Try It Before You Buy It: Free Play at Online Casinos
Everyone has heard the time-honored adage “try it before you buy it,” and never is that saying more true than in choosing an online casino. Most online casinos these days have a Free Play option, where you can try out all the games at the casino while only spending fake
When trying out Free Play, think of it like checking out a company before buying stock. A good online casino can reward you for years, while a shoddy one can disappear over a weekend. Putting your money in a casino is like an investment, not a reliable long-term one obviously, but similar in the way that your entrusting your money somewhere else for a long period of time. Make sure you make the most of Free Play so you know you’re making a good investment.
One of the big things I like to look for is how readily available Free Play is on an online casinos. How many hoops do you have to jump through? How much information do you have to give up?
Some online casinos will let you try out their software online without even making an account, and some will make you download their software, install extra components, make an account, enter a validation code, and enter in tons of information. Which of the above casinos do you think has better software, the one that wants you to play it as soon as possible or the one that wants you to get everything ready to make a deposit as soon as possible?
In my experience, the easier it is to start playing Free Play, the better it ends up being. For example, Bodog Casino, one of the top online Casinos these days, offers all of its games online for free with no account required. You just go to the website and start playing their top-of-the line games.
Unfortunately, much lower quality casinos will make you download their software and make an account before you can start playing for free. All the while they will bombard your e-mail trying to get you to make a deposit before you realize the low quality. Many “limited time” bonuses are designed to keep you from properly examining the casino with Free Play by having you deposit right away and play there regardless of quality.
There are some exceptions to this rule, such as the high-end casino InterCasino, which makes you jump through tons of hoops just to start playing, but is actually quite solid once you are there. In general though, observe how eager the casino is to have you start playing. If they want to get you playing, even for free, with as little hassle as possible, that means they’re proud of their software and they think its quality alone will win you over. It certainly works for Bodog.
Graphics are like a one-way street. You can’t go the other way. I mean, as long as the gameplay works well, the graphics shouldn’t be too big of a deal, except under one condition: somewhere else has better graphics.
I remember I had this crappy Golden Nugget casino game for my computer in the mid-nineties, before online casinos were big, and the graphics were just terrible. Of course, I didn’t know of any other casino games with better graphics, so it never bothered me. But, now that I’ve seen how good modern online casino graphics can get, I’m too disgusted to think about ever playing it again. I mean, the gameplay is still exactly the same, but I wouldn’t be caught dead looking at those pixilated dealers.
It’s funny how graphics work.
What I’m trying to say is that during Free Play, you should first figure out if the graphics are going to bother you. You’re going to be looking at them for a long time, so it’s good to decide on something you can tolerate.
Next, you need to decide if there’s always going to be somewhere else with better graphics that you wish you were playing at. That feeling always annoys me. As far as graphics are concerned, I think ignorance is bliss. It really has no impact on the quality of the gaming, and as long as you don’t look around too much at places with better graphics, you should be able to keep it from impacting your decision too heavily.
This is a big one. During Free Play, you should play-test all the games you like to play with real money to see how they work. Ask questions that you care about.
How fast is the blackjack dealer? Is it hard to enter in your bet? How big are the jackpots? Do they have that one table game that you played at that one casino that one time that you loved?
Learn what games are good what games are bad. No one ever said you had to put all your money in one casino. If one site has great blackjack and another has great slots, and you want to play both, then there’s no reason you can’t play at both casinos. Just make sure you find the games you like first, in Free Play.
Don’t Be a Sucker
Possibly the oldest trick in online casino book involves Free Play.
Picture this. You’re a decent blackjack player. You have a pretty good grasp of basic strategy, and you can even count cards a little. You’ve had a couple of successful Vegas trips, and now you want to start playing online.
The next day, you see an ad for the all new “Be a Winner Casino” advertising their exciting Free Play options. You sign up and start playing blackjack. You’re making good plays, the dealer busts whenever you stay on a 15, and you think you have a pretty good track of the count. Things are going your way, and you double your stack of $1000 free dollars within an hour.
You decide that “Be a Winner Casino” is the place for you, and you lay down a real $1000 deposit and mentally prepare yourself for a lifetime of easy living.
Things don’t go as well this time. The dealer is getting more blackjacks, you’re getting twos and threes when you double down, the dealer is getting 7-card 21s whenever you have a 20. Soon you’re down to $500. But you were doing so well in Free Play.
You’re basic strategy starts to slip as you try to win back your losses, splitting 10s, hitting on 18.
You can’t believe it. $1000, gone like that. Even after you did SO well in Free Play.
Do you know what happened? Do you know what slimeball trick you fell for?
Well I’ll tell you. A lot of online casinos, especially early on when there was less regulation, made their Free Play much easier than the real game, in order to entice players to not only make deposits, but also to develop risky habits that would punish them in the real money realm.
In my opinion, the casinos that do this are some of the lowest of the low, and the biggest victims are the newbie gamblers who will think they’re either on a lucky streak, or they’ve finally figured it out. This can lead them to pour away savings into what they think is an investment that’s “bound to level out sometime.”
I’m just saying, be careful. If it seems like you’re winning an unrealistic amount of money in free play, that should make you want to deposit your money there less, rather than more. Some casinos still do this, and it’s easier to get away with because most regulation committees only focus on real money play, rather than Free Play.
If you’re suspicious, browse the web, post on internet forums, and ask casino experts like us here at Gambling City. Don’t put your money in danger.