June 14th, 2012
What do you think of when you think of Delaware and Rhode Island? If you live in the US, you probably remember them as being the very tiny states when you studied geography. Rhode Island is the smallest state in the Union and its neighbor Delaware isn’t far behind. And when it comes to online poker, this is important. See, online poker differs a bit from a standard online casino.
At a regular online casinos, such as those listed at www.pccasinogames.com, gamblers play against a computer program that simulates a casino dealer, slot machine or roulette wheel. So, to a certain extent, it doesn’t matter how many players are online at a single time, as long as there are enough over time to make the casino money. But when it comes to an online poker room, players actually gather at virtual tables to play against each other. The computer program is designed to simulate the dealing of cards and to follow players instructions as far as raising, folding and other commands, but the point of the game is that you match your skill against other players. So with an online poker room, the room needs to guarantee enough players online at one time to make the room work.
Which is where smaller states are finding they run into a challenge when it comes to online poker. Washington DC even scrapped plans for online poker after approval because they couldn’t guarantee enough players to make it work. Which is the same problem Delaware and Rhode Island face.
But Delaware has proposed a solution – a multi-state online poker room. Delaware wants to partner with Rhode Island and West Virginia to offer online poker that allows players from all three states to join in. This would solve the population problem and make online poker a viable option for all three states. It remains to be seen if they can get the efforts off the ground, but if they do, this multi-state idea might appeal to other states. The idea would certainly appeal to poker players who would rather see online poker legislated at the federal level to interest the larger poker rooms working in the UK and EU. Pro poker players want to test their skill against the world, not just against West Virginia.
May 2nd, 2012
There’s a little part of the gambling world that’s coming into public notice right now and causing both controversy and concern. Now, I have mixed feelings when it comes to sporting events involving animals. Look, as humans we’re supposed to be capable of making intelligent decisions when it comes to gambling. And if we run into problem with that, there are organizations like Gamblers Anonymous to help out. But animals have to depend on the people involved in the sport or gambling event to make the right decision. And lately we’ve been seeing news that just drives home how dangerous these sports may be to the animals involved. For example, HBO canceled the horse racing based drama “Luck” after three horses died during production of the show. While the allure of the race track may pull in millions, most people don’t want an up close and personal look at the risk to the horses and the jockeys involved.
I don’t expect horse racing to go away and of course, I know that owners are going to take every step possible to protect a valuable horse. But today I’m learning about a different racing industry – pigeon racing. Now, I knew pigeon racing existed, but I always assumed it was a sort of rarified sport practiced by a scattered group of pigeon fanciers. It seems so harmless and I certainly didn’t realize the amount of money associated with it. Apparently pigeon racing is responsible for $15 million in gambling money each year in the dark gambling underworld. Yes, pigeons.
So, who’s blowing the lid off pigeon racing? Well, PETA. According to PETA there is a 60 percent fatality rate in the sport – that’s for the pigeons of course, not the gamblers. I don’t think PETA would worry about the gamblers dropping off. Now, you might wonder how there’s such a high rate of death with pigeons who we imagine flying free through the air. Well, consider that Disney World stopped releases of doves after shows because the local hawk population was hanging around for dinner, and you’ll see how the same thing could happen in pigeon racing. Normally pigeons, or doves, work to find safe flying and nesting sites and don’t take to the air when a hawk is around. But when man messes with the natural world, well, he provides a convenient meal for the local raptors.
Will PETA take down pigeon racing? No, probably not. But it’s interesting to watch the story develop.
April 16th, 2012
The World Series of Poker has a new event scheduled for this year and it’s been catching everyone’s eye since they first scheduled it. It’s the first poker tournament with a million dollar buy in. You can check Wikipedia to see all sorts of poker records. There’s been a lot of supposition about why a million dollar buy in, not that regular events at the WSOP are on the cheap side, but some suspect that the hopes was that having to pay a million bucks to sit at the table would draw the top players and make it truly a high skill game.
I have to admit that at first look, having to pay something like $20K just to enter the WSOP main event seems like it would keep numbers down, but the event draws thousands of players and plenty of poker rooms hold tournaments to give away free seats. The result isn’t necessarily a lower of skill, but it does mean that a winning player will spend days playing through the competition at the main event. The WSOP has tried to offset that by letting players start the second day and skip the first. This means that they don’t have the chance to amass chips during that first day shake out of players, but for a pro who is aiming for the final table, it can mean starting feeling fresher.
The million dollar table could give the pros a place to test their skills against one another without needing to exhaust themselves with a day or two of play before they get to meet up. And it may be a success. So far, 30 players have registered for the event, including Patrik Antonius, Daniel Negreanu and Tom Dwan. I’m hoping they televise the event, or at least web stream it, because it’s going to be play worth watching.
April 3rd, 2012
I’ve been reading a report that shows that women make up a significant portion of the online gambling market. Now, it’s interesting to consider the two different points of view this information can be delivered from. One is the cautionary perspective of those who look at the statistic and immediately assume women have a problem with online gambling. After all, they’re gambling online. Never mind that in places like the UK, online bingo sites spend a great deal of time developing social media aspects of their games.
Then there’s the other side of the coin. The one that might ask if women are gambling online because it is a more comfortable environment for them than the live casino atmosphere. Because that could revolutionize how casinos, both live and online work. Women have always been considered second class citizens in the gambling world. Casinos build slot rooms to keep female players busy. Young and attractive women are welcome to apply for jobs serving drinks to the men. And the result has been that the big casinos remain a male environment. The men appreciate it. But should the casino industry itself appreciate it?
See, women are making their presence felt in the online casino world, which is why many online casino are responding by offering games and promotions directed to their female players. Just check out onlineslots-bonus,com for some ideas on the bonuses out there.
So, why live casinos, tribal casinos and others are fussing about the damage online gambling could do to them, they are sending half the population that way. Women don’t have a problem with online gambling. They’ve found a solution with online gambling. They’ve found casinos who seek them out. They’ve found blackjack games where the computer doesn’t care if they’re a woman.
February 28th, 2012
So, I’m having another cup of coffee and processing the latest gambling news. I haven’t found it on Fox News yet, so perhaps this is a scoop. But it’ll be of interest to gamblers. We all remember the Black Friday Poker Shutdown of last year. That shut down forced PokerStars out of the US market and crashed Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and UB.com. About that same time, Maryland was involved in an investigation of Bodog.com because of the poker room’s relationship with two men who were charged with money laundering in 2008. The men charged had been processing payments for Bodog. Well, Bodog seems to have had a sniff of problems in the wind. They changed their URL from Bodog.com to Bodog.eu and pulled out of the US market. Morris Mohawk Gaming took over the US clients on the Bodog side under a new site Bovada.lv. So, essentially, the state of Maryland has seized a defunct site. But this could be causing some problems for players at Bovada who may be used to typing in Bodog and being redirected to the new site. Now they’ll just see a splash screen that the site has been seized. It is only Bodog.com that has been seized. Bovada.lv is still operating.
Keep in mind that the events surrounding Bodog and the other sites took place before the Department of Justice changed its view on the Wire Act of 1961 and determined that it only applied to sports betting. At this point, multiple states have set legislation in place for online poker in their state and the Tribal Gaming Network has even launched an intranet site for online poker that lets players at any of their casinos join in games with players at other tribal casinos. So, we are seeing a new era of online poker in the United States.
February 7th, 2012
I’m reading that Baccarat is booming and thinking - hmm, there’s a game I don’t play very often. Now there’s good reason that many of us avoid the baccarat table. It’s not because the game is complicated. It really isn’t once you learn how to place a bet. It’s because in a land based casino the baccarat table is treated like sacred ground. It’s often roped off from the “masses” like the people who play nickel slot machines (been there, done that). And the minimum bet alone can be enough to keep the “nickel players” away. But online baccarat has the same limits you’ll find in online blackjack and many casinos offer “mini-baccarat” games with, once again, stakes similar to those you’ll find in blackjack.
And baccarat is easier to play and more fun than you may realize if you’ve never played the game. In a land based casino, you want to find the table with other players so you can join in the social fun. Baccarat is one of those games designed so the dealer does most of the work, leaving the players free to socialize and bet.
The basics concept behind baccarat is to bet which hand will come closest to 9. Card values are calculated at face value with face cards counting as a zero and aces as a 1. Resulting values are added until you get something between 1 and 9. The math sounds complicated when you first hear about it. But here’s the thing - this isn’t blackjack. You don’t have to bet on your hand and decide to stand or hit. In Baccarat you can bet on the dealer hand, player hand or a tie. And then the dealer deals according to house rules, does the math and either takes your money or gives you money. The big bet is for the tie because that pays out 9 to 1. I love betting the tie because I get lots of money if I win.
If you’ve never played baccarat before, head over to your favorite online casino and give the game a try. Like me, you might find it addicting. But remember, you can play for free if you just want to experience the fun without the risk.
January 17th, 2012
It looks like it’s now not a question of whether or not we’ll have legal online poker in the US but how we’ll get legal online poker. The Department of Justice’s reversal of opinion on the 1961 Wire Act which stated that the act was only meant to apply to sports games has opened the door wide for new legislation and new opportunities. States have been quick to jump on the bandwagon. Nevada is already issuing online poker licenses, since they’d already passed a bill making online poker legal in the state as long as it wasn’t against federal law. A ruling that sounded backward at the time but turned out to be just the right view of things. New York has also announced that it’s looking into online poker and other states will undoubtedly be following the New York attitude.
Which is why the Poker Players Alliance has warned Congress that if it doesn’t act to bring in online poker on a federal level — NOW. Really, right now, it will lose the opportunity. Now from the perspective of a poker player, national online poker would be better because it would make online poker available to more people and focus less on smaller state casinos. But to the states, legislation by individual states is preferable because it means that each state can collect revenue from online poker rooms operating in their boundaries.
From congresses point of view, hmm, I don’t know what their point of view is. Perhaps it’s that if they leave it up to the individual states, they don’t have to go on the record for having an opinion. But really, the federal budget could use the money that online poker would bring it. Come on congress, show ‘em or fold ‘em.
January 3rd, 2012
Welcome back from the holidays! Have you caught up with the gambling news yet? There’s one story out there making the rounds of the media from MSNBC to Fox News. It’s the Department of Justice’s change to their view on online gambling. Now this one is a bit complex so I’m going to try to put it in a gambler’s perspective rather that a legal perspective. Besides, I’m a better gambler than I am a lawyer (not actually a lawyer at all). This is going to require a history lesson.
For the last year, online gambling news has all been about the UIGEA or Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. But here’s the trick. The UIGEA only calls for the enforcement of existing laws against internet gambling. Everyone admits that the UIGEA is poorly written and doesn’t clearly define what illegal internet gambling looks like. So, what made everyone consider online gambling illegal? Well, that was the Wire Act of 1961.
Now, here’s where we run into a history problem. Back in 1961 there was no online gambling and the internet as we know it today didn’t exist. So how did the wise folks in 1961 write a law to make something they didn’t know existed illegal? Well, they didn’t. The Wire Act was about sports betting and placing bets by wiring money. The Wire Act was just interpreted to apply to online gambling. But when the UIGEA got around to telling the DOJ that essentially they had to enforce the Wire Act by applying it to online gambling, the DOJ decided to take another look at the act. Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I assume the Department of Justice probably has a few on hand. And what those lawyers decided was that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting. So, you can’t place online sports bets. Poker and online casino games are up for grabs.
What does this mean for gamblers? Well, right now it means that there is no specific federal law against online gambling. Now, that doesn’t automatically make it legal, but it does open the door to the states to pass their own online gambling laws without violating federal law. Nevada already has online poker plans in motion. California has stated that it is looking at putting its lottery online. And we’re barely out of the holiday season. This is going to be an interesting year.
December 20th, 2011
I want to take a look at the gambling bankroll versus the game played versus the amount bet. See, there are various takes out there on determining the best games to play and the best bankroll and so on. But most of them seem to start by analyzing the odds and the games and the game strategies rather than starting with the bankroll. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me “how much money can I spend / gamble / invest / etc / starts with the question - how much money do I have. For gambling the starting point then shifts to - how much can I afford to lose. An even stricter starting point than if I want a new flat screen TV. To give someone the advice that the best game is blackjack and that they need a starting bankroll of $250 to play at the $5 table which is usually the lowest table is fairly useless advice if they’re walking into a casino with $20 in their pocket.
Really, as gamblers we sometimes need to back up and ask ourselves - what’s the best game to play with the amount of money I have available? Because that answer can be different than the answer you might determine if you just looked at odds. Odds wise, I’d go with blackjack. If I have $50 in my pocket, I’m heading to video poker. If I have $20 in my pocket, I’ll look for either a nickel video poker machine or a penny slot machine.
Let’s take a look at it this way. Say you’re at a casino and you only have $5 left to play. But you’re with a group of friends who just aren’t ready to leave yet. So, you head to a blackjack table because the odds are best there. True, but the odds are measured over time, not for one hand. You’ll need that whole $5 to play one hand and if you lose, you get to wander the casino waiting for your friends to finish playing. Or you could head to the penny slot machines. Yeah, these have some of the worst odds in the casino, but have you ever played one? Look, you’ve got $5 and you’re likely to lose it all no matter what you do. But you can play penny slots for ages on $5. Sometimes you’ll even win some money.
Sometimes you don’t figure your bankroll out based on the game, but the game based on the bankroll.
December 6th, 2011
The news about a ruling in a case involving a South African casino may not be hitting CNN, but it does call for a bit of attention from the gambling world since it brings up the question of - just where is an online casino considered to be operating from. This is a question that resonates in the US because Antigua is disputing the shut down of gambling operations licensed from the island nation. According to Antigua, since gambling is legal where they operate and license the online casinos, the US has no right to shut down those casinos and declare the operations illegal. The US disagrees since the online casinos are in its view operating within the US.
It seems a very similar dispute has been playing out in South Africa. The online casino Piggs Peak had its servers in Swaziland, a small country almost entirely surrounded by South Africa, so Piggs Peak claimed that it did not fall under the jurisdiction of the South African National Gaming Board, which has outlawed online casinos in the country. But recently a South African judge ruled that the online casino operated where the player was located, not where the servers were located. Now, this ruling doesn’t apply to the US, but one can hardly expect a different ruling should it be called into question in the US.
Ironically, much like the US, South Africa doesn’t outlaw gambling altogether. In fact, it has some world class land based casinos that offer everything from family vacations with theme parks to gambling and safari excursions. South Africa wants the tourist money those casinos bring in, but not the local gambling that online casinos allow. Sound familiar?