Posts Tagged ‘online casinos’

How I choose online casinos

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

If you’re like me, you hate comparison shopping. For me, it’s painful going around test-driving cars, looking at new apartments, checking prices for appliances at different stores and all of that. I would almost rather pay more for something the first place I see it. Therefore, the prospect of finding a good online casino to frequent, given the thousands of options, isn’t exciting one.

With that in mind, I was able to find a way to narrow down my choices and choose casinos for my blackjack needs. First of all, I realized that there are lots of great websites that I will never try. That’s okay. I started by making a list of reputable casinos – online casinos that had earned licenses and reputations for being generous, safe and trustworthy. Casino review websites, consumer reports and government agencies can help with that. Also, if the casino isn’t licensed and approved by a recognized regulatory authority, I’m not taking a risk on them.

After that, I look for a casino with some good blackjack games. Blackjack is my game of choice, so although I will occasionally play games like roulette and slots, I don’t really care how good the slot selection is at the casino. I care about blackjack. Do they have a few variations or just the standard game?

The next thing I look for is whether the casino offers blackjack tournaments. Most online casinos offer tournaments for slots, but only a small percentage have blackjack tournaments. That is because they are not as popular or profitable for the casino. I love playing in tournaments, though, especially if the casino offers head-to-head tournaments. If an online casino has a good variety of blackjack tournaments that run frequently (preferably every week), that is a good sign for me.

The other thing I check out are the promotions. I don’t even worry about the welcome bonus too much, because you’re only going to get that once – when you first join. I look for online casinos that frequently reward repeat customers with cash-back bonuses, match bonuses and more. Good bonuses help you make the most of your money, and an online casino that has those, tournaments, a good selection and is safe and fair is going to get my business.

$1 blackjack tables helping Atlantic City casinos

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

I have written before about how raising the minimum bet limits for blackjack tables can cause a drop in revenue for the casinos rather than an increase. Casino games, like any other product, good or service, is governed by the rules of supply and demand. Or at least they should be. The casinos charge a price to play the game that the players consider the games to be worth. If the casino charges too little money, they risk not making enough to justify carrying the game (or so they say). If they charge too much, players may opt to not play.

The casino industry is hurting thanks to the recession and they are looking for ways to increase revenue. Some casinos, such as those in Colorado, have made $10 tables the cheapest, but they risk losing some blackjack novices who don’t want to wager that price.  Some Atlantic City casinos are now taking the opposite route in an attempt to lure more players. The casino will make less money on each hand, but hopefully have more players.

The Trump Marina Hotel Casino, owned by that guy who fires people on TV, has introduced $1 blackjack tables in an attempt to boost business. As a result, they are seeing the best business they have had in years. Back in the 1990’s, $2 tables were common in Atlantic City, but those were gradually phased out in favor of $5 and even $10 tables as the cheapest.

With the resurgence in popularity for blackjack tables at the Trump Marina, here’s hoping that the $1 blackjack table trend will catch on. It’s the perfect way for gamblers with smaller incomes or novice gamblers to have fun at the casino without worrying too much about their cash.

Of course, at online casinos there are even more opportunities for low-minimum blackjack tables. It is common to find $1 and $2 blackjack tables online if you look hard enough. In addition, some online casinos hold blackjack tournaments, where you can buy in for a low price or maybe for no entry fee at all, if it’s a free blackjack tournament.

Blackjack Strategy: Dealer Ace

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

This is the last part in my 10-part series on covering blackjack basic strategy by what up card the dealer shows. Are you sad? Excited? Is it like how depressed I was when it hit me that LOST was coming to an end? Actually, forget I mentioned that. It’s a sore subject.

As always, this strategy works just as well in an online casino as in the brick and mortar variety. Here I am discussing the strategy for when the dealer shows an ace as the up card.
The first thing you need to know is that when the dealer shows an ace, that’s bad news. You’re probably going to lose. The dealer might have a natural blackjack, in which case you’ll lose before even drawing more cards. Even if he doesn’t he will have a soft hand that is likely high in value. When the dealer has an ace as an up card, your odds of winning are slim. With that out of the way, here’s the strategy.

You should always hit with an 8 or less, because you have a low card and no risk of busting. Against a dealer ace up card, you should also hit anything from a 9 to a hard 15. You don’t want to stand with any of these hands because you are likely to be outdrawn by the dealer. You don’t want to double, even with a 10 or 11, because even with those cards your hand likely isn’t better than the dealer’s.

With a hard 16, you should surrender if allowed. If not, take a hit. You should surrender because a hard 16 is the worst hand in blackjack. It’s only high enough to win if the dealer busts yet it has high odds (7/13) of busting when you take a hit. For that reason, your best bet is to surrender half of your bet 100% of the time, rather than losing all of your bet considerably more often than that.

With a hard 17 or better you should stand against any dealer up card, including an ace. Those hands are high enough that you can win even without the dealer busting and you are more likely to bust than to improve your hand by taking a hit.

With a soft 13-18, you should take a hit against a dealer ace. There is no risk of busting with a soft hand. In addition, you are likely to be outdrawn by standing, so your best chance is to try to improve your hand. With a soft 19 or better, though, you should stand. That is because you are more likely to reduce the quality of your hand than to improve it. Also, your hand may be high enough to win.

When it comes to splitting pairs, you should be conservative against a dealer ace. Since you are not likely to win, you don’t often want to double the bet. With a pair of twos through sevens, you should take a hit. You should split a pair of eights, though, because you’re splitting up a stiff hand (16) and giving yourself a chance for two good hands (18).

You should stand with a pair of nines or tens against a dealer ace. You have good hands (18, 20) and are likely to bust by drawing another card. Though you still don’t have great odds – due to the dealer’s hand – your best odds are to stand and hope you outdraw the dealer.

If you have a pair of aces, then congratulations! You actually have a hand better than the dealer. In that case, split the pair. If you do, you have two hands starting with an ace versus one dealer hand starting with an ace. The odds are now in your favor, so good luck! So the next time you’re playing blackjack at the casino, be sure to stick to this strategy for the best chance of success.

Finding a Fair Casino

Monday, May 17th, 2010

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing an online casino with which to play blackjack. The biggest factor, though, should be safety. You should never play at an online casino that you aren’t sure is safe and fair. You as the player need to be protected from cheating players, outside threats (such as hackers) and the casino itself. So how do you know which casinos are fair?

The biggest indicator of a fair online casino is whether or not it is approved by a recognized regulatory authority. That authority can be a government agency or a third-party group, such as eCOGRA. In any case, it is a good sign of an online gambling regulatory group certifies a casino as safe and fair.

Another thing to look at is the software that the online casino uses. Some casinos design their own games, but most used licensed software designed by third parties. There are a handful of large software designers who have made a name for themselves in the industry and are considered the most reputable in the business. If the casino uses the software from one of those designers – such as CryptoLogic, Realtime Gaming, Microgaming, Vegas Technology and more – then the casino should have a reputation as good as that of the software provider. In this industry, bad business practices will ruin a reputation quickly.

Another thing to look for is how transparent the online casino is. Rushmore Casino, for example, is one of the leaders in the business when it comes to transparency. To ensure that the gaming environment is secure and that players feel safe playing there, the casino has a feature built into the software that allows players to instantly access their game and financial history. At any time, a player can review every wager they have placed, when it was placed, how much money was wagered, how much was won or lost and detailed results of each individual game.

This is important because often players don’t make a withdrawal shortly after winning money. Instead, they often keep a running balance for a while. A disreputable casino could take advantage of that and secretly subtract from their balance or void some of their winning games. With a transparent casino like Rushmore, that is not possible because you can track everything. This also helps if there is ever a technical error that causes a dispute.

If an online casino is transparent, approved by a recognized regulatory authority and uses software deemed to be safe and fair, you can feel assured that the casino is a safe place to play online blackjack.

Online Blackjack Casinos: InterCasino

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

My online blackjack blog is constantly evolving as I add new things to cover and discuss. I routinely write about blackjack news, strategy, and different types of blackjack games. Those blackjack blogs often refer to both brick and mortar casinos and online casinos. I’ve never really gone into too much detail about the different online casinos out there, though.

For that reason, I decided to start a new series where I outline where I play, what you can find there and why I recommend them. First of all, I will never recommend an online casino that I’m not certain is safe and fair. But what else should you look for? Read on and see.

The first online casino that I want to highlight is InterCasino, which is a great casino to play some online blackjack. InterCasino has a variety of blackjack games, so even if you play at this casino exclusively there will still be plenty of different games from which to choose. The many online blackjack variations they have includes Atlantic City Blackjack, Double-Deck Blackjack, Progressive Blackjack, Single-Deck Blackjack, Vegas Blackjack, European Blackjack, Pontoon, Super Fun 21 and Video Blackjack.

Each blackjack game has different rules, which you can easily find on the website. In addition to the regular games, InterCasino also sometimes holds blackjack tournaments. Players who are new to InterCasino can take advantage of a welcome bonus that matches your initial deposit 100% up to $225. In addition, as you play games you accumulate points and earn money in the My Cash Rewards bonus, which is given out monthly. The My Cash Rewards bonus rewards players for wagering and playing games, which is something you would do anyway. Players can also join the Cashback Club in order to get additional bonus money.

Perhaps the best thing about InterCasino right now, though, is a specific contest that you probably won’t win. It’s well worth it if you do, though. I’m taking about the Space Race promotion. The Space Race contest is kind of like a raffle. Simply by joining you have one point in the contest, but you earn more for accomplishing certain things, such as making deposits and playing games at the online casino. At the end of the promotion, some lucky player will be randomly drawn from the contest pool to win a trip into space.

Yes, you read that right. InterCasino is sending people into space by partnering with the company Space Adventures. I can’t think of a more exciting grand prize in an online casino promotion. There are other prizes as well, though, including trips to the Super Bowl, Grand Prix and an African safari. There are also cash prizes of up to $100,000 in the promotion.

So yeah, by playing online blackjack at InterCasino, you have a chance to get sent into space. I can’t think of a better reason to play there than that.

To join InterCasino, click here.

Blackjack Side Bets: Royal Match

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Side bets are quite common in the game of blackjack, whether you play at an online casino or the brick and mortar variety. One of the reasons for the popularity of side bets is that players (incorrectly) see them as an easy way to win extra money. Another reason for their popularity is that casinos know that they are an easy way for the casino to take more money, since the house edge for the side bets are usually higher than on the regular game of blackjack. They also provide a sense of variety for the players who like to mix things up.

One of the more popular side bets at online casinos and land-based casinos is the royal match bet. This side bet, like with the perfect pairs side bet, only concerns the first two cards dealt to the player. In this bet, the player wins if the first two cards are in the same suit (an “easy match”) and gets a higher payout if they are in the same suit and one is a queen and the other a king (a “royal match”).

It’s really that simple. So what are your odds? There are two different common pay tables for this blackjack side bet, which I will call Pay Table A and Pay Table B. Pay Table A, which is more common, pays 2.5:1 for an easy match and 25:1 for a royal match. In Pay Table B, which you don’t see quite as often, the casino pays 3:1 for an easy match and 10:1 for a royal match. Players have a 23.2% chance of drawing an easy match and a 0.3% chance of drawing a royal match.

As you can see, Pay Table A pays slightly less for an easy match but significantly more for a royal match. However, since easy matches are much more common, Pay Table B is a much better deal. In fact, if you’re playing with 4 or more decks, there is actually a player advantage for this side bet (which is why the first pay table is more common at casinos).

The house edge for this blackjack side bet varies greatly depending on the number of decks in pay, for obvious reason. The more decks are being used, the more cards there are. The more cards there are, the more pairs are available to draw. Therefore, though the house edge for the regular blackjack game increases as the number of decks increases, your odds in the royal match side bet are the best in an 8-deck game.

In Pay Table A, there is a 10.85% house edge with one deck, an 8.32% house edge with 2 decks, a 7.07% house edge with 4 decks, a 6.67% house edge with 6 decks and a 6.46% house edge with 8 decks. In Pay Table B, there is a 3.77% house edge with one deck and a 0.82% house edge with 2 decks. With 4 decks, there is actually a player advantage of 0.63%. There is a 1.11% player advantage with 6 decks and a 1.35% player advantage with 8 decks.

Therefore, if you can find an online casino that offers the blackjack royal match side bet with Pay Table B, you should take that bet every time.

Future Casinos to Tailor Games to Clients

Friday, January 15th, 2010

One of the great things about playing slots online is the variety. Most online casinos have a wide range of slots to play, regular and progressive, single-line and multi-line, with various themes. If you can’t find a slot that you want to play on that site, no need to worry. Simply log off of the site and go to a different online casino. This is something that has always been lacking at brick and mortar casino. Until now.

Currently, most land-based casinos have banks of slots where each slot is the same game. There are various banks, but all in all, there isn’t a ton of variety in the slot machines. The new Casino CityCenter in Las Vegas is changing all of that. The casino offers electronic slot machines that are run by a central server. Instead of having a specific theme, players will soon walk up to blank slot machine and then select their game, their theme and other options, from the main menu. That way, players would have a wide variety of games in each slot machine.

Casinos are already customizing the experiences of members of their players club. Clients who join the players club, which is free, are kind of…spied on.

But in a good way! It may sound like big brother, but players who sign up for a players club card at the casino are tracked to see that they enjoy. The casino keeps track of what slots they use, what they like to drink, what they like to eat, what entertainment they enjoy and more. This allows the casino to better cater to your tastes. Soon, casinos will be able to do the same with the slot machines. Gone will be the banks that have slot after slot of the same game. Players will have a list of games suggested to them based on what they like and can choose what game they want to play.

Though this is a great idea, I doubt it will draw much business away from online casinos. The main draw of the online gaming is the convenience and until each city gets their own casinos (which won’t happen), there will always be plenty of places where it isn’t convenient to visit a brick and mortar casino. With these changes, though, those who do visit the casinos should have a better time.

New Year Bonuses at Rushmore Casino

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Rushmore Casino is a website that had me with hello.* I’m a big Wes Anderson fan and Rushmore is one of my favorite films, so as soon as I heard that there was a Rushmore Casino, I checked it out immediately. What I found is an excellent online casino with a wide variety of games. For blackjack, there are several variations available, such as Perfect Pairs, Super 21, Match Play 21, Face Up 21 and Pontoon. Not only that, but the bonuses are pretty good, too.

Rushmore Casino is doing their best to help gamblers who are suffering from the post-Christmas pre-New Years blues. Starting yesterday, December 28 through New Year’s Eve, the casino is offering match bonuses that can add up to an extra $20,000 in your account.

To wrap up 2009, the online casino is offering the New Year Countdown bonuses, which are separated into two groups: $10,000 for slots and $10,000 for blackjack. Players have the opportunity to earn up to 20 coupons (five per day) during the promotion. Each coupon is a 50% match bonus on deposits, with a maximum amount of $500 each. Players must wager the bonuses 20 times in slots or 50 times in blackjack before making a withdrawal.

In addition to the New Year Countdown bonuses, Rushmore is also offering the Happy 2010 Weekend bonus, which runs from Friday, January 1 through Sunday, January 3. This bonus is a 100% match of deposits, with a maximum amount of $1000. Players can earn this bonus up to 10 times.

To celebrate the coming New Year with some exciting bonuses, visit Rushmore Casino today.

*I apologize for the Jerry Maguire reference.