the cards are flipped.  You can even practice different counting systems to see which one you feel will work best for you. There are plenty out there and some are more complex than others.


Nevada revenue down for March

While how much money people spend on gambling may not seem like a big thing, it’s one of the things the world is watching to see how the economy is recovering. After all, gambling revenue indicates a number of key factors. First, it is discretionary spending, unlike say groceries or rent.  And money spent going to Las Vegas is a bigger investment than just visiting an online gambling site.

I’ll have to admit that I can gamble online without breaking my monthly budget. After all, I can make a small deposit, even take advantage of their deposit bonuses. Check out this spot to see how easy it is  http://gamblingon-line.org/top-10-online-casinos/. But right now I can’t make it to Las Vegas because that would require air fare and a hotel room, even before I managed to figure out how much I could spend in the casinos. Oh, and food unless I could gamble enough to get that comped by the casino. Though in Las Vegas, food is probably your least concern. They want to keep you fed, boozed up and gambling.

And in March the bad news for Las Vegas was that they also kept them winning. Yeah, see, part of the reason that the profits were down in March was that more people won than usual. Which really could be used as a marketing tool to tempt more people to come to Vegas.  But Las Vegas is also pointing out another reason for the drop in revenue over last year. They say that last year Vegas hosted a big convention in March, which pushed numbers up over the average. So that means this year isn’t down as much as it might seem.

But the news still indicates that we haven’t recovered from our economic downturn. People still don’t have the money to travel to Vegas, even though indications are that interest in online gambling is growing. Which should encourage Vegas casinos to get in on the online trend. They can’t just sit and wait for us to go to the mountain. It’s time to move the mountain gang.


Will New Jersey miss out on the online casino market

Things looked so positive for New Jersey and online gambling just a few weeks ago. It looked like everyone was on the same page as far as online gambling went.  Both houses in the state had passed the online gambling bill and though Governor Chris Christie had originally vetoed it, he was now stating that he was willing to sign it, provided some technical details were taken care of.

And suddenly New Jersey was announcing that they’d have online gambling in place by the end of the year. And even more than that, they’d be willing to offer it in other states.  So, what changed?  Well, from my point of view, nothing really changed. Oh, Christie seems to be waffling on whether or not he’ll sign the bill but that’s not new, it’s politics as usual.

So, here’s the run down on how politics are jerking Atlantic City around like a child’s yoyo.  Atlantic City has been suffering since the economic downturn and casinos are quickly running out of cost saving measures and could really use something to bring money in. Since the online gambling legislation being considered would require any online gambling businesses to be located in Atlantic City, it would give those casinos a chance to move into the online casino market. Look, this isn’t something that’s “going to come.” It’s something that’s already here.  Sites like thebestcasinoguide.com list plenty of online casinos you can play at, even if you don’t live in New Jersey.  And New Jersey is hardly likely to follow Utah’s example and specifically outlaw online gambling. So, it only makes sense to give the casinos a chance to get into the market.

But then there are the politics and the upcoming presidential election. See, Chris Christie is a Republican and viewed as a strong possibility for the 2012 GOP ticket as a VP.  But Republicans lately are all about conservative values and gambling doesn’t fall into that.  Well, except that one of their top donors owns a Vegas casino. Did I mention that donor is against online gambling? Yeah, so if Christie backs online gambling, then it could upset a top donor and potentially lose him a VP spot. Or if he back online gambling and gets the VP spot, it could lose the GOP a donor.

Meanwhile the real loser – Atlantic City.



Bwin.Party goes to California

California: sun, sea, girls and maybe just maybe online poker. It’s been one of those California Dreams for a long time now. And while California legislators don’t appear to be moving quickly on the issue, players will be interested to learn that the online poker and casino giant bwin.party has made a jump into the online poker landscape in the state.

So, why is an online poker giant interested in the earthquake state? (I can’t remember what California’s tagline is supposed to be, but the news leads me to believe it must have something to do with earthquakes, forest fires or mudslides.) Well, California is the largest state in the US when you look at size and population. Yeah, despite the earthquakes, forest fires and mud slides. Alaska and Texas are bigger in terms of pure land mass but not as highly populated. Also, Bwin.Party believes that there are a lot of poker players in California. Unlike Iowa, which dropped its efforts to legalize online poker because there just weren’t enough people interested to move the legislation forward. So, California wins in terms of poker playing population.

It’s just that they currently have no legal online poker.  But Bwin.Party believes that a move in that direction is inevitable. And they are probably right. After all, Nevada and New Jersey are already working on online gambling regulations. But more than that, Iowa and Hawaii have already passed laws banning online gambling. See, I think that if they weren’t seeing a strong possibility toward online gambling, they wouldn’t be worried about banning it.

So, if you want to play poker online, your best bet right now is Nevada, which is already issuing licenses. Or New Jersey, which plans to have them by the end of the year. Pick California only if you’re patient and willing to wait. Don’t move to Utah, Hawaii or Washington State because it’s illegal. And remember that if you move to Iowa, you’ll have trouble finding other players to join you in a game.