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    UK Casinos Online Roulette Guide

    Online Roulette Guide

    The UK Casinos Online Roulette Guide is your complete guide to everything roulette, from the early days of conception to the strategies you can employ to beat the odds. Find out everything about online roulette for both the European and American versions.

    Table of Contents


    Online Roulette Guide Introduction

    An Introduction to the Online Roulette Guide

    Christmas miracles

    Santa at ChristmasAs a child growing up at a time when televisions were more or less in every house but certainly not in every room, there was less choice, but more give and take when it came to the viewing choices than there is today.

    If Mum and Dad wanted to watch something, there was no disappearing off to the bedroom to choose from 100 other TV channels or on-demand services. In short, if you wanted to watch TV, you watched whatever the broadcasters and your parents chose.

    So it was that certain traditions became rife in mine and numerous other households across the land. Everyone sat and watched the News at Ten – how many kids watch the TV news today? But from 4:00 till 5:45 every afternoon, the TV was my domain, and if Mum and Dad wanted to watch, it was kids’ programmes or nothing during those precious hours.

    There were other traditions and MOs too. Let’s talk about Christmas – what could be more steeped in tradition? In the modern era of anything goes and TV on demand, The Queen’s annual address is the last remaining vestige of “family gathered round the TV set” that used to be the norm.

    Everyone’s seen Casablanca

    Casablanca Roulette
    1942 Casablanca Roulette Scene

    Why am I sharing these Royle Family style images from the 1970s childhood of a humble croupier and sometimes writer when we’ve only just met? It’s because I need you to understand something that holds true for anyone aged 40 or more, but is sadly no longer so for the younger generation: Everyone’s seen Casablanca.

    Up till around the turn of the millennium, it was as much a part of Christmas as the Queen’s Speech. In fact, it used to usually come on right afterwards, and families would settle deeper into the sofa and perhaps let their eyes drift closed as Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman would go through their endless moves.

    The movie is etched into our psyches in that indelible way that anything is when it is tied up with memories of childhood, family and Christmas. It is packed with iconic moments and memorable scenes, but you won’t be surprised to know that it’s the two minutes or so at Rick’s casino that I want to talk about.

    A young man needs money to buy US visas for himself and his young wife, and is trying his luck at the roulette wheel. He is all set to give up when Rick asks him: “Have you tried 22 tonight?” and shoots a knowing look at the croupier. Of course, 22 comes up, and Rick tells the young man to bet everything on 22 again. When it comes up a second time, he leaves him with the advice: “Cash it in and don’t come back.”

    Many people feel the best moment of all is when the man’s wife tries to thank Rick. He gently removes her arms from round his neck and leaves the room, saying: “Just a lucky guy.”

    WinnersThe game where anyone can win

    There are lessons to be learned here, but if, like me, you grew up with Casablanca as part of your Christmas routine, they will probably be things that you already know, at least subconsciously.

    The guy needs money. He’s desperate, this is wartime and he wants to get himself and his young wife to the safety of the USA. So what does he do? He’s too honest to rob a bank, too proud to ask for a loan and in too much of a hurry to earn it and save it.

    He needs a miracle, so he heads to the casino. He’s not really a gambler, this guy. If he sat at a poker table, he would lose the shirt off his back in no time, and if he tried his hand at blackjack, he wouldn’t have the first clue about whether to split or double down.

    He heads for the roulette wheel, because that is a game anyone can play. All you have to do is place your chips and hope for a miracle. In the case of Casablanca it was through Rick’s machinations rather than any form of divine intervention, but the man gets his miracle, they leave the casino happy and for the thousands watching at home, another part of the magic of Christmas has slotted into place.

    Roulette WheelThe spin of a wheel

    How much influence, subconscious or otherwise, that movie scene has on people’s overall attitude to roulette is a question I can’t answer, but all I know is it is there, etched into the minds of anyone middle aged and above.

    For the novice or first-time casino goer, the roulette wheel offers the same sense of reassurance as it did in Casablanca. The rules are simple and it is all down to chance, right? That’s completely true, but chance is a more complex beast than you might realise and is entirely bound by certain mathematical principles.

    Harness these, and you can develop a strategy that will use the odds to your advantage. It won’t make you a guaranteed winner – I’ve been in and around casinos for more than a quarter of a century and I can assure you with absolute certainty that nothing can do that. But there are things you can do and not do to improve your odds of winning, or more to the point, to decrease your chance of losing. You might ask what is the difference, but we will take a look at all these things as we go along.

    One thing is for sure, over the years, I’ve seen plenty of people try putting it all on 22, but that strategy appears not to work when Bogie’s not around.

    history of rouletteA short history lesson

    I mentioned that roulette is steeped in mathematics. The roulette wheel actually came about as part of an experiment carried out by French mathematician Blaise Pascal in his studies on probability. In 1655, he attempted to create a “perpetual motion machine.”

    It goes without saying that his attempts were unsuccessful, but what he did invent was a game that would capture the imagination and fire the dreams of gamblers for years to come, and continues to do so today.

    There are 360 degrees in a circle, and the original roulette wheel had 36 holes dug into it. Perfect for examining those probabilities, and good for a 35/1 chance of a win. But with zero house edge, casinos were only ever going to break even, which is where the 0 and later the 00 entered the fray.

    But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s doff our hats to the ghosts of Blaise Pascal, Rick Blaine and everyone else who played a role in bringing roulette into our consciousness and get into the theory of how the game works and what you need to do to improve your chances of creating your own little Christmas miracle.

    Online Roulette Guide Chapter 1

    Chapter One: How to Play Roulette

    The roulette wheel

    Lets take a dive into the Online Roulette Guide and have a look a the Roulette wheel. You may be familiar with how a roulette wheel looks, but it is important to understand how it works. The wheel is comprised of three sections, known as the ball track, the base track and the wheel head. The ball track is where the ball first goes around and around. As the wheel begins to slow, the ball descends into the base track. And last of all, it arrives at the wheel head, where it bounces around and finally settles into a numbered pocket.

    Roulette Wheel Types

    The biggest variation you will find is in the number of zeroes. Although both single and double zero wheels were invented by the French aristocracy, over time, single zero wheels became the norm in Monte Carlo, while double zero was more commonly adopted in the USA. For this reason, the former is often referred to as the French or European wheel, while the latter is what people mean when they refer to American Roulette.

    The pockets are numbered from 0-36. The zero (or zeroes) are green, half of the others are black and the other half are red. The reds and blacks alternate and the numbers are in a specific order. I won’t run through the exact order here, it’s not something you need to learn, but there are a few patterns I will point out.

    Let’s start with the American wheel. If you take a look at it, you will notice that each odd number is more or less opposite the next even number. So seven is opposite eight, 21 is opposite 22 and so on. Going around the table, pairs of odds alternate with pairs of evens. Thus, you get 25 and 29 then 12 and 8 then 19 and 31, and so on. The exception is around the 0 and 00, which split 2 and 28 and 27 and 1 respectively.

    Moving on to the European wheel, it looks more or less the same at first glance, save for the absence of the 00. However, on closer examination, you will see that the numbering order is different. The “opposites” don’t work out in the same way, and while there are never more than two consecutive odds or evens, they do not follow the same pattern as the American wheel.

    The table

    The other essential piece of equipment we’ll cover in the online roulette guide is the table. This is where you place your chips to win or lose your visa to America, and it follows a standard layout, with which you will be basically familiar. It is essentially the same for American or European wheels, the only difference being that the former has an additional area for the 00.

    American Roulette Table
    American Roulette Table
    European Roulette Table
    European Roulette Table

    It is split into two areas, for inside bets and outside bets. I will explain exactly what those are in just a moment, but for now, you simply need to know that the inside bets relate to the 12 x 3 grid featuring each of the numbers from 1 to 36. Note that on the table, these are in numerical order, and each number is coloured red or black, according to its colour on the wheel.

    Outside this grid is the area for outside bets, which is logical enough. These comprise three areas at the “short” side, or bottom of the grid, at the end of each column of 12 numbers. Each contains the phrase “2 to 1.” Then along the “long” side are three areas marked “1st 12,” “2nd 12” and “3rd 12,” and outside those, six more areas marked “1 to 18,” “Even,” “Red,” “Black, “Odd,” and “19 to 36.”

    Bear with me, and I will explain all these areas and how you use them once we get on to the different types of bet.

    Gameplay basics

    When discussing a hand of poker or even a game on a slot machine, it is necessary to start from first principles, but everyone sort of understands how roulette works. Let me run it by you:

    • You make a bet by placing chips on the table
    • The croupier throws the ball into the spinning roulette wheel
    • You can continue to place bets while the ball is spinning
    • At some point, the croupier announces, “no more bets”
    • The ball comes to rest in a numbered, coloured pocket
    • Depending on where it lands and how you placed your bet, you either win or lose

    Does that all sound familiar? Great – now you are probably expecting me to say that’s actually a misconception of roulette, but no, that is basically all there is to it. So, let’s take a look at the bets you can place.

    Types of bets

    Now lets go through the types of bets in this chapter of our online roulette guide. There are probably more bets available on a roulette wheel than you thought. In fact, I make it 11, but you can also play any number of these in combinations. Don’t worry, though, stick with me and I will talk you through them. They are not complicated, and one intuitively leads to the next. After all, it is only a wheel and a ball, how complicated can it be?

    To make it even easier, bets can be split into two types, known as inside bets and outside bets. Let’s start with the inside bets.

    Inside bets

    Inside bets are ones that you place on specific numbers as opposed to types or subsets of numbers. They couldn’t be simpler to understand.

    1) The straight up

    Roulette Straight Up 22
    Roulette Straight Up 35/1

    Have you tried 22 tonight? This is the bet Rick recommended in Casablanca and it is an example of a straight up. Place the chips on the number you are expecting to win, and if you get it right, you will collect at 35/1.

    2) Split bet

    Online Roulette Split Bet
    Online Roulette Split Bet 17/1

    Bet on two numbers by placing your chips on the dividing line between those numbers. If either is right, you get a 17/1 payout.

    3) The Trio or Street Bet

    Street Bet or Trio Bet
    Street Bet or Trio Bet 11/1

    You can probably guess where this is going. Place your chips on the outside border of three numbers in order to bet on those three numbers. A winning street bet pays out at odds of 11/1.

    4) The corner

    Corner Bet
    Corner Bet 8/1

    Place your chips on the intersection where four numbers meet to bet on all four numbers. Also known as “the square” this bet will pay out 8/1.

    5) The beast

    The Beast
    The Beast 6/1

    If you think the name sounds a little unsophisticated, it might have something to do with the fact that it has nothing to do with Monte Carlo and is only available on American double zero wheels. It means a bet on 00, 0, 1, 2 or 3, and it pays at 6/1. I’ve mentioned it so you know what it is, but I’m going to do you a favour and tell you to forget this one straight away – I’ll explain why in a moment.

    6) The line bet

    Line Bet
    Line Bet 5/1

    The final inside bet is the line bet, where you place your chips on the outside border of the six-number group of your choice. Winners get a 5/1 pay day.

    Outside bets

    I told you it was straightforward. Inside bets are simply bets on anything from one to six numbers coming up. Next we will look at the outside bets. These involve placing your chips in one of the special areas along the long side of the table or the short side. They are also nothing to worry about, although for these, the French phraseology is still the most commonly used in some casinos, so I will include it here.

    7) Red or black

    Red Bet 2/1
    Red Bet 2/1

    Perhaps the best known outside bet, rouge et noir conjures images of Monte. It couldn’t be simpler, place you chips on red or black, and the casino will pay out at even money.

    8) High or low

    High or Low 2/1
    High or Low 2/1

    Passe et manque is another even money bet. Here, you can place your chips on either 1-18 or 19-36. Zero and double zero don’t count, which is how the house retains its edge.

    9) Odd or even

    Odd or Even 2/1
    Odd or Even 2/1

    The third possible type of even money bet is impair et pair. Again, it does exactly what it says on the tin and is just a case of you placing your chips in the appropriate area.

    10) The column bet

    Column Bet
    Column Bet 2/1

    Known as colonne, this is a wager that a specific one of the three columns of numbers will contain the winner. Place your chips into the first, second or third box marked “”2 to 1” – on some tables, these boxes are labelled “1st Row,” “2nd Row,” or “3rd Row.” If you are right, you will collect at 2/1.

    11) Dozens

    Dozens Bet
    Dozens Bet 2/1

    The final type of bet is known as dozaine. Here, you are choosing the first, second or third dozen numbers as shown on the table layout. Just to be clear, it refers to 1-12, 13-24 or 25-36, ie the numbers in numerical order as per the table layout. It has nothing to do with the order in which they appear on the wheel.

    The house edge

    We have already established that the house edge is higher in American roulette than European due to the double zero. The easiest way to calculate it is by looking at it this way. Count the ball landing in zero or double zero as a “house win” – on a European wheel, this is a 36/1 shot and on an American wheel it is 37/2. This translates to a house edge of 2.7 percent and 5.3 percent respectively.

    The house edge for all but one of the other bets we have discussed is exactly the same. The exception is the beast, which I mentioned at number 5. Available only on American tables, the house edge on this bet is 7.9 percent. That is why I told you to forget about this one – if you want to bet on five numbers, you are better off placing five individual straight bets, that way the edge is back down to 5.3 percent.

    Place your bets

    So now you know about the construction of the wheel, the layout of the table, the types of bets you can place and the odds available. I think we are ready to place our first wager.

    Each spin of the wheel is known as a “decision” and when you arrive at the table, you will see an object known as a puck on one of the squares. Let’s say it’s on 22. This is where the ball stopped on the last decision. When the croupier removes the puck, it is the sign that you can start betting on the next decision.

    Place your betting chips on the number, line or area where you wish to bet. So for 22, you know what to do, and for any one of the outside bets, place in the corresponding area on the outside of the table, such as Red, Odd or 1st Row. If you are looking to place a split, corner or line bet, again, place the chips on the appropriate junction or line.

    Normally, you will simply place the chips yourself, but the croupier will do so if you can’t reach, you only have to ask.

    The croupier will then set things in motion, quite literally, setting the wheel going and releasing the ball. At this stage, you can still place bets, but soon thereafter, you will be told “no more bets” and the croupier will wave her hand across the table.

    At this point, you cannot make any more bets. That might sound like a statement of the obvious, but some players find this a really difficult concept, and continue to try to place chips on the table.

    All it achieves is some irritated sidelong glances and your bets being disqualified, so do yourself a favour, and play by the rules.

    Winners and losers

    When the ball comes to rest, the croupier will call out the number, and usually also the colour, for example “Black 22!” and will place the puck accordingly. She will then sweep the board of all losing bets and pay the winning bets.

    This done, she will remove the puck, invite those present to place their bets and the whole process begins again.

    Chapter Two: Roulette Etiquette

    Roulette TableHaving spent more hours in and around casinos than I care to think about, you will not think me too much of a show-off if I tell you that I know my way around and understand how to behave. The reason I’m telling you this is not so you think I am terribly suave and sophisticated. It’s more a case that I want you to understand that I can show you the dos and don’ts of how to conduct yourself around the roulette wheel.

    I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve chatted to outside the confines of the casino who, on hearing that I am a professional croupier, have said they have always fancied visiting a casino, but wouldn’t know what to do.

    Well, as far as playing a game and placing a bet are concerned, the previous chapter has told you that, but you and I both know that’s not quite what they mean. As a species, people seem to go through life desperately trying not to make a complete idiot of themselves in social situations. Fair enough, a casino provides the potential for the odd social faux pas, but no more so than a posh restaurant, and I’ve never heard of anyone turning down the chance of dinner at The Ivy because they wouldn’t know what to do.

    Nevertheless as we take you through our online roulette guide, here are some tips from someone who has spun the wheel, placed the bets and seen all manner of behaviour around the roulette table.

    Roulette ChipsUse your own chips

    If you are more accustomed to a game like blackjack, you might find the chips confusing at first. Essentially, you buy your own colour coded ones from the croupier, at which point you decide for yourself what they are worth. For this reason, you should play with your chips and nobody else’s. That might sound obvious, but sometimes if you are playing alongside a friend, you might be tempted to pool your resources – not allowed.

    Keep your hands to yourself

    If there’s one thing that gets a dealer or croupier edgy, it is a gambler with wandering hands. It doesn’t go down well with the casino bosses or your fellow players, either. Place your bet, then get your hands away from the table. This is particularly important after the croupier has called “no more bets.” That’s the signal that the table is now out of bounds until the decision is complete and the puck has been removed.

    Ears open

    Speaking of “no more bets,” remember what I said earlier. It’s not a serving suggestion, it is a game rule.  Consistently trying to place late bets is a surefire way of getting yourself a reputation as what we in the trade call a PITA. It stands for “pain in the elbow,” but the guy creating the acronym didn’t know how to spell.

    Be nice

    There is less in the way of convention around a roulette wheel than there is at, for example, a blackjack table, where you have to worry about whether the other players will mind you joining mid-shoe and so on. Roulette is generally more informal, and can get lively and a little riotous on a good night. That’s fine by me, joining in with some fun and laughter as the players have a good time makes for an enjoyable night at the office.

    The most important piece of etiquette advice, then, is one that holds just as true in any other social situation, and that it to be aware of those around you, stay out of their faces and treat them with courtesy and respect. It shouldn’t be too much to ask, and more than 99 percent of the time, that’s exactly what happens.

    In case of trouble…

    So 99 percent of the time everyone is fine – does that mean if you pay 100 visits to a roulette wheel, you are likely to run up against trouble on one occasion? It is possible. The table can get crowded, people have a few drinks and they can end up all elbows, jostling against other players, knocking over your chips, standing on your foot and generally being the sort of person you would not ordinarily want to hang around with.

    If you find yourself in this situation, the croupier will usually step in with a quite word, and nine times out of ten that will be all that’s needed. Ultimately, as with most casino games that involve several people, you will find that some wheels are more lively than others, and if you don’t find the company to your liking, the best course of action is often to vote with your feet and choose a different gaming table.

    Roulette Guide Chapter 3

    Chapter Three: Roulette Strategies

    Roulette StrategyRoulette strategies are a cornerstone of any decent online roulette guide. If you have hurried straight to this chapter in order to get the quick and dirty low down on how to beat the odds and come away from the roulette wheel a guaranteed winner, I’ve got some bad news for you. As those who have read the preceding chapters will already know, the house always wins.

    Let me put it another way. If 100 people play American roulette on a given table on a given night, and each wagers £100, then the casino is going to end the night around about £530 up. That’s the house edge, and the more people that play and the larger the sample size, the closer to that magic 5.3 percent it will be.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone will end the night £5.30 down. Some will end up £30 up, and others will end up £50 down. The point is that over time, it always works out around that house edge.

    Another way to look at the same equation is that if you yourself play on 100 different nights, and wager £100 each time, you’ll have nights when you come out on top and nights when you don’t, but when you look back on it at the end, you’ll be approximately £530 poorer.

    Defying the law of averages

    Mathematicians build their theories around certain axioms, which you can think of as absolute rules. The house edge is our axiom, and there is no way around it. The question is whether there is a way to grab your win and get out of dodge before it has a chance to bite.

    The key here is the point I made above – remember in the first example, I said that when 100 people play and wager £100, some of them come out winners. But if you play 100 times, you’ll come out close to 5.3 percent down. Almost certainly between 5 percent and 5.6 percent. If you play 1,000 times, your loss will be even closer to the 5.3 percent, well within 0.1 of a percentage point.

    What does that tell you?

    The more bets you place, the better chance the law of averages has of catching up with you. This is why I can only look on in horror when someone comes to the table and places half a dozen different bets on every decision. Put simply, it is a crazy thing to do and you will end up losing.

    The Martingale strategy

    Let me get some disclosure out of the way up front. I’m not a fan of betting progressions, because however convincing they can be made to sound, if you play them long enough, you hit up against the basic axiom that the house always wins, and you find yourself down by the house edge.

    However, there are those who swear by them, and I will grudgingly admit that if you play it smart, you have a better chance of coming out a winner using the Martingale strategy at roulette than you would at blackjack – and it certainly beats throwing a dozen different bets willy nilly in the way I described above.

    Duly caveated, then, I will tell you how it works.

    Every time you lose, you double your bet.

    And that’s it. That simple. Let me explain why some people say it is foolproof, and after that, I will tell you why they are wrong.

    It works best with an example, so let’s keep it easy and say that you are betting red on a European, single zero wheel, where the table has a minimum bet of £10 and a maximum of £200.

    You start with a £10 bet. If you lose, you then bet £20. If you lose again, you then bet £40. If you win, you collect your £40 winnings, plus your stake. That means you’ve spent £10 + £20 + £40 = £70, and you’ve just collected £40 + £40 = £80.

    Congratulations, you’ve won £10.

    Try it again, but this time, instead of winning the third decision, you win the fifth. This time, you’ve spent £10 + £20 + £40 + £80 + £160 = £310. And you’ve collected £160 + £160 = £320

    You can see how compelling this looks. Every sequence ends with you winning £10, whether red comes up the first time or the 10th. Each time you win, you pocket that £10 and start again. Repeat the process ten times, you have £100 winnings in your pocket and you can call up your mother and take her out for dinner. So what’s the catch?

    Suppose it runs to a sixth time, what do you do then? You can’t double the wager, as the table limit is £250. You could wager that instead, but even if it comes up red at last, you have paid out £570 and only collected £500. That means you need another seven entire sequences just to get back to even. Of course, you need to hope you don’t bump up against the table limit again, or you’re in real trouble. And what if it runs to a seventh time?

    You might think such a catastrophic run is unlikely, but I’ve got news for you. There is a one in 60 chance of a six game losing streak.

    The point that our example above has demonstrated is that usually, you will win small, but occasionally, you will lose big.

    Suppose you had £100,000 to play with and you bet it all using this system. Over time do you think the many small wins would outweigh the occasional catastrophic loss, or vice versa. Anyone who said they will end up somewhere close to £270 down, go straight to the top of the class.

    Regardless of how smart you think your strategy looks, in the long run, the house always wins and the house edge is axiomatic.

    The straight up Martingale

    The Martingale is a dangerous beast because it looks so placid. It is that nice old lady’s spaniel that looks at you, all doe eyes and silky coat, wags its tail, behaves impeccably, then unaccountably takes a chunk out of your ankle while you are pouring the tea and slicing the cake.

    If I can stretch the metaphor a little further, the straight up Martingale is the junkyard Doberman on a length of rusty chain that looks like it hasn’t eaten in weeks. OK, the spaniel looked cute, but this fella? Why would you even go near it?

    Nevertheless, you will encounter those who swear by this beast as the way to make serious money and run, so I will tell you how it works and retire to a safe distance.

    Let’s stick with Rick’s recommendation for a straight up, and say we are going to bet on 22. But it works exactly the same for any number, or even betting a random number each time. The point is that every bet you will place £10 on a 35/1 shot. Sooner or later, you will win, and when you do, you pocket the winnings. When you lose, you just keep betting that £10.

    If you are becoming familiar with the world of mathematical axioms, you can probably see where this is leading. In some ways, it is the reverse of the previous scenario – in that one, we steadily gathered small wins, with the risk of a big loss. Here, we accumulate small losses while we wait for the big win.

    Sometimes you will get the big win at the fifth attempt, and sometimes you will get it at the 105th, winning £350 when you are already more than £1,000 down. In the long run, you can guess what happens – you will be down by the house edge.

    Fibonacci betting

    I’ve told you several times that winning or losing all comes down to mathematical probabilities, so how about going with the maths rather than fighting against it? The Fibonacci Sequence is one of the most well-known mathematical progressions. You can see it manifest itself in all manner of natural phenomena, from musical notes to the evolution of galaxies.

    Can you harness this cosmic power to come out a winner at the roulette wheel? Some people think so, and I will explain how and why.

    Fibonacci Betting

    I’m sure you were paying close attention in your maths lessons at school, but in case you need a reminder, the Fibonacci Sequence starts with 1 and 1, then adds the previous two numbers together. So 1+1 = 2, 2+1 = 3, 3+2 = 5, 5+3 = 8 and so on.

    This gives the sequence 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 and continues ever onwards.

    The rules for Fibonacci betting follow what initially looks like a similar pattern as the Martingale, but instead of doubling your wager, you go up by Fibonacci numbers. Let’s stick with the same wheel and betting limits as earlier, so we will say that 1 represents £10, 8 represents £80 and so on.

    Exponents say that the numbers are so elegant, or cosmically aligned, or however you want to put it, that you can’t lose.

    The section of the Fibonacci sequence that is of interest to us is the numbers up to the table limit, which we said was £250, so we do not need to go beyond the 21 in the above list, as the next number would be 34, equivalent to a £340 bet.

    The idea is that for every bet we lose, we go up a step, but for every bet we win, we go down two steps. The idea is that we leverage the way the Fibonacci numbers suddenly start getting high in order to get a big win, but we cover our potential losses by getting up there gradually.

    With Fibonacci, you do not get the small wins along the way that you will receive with the Martingale. What it does instead is protects you from big losses so that you can make the most of a winning streak when it comes.

    So does it work? Unfortunately, you are as prone to a catastrophic losing streak as you are to a life changing winning streak, and at some point you are going to bump your head on the table limit. Play long enough, and I think you can work out without me saying it where you will end up if you invest £100,000. That’s right, you’ll be a net loser by the house edge.

    Take the money and run with a parlay

    Perhaps you think that trying to sneak up on the roulette wheel and nibble away at some winnings before it can turn around and bite you is the wrong approach. Why not be bold, take it for a big win and get out before the laws of averages know what happened?

    This is the thinking behind the Paroli, commonly known as the parlay strategy. The theory here is to accept the losses as inevitable but make the most of a winning streak.

    Here’s how it works. We all know that sometimes you will get winning streaks and sometimes you will get losing streaks. So you make a decision that you will target those three win progressions. Starting again at your £10 wager, if you win, you reinvest the winnings with a £20 wager. If you win again, you reinvest again, with a £40 wager. If you win again, you pocket the £40 and start again at £10.

    Whenever you lose, you simply bet another £10.

    You can even make it safer still by pocketing some of every win – for example, instead of doubling the stake, you could go £10, £15, £25.

    Exponents of the parlay will tell you that most of the time you will more or less break even, and periodically, you will get a £40 bonus straight into your pocket. You have to come out on top, surely?

    The trouble is, all you are doing is altering the bet amounts, you are not making any change to the odds of winning or losing, so you will ultimately run straight up against our old friend the house edge.

    That is not to say the parlay is a bad strategy to follow – it reduces the likelihood of a catastrophic loss, and gives you the opportunity for a more substantial win, and ultimately, that makes for more fun than the other way around.

    There are plenty of other betting progressions along similar lines to the Martingale, Fibonacci or parlay, but when push comes to shove, they all have the same basic shortcoming. You can beat neither the basic rules of mathematics nor the axiom of the casino by simply changing the amount that you are wagering.

    Ultimately, progression techniques rely on you making use of streaks, but that demands a correlation, some cause and effect between one event and the next. And ultimately, that’s why I have an instinctive dislike of these kinds of strategies.

    Each decision in roulette is an independent event, and what came before has zero bearing on it. Put another way, if you’ve just had a streak of ten reds in a row, the odds of the next one also being red are still exactly the same.

    Roulette Guide Chapter 4

    Chapter Four: Other Roulette Strategies

    If progression strategies are always going to bump up against that same old problem of the house edge, perhaps there is a different approach we can take. Believe me, I’ve seen some outlandish ones over the years, and here, I will share some of the more memorable examples. These come with the same caveat that I provided at the beginning of Chapter Three – you’re not going to find any get rich quick scheme here, but it won’t stop fans of the various systems from trying to convince you that they’ve finally managed to beat the laws of mathematics.

    Chaos theory

    Historically known as the Kavouras system, this strategy demands that you fight fire with fire. If a real firefighter was to try this, he would soon find himself out of a job, and the consequences can be equally disastrous at the roulette table.

    The reasoning goes something like this. A ball on a roulette wheel is in a state of chaos. The only way you can hope to beat it is by taking a similarly chaotic approach. Therefore, you should place a variety of bets, of varying sizes, avoiding any kind of pattern or logic.

    If you think I am being cynical, or trying to make a joke of it, I’m not – that is the strategy in a nutshell.

    We established earlier that your best chance of beating the odds is by playing the fewest bets possible. Playing, for example, 18 straights just means 18 different bets and more time for the dreaded law of averages to catch up. You know exactly what will happen by now – you’ll lose just a little more than you win. The only difference is you will be haemorrhaging money at a far quicker rate, and your bankroll will be gone all the faster.

    If you want to bet on half the numbers, simply place a single outside bet on one of the even money shots. You are reducing your exposure to the house edge, and there is definitely a reduced probability of the other players thinking you need a psychiatric evaluation.

    Ball tracking

    In the USA, they call them “elite spinsters” – these are not women who are experts at avoiding marriage, although given the time and practice that it would take to really do this, I find it extremely unlikely that anyone, male or female, would be able to fit in any sort of family life.

    Some claim that by watching ball, wheel and croupier, they can predict at least the sector in which the ball will come to rest. The theory is that they know the wheel is spinning at a certain speed, and the ball will do a certain number of circuits before it comes down to the wheel head. It will then perform a given quantity of bounces on the frets between the pockets before it comes to rest.

    By watching which sector is going past as the ball is sent on its way, the “elite spinster” can supposedly predict where it will come to a halt, at least within a range of perhaps ten numbers, and will place bets on these.

    Can it possibly work? I’ve encountered two or three people over the years who claimed they could do it, but let’s just say none of them have invited me out for a ride in the Ferrari or a cruise on the yacht, so I have yet to be convinced. I tried it myself a few times, and all that happened was that I started to feel dizzy.

    Croupier signatures

    A variation on the above theme is the theory that certain croupiers have a way of controlling where the ball lands. This is known, for obvious reasons, as a signature, and the theory goes that if you find a croupier with a signature, you can take advantage of the fact by predicting where he’s going to place the ball.

    I can’t speak for every croupier on the planet, but I have to tell you that I have a big problem with this theory. Even if it was possible, why do it? For a share in the spoils? Even if someone was completely unethical, the risk of being caught would always outweigh the return.

    On a more pragmatic level, though, I don’t see how it’s possible. As I mentioned above, I tried a couple of times to see if I could see the pattern that elite spinsters can apparently see, and even when I’m the one releasing the ball, it only made me feel a little queasy. The thought of actually being able to control the outcome is completely out of the question.

    Back in the days of Casablanca, it might have been a possibility, but on a modern table, you would need a complex array of laser scanners and supercomputers to have any hope of accurately predicting where the ball will come to rest – but perhaps we’ll talk more about that a little later.

    Roulette Guide Chapter 5

    Chapter Five: The Only True Roulette Strategy

    In this part of the online roulette guide we’ll look at the only true roulette strategy. I told you earlier that the house always wins and the house edge is axiomatic. The problem with some gamblers is that they just won’t listen to reason. You and I are altogether more sensible and pragmatic people, so I’m sure you will agree with me when I tell you that attempting to beat the house is, in itself, the wrong strategy.

    Roulette is a game of chance. In a card game, and even some slots, there are strategic decisions you can make depending on the cards in front of you or what appears on screen, and these decisions will shave something off the house edge and shift the odds a little way in your favour.

    Don’t look for such a strategy in roulette, because you are chasing shadows. That doesn’t mean there is no strategy at all that I recommend, however. To me, “no strategy at all” takes us back into the realms of chaos theory, and I’ve already told you exactly what I think of that.

    Play Online RouletteWhy play roulette?

    To circle in on the perfect roulette strategy, I need you to answer a question. Why do you play roulette? What is your objective? Here are three common answers – choose the one that applies to you, and then imagine three people playing roulette, each with one of the three objectives. Who is going to have the most successful night?

    • To win a whole heap of money
    • To enjoy yourself and hope to win some money
    • To have a fun night out and try not to spend too much money

    Here’s the eureka moment. In a game of chance where the odds are just a little bit against you thanks to the house edge, your strategy is not to beat the house, because that’s impossible. Your aim needs to be to lose as little as possible.

    I’ve seen hundreds, thousands, of people troop in night after night to play roulette, blackjack, slots and poker at the casino, and I’ve seen them arrive with a variety of aspirations and expectations. But all can be essentially distilled down to the above three options.

    Ultimately, the reason that casinos remain so popular in spite of that dreaded house edge is because most people fall into category three above. Getting dressed up, having a night out with friends in a high class casino, soaking up the atmosphere, drinking a few martinis and enjoying the thrill of the roulette wheel. It’s a fantastic way to spend an evening, and most people accept that like any great night out, it is going to set them back a couple of hundred pounds.

    Now let’s get into the real strategy of how to ensure that couple of hundred doesn’t turn into a couple of thousand.

    Trend betting

    After everything we have been through together, you will probably think that trend betting is going to be the world’s worst idea. After all, doesn’t that mean betting in accordance with streaks and patterns? Yet we’ve already established that these don’t really exist, and every spin of the wheel is an independent event.

    You’re right, and I’m glad you’ve been listening. But here’s the thing, you need some sort of pattern or system to follow, because the alternative is to descend into chaos, and that’s when things get expensive.

    By placing your bets according to trends, you keep a lid on your outgoings – this means your bankroll lasts longer, and you reduce your exposure to the house edge, so you might still come out with a nice little win.

    There are numerous ways to use trends to inform your betting, but this basic strategy will give you the idea. Remember, now that the scales have been removed from our eyes, our objective is to have a great night and minimise our spending.

    My first suggestion is that even money bets are the most fun. Remember, the house edge is the same whatever type of bet you go for, so it doesn’t really matter, but with red/black odd/even or low/high, you are always in the action, and it has more of the feeling of a fairly fought contest between you and the wheel.

    It makes not the blindest bit of difference which you choose, but let’s say you are going red/black. Here’s how the trend betting works:

    Watch the wheel, keep your chips to yourself and wait till you get two consecutives, be it red, red or black, black. When it does, place a bet on that same colour. If you win, go again, and see how long the streak continues. If you lose, sit back and wait for another two consecutives, then you are off again.

    The benefit of this strategy is that you are not betting on every spin, but you are constantly engaged in the action and enjoying the anticipation even when you are not directly involved. This protects your bankroll and keeps the number of bets placed lower, thus reducing the chances of you simply flatlining out at the house edge.

    Of course, there are numerous variations on this. For example, you can play it the other way round and bet against the run continuing.

    If you want to mitigate the risk even further, you can wait for a sequence of three instead of two before you join the fray. This further protects your bankroll, while really ramping up the anticipation levels.

    Chapter Six: Roulette Myths and Legends

    Next up in our Online Roulette Guide we take a look at the Myths and Legends behind the game. Casinos, and the people who frequent them, are steeped with superstition, myths and tales that might or might not have their basis in reality.

    When it comes to roulette, a game where the wheel of chance holds sway with an iron fist over any strategic input, the superstition can be even higher. Let me share a few of my favourites with you.

    Gold Bars1) The man who broke the bank

    There is an old music hall song entitled “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.” This tells the tale of a real life gambler by the name of Charles Wells, who did exactly that. Now Wells was quite a character, and definitely not the sort of guy you would leave unattended in the living room unless you’d locked away the family silver. He committed a number of frauds over the years, and there is considerable speculation about how he managed to do what he did in Monte Carlo.

    The events took place one fine day in the summer of 1891, and then again on a subsequent visit in November. Each time, Wells arrived at the casino with a bankroll of £4,000 and walked out with winnings of around £60,000. To put it into context, that equates to around £2 million today. On one occasion, Wells notched up 23 consecutive successful spins.

    Back then, each table had a cash reserve of 100,000 French Francs. This was known as the “bank,” and in the event that the funds were exhausted, the casino would add some theatre to proceedings by laying a black cloth over the table and declaring it “broken” until staff could replenish the money from the underground vault.

    Wells broke the bank several times on each of his visits. Nobody has ever been entirely sure how he did it – when interviewed by The Times newspaper in 1893, he claimed to have an “infallible system,” but given his track record, it is understandable that many suspected some underhand trickery was in play.

    2) Ocean’s Three take the Ritz for £1.3 million

    If someone came up with this as a film script, it would be thrown out for being just too implausible, but here is one of those occasions when truth is stranger than fiction.

    In early 2004, two men and a woman, all three in their 30s and immaculately dressed, swept into London’s glamourous and sophisticated Ritz casino. They headed for the roulette wheel and walked out at the end of the evening £100,000 up. The following night, they were back, and this time, they took the house for £1.2 million.

    As is standard practice for big wins, the casino reviewed the security tapes and it seemed that something untoward had been going on with mobile phones. The police were called, and the trio were tracked down and arrested.

    It transpired that they had used a laser scanner in a mobile phone to feed information on the spinning wheel to a laptop, which used this data to calculate where the ball would stop. The real mystery is how the software managed to perform such complex calculations with such accuracy and speed that they were able to place their bets in time.

    This kind of technique has been discussed at the theoretical level since the 1970s, but it would require inconceivable computer power even today – so how did they manage it 13 years ago?

    The answer to that question remains an unsolved riddle, but the upshot is that no law had been broken, the police released the three without charge, and they were allowed to keep the winnings. They have never been heard of since, and as far as we know, there have been no other incidents of this nature.

    2) The devil’s in the detail

    Could those three have had some unnatural assistance of a supernatural nature? Some call the roulette wheel “The Devil’s Wheel.” In part this is doubtless related to the belief among some that gambling is “sinful,” but they will tell you that there is mathematical evidence to support the theory.

    Add together all the numbers on the roulette wheel and they come to 666 – the sign of the beast according to The Book of Revelation in the New Testament.

    Lucky Sevens3) Lucky seven

    Back in 1991, a computer programmer by the name of Chris Boyd decided that he wanted to place a bet and win a lot of money at roulette.

    Now you and I both know that’s a dangerous mindset, and we would tell Mr Boyd all about the house edge and the axiom of the casino. But we would also be able to offer him a few tips on how to reduce the risk of losing and potentially pull a crafty one on the laws of averages.

    He decided to place just one bet – that’s a good decision, the fewer the better. He also decided to place it on red – better and better, we like the even money wagers.

    The third part of his plan might cause you to pale, a little, though. He saved up £150,000, flew over to Vegas and toured the casinos until he found one that would accept his $220,000 wager on red. Eventually, Binion’s accepted the bet, the wheel was set in motion and the ball landed on red number seven. Mr Boyd collected his money and walked out a happy man.

    A remarkable story, but it gets better. 18 years later, in 2009, a US businessman by the name of Ashley Revell decided to do the same thing. He, however, sold all his worldly goods and converted them into $136,000. Like Mr Boyd before him, he headed to Vegas to make or break his fortune. Like Mr Boyd before him, he put it all on red. And like Mr Boyd before him, it landed on red number seven.

    The legend of lucky seven does not even stop there, however. On 14 July 2000, at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, red seven came up six times in a row. What are the odds of that, you might ask – approximately three billion to one.

    In case you are wondering what they did with their winnings, Mr Boyd disappeared and supposedly lived happily ever after, while Ashley Revell invested his in a new business venture, an online poker site. Sadly for him, it was not a success, and he went out of business three years later. Perhaps he should have stuck to roulette.


    Roulette Guide Chapter 7

    Chapter Seven: A Look at Online Roulette

    Of course, it could be that Ashley Revell was just a man ahead of his time. In the modern technological age, we all have smartphones, tablets and laptops. Online casinos have become immensely popular, and although yes, I am a traditionalist who has spent my life surrounded by the unique sight, sound and smell of brick and mortar casinos, I certainly have nothing against the virtual ones. This couldnt be an online roulette guide without taking a good long look at what is available at modern day online casinos.

    Netent European Roulette
    Netent European Roulette

    On the contrary, I think they provide a perfect opportunity for people to learn the ropes and get to grips with the rules of a variety of casino games, whether it is roulette, blackjack or poker. These days there are so many around that they are champing at the bit to get you involved, and the free spins and bonus chips that they offer to new members give you a chance to lose someone else’s money instead of your own while you get your head around the strategy.

    Anything that introduces new people to the wonders of the casino and inspires them to visit one for real can only be a good thing in my book.

    RNGs or the real wheel?

    There are two types of online roulette commonly available, which are random number generators (RNGs) or real wheels with a human croupier.

    By far the most common is the RNG. You will see a mock up of a roulette wheel on the screen, you’ll see the ball bounce around and you will see it land on a random number.

    The odds are exactly the same as you will find in a real casino, and so is the house edge – this is in itself an interesting point, as some online casino games have a reduced house edge because they can afford to do so – after all, there are far lower overheads involved in running an online piece of computer software than operating a real world casino.

    But in roulette, the edge is dictated by the zero or zeroes, so you face exactly the same mathematical probabilities online as you do in real life.

    Some online casinos will offer real games involving a real wheel and a human croupier. This is a fun gimmick, but in honesty, it makes not a jot of difference to the final outcome. Broadly speaking, I would say that if you want the real genuine feel of a casino, you will go out to one, and if you want to play online, an RNG will do just fine.

    Immersive Roullete From Evolution

    There is, however, one caveat to that. The RNG roulette wheel goes fast, and you can get through a whole lot of bets in a short time. If you’ve been listening to what I’ve been saying, that should ring a few alarm bells, so just take care. Real dealer games take longer, and that can never be a bad thing in roulette.

    Any elephant traps?

    Online gambling is a topic that caused plenty of concern a few years ago. Could you trust the sites? Was it all a scam? Would you see your winnings? These days, the online casinos are run by companies every bit as reputable is the physical ones – in fact, in many cases, they are the same players.

    They are also subject to plenty of external control and audit processes, so it is really not the wild west that it might have appeared in the early days of the internet.

    Just make certain that you are clear on how you put money into your casino account and how you get it out. The casinos will all be transparent about this but they vary from one to the next in terms of payment methods and how long it takes to transfer the funds in either direction.

    Conclusion of our Online Roulette Guide

    Roulette is one of the most long-established casino games. Slots might be more high-tech, poker might provide the deeper options for strategic play and influencing the odds, but there is something about The Devil’s Wheel. We know it will beat us in the end, but we just can’t stay away from it, and as we found out from Messrs Boyd and Revell, the fact that the house always wins in the long term does not mean that you won’t get the occasional thrill of the big win.

    And in the final analysis, it is the thrill of the game that matters more than anything else when it comes to roulette. So let me leave you with the following tips. Keep these pointers in mind and you will get all the pleasure from this wonderful game, and you’ll minimise the pain.

    • Always play on the European single zero table over the American double zero if you have the choice. That’s the only way of reducing the house edge.
    • Play for the joy of playing. There is a popular TV campaign that says: “When the fun stops, stop.” I really can’t put it any better.
    • The fewer bets you place, the better your chance of evading the odds.
    • The house edge is axiomatic.
    • Steer clear of the beast – it is the only bet where the house edge increases beyond the standard 2.7 and 5.3.
    • Progression strategies are a fallacy. They make no difference to the odds, and in the long run you will still run up against the house edge.
    • Trend betting is a great way to make your money last longer and get more enjoyment out of your time at the roulette wheel.
    • There’s something magic about lucky seven.

    OK, so the last one is tongue in cheek, but we all need a little magic in our lives, and it doesn’t have to be restricted to the festive season.

    And the magic of roulette was exactly where we came in. I hope you have found our stroll around the science, legend and mythology of the roulette wheel informative and entertaining, and that it will inspire you to visit your local casino or log on to your favourite online version and give it a try for yourself.

    I will only add the observation that Casablanca is 75 years old now, and it no longer achieves prime time Christmas afternoon billing. Yet like a favourite relative who is now getting on in years, you can be sure it will put in an appearance at some time around the Christmas season. If you are of a generation that has missed this venerable Yuletide institution, do yourself a favour and keep a lookout for it, if only to catch the magic of 22 and the timeless joy and wonder that can be brought by the spin of a wheel.

  • in

    UK Casinos Complete Guide to Blackjack

    UK Casinos Guide to Blackjack

    Table of Contents

    Blackjack Guide Introduction

    An Introduction to Blackjack

    We meet again, Mr. Bond

    In the book that spawned the most successful film franchise of all time, Casino Royale, the world’s most suave and famous secret agent was embroiled in a high stakes game of baccarat with master criminal Le Chiffre. And so, the stage was set. The face might have changed, and 65 years on, Bond has finally kicked his nicotine habit, but the tuxedo, the dry martini and the mystique and edginess of the gaming table are an indelible part of the Bond phenomenon whether it be Blackjack, Poker or Baccarat.

    The turn of a card has been a recurrent feature for 007. As well as numerous games of baccarat in several films over the years, he was seen playing gin rummy in Goldfinger and in the 2006 remake of Casino Royale, baccarat is replaced by poker.

    But as a child of the 1980s, I will always argue that the most iconic moment is in Timothy Dalton’s 1989 outing Licence to Kill. Dalton has almost become the “forgotten” Bond, which is hugely unfair, as he brought a grittiness back to the role after Roger Moore’s raised eyebrows and cheesy one-liners.

    In the movie, which turned out to be Dalton’s second and last before Pierce Brosnan took over, Bond strolls into the lead villain’s casino, and takes the house for $250,000 at the blackjack table. For me, the tension as the focus switches from Bond to the cards, to the villain’s girlfriend, Lupe Lamora, played by the impossibly beautiful Talisa Soto, is what James Bond is all about.

    Blackjack with 007 in the Licence to Kill
    Casino with 007 in the Licence to Kill

    I had seen Bond films prior to that, and I had played a little blackjack in my teenage years, but when the two came together, something just clicked, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Since then, more than a quarter of a century has passed, and I must have dealt a million hands of blackjack. In that time, I’ve stood opposite guys as smooth as Bond an even a few ladies almost as stunning as Soto, but more often, the reality has been regular everyday people like you or me who just want to capture an essence of that James Bond magic at the card table during a night out at the casino.

    But here’s the really sad part. For every one newcomer who has taken on the house and, win or lose, had a magical evening, there must have been ten, maybe more, who have said to me outside the confines of the casino something like: “Oh, I would love to have a go at that, but I wouldn’t know where to start.”

    Sounds familiar? If so, follow me, because I’ve got a little secret to tell you. We’ve already started.

    From the Court of Louis XIV to the Online Casino

    Blackjack is not only one of the most popular card games, it is also one that has stood the test of time. It goes back to the 17th century when cards were among the most popular pastimes among the French ruling classes.

    In general, while the cards look almost identical, most of the games that were played back then have been lost in the sands of time. But there is one exception. The French game of vingt-et-un is not only the basis for modern blackjack that you see at many of our listed UK Casinos, it is, to all intents and purposes, the same game. Sure, there are some minor variations, but that is the beauty of so many card games, and something you will see in poker, rummy, whist, and almost every other game.

    Blackjack Guide Chapter 1

    CHAPTER ONE: HOW TO PLAY BLACKJACK

    The set up

    When you sit down to play blackjack, the dealer will deal two cards to each player and to herself. Incidentally, we will keep to the female pronoun for the dealer, not out of any misguided political correctness, but in honour of the James Bond scene mentioned earlier.

    Blackjack Setup
    Blackjack Setup

    Before the deal, the players must place their bets by putting their chips in the respective betting boxes. The table will usually have minimum and maximum betting limits clearly posted, so just be aware of that and you will avoid embarrassment.

    The players will each have their cards dealt. Usually, they are dealt from a dealing shoe, which could contain up to eight decks of cards. More cards means quicker play, reduced shuffling and less chance of card counting – but we will go into that later. The players’ cards will generally be dealt face up, while the dealer will have one face down, known as the downcard or hole card, and one face up, known as the upcard.

    At this point, there is an important fundamental to bear in mind. There could be anything up to eight players at the table, but you are not playing against them. Each of you is playing only against the dealer, so don’t get distracted by what the others are doing.

    Blackjack Basic gameplay

    If I asked you to describe the basic objective in blackjack, you would probably tell me it is to score 21, or as close to it as possible without going over. Forget it, you are coming at it from the wrong direction. The objective is to beat the dealer’s hand, and there are two ways of doing it:

    • Get a better score than the dealer

    or

    • Don’t go over 21 when the dealer does

    Cards score at face value, with picture cards scoring 10 and the aces worth 1 or 11. Your hand is the sum of the card values, so a jack-5 is worth 15, a 7-4 is worth eleven and a queen-queen is worth 20. Suits are irrelevant.

    The two possible values for the ace are the only real complication, but again, the rules are simple. The default value for the ace is 11, but if that value sends your total over 21, it reverts to 1. So ace-5 is worth 16, while ace-ace is 12.

    Clearly, the ideal hand is an ace and a 10 or a picture card, and this is known as a blackjack, or a “natural.”

    Taking turns

    You have probably heard of phrases like splitting, doubling down and surrendering. We will get to these in time, but first, let’s go through a basic hand in the simplest terms.

    With the cards dealt, each player takes a turn, working clockwise from the player on the dealer’s left. When your turn comes around, you can either keep your hand as it is (stand) or request another card (hit). Usually, you can hit as many times as you like, until you feel you have a strong enough hand to go up against the dealer’s hand, or you bust (go over 21).

    When all the players have taken their turn, the dealer will turn over her downcard. Unlike the players, she doesn’t have a choice of whether to hit or stand, it is dictated entirely by her hand. There are three possibilities:

    • She has a natural – in this case, all players lose with the exception of any who also have a natural. This is known as a push, meaning the bet is returned to the player.
    • She has less than 17, in which case she will push.
    • She has 17 or more, in which case she will stand.

    Who wins?

    A natural beats all other hands in blackjack, including scores of 21 that use more than two cards.

    Aside from that, if the dealer goes bust, then all players still in the game win. Again, remember, you are not playing against each other, so in the scenario where the dealer goes bust, if you have an 18 and another player has a 20, you are both winners.

    If the dealer does not go bust, then if you have a higher total you win, if you have a lower total you lose, and if you have the same total, it is a push and you get your stake returned.

    Winning players get a 1-1 payout, unless it is a natural, in which case there is a 50 percent bonus on top, ie a 3-2 payout.

    Hard and soft hand

    You might sometimes hear someone talking about a hard 18 or a soft 16. This is something which causes confusion to the uninitiated, but it is really nothing complicated, although it can have major implications on your gameplay, so it is a subject worth discussing now.

    Blackjack Hard 18
    Hard 18 Example

    A hard hand in blackjack is one that either does not contain an ace, or contains an ace that is worth 1. A soft hand contains an ace that is worth eleven. So that hard 18 we mentioned might be a 4-A-8-5, while a soft 16 is a 5-A.

    Blackjack Soft 16
    Soft 16 Example

    The reason it is important to understand the difference is that a soft hand gives you additional options. Draw a hard 16, for example a 9-7, and you will think twice about whether to push or stand.  Draw a soft 16 of 5-A, and you will be more likely to push, as it is impossible to go bust. Even if you are dealt a 10, the ace will become worth 1, and hey, presto, your soft 16 has become a hard 16.

    One other point worth bearing in mind concerning hard and soft hands relates to the dealer. Different casinos have different rules on what happens if she has a soft 17; in some she will push and in others she will stand. Sometimes, you will even find different tables in the same casino playing different rules. Your odds of winning are better if she has to stand on soft 17.

    Some special cases

    Still with me? That’s great, you are now equipped to sit at my table for a game of blackjack with no danger of making a fool of yourself, and believe me, that is the biggest concern that newcomers have. I will help you out with some little etiquette tips in a moment, to make sure you come across as James Bond and not Mr Bean, and then I have some insider strategy tips to improve your chances of beating the dealer at her own game.

    But first, let’s cover those special cases we mentioned earlier. We’ll start with the split.

    Pair splitting in Blackjack

    Blackjack Pair Splitting
    Splitting Some Kings

    The first thing to keep in mind is that splitting is not mandatory, and sometimes it does not make sense to do it. We’ll talk more about that in the strategy section later. The concept is simple enough. If you have a pair, for example, two 6s or two aces, you can split them and play each card as a separate hand. For purposes of splitting, any two 10 point cards can be considered a pair, there is no differentiation between 10, jack, queen, and king.

    To split, you will need to double your stake, and this is conventionally how you let the dealer know your intention. So if you have bet a £10 chip, place another next to the first, and the dealer will immediately deal out the second card on top of each hand. In some casinos, if you are dealt another pair, you are permitted to split again, meaning you have four hands to work through.

    You then play each hand to a conclusion as normal, starting with the hand on your right.

    There are a couple of finer points relating to splitting that we should mention and these, as usual, concern out old friends the aces. Usually, only two card hands are permitted on split aces, so the dealer will deal the second cards, but you are not permitted to push further. The exception here is in the rare event that you are dealt another pair of aces on top of the first, in which case you can split again.

    If you split aces and are dealt a 10 or a face card, that’s obviously great news, but it does not count as a natural. However, it does win against a 21 made up of more than two cards.

    Doubling down

    Doubling Down
    Doubling Down

    If you are confident from your opening two cards that yours will be a winning hand, you can double your original bet. Some casinos will allow you to increase it by a lesser amount. If you double down, you can only be dealt one more card, though.

    Now is the time for us to throw in another of those acronyms that experienced players like to throw around in an attempt to confuse newcomers, and that is DDAS. It simply stands for double down after split, which is self-explanatory. As usual, rules vary, but most casinos permit DDAS, and as we will find out later, it can really improve your chances of winning.

    Blackjack Surrender

    Blackjack Surrender
    Blackjack Surrender

    Conceptually, this represents the opposite of doubling down. If the two cards in front of you suggest you are unlikely to beat the dealer from what you can see from her upcard, you can cut your losses and surrender your hand. You will get half your stake back and the house keeps the other half.

    Most casinos will only allow a “late surrender,” which means the dealer must first ascertain whether she has a blackjack – if she does, the surrender will not be accepted and you will lose your entire stake.

    Some, however, allow what is called an “early surrender” – in this case, the dealer will allow the surrender before she has checked her downcard, so even if she has a blackjack, you can still recover half of your stake.

    Blackjack Insurance Basics

    Blackjack Insurance
    Blackjack Insurance

    If the dealer’s upcard is an ace, you know that she is in a strong position, but you have a chance to make some money on the side through an insurance bet. This is a separate wager that her downcard will be worth 10. You can place up to half of your original bet, and if you win, you get a 2/1 payout.

    Assuming you put down the full 50 percent, this basically means you break even, given that you lose your original stake, but get it back on the insurance bet.

    Insurance bets are placed before any other player actions in the hand.

    If you have been dealt a natural and the dealer has an ace showing, she will offer you even money. This means you can take a 1/1 payoff before she checks her downcard. This has the same net effect as making an insurance bet.

    A brief recap

    We have now covered all the playing rules. We’ve talked about splits and surrenders, double downs and insurance, soft hands and naturals, so let’s just take a moment to run through a hand of blackjack, step by step.

    • The dealer deals two cards to each player, face up, and an upcard and a downcard to herself.
    • If the dealer’s upcard is an ace, the dealer asks each of the players in turn whether they want to place an insurance bet. If you do, just place your chips up to 50 percent of the stake on the insurance line, which is directly above your betting spot.
    • If the dealer’s upcard is an ace and you have a natural, the dealer will offer you even money.
    • If early surrender rules are in play, you will have the option to surrender your hand and retain half your stake.
    • If the dealer’s upcard is an ace or a 10-value card, she checks whether she has blackjack. If she does, any insurance or even money bets are paid, other bets are settled, and the game is over. If she does not, she collects the insurance bets, pays out to any player holding a natural, and the game proceeds.
    • Each player still in the game then gets to play his turn.
    • If late surrender is allowed, you can surrender at any point, as long as you are not bust.
    • If you have a pair, you can split them.
    • If you choose to double down, you can do so.
    • You can then choose to hit as many times as you wish, or you can stand.
    • If you have not gone bust, the dealer will turn over her downcard. If her score is less than 17, she will hit. If it is 17 or more, she will stand.
    • When the dealer either stands or goes bust, the remaining bets are either collected or paid.

    Some tips on etiquette

    Casino Etiquette
    Blackjack Casino Etiquette

    If you are still with me after the above pointers, you will have a good understanding of the mechanics of a game of blackjack. But of course, we all know there is more to it than mechanics.

    I have yet to meet a player who doesn’t want to come out a winner, that goes without saying, and I will share some tips and strategies on that in just a moment. But I can also tell you that for the vast majority of players, it is the overall experience of being part of the magic that is the biggest attraction, and that is what brings them back time and again, win or lose.

    I mentioned those who are nervous about understanding the dos and don’ts earlier, and to some extent, it can be understandable. The subtle hand signals can seem as alien as the special language of soft sixteens and double downs. Relax, there is nothing to be frightened of, and they are just as easy to understand.

    Keep it visible

    Any casino that is worthy of the name will have overhead cameras recording the action. They are there to ensure fair play and protect your interests as well as the dealer’s integrity. It is with this basic precept in mind that you need to be very clear about what you do with your hands. The cards need to be in view of the camera at all times – they have been dealt face up, and there is no need to touch them, so the simple advice is to keep your hands off.

    The visibility and transparency ethos is also behind the accepted practice of using hand gestures to indicate your intentions to the dealer. I’ve lost count of the number of times a Britney Spears wannabee has said “hit me baby one more time,” but I can tell you that none of the other players found it any wittier the hundredth time than the first.

    Let’s take a look at the signals you need to know:

    • Hit – tap the table lightly with your fingers, or draw them back towards you in a beckoning gesture
    • Stand – wave your hand from left to right across the cards, without touching them, of course.
    • Double down – place the additional chips alongside your initial stake. In this case, you should also voice your intention, and you can add the hand signal of holding up one finger.
    • Split – place the additional chips alongside the original stake but a little further apart than when doubling down. Again, voice your intention, and you can add the hand signal of a V sign (palm outward).
    • Surrender – this is another one where you need to speak up, although you can support your words by drawing an imaginary horizontal line between your cards and the dealers.

    Other basic manners

    Beyond the mystery of the hand signals, which you will now appreciate are not so mysterious after all, most of the remaining etiquette is little more than good manners. In all my years at the table, I’ve enjoyed almost every minute, but whether it is through thoughtlessness, getting out of bed the wrong side or perhaps one too many dry martinis, there is always the chance of someone spoiling things.

    I’m certain you are not one of them, and the following tips will make sure you don’t cause embarrassment or upset to yourself, your fellow players or the dealer:

    • The table is for cards and chips, nothing else – keep your phone in your pocket (and on silent, please!), and place your drink in the holder provided.
    • Hands off – I’ve mentioned this once and I’ll mention it again because it is the thing that novices most often forget. Don’t touch the cards, and once the chips have been placed keep your hands away from them, too.
    • Chatting – there is no harm in some conversation around the table between players, and indeed the dealer. God knows it would be a long night just standing there dealing the cards for hours on end in silence. Just be mindful that some tables are quieter than others, and if other players don’t want to talk, respect that.
    • Keep your strategy tips to yourself – following on from the above, remember what I said earlier about the other players’ hands? They do not concern you, so no comments or advice needed! Of course, if a player asks you what you think he or she should do, then that’s another matter.
    • Joining mid shoe – this is a tricky one. Some casinos explicitly prohibit new players from joining in the middle of a shoe, and if that is the case, you know where you stand. If a mid-shoe entry is allowed, however, it is still good form to ask the other players whether you might join them. Remember, card players can be a superstitious lot!
    • Play nicely – I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that if you have a bad run, it is not the fault of the other players or the dealer.
    • Respect the dealer – OK, I have to declare a vested interest here. Again, it is not so much etiquette as simply good manners, but remember that the dealer is only doing her job, so treat her with courtesy and respect. That doesn’t mean she’s not human, so some friendly chat is absolutely fine.

    Blackjack Guide Chapter 2

    CHAPTER TWO: BLACKJACK STRATEGY

    Having spent so many years in and around casinos, I’ve been asked more times than I can count what game offers the best chances of winning. If there was an easy answer to that, we would not have the rich choice of games to play that we do, but in assessing where you stand the best chance of success, there are two things you need to bear in mind.

    The first is that the house always wins. This is not to say that casinos are cheating or defrauding you, it is just a simple matter of economics – they have overheads to meet, staff to pay and shareholders expecting a profit at the end of the year, just like any other business.

    This is where the concept of the house edge comes in: in a game of pure chance, the payout will be slightly less than your odds of winning. To take a simple example, if you bet a pound on the flip of a coin, you would expect a pound for a win, as there is an even chance of win or loss. If a casino has a house edge of five percent, you will actually get 95 pence back on your pound wager.

    The second thing you need to bear in mind is that most games have a blend of skill and chance involved. Arguably, a game of cards demands a higher proportion of skill than a game on a slot machine.

    Does that mean the card game gives you a better chance of winning? Perhaps, but only if you have the necessary skill and follow the right strategy. If you don’t you probably stand a better chance of success on the slot machine.

    I’ve already told you the long years I’ve spent dealing cards at blackjack tables, but if you think that has given me a secret insight into how to win, prepare to be disappointed. What I have learned, though, is that basic blackjack strategy has its foundation in sound mathematics, and those who follow it will win more often in the long run than those who don’t.

    Earlier on, we went step by step through a hand of blackjack, looking at insurance bets, surrenders, splits, double downs, hits and stands. Let me take you through the basic mathematical strategy for each.

    Blackjack Insurance
    Blackjack Insurance

    Insurance

    Let’s start with the insurance bet, as if available, it will be the first decision you have to make. Insurance sounds comforting, doesn’t it? Safe, a guarantee that things will be OK.

    Don’t be fooled. When you plug it into the mathematics, you will lose more often than you win on an insurance bet. The first thing is to let go of the idea that you are somehow “insuring” your hand. You are actually placing a separate side bet on the dealer’s downcard being worth 10. Let’s think about that for a moment.

    In a 52 card deck, there are 16 cards worth 10 and 36 that are not. With the dealer’s ace out of the equation, that means 16 of the remaining 51 cards are worth 10. 16/51 equates to around 31 percent.

    Of course, the odds are not exactly that, because you know what your two cards are, so there are actually 49 cards to choose from, and depending on whether none, one or both of yours are 10s, you will be betting on odds of 14, 15 or 16 out of 49. This still means the odds are between 28 percent and 32 percent.

    Whichever way you look at it, 2/1 odds on a 30 percent chance of winning do not make for a mathematically attractive wager, so whatever anyone else tells you, my advice is this: Decline the insurance bet.

    Sweet surrender

    If insurance gives you a fuzzy, warm feeling, surrender conjures the exact opposite. But used wisely, the surrender strategy can allow you to reduce the overall house edge by as much as 1 percent. Again, the mathematics are simple and indisputable. If your chance of winning is less than 25 percent, you are “beating the system” by taking the surrender option and getting half of your stake back.

    So how do you know when the odds say you should surrender? Take a look online, and you will find charts and tables listing combinations of hard and soft hands against the dealer’s upcard – it is enough to send your brain into a tailspin and convince you to take up snap or tiddlywinks instead.

    Isn’t there an easier way? Yes, of course there is, I told you this was basic strategy, so how’s this for basic:

    • If you have a hard 15 and the dealer has nine, ten or ace, surrender.
    • If you have a hard 16 and the dealer has ten or ace, surrender. This assumes you do not have a pair of eights – if you do, you should split them (see below).

    That’s it, no charts, no tables, no fuss. One other word to the wise: if you surrender, your fellow players will most likely look at you as if you have just beamed down from Mars. But in the long run, if you follow that simple formula, you will come out on top and have the last laugh.

    To split or not to split?

    A surefire way I found over the years to spot the novice players was that they love to split. But just like surrender, there are some basic guidelines, with a solid mathematical foundation, as to whether to split or not. They are easy to remember and will stack the odds in your favour.

    The question is slightly complicated by how many packs are in play and whether the dealer stands on soft 17, but the following rules of thumb will see you through:

    • Always split aces and eights.
    • Never split fours, fives or tens.
    • Split twos, threes, sixes, sevens and nines if the dealer has a seven or lower.

    Some guides show slight variations, for example, they will say that you should not split twos or threes if the dealer’s upcard is a two, and some recommend splitting fours if the dealer has a five or six, but I would call these tweaks and refinements that go beyond basic strategy.

    The simple formula of aces and eights always, fours, fives tens never and everything else, only when the dealer has seven or lower is easy to remember and will reward you well.

    When to double down

    In discussing the double down earlier, I talked about you having feelings of confidence that your hand could take on the dealer’s. So is there a simple formula, like the one we used for surrender strategies, that you can use here?

    As part of your basic strategic armory, all you need to know is that the most attractive hands for a double down are nine, ten and eleven:

    • Always double down on eleven.
    • Double down on ten if the dealer’s upcard is 4, 5, or 6
    • Double down on nine if the dealer has 4 or 5.

    Later, we will talk a little about card counting, and that will provide some more opportunities for double downs.

    Hit or stand

    The most fundamental question in a game of blackjack is whether to hit or stand. In fact, it is the basis of the entire game. The question is not just a case of your total, but also depends on whether you have a soft or hard hand and, of course, on the dealer’s upcard. The basic strategy for hitting and standing is a little more complex than the simple guidance I have shared so far, but we will go through it step by step. Bear in mind that the basics we have covered relating to surrenders and splits take precedence.

    To start off, we need to assume that the dealer’s downcard is a 10. Why? Simply because there are more 10-value cards than anything else. The probability of it being a 10 is around 30 percent, while the probability for each other value is around 8 percent.

    Armed with these prerequisites, the basic strategy of whether to hit or stand becomes dependent on the dealer’s upcard as follows:

    • If the dealer has an ace, 7,8 9 or 10, hit on anything up to 16.
    • If the dealer has 4,5 or 6, hit on anything up to 12.
    • If the dealer has 2 or 3, hit on anything up to 13.

    Blackjack Guide Chapter 3

    CHAPTER THREE: USING THE STRATEGIES

    Taken one at a time, and having them all set out in front of you, the strategies I’ve outlined in the last chapter look simple enough. But here’s a quick question to consider: Suppose you’ve been dealt a pair of 6s, and the dealer is showing a 9 – what should you do?

    If you’ve scrolled up to look for the answer, that’s quite understandable, because you’re new around here, but we need to come up with some easy ways to remember. The answer, incidentally, is don’t split the sixes and hit.

    Preparing flash cards or a strategy chart is a good start – it will save you from constantly scrolling up and down this article while you practice, but try to avoid using them as a crutch. Practice makes perfect, so let’s go through some simple routines. The idea is to practice for half an hour or so with your “cheat sheets” to hand, and then put them away and see how you get on without them.

    Circuit training with a deck of cards

    I call this circuit training, as it is almost like one of those gym routines where you spend five or ten minutes on each piece of equipment. Start with the 2 as the dealer upcard. Now, deal yourself two cards and from memory, decide how you should play that hand. Check yourself against your cheat sheets, and repeat through the deck.

    Next, shuffle the deck, and repeat, but this time with a 3 as the dealer upcard, and so on.

    Technology is your friend

    If rifling through sheets of paper sounds a little 20th century to you, there is a modern alternative that is less hassle and will save a few trees in the bargain. There is a very cool app called Blackjack Mentor and you can download it to play on your PC, tablet or smartphone.

    This basically allows you to do the same thing, presenting you with one scenario after another and asking you to choose the best strategic play. Even better, it will keep track of whether you are getting it right or wrong, allowing you to see if there are particular areas where you consistently stumble.

    At the casino

    Perfecting the art and getting the strategies clear in your mind while you are sitting in the comfort of your home, or practicing on the train on the way home from work is one thing. Having the cards laid out in front of you and the dealer looking you in the eye while she waits for you to signal your intention can be another matter entirely.

    First and foremost, I used the slightly derogatory term “cheat sheets” earlier, which might give the wrong impression. There is no rule saying that you can’t bring strategy notes with you to the casino – just remember the rule about not putting things on the table.

    Plenty of people do it and the other players won’t care in the slightest. After all, remember the golden rule – you are not playing against each other, so it doesn’t affect them either way. But I understand that however many times I tell you it’s OK, you will still be thinking that it’s not very James Bond, and you will worry that you look like some sort of novice.

    Step by step approach

    I didn’t select that earlier quiz question entirely at random – it is one that asks a number of questions, and with time, you will automatically think “pair of sixes, she’s showing a 9, hit.” But until the basic strategy is second nature to you, your brain will get tied up in knots unless you take a step by step approach. Remember there was a set order in which we looked at the individual steps in a hand, and then at the strategies to adopt?

    Keep that order in your mind, ask yourself each question step by step, and you will soon find that your mental synapses automatically start making the shortcuts.

    Do you remember the steps and the order of events? There are only four, so it is not too much to commit to memory, really. Here are the questions to ask yourself, the order in which to ask them and even a quick recap of the answers!

    • Should I surrender?

    Only to be considered if the dealer has a 9, 10 or ace. If she does, and I have a hard 15, then I should surrender. If she has a 10 or ace and I have a hard 16 (not a pair of 8s) then I should surrender. Otherwise, no surrender!

    • Should I split?

    Aces and 8s = Yes

    4s, 5s, 10s = No

    Anything else = Only if the dealer has a 7 or lower.

    • Should I double down?

    Only to be considered if you have nine, ten or eleven. Always double down on eleven, double down on ten if the dealer has 4,5 or 6 and double down on nine if the dealer has 4 or 5.

    • Should I hit or stand?

    Look first at the dealer’s upcard, and make the decision based on that. If it’s 2 or 3, hit if you have 13 or less. If it’s 4,5 or 6, hit if you have 12 or less. And if it’s 7,8,9,10 or A, hit if it’s 16 or less.

    An even easier aide memoir is that the default position is hit on anything up to 16, and the only time you should be more conservative is when the dealer has a “low” card.

    Let’s finish this chapter by going back to that pair of sixes I dealt you at the beginning. The dealer is showing a 9, remember.

    • 12 is not a score on which we would consider surrender, so it’s no to the first question.
    • Sixes are among the either / or pairs, where you only split when the dealer has 7 or lower, so no again.
    • Double downs are only considered if you have 9,10 or 11, so it’s another no.
    • Dealer has a high card, so default position is hit on anything up to 16, so that’s what you do.

    Here’s an interesting follow up question – suppose you are now dealt a 3, what will you do next?

    It has brought your total to the not very magical 15, so if the table offers surrender, now is the time to take it, I have a bad feeling about this hand. If surrender is not an option, it’s hit again and hope for a 5 or 6.

    Blackjack Guide Chapter 4

    CHAPTER FOUR: IMPROVING THE ODDS

    We talked a little about the house edge in an earlier chapter and how playing shrewdly can improve your overall returns. The basic strategy we have covered so far is your first step towards doing exactly that. But as the name suggests, it is only the first step, and there are a number of ways you can refine it to improve your chances further.

    There are two things I want you to remember about all the strategies I’m discussing with you:

    • There is no magic involved – everything I tell you is based on mathematics and statistics.
    • Improving your odds does not mean guaranteeing a win. The house edge is always going to be there, and anyone who claims to have a system that will guarantee a win is deluded – more about that in the next chapter when we discuss bogus strategies.

    Composition Dependent strategy

    In all the basic strategy theories we’ve discussed, we have been working on the principle of a 52 card pack (or multiples thereof), and we’ve looked at the total value of the cards in your hand. This is what’s known as total-dependent strategy.

    However, there are times when the make up of the hand can alter the odds. We saw this in an example earlier, when we were deciding whether to surrender on a hard 16. If you recall, we said that if the dealer has a 10 or ace and you have a hard sixteen, you should surrender unless that hard sixteen is comprised of a pair of 8s. This is an example of composition dependent strategy. We are not just looking at the total, we are also considering how it is made up.

    C-D strategy runs deeper than simply looking for pairs we can split. Sticking with the same example, there are all sorts of ways you might have a hard 16. These include 10-6, 9-7 and 4-5-7, to name just three.

    Let’s assume that surrender is not offered and you are presented with a hard 16 against the dealer’s 10. Basic strategy says hit, but we are right on the cusp of hit or stand. When we move into the realm of C-D strategy, we find that if the hard 16 is made up of three cards instead of two, it is actually better to stand.

    When you think about it, that makes sense. When you hit on 16, you need a low value card, or else you are going to go bust. With a two-card 16, your hand is made up of high value cards only, meaning the low value ones are still available. If you have three or more cards, however, you already have at least one low value card out of the equation, and that is enough to shift the odds in favour if standing instead of hitting.

    So with C-D theory, we have now got three possible courses of action when we have a hard 16 and the dealer has a 10:

    • Pair of 8s = split
    • 10-6 or 9-7 = hit
    • Anything else = stand

    There are two other C-D theories I want to tell you about here, which can also improve your odds and diminish the house edge.

    Fifteen against dealer’s 10

    Suppose you have a hard 15 instead of a hard 16 against the dealer’s 10. Basic Blackjack strategy says you should surrender, if the option is available to you. However, if your 15 is comprised of 8-7, you have two of the cards that could bust you removed from the equation.

    This just tips the scales in favour of hitting rather than surrendering. If you have a 10-5 or a 9-6, then only one of the cards that could bust you is out of play, and surrender is the mathematically better option.

    Twelve against dealer’s 4

    Here’s an interesting one. Just to test your memory of basic Blackjack strategy, what do you do if you have 12 and the dealer’s upcard is a 4? I’m guessing that by now you are way ahead of me, and saying that it depends whether you have a pair of sixes, or the 12 is comprised in some other way. If it’s a pair you will split them, if not, you will hit.

    Absolutely right, but just like the 16 earlier, we can reap dividends by taking the C-D theory a step further.

    There is one thing you don’t want when you have 12, and that is 10. Of course, as we know, there are far more cards worth 10 than there are any other value, and if none of them are showing, you are marginally safer standing than holding. In other words:

    • Pair of 8s = split
    • 10-2 = hit
    • Anything else = stand

    There are other C-D Blackjack strategies around, but the above three are the ones that can really make a difference and improve your odds. The first one, relating to hard 16 against a dealer’s 10, happens all the time, so as an absolute minimum, you should add that to your arsenal.

    A few words on card counting

    One of the best known strategies in Blackjack, and one that some players misguidedly see as a guaranteed winner, is the concept of card counting. It is a phrase that everyone will have heard of – just go ask your mother or the old lady up the street, and they will tell you it is something shady and underhand that card sharks do to beat the system, using their amazing memories to remember which cards have been played.

    All this sounds very exciting, but unfortunately, it is the stuff of fantasy. Card counting is not illegal, it’s not unethical and it doesn’t demand stupendous feats of memory.

    The theory is this: Conceptually, high value cards, especially aces and 10s, are of greater benefit to you, while lower value cards are better for the dealer. This is based on the fact that the dealer has to hit on 12-16, whereas you can choose to stand. So if there are more 10s remaining in the shoe, that stacks things in your favour.

    The most common method for card counting is to mentally assign a value of +1 to everything from 2-6, of zero to 7-9 and of -1 to 10 and ace. Then, just keep a mental running total of the cards as they are dealt.

    Keeping count as each card is dealt will tell you whether the odds are shifting in your favour (indicated by a positive count) or against you (a negative count), and can sway your thinking as to whether to adopt a more aggressive or conservative strategy, for example when it comes to doubling down.

    So let’s look at an example: 4,10, 8, 8, 10, 2 equates to +1-1+0+0-1+1=0 – in that particular run, the odds have not shifted.

    Blackjack Guide Chapter 5

    CHAPTER FIVE: BOGUS BLACKJACK STRATEGIES

    Only this morning, I received one of those emails telling me about a guaranteed scheme that would soon be earning me thousands of pounds a week. All I had to do was send off some money (of course) forward this great opportunity to ten friends who also want to get rich, and sit back to watch the money come pouring in.

    These sorts of Ponzi schemes have been around for years and have been proven to collapse under their own weight, taking everyone’s money with them. Even Charles Dickens wrote about one in the wonderful and hugely underrated Martin Chuzzlewit – the Timothy Dalton of 19th century English literature if you will. He exercised his usual acerbic wit and observational powers on those naïve enough to fall for such nonsense at the hands of one of his most memorable villains, the wonderfully named Mr Montague Tigg.

    Here we are, 170 years on, and we’ve still not learned.

    I say this to if not justify, then at least to rationalise the fact that if you play blackjack seriously, you will be approached by the card playing equivalent of Montague Tigg sooner or later, telling you that he has a scheme where you are guaranteed to win. He is not saying this because he is trying to defraud you – in some respects, that would be less irritating – he is saying it, the poor soul, because he really believes it.

    I will even explain how he thinks it will work, because, over the years, I can tell you that I’ve seen it all.

    The Martingale system

    This is the one you are most likely to come across. It has been around for the best part of 300 years, and you can bet Charles Dickens had heard of it. The theory is simple enough, and it sounds convincing at first glance. Start with the minimum table bet – let’s say it’s £10. If the bet loses, you double it in the next game to £20. If that loses, you double it to £40, and so on. Eventually, you will win, and hey, presto, you’ve got all your money back plus a little on top.

    It sounds perfect. Suppose that third £40 bet is the winner. You’ve lost £10 on the first, £20 on the second and won £40 on the third, that puts you £10 up! If you have to wait till the fourth, it is the same thing. Play with the numbers, and it looks like you cannot lose.

    Here’s the catch – sooner or later you will come upon a long losing streak that will deliver a catastrophic loss. Run that sequence to the 10th iteration and you will have to put down a bet of more than £5,000! Proponents of the system will tell you that such an eventuality is astronomically unlikely, but they will be wrong. Play for two hours, and there is one in eight chance that you will encounter ten consecutive losses at some point.

    Even this is a moot point. If the table limit is, let’s say, £250, it will only take a six hand losing streak to run up against it. The point is, the system delivers small wins most of the time and catastrophic losses some of the time. In the long run, you will come out on the wrong side of even, because the house always wins!

    The Parlay system

    This one runs opposite to the Martingale, in that you double up on winning streaks, and when you hit a predetermined limit, you bank your winnings and start again at the minimum bet. Fans of this system will tell you that it is fool proof, because it takes advantage of that occasional winning streak, by taking down your profits, while throughout regular play where you win a few and lose a few, you will be betting with smaller stakes that will come out more or less even.

    Again, the theory sounds great. More or less even plus a big win or two must bring you out on top, right?

    Unfortunately, neither the maths nor my long years of watching players try to beat the house bear out the theory. If you follow a parlay system, you will usually come out with a small loss and occasionally a big win. But the long term effect? The small losses plus the big win add up to the house edge, and you are down again.

    Betting progressions don’t work

    If the maths doesn’t convince you and my observations from more than 25 years don’t convince you, then how about some conceptual reasoning? Betting progressions don’t work because they rely on a sequence of wins or a sequence of losses. You can only take advantage of such a sequence if you have a way of predicting it, and that requires one result to be in some way contingent on the one before it.

    And it’s not! A hand of blackjack is not like a football match or a game of tennis, where you can study the form and predict who is likely to win the next game. Each hand of blackjack is completely independent of the one that went before or comes after, and that is why betting progressions are fundamentally flawed.

    When we first started talking about the best ways of winning, we mentioned the blend of chance and skill. These bogus strategies are attempting to leverage the chance side, and in the long run, they will be as effective as carrying a rabbit’s foot in your pocket or wearing your lucky socks.

    Blackjack Guide Chapter 6 

    CHAPTER SIX: BLACKJACK MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

    The lucky socks theory might sound tongue-in-cheek, and that’s exactly what it is, but it is a comparatively sound strategic choice compared with some of the superstitions, myths and misconceptions I have had the dubious honour of encountering over the years. When I have told some of these anecdotes, the usual reaction is that I should “write a book.” Well, let’s settle for a chapter on ten of the most popular and highly held beliefs that also happen to be complete balderdash.

    1) The aim of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible

    After all that we have been through together over the past chapters, I hope you know that this is not just an over-simplification, it is actually a misconception. What is the aim again? That’s right, it is to finish with either a higher total than the dealer or to still be in the game when the dealer has gone bust. If it was simply a case of getting as close to 21 as you can, you would never think about standing on 12 or 13, but as we’ve discovered, this is sometimes the right strategy.

    2) You must be due a win

    One of the most common misconceptions is that if you have just lost five or six hands in a row, you will probably win the next one. This is a dangerous misconception, but from the previous chapter, we both know better. Let’s say the odds of a winning hand are 45 percent, remembering that famous house edge. If you have lost five games in succession, what are the odds that you will win the next one? That’s right, it’s still 45 percent because each individual game is an independent event. The cards neither know nor care what has happened beforehand.

    3) A bad player can ruin it for everyone

    Picture this: The dealer has dealt herself a 5, and you are mentally rubbing your hands together in glee. This looks good, play it safe and there’s a good chance she will go bust. You stand on a hard 13, just like the basic strategy tells you, and so do your fellow players. But hang on, that last guy, the loose cannon sitting at the end has been dealt a hard 16 and he’s hit. The dealer hands him a 10, so he’s out.

    The dealer reveals her downcard, and it’s a jack. That gives her 15, so she has to hit. And it’s a six. She’s got 21, and if that fool had only stood like he should have done, that 10 would have been hers.

    It’s a compelling argument, but it is fundamentally flawed. For every hand where that happens, there will be another where the cards are the other way round, and his bad strategy ruins the dealer’s hand instead of helping it. Ultimately, my earlier advice holds true – the actions, inactions or hands of the other players have no impact on you whatsoever.

    4) A new player entering mid shoe will spoil everything

    People love nothing better to spot patterns where they don’t exist and miss the ones that do. We mentioned earlier that some players are reluctant to let a new player join the table mid-shoe, particularly if they are enjoying a good run. They will come up with compelling reasons for this beyond mere superstition, citing the “flow of the cards” and other impressive sounding factors. Of course, we know that the number of players at the table, or the order in which the cards are dealt doesn’t make the slightest difference to the odds.

    5) You can beat the house with the right system

    I think we have well and truly put this myth to bed, but you will still get people desperately trying to convince you otherwise via the latest progressive betting strategy. Just remember, whatever anyone tries to tell you, the house always wins.

    6) Win or lose, it’s all down to luck

    This is the opposite extreme to No. 5, in that some are certain that as blackjack is dictated by the turn of a card, it is all down to chance. As we’ve discussed, it is far more complex than that, as there are mathematical probabilities that subtly change depending on the cards that have been dealt. Get to grips with those probabilities by way of the basic strategy tools, and you can seriously affect the odds of winning or losing.

    7) Card counting is a black art / illegal / impossible

    There is more misinformation on the subject of card counting than almost anything else. But these are the facts: It doesn’t need a photographic memory, it isn’t illegal and there’s nothing unethical about it. All it really involves is having a handy mental system to be aware of the overall trends in what cards have been dealt so that you know whether those remaining are predominantly high value, low value or somewhere in the middle. The fact that casinos do not actively encourage it as a strategy has everything to do with its effectiveness, and nothing to do with illegality. Why would they wax lyrical about a technique that can help reduce the house edge?

    8) Always insure a good hand against a dealer’s ace

    It seems like a long time ago that we discussed insurance, because we proved mathematically that not only is it not actually insuring anything, but it is a side bet with unfavourable odds that you are better off leaving alone. We even demonstrated that when you have a pair of tens, this side bet presents even worse odds. Yet this doesn’t prevent people from insisting that this is just the sort of hand that you should “protect.” Thank goodness we know better.

    9) Choose a dealer who’s having a nightmare

    Many players will prowl the tables looking for a dealer who is constantly busting, and will reason that they stand a better chance of success against her. Yet we know that the dealer doesn’t have the luxury of applying strategy, all she can do is hit or stand according to the rules of the table. Not wishing to do myself or my colleagues down, but the truth is, she could swap roles with the barman and it would not make the slightest difference to the turn of the cards.

    10) One face brings another

    Finally, a myth that is right up there with the lucky socks, but is a commonly held belief. Players are often reluctant to hit after a face card has been dealt, because they are sure another will follow. Of course, this is complete superstition. Mathematically, the converse is actually true, as the fact that a face car has just been laid means there is one less remaining in the shoe.

    Blackjack Guide Chapter 7 

    CHAPTER SEVEN: FAQs

    I will finish by answering some of the more random questions that come up from time to time, which have not quite fitted into any of the foregoing chapters. Here are five that I am often asked:

    Blackjack FAQQ1: Should I tip the dealer?

    Absolutely you should, particularly if he is a devilishly handsome chap with a penchant for 1980s James Bond films! Seriously, though, most dealers rely on tips to make ends meet, so while there is no obligation to tip, it is conventional to do so.

    The simplest way to tip the dealer is to simply slide a chip in her direction. However, if you want to be a little more sophisticated, you could place a bet for the dealer by putting a chip just outside the betting area. If you win your hand, the dealer will pay off your winnings and her own. Of course, if the hand loses, the tip is also lost, but you can be certain she will appreciate the gesture.

    Q2: Should I play alone with a blackjack dealer or at a full table?

    You should already know the answer to that one – the other players are completely irrelevant to your game, so it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. Except for one thing – if you are a novice, I would always recommend playing at a full table, for the simple reason that you will get through fewer hands per hour and your bankroll’s exposure to the house edge will be blunted a little.

    Q3: Do the same rules apply for video / online blackjack?

    There is a growing trend towards online and video blackjack games. In most respects, this is great news, as it brings blackjack to a wider audience, and encourages more people to try visiting a physical casino. However, you do have to study the rules and terms closely.

    In particular, be aware that video blackjack games will often pay only 1-1 for a natural, and might have restrictions on when you can double down.

    Q4: Why does the dealer always jettison the first card when playing blackjack?

    This is a long-standing tradition, and the rationale behind it is to eliminate the possibility of anyone, either a player or dealer, to have tampered with or caught a glimpse of the top card. Realistically, this is highly unlikely when using a shoe, but it is part of the tradition, and it gives players added comfort that everything is above board, so why not?

    Q5: If you’re such an expert at Blackjack, why aren’t you driving a Ferrari?

    Yes, I have had this question, or variations of it plenty of times over the years. Anyone who asks me why I haven’t simply retired to the casino to use my skill and knowledge to become a millionaire has obviously not been listening to a word I have said. If you have been reading attentively, you will already know the answer – the house always wins!

    IN CONCLUSION

    The appeal of blackjack is something that has stood the test of time throughout the centuries, something that few other pastimes can claim. Its appeal stems from the fact that it is conceptually simple – a child of five can pick up the rules in no time – but contains the strategic potential to cause argument and debate among top mathematicians.

    The casual player can take as much or as little of the strategic theory onboard, and make a genuine impact on their potential to win or lose, and all the while, enjoy a night out like no other in the very special atmosphere of a top casino.

    I hope you have found the foregoing interesting, entertaining and informative and that it has inspired you to take up a pack of cards and try out some of my tips. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so give them a go, and remember, practice makes perfect, so consider investing in that smartphone app – the daily commute will never be boring again.

    I also hope that I have inspired you will keep a look out for Licence to Kill next time it comes up on one of the television Freeview channels, and that you will download Martin Chuzzlewit onto your kindle, you won’t regret either.

    Finally, I will leave you with three things that I want you to remember, if you remember nothing else:

    • You are playing against the dealer, and nobody else
    • Insurance is for mugs
    • The house always wins

    Keep those points in mind, and you can’t go wrong. Good luck!

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    As soon as your account has been created, you get access to some exclusive Welcome Bonuses. You’ll receive 11 Free Spins instantly added to your Account, but you will just need to activate this Bonus manually, after which you can enjoy your Free Spins to use on the NetEnt slot Starburst.

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    For your first deposit at the casino there is also a bonus on offer. You can deposit any amount starting from £10 or 100SEK/NOK. Once you have made your deposit, it will be matched with a 100% Welcome Bonus up to £200 or 2000SEK/NOK. You will also receive €/$/£10 or 100SEK/NOK Free Cash Bonus. All you need to do is activate these Bonuses from your account – after which you can start wagering the bonuses.

    In addition to the welcome bonuses on offer you’ll also enter the Trophy system, which can bring you rewards and Bonuses of all kinds.

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    When you start playing at this Casino, you will also qualify for the automated Bonus systems offering cashback, casino races and voucher codes. VideoSlots are generously giving 25% of their daily profit back to players, which will be distributed as a weekly cashback. The more you play, the bigger piece of the cashback cake you can have. They also have a weekly casino race, which you take part in when you play – there is no other action you need to take. The spins you make during the week, are automatically calculated to your benefit for the current casino race. You will receive your winnings once a week to your Videoslots Account. In order to receive the voucher codes, you will need to register to our Newsletter.

    You will receive frequent voucher codes which include Free Spins, but you will also be notified ofNew game releases, Promotions and Campaigns.

    The Customer Support team was always within reach at this online casino! You can easily contact them via live chat, e-mail or phone and they were happy to answer all questions.

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    Rizk Casino: 200% Bonus up to £100

    Rizk Casino

    Rizk New UK Casino 2016

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    Captain Rizk is the mascot for Rizk Casino, a new online casino for UK players launched in March 2016. To celebrate the brand new casino launch Rizk are offering all new registering players a 200% Welcome Deposit Bonus so you can triple up your first deposit.

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    Leading the charge as one of the best new online casinos to be launched for UK casino players this year is Rizk Casino. Part of the MT Secure Trade group of casinos, Rizk joins BetSpin and Guts casino in a family of online casinos that have gained a huge amount of respect within the online gambling community.

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    Rizk UK Casino Bonus

    To celebrate the big launch Captain Rizk is offering all new players a free spin on the wheel of rizk which is a unique feature that we think players will love. Take a spin with no deposit required and pickup some free spins or a cash prize with no risk whatsoever!

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    UK Casino Details
    Casino  Rizk Casino
    Launched 2016
    Customer Support 7 Days 24 Hours Live Chat
    UK Casino Regulation green-tick
    Currencies GBP, EUR, USD. CAD
    Languages English, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian

    Real Rewards – No Bullshit is Captain Rizk’s motto, promising to bring players easy to understand casino bonuses without the hidden terms and confusion that ultimately comes from taking a complicated deposit bonus.

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    Vegas Spins Casino: £500 + 60 Free Spins

    Vegas Spins

    Vegas Spins UK Casinos Review

    £500 Welcome Page + 60 Free Spins via UK-Casinos.uk

    Vegas Spins UK CasinoJanuary 2016 has arrived and with it comes a brand new UK casino called Vegas Spins! Register an account through the UK-Casinos registration link and grab yourself a free welcome bonus package of up to £500 plus 60 free spins!

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    The Vegas Spins welcome bonus package is broken up into three separate bonuses with the first bonus offering you up a 100% matched deposit bonus capped at £250 along with 30 Free Spins. If you enjoy playing at Vegas Spins that you can claim a further two deposit bonuses each worth up to £125 plus more free spins!

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    Vegas Spins UK Casino Special Offer: Up to £500 Bonus + 60 Free Spins

    We’ve not had to wait long for the first new UK casino to raise its arm and announce its full launch for 2016 as we introduce to you the latest in the 888 Group of UK online casinos, Vegas Spins Casino.

    This new uk casino was officially launched January 2016 and is operated Cassava Enterprises who also run a number of other online casinos including Wicked Jackpots and Moon Games Casino according to the database at thecasinodb.

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    UK Casino Details
    Casino
    Launched 2016
    Customer Support 7 Days 24 Hours Freephone, Live Chat or Email
    UK Casino Regulation green-tick
    Currencies GBP, EUR, USD. CAD
    Languages English

    Like any other UK online casino Vegas Spins is licenced and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission under the 888 UK Limited gambling licence with its record located here. We’ve seen a whole load of changes since the new UK gambling laws came into effect back in 2014 including changes to the way players can manage their gameplay with new changes set to come in effect later this year in 2016.

    As part of the Vegas Spins association with 888 they get additional access to a whole range bespoke online casino slot games including the Millionaire Genie slot and more.

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    UK Casinos Welcome Bonuses
    First Deposit Bonus 100% up to £250 + 30 Free Spins
    Second Deposit Bonus 50% up to £125 + 15 Free Spins
    Third Deposit Bonus 50% up to £125 + 15 Free Spins
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    There’s no point launching a new online casino for UK players unless you’re going to offer us some tempting new casino bonuses, and that’s exactly what Vegas Spins have tried to do with their £500 casino welcome bonus package offering an additional 60 Free Spins worth of bonuses in addition.

    You’re first deposit bonus is the best of the bunch with a 100% Matched Deposit Bonus up to £250 plus 30 Free Spins on offer for all new uk casino players.

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    Casino games at Vegas Spins consist of online slots provided by the 888 Group and Net Entertainment as well as classic casino tables games and a small live casino offering also available to UK casino players.

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    One of the few UK online casinos that’s actually able to offer players a chance to make casino deposits using PayPal, Vegas Spins offers a good range of deposit method and options including Neteller, Skrill, PaySafeCard and the usual Visa & Mastercard Debit / Credit card options.

    Take part this January 2016 at Vegas Spins Casino, the latest and newest UK online casino to be featured here at UK-Casinos.uk and let us know what you think of it!

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    200% Exclusive ComeOn Casino Bonus

    ComeOn

    ComeOn Casino Bonus Exclusive

    200% up to £200 at ComeOn

    ComeOn Casino Bonus

    Not only can you claim a complete free £5 No Deposit Bonus at ComeOn Casino you can now also grab a 200% up to £200 as a new ComeOn Casino bonus when register through our exclusive UK Casinos registration link.

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    To make the most of your bonus welcome package you need to make sure you create your account using this exclusive registration link. You should see a landing page that looks like the screenshot shown below.

    As long as you see the exclusive bonus badge you can rest assured that you’ll be eligible for the triple your money bonus once you’ve successfully registered.

    So why wait? Try out this fantastic UK online casino that features in the 10 top best online casinos as reviewed by thecasinodb with a high flying score of 91%, featuring slots software from NetEnt and live casino games from Evolution gaming!

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    Whats included in my ComeOn casino bonus package?

    If you’re registering through our UK-Casinos exclusive bonus link then you’ll be entitled to receive the following welcome bonuses to get things started at ComeOn:

    1. 1 x £5 Free No Deposit Bonus – a risk free shot to win up to £100 completely free with no deposit required.
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    Casino Room Review

    Casino Room

    Casino Room is an online casino founded in 2005 and now remains as one of the best online casinos available to UK players. Register an account at Casino Room and claim a No Deposit Bonus of 20 Free Spins and get a risk free shot win some real cash!

    Create an account at Casino Room and get 20 Free Spins with No Deposit Required.

    Register your account at Casino Room and use the bonus code CRBONUS to receive 20 Free Spins No Deposit Required PLUS get £500 Free with a 100% Matched Deposit Bonus and a further 180 Free Spins.

    20 Free Spins No Deposit Required

    Casino Room Review

    Casino Room
    Casino Room

    Winning is Just the Beginning at Casino Room at least that’s the motto used at this fun themed online casino that’s recently overhauled its casino bonuses for new uk casino players.

    Casino Room’s unique selling point is the Missions and Rewards system that has proved to be a popular highlight for casino players around the world. The theme behind the missions system see you blast off into orbit whilst receiving different mission objectives from mission control.

    The objective is to travel from planet to planet by completing the missions laid out and earning XP. Missions can range from spinning 10 times on a particular slot game to winning five rounds on a specified slot. Each mission that you complete takes you a step closer to the next planet unlocking rewards and free spins as you go.

    UK Casino Details
    Casino Casino Room
    Launched 2005
    Customer Support  24 Hours 7 Days Telephone, Live Chat or Email
    UK Casino Regulation green-tick
    Currencies GBP, EUR, AUD, CAD, SEK, NOK, NZD, JPY, CZK, LVL, PLN, DKK, CHF, ZAR, TRY, BRL, RON, EEK, BGN, HRK, LTL
    Languages English , Swedish , Finnish , Spanish , Norwegian , German , Russian , Portuguese , Greek , Arabic , Polish , Japanese

    As well as holding a licence with the UK Gambling Commission, Casino Room also holds additional gaming licences with Curacao and the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority. Backed by over 15 years of experience in the online gambling industry, the guys behind Casino Room know what players want when it comes to playing casino online.

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    Casino Room Welcome Bonus
    No Deposit Bonus 20 Free Spins
    First Deposit Bonus 100% up to £500 + 180 Free Spins
    Free Spins Wagering Req. 45x Winnings
    Deposit Bonus Wagering Req. 45x Bonus Only

    Casino Room keeps things nice and simple when it comes to your first deposit welcome bonus. First of all start off with 20 Free Spins with No Deposit Required to use on NetEnt Starburst when you register your account. This gives you a chance to try out the Casino Room gaming platform completely free with a chance to win some free cash at no risk at all!

    Once you’re ready to play for real Casino Room are also offering a first deposit bonus with a 100% Matched Deposit Bonus up to £500 free plus get an additional 180 Free Spins on Starburst.

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    Live Casino red-x
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    With such a big focus on online slots, Casino Room boasts an impressive array of online slots provided by some of the biggest names in online casino. Featuring games from NetEnt, Microgaming and Thunderkick you can expect to find massive online slot titles such as Starburst, Gonzos Quest, Esqueleto Explosivo and Hot As Hades online slot.

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    New UK Casino Bonus at LeoVegas

    New UK Casino Bonus

    New UK Casino Bonus at LeoVegas

    Claim a 200% First Deposit Bonus plus 180 Free Spins

    New UK Casino BonusJoin LeoVegas today and you can take advantage of a brand new welcome bonus and package for UK casino players.

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    Available now for all new uk casino players is a brand new uk casino bonus package from LeoVegas offerring up to £1500 in free cash as well as up to 200 free spins starting you off with a massive 200% First Deposit Bonus offer.

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    LeoVegas casino is fast becoming one of the biggest uk online casinos creating multiple new millionaires this year with over £7,000,000 paid out to two lucky LeoVegas jackpot winners on two separate NetEnt jackpot slots.

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    • Starburst
    • Jack and the Beanstalk
    • Twin Spin
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    New UK Casino Bonus Wagering

    The new uk casino bonus from LeoVegas casino has separate but very similar terms and conditions for the deposit bonus cash to your free spins winnings. Deposit bonus cash must be wagered 35x the value, with Free Spins required 35x the amount won from your free spins before you can withdraw.

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    Claim 200% + 180 Free Spins

    All casinos reviewed at UK-Casinos.uk have been checked and approved by the UK Gambling Commission ensuring your safety when depositing and playing casino online. Always look out for the Gambling Commission logo before making a deposit online. Find out more information about UK Casino Regulation from the UK Gambling Commission website.

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