Why pay out tables for casino games do matter

I was recently given a bit of bonus money by an online casino and invited to play any of the games on their site. Now, this is always a fun part of blogging about and reviewing gambling sites. I usually play games for free when reviewing them simply because I need to read and review at a rate that my bankroll isn’t always up to. But when a casino throws a few dollars my way to let me experience real money play on their site, they get my attention. And they better make sure they’re ready for it.

Now, the online casino that invited me to play was trying to head me in the direction of their slot games, which are interesting. But I wanted to give the place a more thorough look, so I decided to try a couple of video poker games. Now, video poker is one of my favorite games and unlike slots, it can be played with a strategy that should pay off long term. That’s if I don’t go bust short term. But it also a game that I’ve played on many online casinos so I know what to expect when I hit a new casino’s video poker games. Slots are more free flowing and sometimes hard to rate between casinos since not all casinos offer the same slot games. Video poker should be the same. Or very close.

Which is how I quickly spotted an issue on this casino. Oh, it wasn’t anything unfair or rigged. In fact, it was right there where any player could easily spot it, if they knew what to look for. The problem was in the payout chart. Now the odds in video poker are determined by the 52 card deck (53 in games with a joker), so they can’t be changed from casino to casino. But the payout chart can be changed. In video poker, the 9/6 payout chart is considered the best payout. That’s a payout of 9 to 1 for a Full House and 6 to 1 for a Flush. So, that’s the first thing you look for when playing video poker. But the other aspect of video poker is that for a maximum bet of 5 coins, the Royal Flush is expected to be the jackpot and can pay out as many as 4000 coins to the 5 coin bet. That’s the win that makes it all worthwhile.

And this casino didn’t have the jackpot for the Royal Flush. Oh, there was still a payout that was consistent with the other payout rates. But the casino simply didn’t offer the jackpot win. Since the odds on video poker are calculated based on the jackpot, they essentially made the game less beneficial for the player. Since they’d given me money to play with, I did play. And I hit a royal flush. Which is where the change in the paytable made a massive difference to the overall outcome of my bankroll. Had the casino been offering a jackpot amount similar to other casinos, I would have won more than enough money to meet the play through requirements for the free money and still have money left over. Since they didn’t offer a jackpot, all that happened was that I won back about the same amount I started with.  That took all the fun out of the game.

So, remember, when you sit down to play at an online casino or even a live casino, check the pay tables and make sure you’re going to be happy with them before you deposit any money.


Simplifying the craps table?

A friend mentioned to me just yesterday that he doesn’t play games like craps or baccarat because they’re so hard to learn. What surprises me is that this isn’t one of my slot playing friends, but rather a guy who doesn’t mind sitting down at the poker table. Now, in my estimation poker is actually a lot more difficult to play than craps. After all, at poker you are up against other players who want to take your money. While at craps you’re just playing against the table odds and you even have control over those to an extent because you can make lower or higher risk bets. Think of it a bit like roulette where betting even or odd is almost a 50/50 chance (low risk) while betting  single number is very high risk, but with a better pay out. With craps, all you have to know is where to place your bet for the type of risk that you want to make.  You can find more information on how to bet at craps by visiting http://on-linecraps.net. There’s a lot more to it than I can explain in a single blog post.

But casinos do have a problem because my poker playing friend isn’t the only one a bit wary of the craps table.  Craps seems to be one of those games created with the idea that players would be spending a lot of time in the casino and would be pretty dedicated to learning the table games. But it’s also a very social game, which increases the play. But a lot of casino players are more casual players these days. It’s not the day of the rat pack when the tables at Las Vegas were filled with men who gambled hard and gambled regularly.  It’s the era of the casual vacationer who wants to have fun even if he’s never stepped in a casino before. So it isn’t surprising that someone would want to come up with a simpler version of Craps.

Las Vegas has been trying out a new game called Scossa, which is based on the same idea behind craps but with a much, much simpler table layout. They’ve done away with the pass/don’t pass line and the point. In Scossa the basic concept is just to bet on the outcome of a roll. One player rolls the dice but other players can bet on a particular number, a series of numbers or even a specific configuration of the dice. This new layout is more like that of a roulette table and brings the game more in line with that game. Will it attract the hard core craps player? Probably not. But Vegas is betting it’ll bring in the more casual player and give them a new game to enjoy.


Full Tilt Poker caught in endless rounds of rumors

So a few days ago we were all hearing rumors that Bernard Tapie’s name was on the registration papers for Full Tilt Poker.  Now it seems that an announcement has been made by Groupe Bernard Tapie that they ended the negotiations with Full Tilt because they couldn’t work out details on how to pay back money owed to people. Which was for me always the big question behind the deal. After all, Full Tilt Poker owes about $600 million – half to US players and half to UK and EU players.  I’m just not sure that their name as enough cachet to make it worth acquiring. Though I thought it might be possible if Tapie had managed to hammer out a deal that meant they wouldn’t have to pay back the US players, which would pretty much halve that debt.  Maybe that was the deal they wanted and couldn’t get.

Now another rumor has emerged – one that PokerStars is in negotiations with the US Department of Justice on a possible takeover of Full Tilt that would involve paying back everyone. I’d like this rumor to be true because that means players would get their money back, which would be good. And there is that odd little bit of news about Full Tilt advertising for support staff in Dublin where they currently don’t have offices.  Could the PokerStars rumor be true? Well, some are reading very positive signs into the announcement by PokerStars that said they couldn’t discuss the possibility that they were looking at Full Tilt because any such negotiations would need to be confidential. After all, it would seem that they could easily announce “no, don’t be silly. Why would we want Full Tilt?” if they weren’t looking at it.  There aren’t any requirements of confidentiality around having no negotiations in progress regarding Full Tilt Poker. I can say confidently that I have no intention of buying Full Tilt Poker. You can probably say the same (assuming you aren’t PokerStars) and no one is going to show up and object. So, plenty is being read into the fact that PokerStars didn’t say that.

But I can say one thing with absolutely certainty. Full Tilt Poker will continue to be a great source of news, rumors and debates for months to come. Stop back now and then, I’ll probably be discussing them.


IGT moves into Social Gambling

The question is now out – will social media be the next big push for online gambling?  Last post I wrote about Playtech’s plans to move into social gaming and the stock drop caused by some of their planned acquisitions.  While companies seem to have faith in social media, stock holders are a bit more cautious. But now IGT has made its first move into the social media world, one as costly as Playtech’s plans.

IGT has spent $500 million to acquire Double Down Interactive, the company that developed the Double Down Casino on Facebook.  This raised some question as to whether IGT – International Gaming Technology – planned to move into the online casino sphere.  The answer from the company has been that they have no plans to operate a “for money” online casino. However, like many companies, they are exploring the benefit of connecting with clients and customers through social media. And when you’re a company that develops casino games, what better way to connect than to let customers sample your product online.

Those with a Facebook account can now play IGT’s American Idol slots game on the Double Down Casino Facebook App. The slot game is played with Facebook credits, which are granted to players when they visit the casino.  If a player runs out of coins, they can collect a bonus the next day or use a credit card to purchase more coins. But despite the purchase option, these only Facebook don’t count as online gambling to the government because players can’t win real money. So, using your credit card to pay for coins isn’t a game of chance. It’s simply a purchase.

Now, while true gamblers may be interested in the IGT news, they’ll prefer to play their slot games an online casinos where they can win real money. For those interested in free slots, most of these same online casinos will also let you play for free with practice coins. And if you run out of practice coins, they’ll give you more. They don’t expect you to pay real money unless you have a chance to win real money.

Have you ever wondered what’s happened to the world when spending money on a game of chance becomes more sensible than just giving money away to play pretend?


Playtech plans cause a stock drop

Playtech is well known in the gambling community as a game developer and supplier for many top notch online casinos. I’ve played Playtech games and if you’ve gambled online for any length of time, there’s a chance that you have too, though the Playtech casinos have become scarce in the United States since the Black Friday Poker Shutdown.  But Playtech recently announced that they planned to move into the Social media market. This is sort of the reverse of Zynga’s announcement that it would move from the social media marketplace to the real money gambling market. The move into social media should have been seen as a positive one since social media is becoming more and more a way companies connect with customers.  These days a business needs a social media presence. So why did Playtech stock take a tumble after their announcement?

Well, it seems the tumble isn’t from the social media aspect but the acquisitions the company plans to make to get there. One acquisition in particular. Playtech wants to spend about 95 million to acquire the 48 percent shares that founder Teddy Sagi holds. That’s a lot of money. In return, Sagi would become a company advisor. (It would seem that right now he’s advising them to give him $95 million). Oh, and Playtech would spend another 10 million or so on a new building that Sagi has interest in. All in all, it’s a great deal. For Sagi.  Stockholders aren’t so sure if it goes beyond that to be a good deal for the company.

If you’re interested in following the Playtech stock news, did you know that you can use Google.com to set up an alert for news related to Playtech?  It’s an easy process and Google will then deliver a summary of news stories directly to your inbox. If you have a Playtech investment or what to invest, I recommend it. And if you’re interested in investing with Playtech, I believe their stock price is still down a bit. It could be a good time to buy.


Tapie seems to have actually acquired Full Tilt poker

Well, we’ve been waiting for months for the actual event and it seems to have finally happened. The French company Groupe Bernard Tapie has finally acquired Full Tilt Poker. We’ve been hearing for months that they were going to take over and it seems that Bernard Tapie’s name is now on the poker room’s registration.

Though what that means is still pretty much anyone’s guess and we’re all guessing. After all, it’s not like those in the US think we’ll ever be able to play on Full Tilt Poker again. Or that we’d trust them if we could, because we also doubt we’ll ever see the money they owe us. That’s about $300 million to US players and the agreements that Full Tilt has to fulfill to get back up and running may not include paying back US players. So, all we can do is guess. And we don’t have to be kind.

So, Bernard Tapie has finally registered as an owner for Full Tilt or New Full Tilt, depending on the forms. I’m checking bbc.co.uk for news that doesn’t have a US slant. On our side of the pond, the news isn’t likely to be positive.  Does this start the poker room back up again? Not yet. Now Tapie has to find away to get a registration somewhere that will allow the poker room to operate since their license with Alderney Gambling is still suspended. Alderney is going to want to see Full Tilt paying out on player accounts. But that may not include US players. Tapie has indicated that since the US authorities took action against Full Tilt, the question of paying back players rests with the Department of Justice. Now he just has to convince Alderney of that. Will Alderney agree and let Full Tilt come back into operation, though fully half the problems that shut them down were their own money management issues, not the DOJ action.  And if Full Tilt gets its license reinstated by Alderney or finds a license elsewhere,


A look at online casino strategies

Today I want to take a little look at online casino strategies. Now, I’m not talking those mysterious “systems” and other things that people want to see you because you’re guaranteed to win.  Those don’t work. Trust me on this. After all, why would someone sell you a strategy that would guarantee a win at the tables when they could just use that strategy to clean up at the tables. (hint: the answer is because selling strategies to gullible players has a higher payout rate than the strategy itself.)

So, first strategy – don’t believe anyone who guarantees you a win.  And don’t give them money.  Next strategy – set your bankroll before you even start to play. Now this is an important factor for any gambler and I want to discuss how online bankrolls are different from live casinos bankrolls.  If you visit a live casino, you probably had to drive and schedule time to go. You have limited time to spend at the casino location before you return home. So, you may walk onto that casino floor with two or three months worth of gambling bankroll to spend during a weekend, because you may not be back for six more months.

Now, let’s look at an online casino. You went through the effort of logging onto the casino. You can log off and return at any time. So, there’s no need to play out a month’s worth of a gambling bankroll in one sitting. But if you do, you need to be firm with yourself about not spending the next month’s bankroll right now.  Online casinos mean you can take a break and come back at anytime. So you have to manage your bankroll around that. One easy strategy to follow is to actually stop when you’re winning. Or if you don’t want to do that, stop when the first downturn starts rather than trying to build back up right away. This doesn’t guarantee a win. It just means that you’ll still have a bit of a bankroll left to come back and play with later.

Also, don’t overlook the possibilities that online casinos offer for you to practice high strategy games like blackjack before you play for money or even just to boost your skill level. Take advantage of the practice play option and try out new games before you play for real. Find out which ones you really enjoy and focus your bankroll on them. It’ll mean a more enjoyable time at the casino. And if you’re interested in checking out more online gambling strategies visit http://play-onlinecasino.net/casino-strategies/.


IGT explores online gambling

For a long time those involved in live gambling, the type you have to drive to a casino to do, wanted nothing to do with online gambling, which they viewed as the evil force that would take gambling down. But times have changed and many businesses with a foot in the gambling world are beginning to recognize that online initiatives may be the answer to some of their problems. At the very least, it may be the answer to recruiting new players and reaching out to younger players, who aren’t flocking to land based casinos these days.

International Game Technology, a long time provider of gaming technology to the live casino floor, is now looking to join the online gambling revolution. The company has acquired the social gaming company Double Down Interactive to help build an online platform based on the popular social media site Facebook.

While Facebook has long been the home of the popular Zynga Poker game, the company has not been able to introduce real money gambling into the United States. This didn’t stop Las Vegas casinos from adding business focused pages to the site or from introducing games that could be played for virtual coins. Fans of slot games will even recognize some popular online slots repackaged as Facebook games that encourage you to share coins with friends.  These online presences have always been designed as a marketing initiative—players who play the games on Facebook and become familiar with them are more likely to play them for real. The Golden Nugget Casino even developed a game that allows players to run an entire virtual casino in hopes of making people more familiar with casinos before they visited them.

With the change in the view of the Wire Act of 1961, many companies are now preparing for legal online gambling in the US. It looks like IGT is getting ready for potential online gambling through Facebook. Come on in guys, the more the merrier.


Just what do those online casino reviews mean?

If you’re checking out an online casinos, you’ll find plenty of sites offering reviews of the casinos that you might want to visit. But what do those reviews mean and what sort of criteria do reviewers look at?  Now, there’s one little problem with answering this question – there’s no actual set of reviewer rules, so really one place could review based just on what the games look like “hey, this is a cool place to play” and another might look at licensing and other information but never play the games for a “this is a safe casino” type review. But I’m going to go over some of the details you should look for in a good casino review like you’ll find on http://online-casinoreview.net

First, yes, the reviewer should have information on where the casino is licensed, who tests it for fairness, and what software it runs on. This information is seldom hard to find since most casinos include it at the bottom of their splash page, but a good review will know if those licensing and testing sites are reputable and if that casino software is considered a good choice in the gambling community. Oh, and support. Do they offer good support? I always think of this as the boring but necessary part of the review. It doesn’t tell you if the games are fun, but it can determine that the casino is a good one.

Then the reviewer really should look at the games and the gaming software. Does the casino focus mainly on slots or is it a great place for blackjack players? Do they have tournaments and for what games? How often are new games introduced?  And even, what’s it like to play on the casino. I’ve hit a few where I’d love to play but the video poker display was just hard on my eyes. Little things like that can make a difference if you play for any length of time.

And then comes the money aspects. It is easy to make a deposit and withdrawal? Are there any restrictions players need to be away of? What types of bonuses does the casino offer.  And even any stats on the payout rate for the casino (really, that comes more from slots so if you play blackjack, they may not matter.)

But all these details should be covered to some extent in a good review. Oh, the reviewer may want to talk more about the games or the bonuses, because those are more fun, but you should have a sense that they at least understood the boring stuff at the beginning of this blog post.



The reality of video poker odds

I love to play video poker. It’s a game that I can play without having to sit at a table with other players, so great when I’m not in a social mood. Unlike slots, it’s a game where a real strategy is involved. But like slots, it’s a game that offers a wide variety of wagering possibilities, generally starting at the quarter range. So it’s a game that’s great to play when I don’t have a big bankroll. Blackjack has great odds and strategy but usually I can’t find a table for under $5 a hand.  A fifty dollar bankroll doesn’t last long at that rate, but I can hit the video poker machines when I’m down to my last twenty bucks.

And of course we all know that when played with a great strategy, video poker odds can actually be swung in the player’s favor, depending on the game. Just go do a search on  http://www.yahoo.com/ and that’s the information you’ll find.  And it is true. But I want to delve a little deeper into what those odds mean and to demonstrate them by contrasting them with blackjack.

Blackjack is another strategy game played with cards.  The goal of blackjack is to come closer to twenty one than the dealer does, without going over and any decent player will have studied the strategy cards giving the best options for doing that with every possible hand. So, with blackjack the odds of winning are spread pretty evenly throughout the game.

Now take video poker. When calculating the odds in video poker, the massive jackpot win of the royal flush is always taken into account. The problem with this is that a player’s odds of hitting the royal are 1 in 40,000. So, there’s a hugely weighted win boosting the odds up even though your chances of hitting that win are slim.

The reality that every video poker experiences is that playing the game means a lot of small wins balanced against a slow dwindling of your bankroll as you wait to hit the royal flush.  You won’t walk away from the casino a winner every time.  But, despite understanding the real odds, this is still one of my favorite games. Because the strategy does work and while using a good strategy isn’t going to guarantee that I’ll hit a royal flush, it does allow me to play for a fair amount of time.

Sometimes stretching the playing time is what we want as a player.  If you’re in a live casino and down to your last few dollars and want to stretch out your playing time, check out the video poker machines. Even if you don’t win the jackpot promised by the royal flush, they can be a great way to spend some time while waiting for others to finishing their games. And if you want to check out some great video poker information visit onlinecasinovp.com