One challenge you face is choosing where to play online.
It’s not an easy to choice to make. There are dozens of online casinos. Maybe hundreds. Some good, some bad, some in-between.
Many websites answer this question with generic fluff, like making sure the casino is honest, that they have huge bonuses and a wide selection of banking options.
Those are all important. No doubt about it. But most of those things – outside making sure the casino is honest and legit – aren’t as important to us.
What is important to us are the games. Because why else are you at a casino if not to play the games?
And that complicates things. Because while each casino offers a similar selection, when you dig a little deeper you’ll see that two identical games can be, in fact, different. And that can impact where you choose to play.
So, we want to take a couple minutes to explain to you what we feel are the two most important factors to consider when choosing a place to play your favorite games.
1. The Biggest Factor is Software
Software is the biggest factor. It impacts so much. Here are a few examples to show you what we mean.
Number of games overall – Playing at one casino over another can mean the difference between playing 100 different casino games, or playing 1000 casino games.
Not only that, but say you’re a blackjack player. It can be the difference between having the choice of 5 different blackjack variations (ala Real Time Gaming) or having 20 blackjack variations (ala Microgaming).
And this applies to most major games – especially games with variations – like slots, blackjack and video poker.
Types of game variations – We just mentioned this, but if you’re a blackjack or video poker player, do you want to have the choice of 5 different variations or 20 different variations?
Pretty simple choice, right?
But there’s a little more to it than that.
It’s also the difference between having unique, one-off variations no other software company, thus many casinos, have. One example is Poker3 from BetSoft. Or the i-slot series from Rival Gaming. You won’t find either one at casinos not using their software.
Licensed games – One of our favorite aspects of Las Vegas casinos is being able to play licensed slot titles. Our favorites are the Dark Knight, Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka, Life and Monopoly.
But you won’t find these titles in many online casinos. Do you know why?
Because slot (software) manufacturers have to have permission to develop games around trademarked properties. That includes movies, video games, board games, characters, comic books, celebrities and more.
The big software giants – Microgaming and Playtech – have these licenses. So you’ll find the most licensed titles at casinos that use their software.
But do you know who doesn’t use their software? Any offshore-based, online casino that accepts US players. Those casinos have to create slot themes that piggyback off these popular titles instead, AND without crossing the blurry lines of trademark infringement.
The only exception is if you’re playing from a regulated state, such as New Jersey or Delaware.
Payouts – This is huge too, especially if you play table games. But different software will come with different rules. This might be specific game rules like when you can split or double down in blackjack. But it can also be what you get paid when you’re dealt a blackjack – whether it’s 6:5 or 3:2. And this makes a huge difference in the odds you’re getting.
These are some of the biggest examples that come from game software. You might not be able to fully grasp it until you play the same game from a few different software companies. It really can be a night and day difference.
And that’s not all that hard to do nowadays. Most casinos work with 2-3+ different software companies, so you can experience a variety of the same game title under one virtual roof.
2. The Next Biggest Factor is Promotions
The next biggest factor is promotions. This is a distant second, though. Let us be VERY clear that we think the software and how they affect the games are far more important. You’re going to lose money regardless, so you might as well enjoy what you’re playing.
But promotions do matter. Because when you decide to plant a flag and play at only one or two casinos, things like bonuses and VIP schemes will be earned as you play. So, you might as well take advantage of it.
Here’s what you need to know.
The most important thing to look for is whether or not the games you want to play count towards any of the promotions the casino is running.
Some games get the short end of the stick. These are usually the games with the lowest house edge. Think blackjack, baccarat or pai gow poker. This also applies to certain plays, like betting on red or black, or even and odd.
In these cases, casinos will either exclude these games altogether or handicap them.
What we mean by handicapped is that wagers made on specific games are worth less than on others.
For example, say a casino offers you 1 point for every $1 you spend playing slots. And every 100 points gets turned into $1 cash back.
If you wanted to play video poker or blackjack instead, the casino will handicap the game by 50 or 75%. This means you’ll have to play 2-4x as much to earn the same number of points playing blackjack as you would slots.
So, you’ll earn 1 point for every $2-$4 you spend. It also means you’ll have to earn what would technically be 200-400 points for that $1 in cash back.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’re more likely to win money or break even playing these games. The extra money or perks is just the icing on the cake.
But you’ll want to be aware of these things so you can look at the games you’re most likely to play, and compare the perks from one casino to the next to see where your dollar will go further.
Keep in mind this will apply to most offers including match bonuses, free money and VIP (points) programs.
Choosing where to play casino games involves a lot more than just finding the casino with the best promotions, the most banking options, or just based on whoever’s most popular at the moment.
You don’t want to forget about the games. It’s the whole reason you’re gambling online, isn’t it?
If you do your due diligence, and you weed out casinos and their games according to software first, and promotions second, based on what we said above, you should have no problem finding a casino with a solid selection of your favorite games to join.