Is Online Bingo Fair?

I received e-mails from two different people this weekend who basically asked me if online bingo was fair or if the sites were run by scammers. One of the people mentioned that he’d done a little research on the matter and saw mixed opinions. So, this seems like an appropriate topic to address today.

Online bingo is fair if you play at a safe site. The online gambling industry is largely unregulated so pretty much anyone with a little money in the bank can set up shop. On the internet, reputation is everything. Until we get a worldwide governing body for gambling, we’ll have to rely on reputation to determine which sites are worth joining.

The key to getting a fair game of bingo is to stick with the big-name sites that you can research before you join. New bingo sites pop up all the time and it’s hard to get an idea of what those sites are all about. I’m sure most new bingo sites are legit, but there’s no easy way to tell for sure. For that reason, I prefer to stick with big name sites.

These are all bingo sites that have been around for a number of years. Based on my own experiences and talks with other players, these bingo sites know how to treat customers. They all offer high quality games but most importantly, they pay their winners.

Making Money
I should warn you that you shouldn’t go to online bingo with dreams of getting rich. The vast majority of bingo games on the internet run for fairly small stakes. Average wins are less than a hundred dollars. Bingo sites do host the occasional promotion with a massive prize pool, but most games are much smaller.

Bingo is more of a social game than a pure gambling game. Yes, there’s an element of gambling in the fact that you buy cards and try to win money, but that’s almost an afterthought. Visit any longstanding bingo site and you’ll notice that many of the players seem to know each other.

Online bingo is an experience. If you don’t have any plans for your evening, it’s nice to log in, play a few games and chat with people from all around the world. Bingo is a more lighthearted game than most other gambling games.

If your goal is to make money, there are other games for that. Sports betting, poker and blackjack all come to mind from that angle. And if you want to go for the really big wins, there are plenty of progressive jackpot slot machines that offer payouts in the range of a million dollars.

So to sum things up, online bingo is fair as long as you play at legitimate sites. It’s not the best way to get rich, but it’s fun and fair. I can think of much worse things to do on a slow evening.

Live Dealer Casinos

You use the same type of interface on your computer to make playing decisions as you would in the non live dealer games. Once you make your playing decisions they are displayed on a monitor of some sort for the live dealer to see and act on. Here is a step by step example from a live dealer blackjack game.

You click on the chips to place a $25 bet at the live dealer blackjack table. The dealer deals two cards to you and two cards to herself. You have a jack and an eight for a total of 18. The dealer shows a seven. You hit the stand button and the dealer sees your action on her monitor. She turns up a queen for a total of 17. You win the hand and she inputs the win on her end and you are credited with a $25 win.

Live dealer roulette games work much the same way except usually you only see the person spinning the wheel and the wheel. The betting surface or table layout is usually digital, just like when you play at the online casino without a live dealer.

Live Dealer Casino Games
The only games offered by live dealer online casinos are those that are popular enough to warrant having dealers and those that are live dealer friendly. The perfect example of a live dealer friendly game is roulette, where the casino can take multiple wagers and only have to spin the wheel once.

Here is an overview of the most popular live dealer games. While these might not be the only games you can find, they cover well over 95% of all the live dealer games available online.

Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular live dealer game played online today. It is a little more labor intensive for the casino than baccarat and roulette, but the larger player base makes it worth offering.

Each player places his or her bet and then the dealer gives each player two cards as well as taking two cards herself. Each player decides whether to hit, stand, double, split or surrender (where available) and the dealer completes the action. After all players have acted the dealer flips over her second card and completes her hand.

Live dealer blackjack plays just like it does in land based casinos but it can be a bit slower overall as the dealer has to wait for all of the players to act. Of course they have to wait for all of the players to act in land based casinos as well, but as they are insulated by the Internet some players take longer in online live dealer play than they would in land based action.

Roulette
Roulette is one of those games that are well known just about anywhere you go in the world. Even if you don’t play you are probably familiar with the spinning of an ivory ball within a roulette wheel. Players can place bets on a wide range of possible outcomes including black, red even or odd which pay even money all the way up to bets on a single number that pay 35 to 1.

Roulette wheels are available in double zero wheels, usually called American roulette, and single zero wheels called European or French roulette. The single zero wheels offer a lower house edge than the double zero wheels. Most live dealer casinos offer single zero wheels, so they are the ones you should play on if you have a choice.

When you play live dealer roulette you pick how much you want to bet and what you want to bet on. For example, if you want to wager $20 on black you click on the chips to select $20 and then click on the roulette layout to place your bet on the black area. The dealer then spins the roulette wheel and drops the ball in the wheel. As the ball lands the bets are paid out and then the bets for the next spin are placed.

Baccarat
Baccarat tends to play well as a live dealer game because the dealer performs all of the game actions after the player places their wager. This is another game like roulette where the casino can take just about any number of wagers without it changing the current hand or slowing things down.

Players place their bets on tie, banker or player and then the dealer deals out two hands of two cards each. There are set rules that must be followed and each hand either stays or receives an additional card. Then the winning wagers are paid and the bets for the next round are placed.

3 Card Poker
3 Card Poker is only available at a few live dealer casinos but it is quite popular in regular casinos and in online casinos. You play a three card poker hand against the dealer and when you win the payout based on the strength of your hand.

Sic Bo
Sic Bo is a dice game that is very popular in Asian markets. Offered by a few live dealer casinos, you place bets on what you think the outcome of the roll of the dice will be. Once all wagers are placed the dice are revealed and you are paid out based on the bets you placed. Different combinations pay different amounts based on the odds of them landing.

Casio Holdem
This version of poker is not the same as Texas holdem that you can often see on television. Though it is based on Texas holdem it is a table game designed for single person play against a dealer. There are a few different variations of this game available in live dealer casinos, and it is not available everywhere.

The player makes an ante wager and the player and dealer receive two hole cards. The dealer turns over the three community cards called the flop. The player then may fold or make an additional bet to finish the hand. If the player makes the extra wager the last two community cards, the turn and river, are turned face up and then the winner is determined.

Payouts are determined by the strength of your winning hand. In different variations the bet sizing is different.

Live Dealer Software Providers
There aren’t that many live dealer online software solutions, but the main ones offer a superior gaming experience.

The main three companies are Evolution Gaming, Playtech and Microgaming. One of the newer entries into the market is Global Gaming Labs.

See below for quick overviews of each platform that includes the games they offer to their players. Just to be clear, these are the companies that provide the backend working environment for the online casinos that offer the live dealer games. You don’t play these games at the sites owned by the companies below; you play at the online casino’s websites who lease these solutions.

Card Games in the Casino

The first thing that many casino players think of when they picture the inside of a casino are the slot machines, because slots tend to take up the most space. But there are also plenty of other options when it comes to casino games. As you continue reading below you will find a list of popular casino card games and descriptions of each.

The list below is extensive, but I can’t claim it to be 100% complete, as there are new games developed every day and there are obscure games that pop up now and then. But if you familiarize yourself with the card games on this page you won’t have any trouble finding a game to play at any casino.

Blackjack
Blackjack is by far the most popular casino card game. Almost everyone has either played blackjack or has seen it being played, but if you need a refresher here is a quick rundown on how to play.

Each player receives two cards and the dealer receives one card face down and one face up. Each player in turn then decides whether to stand pat, receive another card or cards (hit), split, double down or surrender (where available). Once all of the players have either busted (exceeded a total of 21) or stand the dealer flips their hole card over and completes his or her hand.

Dealers always hit when they have 16 or less and stand when they have 18 or more. Depending on the house rules, they always stand on hard 17’s but in some places they will hit on soft 17 and in others they will stand on soft 17.

This is just a basic overview, so if you want to play blackjack you should study the rules and table variations before investing a great deal of money. You can also play for free at most online casinos before playing for real money which is a great way to learn more about the game.

There are many different varieties of blackjack. A few of them are covered below, like Spanish 21, but you will find 21 game variations in just about every casino. They are almost always based on the same basic concept of getting a higher total than the dealer without going over 21 but will have different rule variations beyond that.

For example, there are blackjack games where both dealer cards are played face up and games where you are dealt two hands and the second cards on each hand can be switched. The most important thing to do is make sure you understand the rules and content of the deck before playing. The reason I mention the content of the deck is because some forms remove certain cards from the deck.

For an example of one of these games see the Spanish 21 information below.

3 Card Poker
3 Card Poker, also called Tri Card Poker, is a game where you play a three card poker hand against the dealer’s three card hand. The dealer has to qualify with a queen high or better in order to pay off on the raise bet. To start play you place a bet on the ante circle. You also may place an optional wager on the pair+ circle. After you receive your three cards you either fold, which surrenders your ante bet, or you raise by placing a bet the same size as your ante bet in the raise circle.

If you raise and the dealer does not qualify you receive even money on your ante bet and the raise bet is a push. When you raise and the dealer qualifies and you have a better hand than the dealer your ante bet and the raise wager both receive even money. There are bonuses paid on your ante bet for certain hands.

A common pay table for ante bonuses is a straight pays 1 to 1, three of a kind pays 4 to 1 and a straight flush pays 5 to 1. The pair plus has different pay tables at different casinos, but a common one pays 1 to 1 for a pair, 4 to 1 for a flush, 6 to 1 for a straight, 25 to 1 for three of a kind and 35 to 1 for a straight flush.

4 Card Poker
4 Card Poker is played much like 3 Card Poker except the dealer always qualifies. The player receives five cards and the dealer receives six, with five down and one face up. Each forms his or her best four card poker hand.

The player antes to start play and must place another wager of one to three times the ante to remain in the hand after receiving his or her cards. Bonuses are paid for certain hands and there are side bets available.

Baccarat
Baccarat is a casino card game that is played for some of the highest stakes around the world. When you start playing Baccarat you must place a bet on the banker, the player or a tie. After placing your bet all of the rest of the action is completed based on very strict rules, making this one of the easiest casino card games to play.

The object is to have the hand you bet on score a higher total than the other hand, or for the two hands to tie in the event you bet on a tie. Scores only go up to 9, as any digits in the tens column are dropped.

For example, a hand with a 10 and an 8 will score as an 8, not an 18. A hand containing an ace and 6 scores a total of 7.

Winning bets on the player pay 1 to 1 and winning bets on the banker pay 1 to 1 minus a small house commission, usually 5%. The tie bet usually pays 9 to 1, but it can vary.

Pai Gow Poker
In Pai Gow Poker the dealer and player each receive seven cards. These seven cards are divided into a five card poker hand and a two card hand. The five card hand has to be higher than the two card hand.

In order to win, the player’s five card hand has to be better than the dealer’s five card hand AND the player’s two card hand must be better than the dealer’s two card hand. When the player wins the casino collects a commission, usually 5%.

When both of the dealer’s hands are better than the players the player loses their wager. The outcome of the majority of hands is a push when the dealer has one better hand and the player has the other better hand.

Caribbean Stud Poker
Caribbean Stud Poker is a popular casino card game that usually has a side progressive jackpot wager available. Players start by placing an ante wager and the optional progressive side bet if they want. The player and dealer each receive five cards with only one of the dealers turned face up.

The player then either folds or raises. A raise is twice the amount of the original ante. The dealer only qualifies with a hand of ace king or higher. If the dealer does not qualify all ante bets are paid even money and all raises are pushed.

When the dealer qualifies and the player has a better hand both the ante and raise bets win for the player. The ante bet pays 1 to 1 and the raise wager is paid from a chart.

A common pay out chart is 1 to 1 for a pair or less, 2 to 1 for two pair, 3 to 1 for three of a kind, 4 to 1 for a straight, 5 to 1 for a flush, 7 to 1 for a full house, 20 to 1 for four of a kind, 50 to 1 for a straight flush and 100 to 1 for a royal flush.

Let It Ride
Let It Ride Poker is a version of five card stud where each player receives three cards and two cards are turned face up on the table. The two face up cards are used in combination with each player’s three cards to form their best poker hand.

Players do not play against the dealer. They are paid based on a pay table starting with a pair of tens or better.

Each player starts by placing three equal sized wagers. After they receive their three cards they may pull one wager back or let it ride. After the first face up card is dealt they can pull a bet back or let it ride.

So the player will always have at least one wager on the table at the end and may have up to three. A common pay table pays 1 to 1 for a pair of tens or better, 2 to 1 for two pair, 3 to 1 for three of a kind, 5 to 1 for a straight, 8 to 1 for a flush, 11 to 1 for a full house, 50 to 1 for four of a kind, 200 to1 for a straight flush and 1,000 to 1 for a royal flush.

Spanish 21
Spanish 21 is played like regular blackjack but all of the 10s have been removed from the deck. So instead of a 52 card deck you use a 48 card deck. Almost all of the other rules are favorable to the player so if you learn correct strategy the house edge on Spanish 21 can actually be lower than on most blackjack games. Pontoon is the name of a game very similar to Spanish 21 that is popular is Australia.

Casino War
Casino War is one of the easiest games you will ever play. You place a bet and receive a card face up. The dealer then receives a card face up. The higher card wins.

If you win you get paid even money and if you lose you surrender your entire wager. In the event of a tie you can either fold and get back half your bet or double your bet and go to war.

The war round has the player and dealer each receive four down cards and then a face up card. The higher face up card wins. If the dealer wins you lose your entire wager. If you win then you receive even money on half your bet and the other half is a push.

Super Fun 21
Super Fun 21 is a variation of blackjack. It is played just like blackjack but only pays even money on a player’s blackjack. Other rules are more favorable to the player like the ability to double down at any time during the hand, being able to split up to four times and a player blackjack always wins even when the dealer also has a blackjack.

Vegas Three Card Rummy
In Vegas Three Card Rummy the goal is to get a lower score than the dealer. The player and the dealer each receive three cards and the total is calculated for each hand. The dealer must score 20 or lower to qualify.

The player must place an ante bet to start and place an additional wager to stay in the hand after they receive their cards. There is also a side bonus bet that can be wagered on. When the player stays in the hand and has less than the dealer he or she receives even money on their ante.

When the player stays in and the dealer qualifies and the player has a lower score than the dealer the player wins 4 to 1 on a score of 0, 2 to 1 on a score of 1 to 5 and 1 to 1 on a score of 6 to 19.

Card values for face cards and tens are 10, aces are 1 and all other cards are their face value. Pairs, triples, two card suited runs and three card suited runs count as 0.

Texas Holdem
Texas holdem, along with the next two games (Omaha and 7 Card Stud), are not always included in a list of casino card games even though they are often offered in the poker section of land based casinos. They usually aren’t offered in the same software package as online casinos, though many online casinos also have poker rooms offered on different software. So I decided to include the three main poker variations here at the end because they do fit the overall theme.

Texas holdem is the most popular version of poker and is often the game you see televised. Play starts with two players placing small forced bets called the blinds. Each player receives two hole cards face down and then there is a round of betting.

Three community cards are placed face up in the middle of the table followed by another betting round. Another community card is turned face up followed by another round of wagering and then the final community card is turned face up.

The final round of betting is completed and the remaining players make their best five card poker hand using any combination of their hole cards and the five community cards. You can play Texas holdem for limit, pot limit or no limit.

Omaha
Omaha is played almost exactly like Texas holdem except each player starts with four cards instead of two and at the end each remaining player must use exactly two of his or her four hole cards and exactly three cards from the board to make the best five card hand. Omaha can be played as limit or pot limit and can also be played for high and low.

7 Card Stud
7 Card Stud starts with each player placing an ante and receiving two cards face down and one card face up followed by a betting round. The fourth, fifth and sixth cards are dealt to each player face up followed by betting rounds and then the seventh and final card is dealt face down to each player followed by the final betting round. 7 Card Stud is played for limit or pot limit stakes and is usually just played for high, but can be played for high and low.