With the proliferation of online casinos, it has become extremely easy to gamble on whatever game you want at any time of the day or night. You're no longer restricted by geographical or time considerations, so you can play for longer, at any time that suits you, without leaving your home. And of course the more you play, the more chances you have of winning – or losing – than before.
While online gambling is a form of entertainment, the fact that you're playing with your own hard-earned cash makes it prudent for you to set yourself some guidelines before you log on to a casino…
1. Choose a reputable online casino
Once you have found a casino that you are thinking of playing at, do a little research on them. Use search engines to look for reviews of the casino. Check for licensing information on the casino site, as well as for information on their payout reviews. A reputable online casino will display its licensing information and will provide audited reviews of its payouts, usually undertaken by a well-known auditing firm, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers.
2. Understand the rules of every game that you play
Don't start experimenting with a game you have never played before – this is going to cost you money! If you want to try out a game you're not familiar with, use the free money option that most online casinos offer. This allows you to play the game as much as you like, using virtual money supplied by the casino. Once you know what you're doing, you can switch to playing for real money.
3. Know your financial limits and stick to them
Decide beforehand how much you can afford to play with and make sure this is not money that you need for other things. Only play with your “entertainment” money, not your rent money. Once you have reached your limit, leave the casino – do not be tempted to buy more chips with money you need for other things and therefore shouldn't be gambling with. Whatever you do, resist the voice in your head telling you that if you just buy a few more chips you can make up your losses. This is a surefire route to bankruptcy, and probably the origin of the term “throwing good money after bad”. Rather come back at another time when you have more spare money to play with.
4. Gamble with a clear head
Do not gamble when you are tired or feeling worn out. Your concentration won't be what it should be, and you will end up making mistakes and losing money. A clear head also implies staying away from alcohol while you're playing. Tempting as it may be to relax in front of your PC with a six-pack or glass of wine while you're gambling, this will lead to ill-considered decisions and the loss of money that you may otherwise have won with.
5. Only gamble with your own money
NEVER borrow money to gamble with
Here is a list of some of the best online casinos we can recommend for practising your skills at for free or for playing for real money:
> Platinum Play
> 7 Sultans
> Colosseum Casino
> Desert Dollar