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Feature
7 Things Every Online Gambler Should Know
by Max Drayman, WINNERonline.com
4 June 2002

The WINNERonline crew has been covering the internet gambling scene for quite some time now. We've seen and learned a lot but when you get right down to it there are some basic truths that all players, rookies and vets alike, should know if they don't already.

#1: Bigger is better.
In terms of service and satisfaction the player is usually better off playing at the larger internet casinos. Small internet casinos are sometimes seriously undercapitalized and end up operating on a shoestring. For the player this can mean disputed winnings and delayed payouts. By contrast the larger casinos have the cashflow to cover their expenses, pay the winners and still have a healthy profit margin. I could go into the numbers to prove this but suffice it to say that if you play at a little casino you'd better do your homework, and then do it again. It's not a universal truth but it's often the case that size matters.

#2: There is no sheriff in town.
For the most part internet gambling is an unregulated business. That means there are generally no courts or lawmen to turn to when something goes wrong.

For all intents and purposes the internet is deep space so it's up to you to make sure you're putting your money in the hands of people who have a reputation for handling their customers responsibly.

Of course the key word here is "reputation" as it's often the only guarantee you have that you'll be treated honestly and fairly. If they've done it for many people over a long period of time than they'll probably do it for you. Doing your research is often the only chance you'll get to ensure that the one-armed bandit isn't hiding some two-fisted friends.

#3: Customer Service is your responsibility.
Believe it or not Customer Service at many online casinos isn't handled by the casino at all. Casinos often farm this part of their operation out to companies that provide Customer Service to many casinos simultaneously. So how is it that they say "Thanks for calling Casino X" when they answer the phone? The number you dialed shows up on their console and identifies the casino you think you called.

Ok, so that's the bad news. The good news is that it doesn't really matter as long as you get good service when you need it. And how can you determine that you will? Simple, take them on a test drive. Just think of some reason to call them before you get in deep at the casino. Then you'll know.

#4: Use the portals.
In the largely unregulated, unpoliced business of internet gambling it has fallen to third parties to give the information, guidance and forum they need to protect their interests. Enter the portals. Sites like WINNERonline, Got2Bet, CasinoMeister and others have become the defacto place for internet gamblers to meet, exchange experiences, call for help, and generally hang around to get informed. Almost all portals are free to use and most offer unrestricted and unbiased information and reportage. Use 'em!

#5: Check your rules and payouts.
Unlike the brick-and-mortar casinos it's often very easy for an internet casino to tweak its rules and payout tables. Think you're sitting down to the same 9-6 Jacks or Better that you played in Vegas? Maybe, maybe not. If that 4th line on the payout table reads 8 instead of 9 it ain't the same game! In fact it's been tweaked a bit to give the house a slight percentage edge over the regular game. The same is true for the 0 vs 00 in Roulette and the Banker's bets in Baccarat.

#6: Cheating pays but not as often as you'd think.
Players often grumble about how they've lost this or that many hands in Blackjack at Casino X. "The game is rigged!" they'll say and the mud-slinging begins.

While it's certainly true that the internet casino offers a wealth of cheating opportunities to unscrupulous operators --all internet casinos are software and software is inordinately malleable-- the truth is that a lot more fouls get called than are justified.

Having said that it's only fair to say that there have been questionable games but they are usually quickly discovered and denounced. Online players have become quite a vocal lot and they're not bashful about flagging a suspect casino. And this brings us to our last point:

#7: Appeal to the masses.
In the unfortunate event that you have a legitimate beef with an internet casino and the casino itself is unwilling or unable to assist the first question you're going to want answered is "where do I turn?".

You may not like this answer but your best bet is to turn to your fellow online gamblers. You might, for instance, go to our message boards. Post a message detailing your troubles and ask the other players for advice. There are many such forums out there, ours just happens to be the one we like.

Generally speaking the more serious your problem the more people you want to know about it. Why? (a) Because the other players may have been in your situation before and could have just the right advice to save the day. And (b) because it is very possible that the casino manager will read your post and be quite anxious to have your story end happily. As indirect as this process may seem it has resulted in many such happy endings in the past.

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