The What, Where, and How of Online Gambling
by Margie Pignataro for Great Bridge Links ©2016
Gambling online is enormous. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that stretches across the globe. My husband is a professional poker player and does the majority of his playing online. Most professional poker players do. It is that lucrative of a business if one has skill and, of course, luck.
Online gambling is more than just poker. Anything you can get in a casino you can get online, except the free drinks. Poker is huge, but so is blackjack. There are entire sites dedicated to blackjack. There’s roulette and craps and slots. You get the idea.
How real is it?
I think the first, most logical questions involve how it all occurs. What are the cards used? Are there actual decks? Are there roulette wheels and dice? Are there dealers? Is there any interaction with real people? To put it simply, how real is it?
First of all, there are no live dealers, nor are there any cards. All decks are the construction of random number generators. Each casino website has a page dedicated to these generators, explaining how they work. There are no dealers because there is no need for the “middle man”, the person who retrieves the dice or shuffles the cards. So, technically, the odds created by a random number generator are not the same as an actual deck. Does that matter? Is that fair? That’s up to everyone to decide for themselves.
When playing poker online, you play hands with actual people. But everyone picks an avatar and a handle (name). Anonymity is prized because it’s not at all helpful if everyone at the table knows how good or bad you are. Information does leak though. My husband has had people come up to him in Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker and say, “Aren’t you theginger45?” He was both mortified and complimented.
There are chat boxes for people to have conversation, and which are often used to bully, insult, and attempt to disembowel your fellow players. The tendency is for players to play more than one table at a time. For example, theginger45 plays up to twelve tables at a time for eight to ten hours at a stretch. Hands last about a minute on average. I gave up math after high school, so I’ll leave the computations to you.
This creates an experience with poker that is quite impossible to achieve with live hands. And this has a huge impact on the market: it has generated thousands of professional poker players with incredible amounts of experience and skill. No limit Texas Hold’em has become saturated online with really excellent players. It’s more difficult to win as it has become much more competitive.
Where can I play?
Another important question is where can one play online. This is when it gets great and terrible. You can gamble online anywhere in the world (in the UK, there are no taxes on winnings!), except most of the US. The US have very strict gambling laws. The colossal casinos in Las Vegas are particularly terrified that if online gambling becomes legal, they will lose enormous business. I can’t imagine this ever happening. If anything, I think this will inspire people to want to play live in a casino. But the casinos are fighting it hard. There are movements in the legislature toward legalizing it, but who knows for sure when that will happen.
In the US, there are only two states where online gambling is permitted, and it’s not a surprise where: Nevada and New Jersey. And there aren’t many sites. WSOP.com, America’s Card Room, and Bovada are the biggest and best.
I played no limit Texas Hold’em on WSOP.com with penny stakes. It’s not about making money.
But that didn’t stop me from getting quite riled up and yelling at the computer elaborate descriptions of the players and what I thought about their mothers. I didn’t do well.
My handle was a long random number that my husband chose when he set up the account, but I got to pick my avatar: the South African flag. I’m not South African. I only adore their cricket team. It’s amazing how much more enthusiastic I felt with that silly avatar flag: as if I was playing poker with the support of team South Africa. They had my back as I had theirs when they play. And then I lost almost ten dollars, which in penny stakes is awful. C’est la guerre.
What about the money?
The money system for online gambling is easy and what you would probably expect: you deposit money into an account, which can then be refunded to you via paypal or a bank transfer. Or you can deposit more via a transfer. Each casino website requires that each player form a money account. This is attached to the player’s profile. This is an account separate from paypal or a bank account. The player has to deposit money into this account, from paypal or a bank account, before any gambling can occur. It’s straightforward and hassle free.
What are the best sites?
Outside the US, here are the best, most popular sites:
Poker Stars: It is a huge site in the poker community, offering multiple forms of poker, and big poker tournaments. And it also has blackjack and roulette. It can be played for real money in New Jersey, though. It is safe, regulated, and professional. Click here >
Party Poker: Not as renowned as Poker Stars, it does offer multiple forms of poker and blackjack and lots of poker tournaments. Click here >
And for those in Europe, there’s Winamax. A French poker site, it boasts being the largest in the world, most secure and safe, with the most to offer. And it does have lots of poker and sportsbetting. But that’s all there is: no casino games. Click here >
Can I play on my phone?
By the way, all of these sites are available on all mobile devices. Of course: the easier the access to gambling, the more one will gamble.
A helpful site I discovered was onlinegambling.com. It is a site devoted to putting all kinds of gambling sites through a rigorous review process. Expect that the world of online gambling is going to expand in the coming years. Perhaps at some time, one can play bridge online for real money.