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A Beginner’s Guide to Playing at an Online Casino

Posted by Dame de Coeur on Mar 26, 2021

This article was written by Dame de Couer.

Players often ask for our top tips for playing at an online casino so we decided to put them all in the one place so that anyone can access them. If you want to know how to tell which games are most player friendly or how to be sure that an operator is reputable then you have come to the right place.

Our Top 10 Tips for Playing at an Online Casino

  1. Only play with a reputable operator.

    There are hundreds of online casino operators in the market today and they aren’t all equal. Lots of operators are operating without a reputable license or without a license at all. These should be avoided at all costs. If you choose to play with an unlicensed operator be aware that there will be no recourse for you should they make off with your hard-earned cash – a very common complaint logged here. We can direct you towards trustworthy and secure operators renowned for high quality treatment of customers.

    To make sure an operator is reputable take the following steps:

    Check that the operator is licensed and regulated by a high-quality licensor – functioning links to the appropriate license page should be in operation on the casino’s website – normally in the footer of every page but often also in the Terms and Conditions documents. Click through on these links to make sure they are actually legitimate. If the links don’t work – don’t play!

    Check that ownership details are given and a contact address is listed.

    Check that they take responsible gaming seriously by linking to external support agencies like begambleaware, blocking softwares like BetBlocker which will cost players nothing to use, and that they allow players to set limits on their accounts themselves.

    Only play with an operator if they have a favourable review and Recommended status at ThePOGG.com. If you do have any issues with an operator you consider to have mistreated you, then you are welcome to open a complaint with our service – more information on how to do this can be found here.

  2. Set limits when you create your account.

    The safest and most reputable online casino operators will allow players to set limits on their account at the point of signup to enable them to gamble to a level that does not exceed their comfort zone. All UKGC and MGA licensed properties are required to build this function into their service. We strongly encourage players to take advantage of these limiting tools so that they remain in control of their gambling habits at all times. There must be provision for players to set deposit limits, wagering limits, reality checks, time outs and self-exclusions. Options to set loss limits and time or session limits may also be made available.

  3. Select games with the best RTPs and bet limits.

    The majority of players work hard to earn their money and as such we would always advise making it go as far as possible during gambling sessions. Players love slots games – no big secret – but there is quite a bit of variety when it comes to the game limits and the RTPs they offer. Look for games that allow players to bet at a level appropriate to your budget. Playing a slots game at £1 a spin is far more likely to allow you to play for a decent amount of time than betting at £10 per spin. Beyond bet size, players should look to play games with a Return to Player (RTP) that is as high as possible – anything close to 97% is considered reasonable – a good place to begin. A high RTP ensures that players give as little to the house for their entertainment as it is possible to do. For more on RTPs read our guide here - Online Slot RTPs Explained.

  4. Optimise play by learning any optimum strategies for table games or choosing games with the most player favourable rules.

    We know that lots of players prefer playing table games and live online casino versions of these games are also growing in popularity. If this applies to you then it is important to know that some table games have optimal strategies that you can learn so that the house edge is reduced as much as possible - your money will go a lot further with just a little bit of effort. Blackjack’s Basic Strategy when played totally accurately 100% of the time can reduce the house edge significantly. Poker also has an optimum strategy that minimises the cost to the player – more information can be located in our Video Poker Guides. Roulette comes in different variants – European roulette with single zero wheel and En Prison rule in play is the one that gives the best value for players. More on this can be located in our Roulette Guide.

  5. Make your money go as far as possible by looking for the best bonuses.

    One of the main differences between bricks and mortar casinos and online ones is the fact that online casinos compete for custom by offering bonuses. Take advantage of this! Competition to attract and retain customers in the online gaming market is fierce and so some excellent bonus offers are out there just waiting to be claimed. One of the biggest mistakes that players make in connection with bonuses is that they don’t take the time to read the Bonus Terms and Conditions. This is a must do! Often a bonus seems very tempting; until players realise that the wagering requirement attached to it is enormous. Imagine having already claimed your bonus by depositing before you realise that the wagering requirement is massive. Not good! So take the time to explore all of the conditions that apply when you accept a bonus and shop around. If you are in the market to play a specific game – make sure that it is eligible for use whilst in possession of a said bonus. Remember too that not all games contribute the same amount to the wagering requirement – often table games and live game – if they can be played with a bonus contribute only 5% of what slots do. There may be a more appropriate bonus out there for your needs – take the time to try and locate it. More information on bonuses can be found on our bonuses page which gives information on the real money value of bonuses for players of different levels: low, mid, high and super high roller.

  6. Make use of the perks associated with VIP programs and loyalty programs.

    Many of the largest and most reliable operators in the igaming industry offer VIP programs or loyalty programs systems for their players, in order to encourage player retention. It is important to recognise that these programs are multi-level and the level the player is assigned is directly associated with their playing activity on the operator’s website. Normally levels are adjusted on a monthly basis – operators want you to keep playing. Never allow yourself to be motivated to play more than you are comfortable with to maintain a higher VIP or loyalty level – it is not a financially savvy decision to make. Think of the perks of these programs as incidental – a nice added bonus – not a motivating factor. Rewards accrued may include, cashback, access to more desirable bonuses, gift vouchers, products and sometimes holidays.

  7. Never gamble more than you can afford to lose.

    Certain things can lead some players to spend more money than they can really afford to and should be avoided. There is a reason that the big land-based casinos in Las Vegas tend to give alcoholic drinks for free but charge for soft drinks – alcohol lowers inhibitions and players bet more than they had planned to when under its influence. So we would urge you to keep alcohol and gambling separate.

    Never set out to recover losses either. Remember – casinos exist because they are profit making businesses – the house always comes out on top. If you have lost your deposit and it was all you had planned to spend – walk away. You are highly unlikely to win back your losses. End your session – accept that the loss is the cost of the entertainment you have received and come back another day when you have replenished your disposable income. If you are concerned that you may be losing control of your gambling habits take this self-assessment test and act accordingly when you receive your results. BetBlocker – the gambling content restriction app - can help you gain back control if your test results suggest that you need help to get back on track. BetBlocker costs users nothing to use. You can have total control over your access to gambling websites for as little or as long as you feel you need the support. It is worth taking the time to check it out.

  8. Manage your time.

    One of the biggest signs that a player is developing problem gambling habits is their inability to manage their time. If a player hasn’t opted to set up the reality check feature offered by reputable operators, then it can be easy to lose track of time when gambling. If you know that there are certain times that make you vulnerable to gambling more than you ideally want to, then this must be addressed. Perhaps a difficult date on the calendar is approaching, the loss of a loved one for example, and you have made bad gaming decisions at this time before, then take control back. If you know that payday is a time that you are likely to deposit more of your hard-earned cash than is wise, then do something proactive to prevent this. BetBlocker, the free gambling website blocking app has recently launched a calendaring feature to allow players to have even more control over their gambling habits. Players are able to activate the blocking software so that it prevents them from accessing gambling content on a specific day or several days ahead of time. This feature is about to become even more flexible in that players will be able to block access to gambling content for specific hours.

  9. Check withdrawal limits and maximum win caps before signup.

    Most operators have withdrawal limits and it is advisable to check what these are before signing up and playing – many players open complaints with our complaints service relating to withdrawal limits. Withdrawal limits can vary hugely between operators – some have no limits, and some may cap withdrawals at £/$/€XXXX per month. Once a player has agreed to an operator’s Term and Conditions they will have no recourse to complain about a limit that is clearly outlined in them. Spend the time checking that the limits are ones you are happy to abide by should you win when playing.

    Similarly, many casinos institute win caps – especially if players are claiming a bonus – these will also be covered in the Terms and Conditions or Bonus Terms and Conditions so it is vital that players take the time to read through these documents before signing up and depositing.

  10. Keep a record of all communications with an operator – ask for live chat transcript.

    At ThePOGG we run a complaints management service and we have over a decade’s worth of experience in this field. One of the biggest mistakes players make when submitting complaints is not having had the forethought to keep a record of any communications they have had with an operator so that they can share them with us. Never delete email communications you have had with an operator. Always have a copy of the live chat transcript sent to you if you have spoken with live chat – most operators allow you to have this sent automatically - but if they don’t, ask live chat to send your chat transcript to your email before you close the chat window and end your communication – this way there can be no accusations of tampering with the contents. If you feel that you have a legitimate complaint and would like our help with it access our service here.

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