OnceDear
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OnceDear
Joined: Jun 1, 2014
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June 1st, 2014 at 10:31:50 AM permalink
Hi All,
I'd like to introduce myself by sharing my first experience of online blackjack which went absurdly well. It might serve to show how online casinos can work well for you and might also show some of the errors and pitfalls that a newbie can face.

First, a general intro: Though I know it's a losing game, I've spent about £1500 over the last 3 years playing online roulette for the fun of it. I prefer those games with automatic wheels and a female presenter :) I believe in mathematics and have no interest in luck or superstition, but spending a few pounds for fun suits me fine.

I fancied having a go at live blackjack where I knew the house edge was smaller and the live dealers attractive, but I never expected to profit financially. I was prepared to throw £100 for a few hours fun. But It proved more than that! A busy, winning day.

Anyhow, this was my first experience of live dealer online blackjack earlier this year:-

First, I got myself a printout of the appropriate basic strategy card which I knew was going to be essential. I also printed off the Wizard of Odds simpler strategy card, which I memorised. Then, one morning, I enrolled with an online casino which was new to me. They were offering a 100% sign up bonus plus other one-off bonus of some free slots play, which ultimately became worth £50 to my bank roll. So, I'd invested £100 and my bankroll was £250. But there's a very big catch in the small print: If I wanted to play live blackjack, it had wagering requirements which meant I had to stake my bonus 300 times before I could withdraw one penny of my bankroll or winnings. That's pretty harsh, but also pretty typical. Also, real money is played and lost before the bonus money and any winnings go to bonus money before real money. Before I'd be able to draw anything out, I'd have to stake £45,000 !!!. They obviously expected me to lose it all. So did I. I'd expected to just play my money through at maybe £10 per hand and fully expected to be spent up by the end of the day. But seeing those betting requirements, I felt that the only way to even get close to cashing out would be to bet very aggressively.
I decided that each hand, I would wager 10% of my bankroll or £10 whichever was the greater and that's what I did. As it happens, I was playing in the living room on my laptop while the wife was watching TV in the background. That's a newbie error for starters !

Within an hour, I'd lost about 2/3 of my bankroll. That was all my real money gone. Not reading the small print was clearly another newbie error.

But things went well. Initially, I was wagering about £25 a hand. After losing a while, it was at £10 a hand, but by mid afternoon, my bankroll was £1500 and I was wagering £150 a hand. And I'd never really played before! It felt crazy and reckless, but I was playing with 'bonus money' and apart from my initial £100 I had nothing to lose. My bankroll was lurching up and down wildly. All the time, I was studying that basic strategy card and apart from a few messed up hands, I was playing well.

At £2000 bankroll, I stopped for a meal and moved from the distracting lounge to the isolation of my study. I also played a few hands at the quieter VIP tables.

Around that time, I wanted to know where I was up to with the betting requirement. This casino did not have any proper indicator of that, so I asked the online chat. Apparently my half day of playing left me still needing to wager >£30,000. Only later did I discover how I could deduce my running total of amount wagered. So, I needed to continue being aggressive and was starting to sweat a bit.

I played a few more hours and found my bankroll at £5,000. At this time I was playing £500 per hand and sometimes doubling up to £1000 per hand. It was nuts!

I frequently visited the site's 'Cashier' page and each time, it would show me my bankroll amount, and 'Amount available for withdrawal = £0' I decided that If I did ever reach the betting requirements, I'd check out, but I honestly never expected to.

I did lose concentration a few times and threw away at least £1000 by stupidly clicking the wrong option. Doh!!!

But, by late that same evening, my bankroll was over £6000 and suddenly the cashier page suddenly said that it was available to withdraw subject to betting requirements. Phew !!!

I requested a £6,000 withdrawal and decided to chill out by playing the remaining few hundred casually. I soon lost that remainder and now had to wait a few days for my withdrawal to be actioned. I could hardly believe it, and indeed reading the rules again, it seemed that maybe the casino would say 'Bonus abuse' and refuse to pay me. I decided to not tell the wife just yet.

Three days later, there was a bitter body blow which sent me into an angry panic: £100 was credited to my bank account and £6,000 was deducted from my online bankroll, making it £0 ! I was convinced that the casino had simply and effectively said "Here's your deposit back, now **** off and whistle for your winnings, " though they had said nothing at all. I queried this with them and they requested that I send proof of ID. So I did so, not expecting much luck.

A few days later, the remaining funds hit my bank account. WOW !!! I had to confess to the wife. I'd come out way ahead in cold hard cash!

Even better, while making all those wagers, I'd built up tens of pounds of 'Comp points' So I played them through in a similar way and though not as spectacular, I checked out a few hundred more pounds.

I've analysed and re-analysed the stats from my games. Clearly I'd won a lot more games than I'd lost, purely by luck. I'd played only a few hundred games but the aggressive betting had combined with the luck to give the impressive results. I analysed what would have happened if I'd played the hands from those last few hundreds of pounds in the same aggressive way: Had I done so, i would not have lost just £200, I'd have lost about £4,000. So, purely by luck, I'd checked out at the right time.

In case you are wondering, I still visit the same casino and pay minimum bet hands with bankrolls of £50 or so. I never win big or lose big and I'm ****d if I'll give them their £6k back in a hurry.

So, what did I learn?
Online live dealer games can be fun. The dealers are mostly Latvian and some are quite attractive.
The VIP table dealers are more attractive, less chatty and faster.
Basic strategy is essential. i saw many players lose ££££ by playing stupidly.
You absolutely need to read the small print.
Bonuses are generally a clever ploy and the casinos use them to 'lock you in.'
Wagering requirements and percentage contribution from live games can be a killer.
Give them an expendable email address. You will get bombarded with gambling offers.
Only play for fun and with expendable money.
Play somewhere quiet.
Stop playing when tired or drinking.
Play with the confidence of knowing that you can afford to be wiped out.
Some online casinos do pay up fairly and squarely.
Even the best casinos have a rule that basically says 'Any time we want to, we can throw you out and keep all your bankroll and winnings.
You don't need to be a card counter, but it almost certainly has its place.
If you win, buy something nice. My money went towards a car.
Mathematics will prevail in the long term.
Variance can wipe you out in the short term, long before mathematics can save you.
Be prepared to confess to the wife when your bank balance goes up or down. Easier when it goes up.
Enjoy being a player.

Thanks for reading. While typing this, I've lost nothing online, which puts me ahead of some.
Good luck to all.
If you are enjoying the game, you're already winning.
teddys
teddys
Joined: Nov 14, 2009
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June 2nd, 2014 at 3:33:07 PM permalink
Thanks, this is useful info.
"Dice, verily, are armed with goads and driving-hooks, deceiving and tormenting, causing grievous woe." -Rig Veda 10.34.4
Ahigh
Ahigh
Joined: May 19, 2010
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June 2nd, 2014 at 3:40:25 PM permalink
This reads almost like an advertisement from a shrewd online casino operator except there is no link where one should play themselves.
AxiomOfChoice
AxiomOfChoice
Joined: Sep 12, 2012
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June 2nd, 2014 at 3:51:15 PM permalink
This brings up an interesting question. I have not played at online casinos so I've never really looked into it; I don't know if it's a solved problem, and I don't know if it has other applications -- are there live casino promotions that require you to hit a certain theo?

Given a bankroll B, and a requirement that you bet a certain amount of action R before you cash out (or go broke trying), and the ability to size your bets between set minimums and maximums (max bet = M), at a set game with a set pay table, how much should you bet to maximize your expectation?

It seems intuitive (though possibly wrong) to me that you want to bet very aggressively when your bankroll is small compared to R, and more conservatively when your bankroll is large compared to R (the assumption here is that there is a non-zero house edge). I'm not sure where the ramp-down begins to happen, and I'm not sure if it's a step function or a something continuous.

Is it something simple like max-bet so long as R > max(M, B), and bet R when R < max(M, B)? For now let's ignore the fact that blackjack has splits and doubles, so the house edge goes up significantly when betting too much of your bankroll -- assume that it's a game where you only have to make your initial bet.
beachbumbabs
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beachbumbabs
Joined: May 21, 2013
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June 2nd, 2014 at 4:15:41 PM permalink
Quote: Ahigh

This reads almost like an advertisement from a shrewd online casino operator except there is no link where one should play themselves.



I looked for one, too, because I figured that's what it was. Had there been one, he would have been adios'ed.

Edit: I should say I found it interesting and well-written, though, so kudos to him.
If the House lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game.
OnceDear
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OnceDear
Joined: Jun 1, 2014
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June 3rd, 2014 at 4:57:57 AM permalink
I promise it's all true and will be happy to provide some evidence to the forum owner, though of course all evidence could be equally fake. I do understand your suspicions.
I deliberately didn't identify the casino that I did this at, and didn't give precise details such as date and actual exact amounts, because I don't want them seeking out my account, especially since I'm likely to contribute further, maybe on the subject of counting.
I just wanted to share the observations, and possibly boast a little about my good fortune, and give something back to all you guys that provide such useful tools as the strategy cards and stats.
If you are enjoying the game, you're already winning.
teddys
teddys
Joined: Nov 14, 2009
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June 3rd, 2014 at 6:39:46 PM permalink
Bovada gave out a real nice bonus this month, 3x $2000 match.
"Dice, verily, are armed with goads and driving-hooks, deceiving and tormenting, causing grievous woe." -Rig Veda 10.34.4
onenickelmiracle
onenickelmiracle
Joined: Jan 26, 2012
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June 3rd, 2014 at 8:27:53 PM permalink
Here is how I look at it. Good for you, but a stupid rule not letting you cash out is too much for me. They just might as well just given you a dollar with no strings attached and you're better off.
#FreeNATHAN #Paytheslaves
djatc
djatc
Joined: Jan 15, 2013
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June 3rd, 2014 at 10:55:44 PM permalink
Quote: teddys

Bovada gave out a real nice bonus this month, 3x $2000 match.



Sounds like a huge bonus, do you play big?
"Man Babes" #AxelFabulous
OnceDear
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OnceDear
Joined: Jun 1, 2014
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June 3rd, 2014 at 11:15:21 PM permalink
Indeed. The bonus wagering rules are truly dreadful, but very typical.
One online casino I signed up with had requirements of 500 x bonus before one penny can be withdrawn!!! With all the ones I joined, I wager all real bankroll funds before the wagering from the bonus, but add any winnings to the bonus funds. So, until you miraculously meet the wagering requirements, you can only draw out what un-wagered initial cash stake you have left. If you do that, all bonus winnings are cancelled. In other words, accepting any such cash bonus is a mugs game unless your starting balance is zero and they are giving the bonus without any need to make a deposit* That does occasionally happen as they try to entice me back by email.
It's almost impossible to get any financial benefit from the bonuses as far as I can tell, unless you get the kind of really lucky run that I had. If I'd played my £250 stake at even a flat £50 per hand I would have had to have played 150*300/50 =900 hands. With say 0.5% house edge, I'd have spent, on average 900 x 50 x 0.05 = £225 of my bankroll after those £900 hands. Since you don't actually win or lose hands in fractional values like that, I would have been expected to whittle down to nothing long before playing through the requirements. My aggressive, incremental betting was my only chance to exit the game. It relied on the variance staying in my favour for just as long as I played and on me winning enough to play far fewer hands than those 900 flat bets. From memory, I played about 250 hands and won about 35 more than I lost, which is pretty wild variance in my favour.
Now, I only ever take the bonuses to give me extended playing time.
If you are enjoying the game, you're already winning.

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