Every now and then, you come across a phrase or a word that just sticks with you. For me, ‘pro’ rarely leaves my brain, as it is the short form for ‘professional’. I have used it as such for most of my life. After becoming a full-time freelance writer, I began hearing ‘pro’ increasingly as a suffix for online betting sites. I started noticing how common it was, and soon enough I found myself in the unusual situation of being able to place a wager on the pro or con of an online debate. And, as happens with many phrases and words that catch on, eventually this turned into a question: what are the proper ways to bet either way?
All Inclusive vs. Dedicated Services
One of the phrases that most often winds up on my mental tongue when it comes to online betting is ‘all inclusive’. As the name implies, this is a betting site that offers pretty much everything you could want or need within the confines of the site. Typically, these kinds of places will have a roster of skilled handicappers who make their living judging the outcome of sporting events, and they will take care of all the basic gambling functions for you. This could include placing wagers on sporting events, analyzing the results of games, and giving advice on sporting topics; they might even provide some entertainment as well (like showing you how to play various video games).
Another way to put this is that an all inclusive betting site is like the sportsbook at a regular bookie (a place where you can buy and sell sports tickets). You get the same kind of service whether you are a high-roller or a penny-ante gambler, and the price is right — usually a pretty good price, at that. (Incidentally, most sportsbooks will even allow you to open an account with zero dollars in deposit. If you want to test out their product and don’t have any money to risk, they will even match your credit card in escrow, so there is no risk of loss.)
On the other hand, a dedicated service only gives you access to a limited amount of games and betting options. You won’t find many online betting sites that offer just one or two sports, or just that one game on an upcoming sporting event. These kinds of sites will usually have a section where you can place wagers on football, basketball, and baseball, but that is about it. If you want to bet on the winner of a specific Grammy award or the Super Bowl, you will have to look elsewhere. (One exception to this rule is if the event is held at a neutral location — like in the case of the Grammys, which are held in Los Angeles — then you can expect to find a wide variety of sports options to choose from.)
Deposit, Withdraw, And Betting Options
One of the most important things to consider when you are betting online is how the site handles your funds. You have two options here: either you can put money in through a traditional bank transfer, or you can fund your account using a credit card. (Never, ever put money in through PayPal, as these guys will happily take and keep your money without providing any form of service in return.)
With a debit card, you will generally have access to your funds right away, as long as the site hasn’t already been garnished for tax purposes. With credit cards, you will initially see a temporary credit line appear on your account, which will give you access to your funds. (Some sites don’t allow you to use a debit card for this purpose, so you will have to use a credit card instead.)
The credit card option has several perks. For one thing, there are no restrictions on how much you can or cannot bet. You also don’t have to worry about your funds being garnished for tax purposes, because the credit card company will handle all of that for you. (One downside to this is that there are typically monthly fees associated with credit cards, so you will need to remember to keep on top of those.)
The last thing you want to do if you are betting is to go through the complicated motions of withdrawing money from your account. You can do this in two ways: either by contacting the site directly and having them send you a check, or by using an alternative method of payment (like Bitcoin). The former is generally the preferred option, as you don’t have to worry about the latter failing — Bitcoin, for example, can and often does fail. For this reason, I would advise against using it if this is your first time gambling online (or if the site you are betting on uses this method of payment).
Poker And Card Games
Many gambling sites will also have an area where they deal in poker and card games. There are generally two different ways to play these games: either live or online. Live poker games are played between human dealers and amateur or professional poker players at casinos or other approved locations. Unfortunately, these locations provide the biggest advantage to the house, as tax officials consider them to be casinos, and casinos are generally all-inclusive places that provide lots of entertainment value. (This being said, there are many places online where you can play poker with anyone, anytime, from anywhere—and for free!)
Card games work a little differently. These games use algorithms to determine each individual’s hand of cards, and they are entirely automated. In cases like blackjack and poker, the algorithm will check for specific combinations of cards that will beat the hand that the player is showing. This can make it a little more difficult to win at these games, especially in cases where the house has the advantage. (For example, in Texas Hold ’em, the person holding cards that are worth five of a kind will generally lose.)
General Safety And Security
As with any other site that you might visit, safety and security are a major concern whenever you are betting. This is doubly so if you are doing so online, as scammers and hackers are constantly looking for ways to access your financial information. You should always take the necessary precautions to keep your account safe, and only deal with reputable online betting sites. (They’ll usually provide you with a user name and password that you can use to log in, as well as a security question and answer that you can use to verify your identity in case you forget your password.)
Also, make sure that you are physically safe when you are playing. This means ensuring that you are not putting yourself in danger by being in an area with lots of crime. It’s not always easy being a woman alone in a bar or club, and it can be dangerous to go to these sorts of places when you are not used to it. Try to avoid these types of places, and instead go to others that you know and trust. (I’m sure there are lots of good, law-abiding, trustworthy, sports-loving bar owners out there—but you have to look hard to find them!)
To recap: if you are looking for an online betting site, there are basically two things you need to keep in mind.
Firstly, make sure that the site is reputable, has a good track record of paying winners, and is thoroughly documented. (You can find plenty of documentation online if you do a bit of research into the site. Look for the ‘Trust’ or ‘Security’ indicator to see whether or not they have been hacked in the past, and make sure that they are licensed or regulated by an appropriate body such as the government or the Better Business Bureau.)
Secondly, be sure to read the fine print before you make any kind of commitment. Some countries, states, and municipalities will consider online gambling to be a form of gambling, and as such they will enforce strict laws against it. Make sure that you are aware of how these sites operate (and whether or not they are allowed in the area that you live in) before you put down any money — you might find that the laws in your area are a little more lax, which is why I would recommend checking out sites that are based in other countries.