If you’ve ever played in a land based casino or ship board casino instead of an online casino, you’re probably familiar with the player card.  But if you aren’t, let me explain. A player card is a credit-card sized card you’re issued when you sign up to play at a casino.  They aren’t required but casino encourage you to get one by offering discounts, freebies and casino bonuses just for signing up. Then when you play with a player card, your play is tracked and you rack up points. These can then be redeemed for gifts from a casino gift shop or even used for larger comps such as free rooms.  So avid gamblers generally have cards for every casino they play at.  In return, the casino has information on that player including the home address, phone number, and other details. 

Well, now it seems that Las Vegas is seeing casino card fraud taking place in increasing numbers.  Here’s the problem. All that information on your card is tracked using computers.  After all, everything we do seems to be tracked on computers these days. But the moment something is tracked on computers, it means that a good hacker can potentially get to the information.  As we’ve seen with Facebook, even just getting hold of your email address and buying habits can be of enormous value in the marketplace.  So getting hold of a gambler’s information would be of interest to marketing companies.  But more than that, those points are worth money.  If someone was able to take points from a variety of cards and pile them up, they have something that actually does have monetary value in a casino.

As a result of all of this, the Nevada Gaming Control Board is sending out letters reminding casinos that they are responsible for protecting the information they gather from customers and to regularly check their database for issues.   Casinos are working to ensure the safety of their information, but they’d also like to remind everyone that not all hackers live in Las Vegas.

Well, they’ve admitted it. The feds have seized their funds and they’re in negotiations to work out what happens next.  Which has online players with accounts with eWalletXpress worried.  Now, opening an account with eWalletXpress wasn’t considered to be a risky thing. In fact many online casinos encouraged customers to sign up for accounts with the online payment service, especially after major credit card operators including Visa and MasterCard have pulled back on processing payments to online casinos.  So, gamblers felt that it was safe to use eWalletXpress. 

But a few weeks ago customers who tried to access their eWalletXpress accounts ran into problems and the only news available was that the site was having technical difficulties.  When these technical difficulties didn’t clear up in a few hours or even days, more and more rumors started going around that the feds had seized the payment processors funds.  Of course people hoped it wasn’t true. But eWalletXpress has finally admitted that yes, the funds have been seized.  They say that because of the confidentiality of the ongoing investigation, they were unable to communicate the news until now. 

So, based on past events, it could be six months or more before players see their money again. And most will be leery of depositing with similar online deposit services. And I can’t blame them.  If we could just reach the point where there is federal legislation allowing online gambling, then we could go back to using credit cards to make deposits. Then we’d only have to trust the credit card companies and the casinos. Hmm, why is it that the casinos sometimes seems to most trustworthy of the choices?

Free slots tournament! Okay, do I have to say more?  Oh, yeah, I might want to tell you where and when and how to join in.  Or else you’re just sort of standing in your living room going “great, so do you expect me to search the whole internet to find it?”  Of course not. That’s my job.  (Just think about it for a moment — I have a job that involves spending all day playing on the web. That’s even better than a free slots tournament.)  

But here’s the news you can use. The folks at OnlineVegas.com want to help you chase the winter blues away.  So they’re offering a Mid January 20000 Guaranteed free roll slot tournament.  That means that the prize pool here is a full $20,000 and the tournament is free to enter. Yes. Free.  All you need is an account at OnlineVegas.com (again, that your account is free).  Then in the tournament tab you can find and sign up for the Mid January 20000 Guaranteed being played on La Fiesta slots now through January 21st.

Now, while the account and the slot tournament are free, the prize money is real.  Yes, real money, not just bonus money to play with at the casino. (Okay there’s that too, but give me a couple of sentences to get to it.)  The first prize in the tournament is $3,500 and that is real money.  The real money prizes go down to tenth place for a real money prize of $280.  After that, eleventh through thirtieth place do get bonus money as prizes with eleventh place at $250 in bonus money and thirtieth place being $2 in bonus money for 500 players.  But this means that overall 1,000 players will win something in this tournament, even if it’s just bonus money to play with.  Which isn’t bad at all considering that playing in the tournament is absolutely free.

Oh, Canada. Can’t you get the gambling rules right?  When we hadn’t heard any new problems coming from British Columbia and their government run gambling effort. After all, it was possible that the problems the British Columbia were just part of getting a new gambling site up and running. Though being governed by the same government that runs them seemed to buy them a little breathing room. 

But now we’re learning more about the BCLC and that they apparently weren’t doing a very effective job even before they started up their own casino.  Right now they’re under fire for money laundering.  Now, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation itself is probably not into money laundering. They just made it easier for other to engage in the activity in their part of Canada.  See, other casinos (non-government run casinos) in the Canadian province had to report any suspicious activity to the BCLC and in turn the BCLC was to notify the proper authorities so that the transactions could be investigated. 

But it turns out that going to back to 2007, the BCLC wasn’t doing that.  In 2008 they said they were steps were being taken to resolve those issues.  Then again in 2010 two casinos reported large cash transactions, which are an indication of potential money laundering, to the BCLC. This transactions were took place in a three month period and the largest was 1.2 million.  That’s 1.2 million in cash.  And once again the BCLC failed to report the transaction to the police in a timely manner that would have aided in investigating them.

The BCLC has been fined $670,000 for violations in the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act (basically, money laundering) and others are beginning to call for an independent investigation of the organization.  And this is the same organization that citizens of British Columbia are trusting with their gambling money because they believe the government is more honest than a regular online casino.

I’m exploring yet another game in the “sort of but not really poker” genre of games.  Poker Slot is essentially a game for people who like slot games and know their poker hands.  Like slot games, this game has no room for strategy or decisions (beyond how much to bet).  But like slots, this game takes no time to learn and to start playing.  You won’t find it at a poker table at a casino, though technically a dealer could deal 25 cards onto a grid. It would just take a long time.

When you play poker slots, you’re presented with a grid of 25 poker cards, 5 down and 5 across.  These will all make poker hands with the 11th and 12th hand being the two diagonal hands from corner to corner.  Like a slot machine, you can play 1 or all 12 pay lines and you can decide how much to bet per line. Once you do that, you’re ready to play.  Just hit deal and the grid will fill with cards.

Like video poker, there are different payouts for each type of hand.  The lowest payout is for 2 pairs. From there the payouts follow the standard progress from 2 pair to 3 of a kind to Full House then Flush next Straight then Four of a Kind. But since this game isn’t played with a standard 52 card deck, you can also hit a Five of a Kind. Next is the Straight Flush and the Royal Flush is the Jackpot hand.

That’s all you need to know to start playing.  There’s no strategy here. No choices. Just hoping for the best hand.

Weekends are a great time to play at your favorite online casino. Particularly winter weekends when baby, it’s cold outside!  So Cherry Red Casino wants to add a little color to the winter weather with an Aurora of its own. 

This weekend you’ll receive a 150% match bonus on deposits up to $750 that you can use to play slots, blackjack, scratch cards, keno and other games.  Now, there are five coupons available under this bonus and you can use each coupon only once.  But you’ll need to use a different coupon depending on the method you use to make your deposit. 

If you use a credit card or gift card, use the coupon cold AURORA2.1, AURORA2.2, AURORA2.3, AURORA2.4, and AURORA2.5 to make your five deposits.  But if you make your deposit using UseMyWallet and MoneyLineWallet, use the coupon codes AURORAEW2.1, AURORAEW2.2, AURORAEW2.3, AURORAEW2.4, and AURORAEW2.5 to make your five deposits. But wait, there’s more.  If you make your deposit using UseMyWallet or MoneyLineWallet, you’ll get an extra 25% bonus.

You can use this weekend bonus today through Sunday and every weekend there’s a new bonus to check out. 

But if you like to play slots, you might want to check out the Slots Special Bonus where you’ll get a 400% match  bonus up to an astounding $2400 on your first deposit.  To redeem this bonus, you’ll use the coupon code CHERRYREELS and make a deposit using your credit card, moneylinewallet or UsMyWallet. 

Whatever your game, Cherry Red has bonuses, games and promotions to fit your budget.

Good news for poker players who love playing on the edge.  Full Tilt has amped up their poker tournaments.  The online poker room will be offering a selection of Multi-Entry tournaments where any player can enter the tournament as many times as they’d like. Each individual entry will have a its own bankroll and of course each will be dealt its own hand to play with.  Also, if you enter a multi-entry tournament, none of your various selves will be seated at the same table.  So, be prepared to play multiple tables at the same time.  Like I said, this is amped up tournament play.   

Oh, but you’re wondering — what happens as players are eliminated during a tournament and the number of tables goes down?  Couldn’t I have more tournament identities than there are tables?  Well, yes, that’s possible.  And of course the folks at Full Tilt have taken it into account.  If you reach a point where you have more identities than there are tables and two of your identities are seated at the same table, they will be merged together and the other players notified of the merge. It really adds a sort of science fiction feel to the game. 

Now, not all the tournaments at Full Tilt will offer the multi entry option, so players will need to check the tournament listings before they enter.  Also this means that there are still going to be regular play tournaments for those who aren’t interested in splitting into multiple personalities for game.

I love Villento Las Vegas online casino because they have some of the most interesting promotions around.  Sometimes this are big promotions for fantastic prizes like an African Safari. But this online casino also offers plenty of small promotions that anyone can jump in on and hope to win a little money. These small tournaments also mean more winners. After all, it takes a big budget to send just one winner on an all expense paid African Safari. But split the same amount of money into lots of little promotions and you’ll make more people happy.

Which brings me to the $5,000 Winter Mania Giveaway (or as Villento calls it the 5,000 USD Winter Mania Giveaway).  So, what do you have to do to be part of this? I bet you have to make a  deposit of a certain amount of money and play a specific game to enter.  How much is this going to cost me? 

Well, nothing. This is one of Villento Las Vegas’s strange tournaments. All you have to do is answer three questions and submit them to the site before Sunday, January 16th and you’ll be entered to win a share of the prize money.  That’s it.  If you win, they’ll notify you by email and deposit the bonus money into your account. Oh, you do have to have an account with Villento Las Vegas and this is for bonus money to play on the site. But it won’t cost you anything to enter. 

You can find the questions by heading over to Villento Las Vegas.  They are all winter themed questions and I’m not going to cheat and give you the answer. After all, I might be one of the people to win a share of $5000.

Can I be honest here? The most appealing thing about Red Dog is the name.  Which is probably why you see it being offered on online casinos as Red Dog instead of using its other names.  The card game of Red Dog first showed up in the casinos in Nevada back in the 1980s. You may see the game titled Red Dog Poker, though it has no relation to poker except that cards are used.  Other names are Yablon, Ace Deuce, In Between or Between the Sheets.  Though I’d be a bit careful if someone approached me at a real world casino and asked me if I wanted to play Between the Sheets.

Red Dog strikes me as one of those games that was introduced because casinos wanted something that was easy and fast to learn and easy and fast to play. In other words, this isn’t a game of intense strategy.  Well, mostly because the best strategy is to go learn to play Black Jack or at least Video Poker

So, how is Red Dog played?  Well, you sit down at the table, which probably has a red dog on it somewhere and place your bet. The minimum is usually a dollar.  Then 2 cards are dealt. Now you decide whether or not you think the next card dealt will fall between them. If you do, you raise your bet. Now, the pay out is better if the spread between the cards is smaller. So, if you have a five and seven and want to bet that the next card is a six, you can win five for one. If the spread is four or larger, the payout is only one for one – so you get your money back.  The problem is, the odds of winning the hand are best if the spread is something like seven cards. Which means the good bets won’t really win you any money and you have to make the bad bets.  Why would you do that?

Actually, I wonder if this might be better news for the Android phone than for Microgaming itself. Not that it’s bad news for Microgaming.  It’s just that looking around my office, the iPhone to Android ratio is about 5 to 1. But the iPhone has a little drawback when it comes to mobile gambling. Any applications developed for the iPhone have to go through approval from Apple and the company is very cautious about what type of software is used on their phones. They seem to be the only phone out there with a morality clause.  Android phones seem to be less worried about the type of games the phone owner plays needing approval from the company owner.  Which is actually a reason I’m debating whether or not to get an iPhone. I need a new phone, but hey, it’s my phone. I should get to play the way I want.

And if I get an Android Phone, I can play Microgaming games.  Microgaming is one of the largest developers for online casino games, including slots and video poker, which are both favorites of mine.  The Android v2.2 Froyo (apparently that doesn’t mean frozen yogurt) devices are going to be able to run Microgaming software.  Which, yes is good news for Microgaming and the online casinos that use Microgaming software.  But if this news makes more online gambling enthusiasts consider switching from an iPhone to an Android phone, it can also be a great thing for the Android market.  But it means I need to go phone shopping.