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It's a big, brash, sometimes bewildering world out there in the online gambling galaxy. Stellar displays of coloured lights, spinning reels and tumbling dice. All designed to suck you in, and above all, take your money. Here's a guide to help you survive in that other world, and hopefully not only keep some of your hard earned cash, but also increase what you started with.

Restrict Yourself

It's all too easy, sitting in the comfort of your own home, maybe sipping a beer whilst piling up payments on your credit card to an online casino.

Hold on there. Get a grip on yourself. Start by giving yourself a budget and a time limit to play.

Budget maybe 500 dollars for several sessions, and break that down into say, 100 dollar lots. If you win, don't add it to your budget, put it to one side.

And try to take a rest between sessions. Don't play when you're tired.

In the event that you lose your pot, don't under any circumstances break into another. As the Kenny Rogers song goes, "Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold them." In other words, quit playing.

It might hurt some, but remember the phrase 'only gamble with money you can afford to lose'.

Any money you can't afford to lose such as the mortgage or rent money, is 'scared money', because that's exactly what you'll be if you start gambling with it. And scared gamblers are losers in waiting.

Should you fall into this trap, recognise that you may need help, for there is indeed professional help out there. Gamblers Anonymous and the Internet Gaming Council's Helping Hands are ready and willing to assist any troubled gamblers.

And another thing. By all means sip that beer, but don't overdo it. Real life casinos hand out free drinks galore, because they know what the likely result will be.

Booze and you lose.

Take a Chance on Me

Everyone's heard of 'systems' - sure fire ways to win on Craps, Roulette, the Lottery whatever.

Forget them. At the end of the day it's all a game of chance, and they're not worth the paper they're written on.

However, if you really must try out a 'system', test it out on a 'Free' game and see how far it gets you.

No matter what fancy name it's called, it really only spells one thing, losealot not winalot.

The Numbers Game

Get to know the odds that you are up against on any game you play. The numbers might be boring, but they are far more reliable than hunches, ESP, clairvoyance, tea leaves, or any other hopelessly unreliable method of achieving winning ways. Work on the mathematics and avoid losing plays. And know when to stop. Decide on a break point and stick to it. Otherwise you could end up losing big.

Losing the Plot

Online gambling is a multibillion dollar business now. For the casinos that is. You the player will almost certainly be more often times a loser than a winner. And the casinos, unlike you, don't rely on luck.

Virtually every game you play, the casino's win is built into the rules. There are games where the casino's edge can be as low as 1.5%, but you'll need to search diligently to find them.

Sites like this are a good place to start, but never lose sight of the fact that casinos are really only in business to take your money.

Play the Game

You'll find gimmicks in every game being offered, bonuses for instance. And that 'insurance' bet in Blackjack - well the house edge is around 6% as it is in 'crapless craps'.

For the side bet in Caribbean Studs, the house edge is over 25%.

So get to know your game, get intimate with the odds, and forget the gimmicks.

There are exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking the 'add-ons' to the basic games are simply there to sucker in the sucker.

Have a Nice Day

Unless you're a budding Cincinnati Kid, you should really be playing for the fun of it.

Because 98% of players visiting casinos are there for pure recreation, spending money to be entertained.

So take care, have fun. But when the fun stops, that's when you should too.

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