Best online casino for most U.S. players: Bovada

If you're in DE, NJ, PA, or WV, online casinos are legal in your state, and you should play at a casino licensed there.

If you're in any other U.S. state, your best bet is Bovada, not because they're good, but because everything else is even worse.  I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where the RV salesman is telling Homer, "Simpson, you're never gonna own a finer RV.  And I don't mean that in a good way, I mean this is IT for you!"

THE GOOD ABOUT BOVADA

  1. Play the practice games without having to register an account.  Other casinos force you to register so they can market to you.  Bovada is the only U.S.-wide casino I know of that lets you play right away with no registration.  (If you see a registration box, you can cancel it and continue to the game.)  Blackjack?  One click and you're in.  And the games play right in your browser, so you don't have to download any special software.
  2. Consistent payouts.  Online gambling is mostly unregulated and if a casino refuses to pay your winnings you have little recourse.  But Bovada has always had a good reputation for paying out properly.

THE BAD ABOUT BOVADA

  1. Not licensed.  Because online gambling in most states isn't explicitly legal, no legitimate authority will license a U.S.-wide casino.  That means if you have a dispute, you have no recourse.
  2. Customer service is pretty pathetic.
  3. Phantom bets in live dealer games.  While I was watching (not playing) a live roulette game to record spin data for an article, Bovada claimed that I made two losing bets ($45 and $15) that I didn't actually make.  I complained about this, but they insisted I made those bets.  So, you probably want to steer clear of the live dealer games.

Visit Bovada


Gambling problem?

  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

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Gambling problem?

  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

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I accept inquiries ONLY from programs that meet ALL of the following criteria. No exceptions!
  1. Available to players in most of the U.S. (NO EXCEPTIONS!)
  2. Free-play games available WITHOUT registration, and WITHOUT a registration box blocking the game before the first game starts. (NO EXCEPTIONS!)
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If your program doesn't meet ALL the above then DON'T INQUIRE. I will NOT join your program, period.  Otherwise, if your program DOES meet all of the criteria, then click the earlier instance of the word 'does' in this sentence to message me.


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To claim the prize, you must have already programmed the simulation (or had it programmed for you) and send me the source code. (I'm not going to personally program a million people's random guesses about a system that might beat the challenge.) In the case of multiple people identifying a similar exploit, the first one to contact me gets the whole prize. Click the last word of this sentence to continue.

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Easy Vegas in the News

Articles we've been quoted in:

The Easy Vegas editor also wrote the cover story for Casino Player magazine in October 2005 and Wikipedia references our article on slot machines in its own article on the subject.

Web Interviews

Radio Interviews

  • WCAP 980, Eagle Radio 1100, Sicilian Corner, interview about slot machines. (Mar 18, 2016)
  • Gambling with an Edge, hosted by Bob Dancer & Richard Munchkin (July 28, 2015)
  • WOGL, 98.1fm, Philadelphia PA, Morning Show, about the new Sugar House Casino in Philly (Sep. 23, 2010)
  • KSRO, 1350am, Sonoma County, CA, Marci Smothers Show, about casino gambling (Aug. 5, 2005), MP3

 

Quotes

 Feel free to quote anything on this website.  For convenience, below are some common things journalists like to quote about.  Please don't quote me from articles published elsewhere (above), since what was printed might not have been exactly what I said.

How to identify me.  That's up to you.  Most media identifies me with something like, "Michael Bluejay, editor of Easy Vegas", or "gambling writer Michael Bluejay", as "a Vegas authority" or "gambling authority".  I'm not confident enough to call myself an "expert", though I'm not gonna complain to you if that's how you identify me.  I do think it's a mistake to call me a "slot mathematician", as one journalist did, because the math I use isn't higher than junior high school level.

What is the best bet in the casino?

Blackjack, if you follow proper strategy, and avoid the 6:5 games. The house edge with proper strategy on a 3:2 game is around 0.5%.

If you don't want to learn the proper strategy, then the next-best bet is Craps, making only Pass-Line and Odds bets. In this case the house edge is 1.41% or lower (depending on how much you wager on the Odds bets).

What is the house edge?

The house edge is the casino's average profit per bet. On a game where the house edge is 5%, on a $5 bet the house will keep $0.25 as profit, and return $4.75 to the player as winnings, on average. See more about the house edge.

What's the house edge on slot machines?

2% to 15%. The more competitive markets have more liberal machines (e.g., Vegas), and markets where there's only one casino in town have lousy odds. Casinos don't disclose the odds of their machines. In jurisdictions where they're required to do some reporting, they report the average of all their machines together, and they include video poker in the totals, so it's impossible to see the slot returns separately.

What's the best game in a slot-only casino (i.e., no table games are available)?

Usually video blackjack, where the house edge is around 2%, if you use proper strategy. After that, video poker, where the house edge is around 1-9%, again using proper strategy.

Where does one learn proper strategy?

Every hotel gift shop in Vegas sells a little blackjack strategy card for around $1.50, and you can use it at the table as long as you don't slow down the game. You can also use the strategy card at Easy Vegas. For video poker, see Wizard of Odds.com.

What's wrong with slot machines?

  1. The house edge is higher than most other casino games.
  2. The house edge is a secret, because the casino doesn't disclose it. This contrasts with table games, where the odds are known because mathematicians have calculated the odds and published them.
  3. Slots can be played very fast, so you lose quicker.

    I recommend against playing slot machines. As for playing slots, one might as well just drive by the casino and throw some money at it.

How can a player improve her odds at slots?

  1. Don't play. If you don't play, you have a 100% chance of not losing any money.
  2. Don't play progressives. Progressive machines are the ones with an ever-increasing jackpot. These pay back at least a percentage point or two less than non-progressives.
  3. Don't play video slots. Video slots pay back at least a percentage point or two less than electro-mechanical (physical reel) slots.
  4. Play games with small jackpots. The smaller the jackpot, the more likely it is to hit.
  5. Play higher-denomination machines. Higher denomination machines have slightly better odds than lower-denomination machines. However, even though the odds are better, you still lose more money playing them, because you're putting more money into the machine.

Has anyone figured out a way to beat slot machines, or is it possible someone will?

No and no. Slot machines work on simple probability. A fair coin has a 50% chance of landing on heads, no matter what you do. A slot machine is just a more complicated version of that coin. The only way to beat a slot machine is to change the laws of probability -- or to cheat, which is a felony.

Can't you just play a machine that hasn't had a jackpot in a long time, since it's due to hit a jackpot?

No. A slot machine is never "due" to hit a jackpot, no matter how long it's been since the last one. The odds are the same on every spin. The odds on the very next spin after hitting the jackpot are the same as they were on the spin that got the jackpot. If you flip a coin and you happen to get five heads in a row, tails is not more likely on the next toss. Heads and tails always have a 50% chance of coming up, regardless of previous results. See more on the Gambler's Fallacy.

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Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.

You can play Bovada's games (below) right away without registering for an account.  Most every other online casino makes you give up your email address just to play the fake-money games — ugh.  That's the mean reason Bovada is the only online casino that gets advertising space on my site.  I hope other casinos will eventually start treating their visitors like human beings rather than walking wallets, but until they do, there's Bovada.  One click and you're in.

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