Top 10 Rules Of Engagement
Can you make money playing online casino games?
Absolutely. People do it every day.
But most players lose money, largely because they don’t have a plan for success. They throw cash at the table games and slots, hoping they’ll receive a winning hand, shoot a perfect roll or hit all of their paylines.
For them, playing online casino games is no different than buying a lottery ticket and hoping for the best.
You can do better. Much better.
All it takes is coming up with – and sticking to – a smart plan. That plan should address the types of games you enjoy playing, best ways to play them and how to manage your cash – during hot and cold streaks.
Not sure where to start? Good news! I’m going to do the heavy lifting for you. Following are my top 10 rules of engagement when you play at online casinos.
Taking my advice doesn’t guarantee you’ll win, of course. Guaranteed systems are a mirage. But these 10 tips WILL improve your chances by making your money work harder for you.
One quick note before we start: the following suggestions apply to all casino games. They’re general in nature, focusing on mindset, approach and bankroll management. In future columns, we’ll do deep dives into specific games, including the industry’s most popular slot games.
Sound fair? Then let’s jump in.
#1 – Stick To Vetted Online Casinos
Hundreds more host a long list of slots, from 3-reel classics to video slots with engaging storylines, multipliers and hidden bonuses.
The huge selection might seem like a good thing. After all, the more options you have, the better, right?
The industry is still in its “Wild West” phase. There are a lot of untrustworthy internet casinos out there. Some reportedly refuse to pay out winnings to their customers. Others purposely delay payouts, sometimes for months on end. Still others host games for which the outcomes are anything but random.
Bottom line: it’s a good idea to stick to casinos that have a solid track record. My current favorites are Bovada Casino and Slots.lv. I recommend you register accounts at both sites. Do so and you’ll never have to worry about the shenanigans reported elsewhere.
#2 – Favor Games With “Good” Odds
Your chances of winning are much better with some games than others. For example, take a look at the following casino games, along with their respective house edges:
These numbers are estimates. Odds vary slightly from casino to casino based on an array of factors, including house rules. But the list above provides an accurate overview.
The key point is this: to maximize your chances of winning, play games where the house edge is smallest. If it’s a choice between Blackjack and Keno, choose the former. If it’s a choice between roulette and craps, choose the latter.
Having said that, if you love playing Keno or can’t get enough of roulette, by all means play them to your heart’s content. Just realize the odds of winning are less than terrific.
#3 – Simplify Your Betting
Ever taken a close look at a craps table? There are a LOT of different bets you can make. But here’s the worst-kept secret about craps: the odds are terrible on most bets.
The house edge on the pass line is a low 1.41%. That’s among the slimmest of edges across all table games. However, the edge on “hardways” bets is between 9% and 11%. They’re losers.
The same rule applies to other online casino games. For example, in roulette, a straight red/black bet (on a single zero wheel) has a house edge of 2.7%. Meanwhile, corner bets, street bets and split bets have increasingly worse odds.
The point is to simplify your betting. Or at least realize that the more esoteric a bet is, the worse your chances of winning.
#4 – Use The Casino’s Cash
Web-based casinos host ongoing promotions designed to attract new customers and encourage existing customers to play.
For example, Bovada offers every new player a 100% match on his or her first deposit up to $3,000. That’s a huge incentive. Plus, once you’ve registered at the site, you’ll be able to take advantage of ongoing promos like “Blackjack Weekends” and “Table Mania Tuesdays.”
All of them add betting money to your bankroll.
As you might suspect, there are restrictions on how you can use the money and when you can withdraw it. Bovada is not going to give you a $3,000 cash bonus that you can immediately transfer to your bank account. Online gambling doesn’t work that way.
So definitely read the terms and conditions. But ultimately, realize the promos are a gift. Take advantage of them.
#5 – Manage Your Bankroll
Don’t just make a deposit and head for the tables and slots. Put together a budget for your money. That will make your bankroll last longer.
How do you come up with a sound budget? Think of your activity at Bovada or Slots.lv as a mini-business. You want to maximize the productivity of every dollar spent. The easiest way to do that is to establish a set of rules.
Decide on the percentage you’ll allocate to slots and the percentage you’ll allocate to table games. For example, you might resolve to spend 35% of your bankroll on slots and 65% on table games.
Next, decide how many bets you’ll make on each type of game per night. Set a nightly maximum for each of your favorite games. For instance, you might aim to place no more than 30 bets on blackjack, 20 bets on craps and 50 spins on slots.
Also, set a rule regarding stakes. Sticking to $5 bets on blackjack will help your bankroll last a lot longer than betting $20 per hand.
Finally, institute a “stop loss” point. If you lose a certain amount of money during a given night’s betting, commit to shutting off your computer and walking away. That prevents you from chasing your losses.
#6 – Use Time Blocks To Control Your Betting
Don’t just log on to play whenever the mood strikes. Doing so makes you susceptible to the emotional ups and downs of betting.
Instead, create a schedule.
For example, if you work full-time, commit to playing between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. each weeknight. Treat it like an appointment. Set an alarm for 8:00 p.m. When it goes off, walk away from your computer.
There are two benefits to scheduling your betting activity. First, doing so prevents you from getting carried away and spending all night (and all of your money) on the tables and slots. It gives you a cut-off point.
Second, it introduces consistency to your betting. Consistency is a big part of casino money management. The more consistent you are, night after night, the less likely you’ll be to deviate from your plan.
#7 – Take Advantage Of Progressive Jackpots
This tip is for slots and video poker. (Check out Slots.lv for progressives!)
Keep your eyes open for progressive jackpots. The more people play, the bigger the jackpots grow. When they pay out, they pay out HUGE.
Progressive jackpots often reach six figures, and can potentially climb past $1 million. That’s a life-changing payout!
#8 – Read The Terms And Conditions
It shouldn’t surprise you that online casinos have a long list of terms related to their Welcome bonuses, payouts and withdrawal procedures. That’s the case for even the best casinos, such as Slots.lv and Bovada.
It’s tempting to dismiss the terms and conditions and get right to betting. But you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. Read the fine print before you play. Among other things, it describes rollover requirements for different games (e.g. slots vs. Pai gow) and different buckets of money (your deposit vs. your Welcome bonus).
As chemist Louis Pasteur once said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”
#9 – Give Your Greed The Night Off
We’re all greedy. Given the option to make money or lose it, all but the insane would choose the former.
Having said that, greed can have a disastrous effect on your online casino experience. Here’s how it usually works:
Suppose you’re playing slots and have managed to hit your paylines over and over. A high percentage of your spins deliver wins. Understandably, given your hot streak, you’re feeling confident.
But then, in a dramatic turn of events, you start to lose. One spin after another misses your paylines. You’re still in the black thanks to your early success, but you’re finding it increasingly difficult to ignore your losses. It’s impossible to walk away as your past winnings evaporate. A small voice in your head tells you that you can easily resume your winning streak if you just stick it out.
That’s greed talking. He’s encouraging you to chase your losses. And he’ll happily lead you right over the cliff in the process.
Above, I suggested creating a set of rules to manage your money. Use those rules to give your greed the night off.
#10 – Get Up And Stretch Your Legs
Take breaks. Frequent breaks. Otherwise, you’ll become so immersed in playing slots and table games that you forget everything else around you. You’ll eventually end up like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings, hissing “my precious” to the dim, comforting light of your monitor.
Breaks help you to concentrate. They keep you fresh and alert. Studies show our brains can only focus for short periods of time. The less focused we are, the more mistakes we make.
That can be catastrophic for your bankroll.
Try this: play for 15 minutes. Then, take a 5-minute break. Do that three or four times. Then, take a long walk or grab some dinner. Give your brain a chance to rest.
The 10 tips outlined above are the core tenets for success at online casinos. But they’re just the beginning. If you’re interested in playing slots, craps, blackjack, roulette, etc. and want to do well, stay tuned to this space. In future columns, we’re going to cover actionable tips you can use on specific games. We’ll also talk about how to get the most mileage from your favorite online casinos.