Saturday, June 30, 2007

Baccarat Rules

Baccarat is a relatively basic and easy card game where participants place bets and watch the action unfold. Different from Blackjack, players in baccarat are not required to make decisions during the game, but only before the hand is dealt. Players can bet on the side of the house, the player, or for a tie.

The object of the game is to bet for the side whose cards have a point total closest to 9. Point totals are calculated in the following way:

  • aces count as 1
  • cards 2 through 9 count at face value, a
  • 10 as well as all face cards count as 0.

However, it's important to note that if you`re dealt a 9 and a 7, for example, the total is not 16, but 6. If you`re dealt a 3 and an 8, the total is not 11, but 1. In other words, it's impossible to have a combination of cards that totals more than 9.

In Baccarat, the dealer deals 4 cards, 2 each for the house and player. If the point total of either or both sides is 8 or 9, it's called `a natural` and no more cards are dealt. If the point total of both sides is the same, of course, it's a tie. The only complication in Baccarat is when the house or the player's points, after the initial two cards, don't add up to a natural, or when there is no tie. In this case, one additional card will be dealt according to specific rules as described below.

If the player's initial hand adds up to 6 or more, he must stand and will not be dealt additional cards. For 5 or less, the player will be dealt an additional card. If the house hand, meanwhile, adds up to 7 or more, the house must stand. If the house total adds up to 0, 1 or 2, the house must take an additional card.

If the house hand totals 3, and the player's third card is anything other than 8 (in Baccarat, the player receives his cards before the house), the house will hit. If the house hand totals 4, and the player's third card is anything other than 1, 8, 9, or 0, the house will hit. If the house hand totals 5, and the player is dealt a 4, 5, 6, or 7, the house will hit. And if the house hand totals 6, and the player's third card is 6 or 7, the house will hit.

Payoffs in Baccarat are very straightforward. If you bet on a winning player's hand, you`ll be paid at 1 to 1. If you bet on a winning house hand, you`ll also be paid at 1 to 1. If you bet on a tie, the payoff is 8 to 1. Online Baccarat tables usually have a minimum bet of $1 and a maximum bet of $250. Check with your online casino for particular ranges and percentages.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

eCOGRA Casinos

eCOGRA is the non-profit eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance standard for the online gambling industry, whose primary objective is to foster player protection. eCOGRA is, without question, the most respected and longstanding, independent purveyor of online gaming fairness and international protection standards currently in operation. Organized in April of 2003 by pioneering leaders of the online casino industry, including Microgaming Software, eCOGRA invites all online casino operators to apply for their "Play it Safe Seal", which entails that operators be in compliance on several fronts, including fair games, fair treatment, timely payouts, and overall responsible behavior. Continual compliance by approved sites is insured by using the latest in technological applications (explained in detail under the "Fairness Verification" section of this review).

eCOGRA is managed by an elite team of non-executive and independent Directors with extensive experience in the online gambling and brick 'n mortar casino gambling industries, and has been overseen by Chief Executive Office, Andrew Beveridge, since its inception. Beveridge is a qualified Chartered Accountant in London and Hong Kong, and holds an MBA from Edinburgh University. Beveridge's experience in the online world began when he served in a key position to help start South Africa's leading Internet Service Provider, MWeb. Beveridge then went on to spearhead global business development for International Gaming Networks (IGN) and helped oversee interactive gaming technology for internet and television applications. He later implemented risk management controls for sports betting operations at MultiChoice, which later became the first licensed online gambling organization in South Africa. Before coming to eCOGRA, Beveridge managed the world's first integrated online and telephone sports betting platform, LiveBet Online.

Non-executive Directors at eCOGRA include Anders Lantz, who is the Chief Security Officer at Ongame e-Solutions and a Certified Information Systems Auditor, which has lent Anders tremendous experience in IT security, compliance testing and auditing. Other Non-executive Directors include Chartered Accountant and CEO of Microgaming Software, Roger Raatgever, current CEO of and former CEO of the Burford Group and Board Director for Ladbrokes (26 years), John Anderson.

Independent Directors, who are solely responsible for determining which software providers and casino operators are awarded the eCOGRA "Play it Safe" Seal, include an impressive lineup of three highly respected and recognizable individuals in the gaming and legal fields. Bill Galston is a retired Chief Inspector of Great Britain's Gaming Board and the former Head of the UK Board Inspectorate for twenty-five years, during which time he oversaw gaming investigations, compliance, and regulation. Galston is a Chairman of the Gaming Compliance Committees in Britain, Vice President of GamCare (a national center devoted to studying the social impact of gambling), past Chairman for the International Association of Gaming Regulators, and was a specialist advisor to the Sport Parliamentary Select Committee and UK Department of Culture. Lastly, Galston is an appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services and achievements in gaming regulation.

Michael Hirst and Mr. Frank Catania make up the triumvirate of independent directors - both of whom bring several years experience in the gaming field to eCOGRA. Hirst currently provides strategic development for gaming software and companies, and is a former board member of Ladbrokes and CEO of Hilton International. Catania is a consultant and attorney with emphasis in the gaming industry. He is a former Assistant Attorney General, Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, First President of the International Masters of Gaming Law, Chairman of the International Association of Gaming Regulators, and Chairman for the Forum of American Casino Regulators. One of Catania's greatest contributions to online gambling regulation was his instrumental position in drafting gambling regulations for the Antigua government and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Dispute Mediation
As mentioned earlier, eCOGRA certified casinos rarely are at the heart of disputes (.1 dispute per certified site per month in 2006). However, when a dispute does arise, eCOGRA is pleased to offer personal mediation services and assistance to players who have already attempted to resolve the dispute themselves. Mediator, Tex Rees, has over fifteen years experience in the gaming industry, handling customer relations and establishing customer care protocols. Prior to working at eCOGRA, Rees was Customer Relations Manager at LiveBet Online and Call Center Staff Manager at SuperBet, where she managed customer dispute resolution. At eCOGRA, Rees personally resolves the majority of disputes within forty-eight hours. Players are advised to read over the measures posted on eCOGRA's website, which they should take before engaging mediation services. If the dispute is not resolved after doing so, then players should contact dispute resolution services at eCOGRA, according to their posted guidelines for doing so.

Generally Accepted Practices
The Generally Accepted Practices at eCOGRA (referred to as eGAP), are binding for all certified online casinos and gaming sites. It is the responsibility of eCOGRA's independent directors and audit panel (which is only comprised of global auditing firms, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers), to insure that operators are continually complying with the eGAP. Binding adherence in the areas of player protection, fair gaming and responsible conduct is mandatory. Player protection protocols include safeguarding player information, account balances, imposing minimum security requirements and information protection, and insuring all financial transactions are securitized and payments are received. Fair gaming protocols include properly maintaining software and server connectivity, submitting to gaming transaction reviews and monthly payout verification, implementing disaster recovery protocols, protecting against platform malfunctions and maintaining minimum casino game standards. Responsible Conduct practices include the prevention of money laundering and imposing of anti-money laundering guidelines, advertising and marketing in a responsible manner, and submission to probity checks.

Fairness Verification
Fairness verification is where the "proof is in the pudding", so to speak. In order to not overwhelm you with a discourse of technical jargon that sounds good and well, but makes absolutely no sense, we shall explain the format of how eCOGRA determines initial and ongoing compliance with their Generally Accepted Practices. Fairness verification is contingent upon the expertise and competence of eCOGRA's audit panel, which is made up of independent financial firms of international repute, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers. The findings of these firms are reported to eCOGRA's Board, who then verify whether the findings are in accordance with the eGAP, and if so, consequently award the "Play it Safe" Seal. One reason for conducting their verification procedure in this manner is that the use of independent auditors insures unbiased results. Furthermore, eCOGRA's Generally Accepted Practices pertain to the software providers themselves, who must also be in compliance with fair gaming protocols. In other words, if the software is not fair to begin with, the online casino will not be a fair place to wager. As such, a large degree of on-site verification is done with the software provider.

The type of testing advocated by eCOGRA is called Total Gaming Transaction Review (TGTR). It is a superior testing system insuring that all security and fairness protocols imbedded in the software itself has been properly running for a reasonable period of time. Instead of testing the source code of the software, which is how land-based gambling machines are tested, TGTR testing takes into consideration the operating system as a whole, and tests each and every transaction made with the gaming server. Source code testing works in the land-based industry, for when a machine's EPROM chip is in place, it cannot be changed. Online gaming servers, however, operate much differently. In addition to housing the Random Number Generator, which insures fair and random gaming results, the server is responsible for routing millions of messages in real time. This alone entails that the software provider have round-the-clock access to its operating system. As such, there would be nothing to prevent the operator from replacing the source code and propagating unfair gaming. TGTR testing, however, allows continual monitoring of both the input and output of the software system. In order to verify payout percentages, all transactions with the server must be properly recorded. TGTR allows for spot testing of transactions in addition to verifying all completed transactions. Combined with data summary analysis and continual, rigorous statistical testing of the software itself, the integrity of the RNG and corresponding payout percentages is confirmed.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Choosing the Best Gambling Game

With the introduction of the world wide web, gambling games have never been the same. It used to be that people went to the casinos to play craps, black jack, poker, slot machines and what have you inside the casino.
It used to be that people went to the bingo social hall to play bingo and be a part of the rowdy, noisy group hollering, shouting, and jumping up and down to announce their winning card. Bingo!!! Bingo!!!
It used to be that people who bet on horses or dogs went to the race tracks to place their wagers and stakes and to experience first hand the outcome of the race.
But with the ever increasing complexity of the technology we now have, gambling has already invaded even our homes.
The proliferation of online gaming systems has required people to be connected to the world wide web to play mostly casino games such as poker, craps, roulette, and slots.
Bingo has been turned into an online game too.
In some states, offline betting has already invaded them. So there is no need to actually go to the race track to place a bet on your favorite horse.
These days it seems that you need not go out of the house anymore to get a dose of adrenaline pumping through your veins to experience the high of winning or the low of losing.
Choosing your game is mostly a personal decision and choice. Some people have natural affinity with horses or dogs, thus they tend to play race track betting games either on the racetrack, online or offline.
Some prefer the thrill of waiting for the next ball to be announced and be ready to jump up and shout throughout the place, "Bingo! I won! I won!"
Some prefer the anonymity of playing casino games in the privacy of their homes just so when they lose, no one is the wiser. Or if they win big, no one would also be in the know.
Others prefer to feel the cards at their fingertips and would rather stay in a casino nearby to play not only a card game, but the psychological game with the dealer and the other players at the table.
The choice therefore rests on the player. All gambling games have their unique risks. All have their highs and lows. The initial makes the decision to choose which game could be considered the best gambling game.

Slots Machines, The Guide!

The players aim is to get a winning line on the slot machine as stated in the Winnings Diagram. The most basic slot machines require you to bet one coin (a fixed amount such as a dollar), they have only three reels, only one payout line, and pay a multiple of the bet coins value (e.g. The out come of three apples on the payout line will be a payout 300 times the bet coins value). After inserting the coin and pulling a handle (or presses a button on the front panel) the player waits for the wheels to stop on the payout line to see if, and how much he has won (the payout symbols and payoff values are posted on the front of the machine).

The machines of the new generation, accept up to five coins, can have up to five wheels, and in some cases have up to five payout lines (three across and two diagonal).

How to play online Slot Machines

The simplicity of slot machines remains also when gambling at online casinos.

The first thing to do once you've decided on the amount you want to gamble is depositing it into the slot machine by clicking on the appropriate chip.

Next, select the value of the coin you want to bet in each spin: $0.25, $1, or $5.

Last, choose the number of these coins that you wish to bet in the next spin by clicking on the BET ONE button once, twice, or three times. If you choose to bet the maximum amount of coins (3), you can also do it by clicking the BET MAX button. If you do so, the slot machine will spin automatically. If you bet one or two coins, you start the machine by clicking the SPIN button or clicking on the arm.

Cashing out is possible whenever you wish to do so. Just click on CASH OUT and receive your credit in the machine.

Here is an example of a winnings diagram:

Coins Bet
1 2 3
3 Sevens 1000 2000 5000
3 Triple Bars 250 500 750
3 Double Bars 50 75 150
3 Single Bars 25 50 75
3 Plums 10 20 30
3 Cherries 10 20 30
Any Triple Bar 4 8 12
Any 2 Cherries 4 8 12
Any Single Cherry 2 4 6

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