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Casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks—there’s a lot of intense gambling action to be had online. While each is entertaining in its own way, they all have the tendency to be arduousJ. Phillip Vogel is considered a leading authority in online gambling. He has written for most of the major gaming publications worldwide including Casino Player, Strictly Slots, Gambling Online, Bluff, and many more. He is also the author of a series of best-selling gambling books collectively titled The Real Deal. He is the founder of online watchdog site TheOPN.com at www.theopn.com and currently serves as the Editorial Director for Poker Life magazine. and fraught with risk—not to mention time consuming. For example, poker players must approach every table with a “kill or be killed” attitude, while casino gamers must practice optimal strategy for every game they play—and they still face an uphill battle all the while. Yes, online gambling is some serious business.
Online scratch cards are the web’s answer to the instant lottery tickets from the corner store. Like their traditional counterparts players must scratch concealed areas of the ticket to see if they’ve won a cash prize. The difference between the two venues is that with online cards, the scratching is done virtually—no silver-coated coin, key or finger left at the game’s conclusion. Although hardly likely to propel players to celebrity the way poker has, online scratch cards are a great little diversion for players seeking some non-combative instant gratification-type fun.
Like their convenience store counterparts online scratch cards are a quick and very simple form of gambling. Players choose from a menu of card options the style of game that they would prefer to play, as well as the number of tickets they wish to purchase, ticket price, and any other variables associated with the game and site. In some cases, players will have a very limited number of options—maybe only one or two games at a set price—while other sites offer a string of specially themed tickets with stakes that range from $0.05 per card upwards of $10 a scratch.
After players have made their selections, the cost is deducted from the bankroll and the graphically coated gaming areas are cleared. This is typically done using a 3D image of a coin or hand that’s designed to respond to motions of the mouse. Once all coated gaming areas have been exposed any winning prize is revealed and that money is added to the player’s account.
Although most online scratch games are extremely simple, a handful pioneering sites have created versions that require an advanced level of player interaction for the game to proceed. For example, in a bowling-themed game, a player might have to actively roll the ball down the lane and then compare the total number of pins knocked down to the winning number. Such enhanced play features not only makes the gaming more enjoyable and last a little bit longer, but dwarfs the action found in games available in the real world.
Okay, so it all sounds pretty fun. But what are the odds of winning at online scratch cards? Well, just like the style of game varies with each site, so, too, do the odds.
For example, Scratch2Cash.com, a site dedicated to instant scratch cards, specializes in providing unique interactive games that offer fun along with a fairly decent shot at winning. According to their published results, any newly launched game offers an overall chance of winning of about 1 in 3.5. However, this figure only applies to a newly released game within a series, because the exact odds of winning vary with the number of cards already played and the number of winning cards that remain.
As such if there are 1,000 cards for sale at the start of a series, and 100 are played, the odds shift according to the ratio of winning cards to losing cards remaining in the series. If all 100 purchased cards happened to have been losers the odds of winning temporarily shift to become more favorable to the player. On the other hand if all 100 previously purchased cards were winners, players would see the odds swing drastically against them.
The biggest problem with online scratch cards is their lack of availability. While they have slowly been catching on across the Net, they’re still nowhere near as popular or widespread as other games. Still, if you know where to look you can find an ample selection to pass away the hours.
Here are a few popular sites to get you started in your hunt for online scratch card entertainment.
A fairly young site, Scratch2Cash has already established itself as one of the best sites for online scratch action. All of Scratch2Cash.com’s games—of which there are some two dozen—are download free allowing players quick access to the action, a necessity considering the target audience. But surprisingly, each game offers exceptional 3D graphics and player interaction that make them come alive beyond what one would expect from a traditional scratch card. Players literally throw the bowling ball themselves or rub the genie’s lamp as they move through the game in search of fortune. Tailored to suit bankrolls of all levels, scratchers can select from a range of card prices that swing from a low $1 per game to as high as $10. And since each denomination also has its own range of potential jackpots, it costs no more than a buck to win up to $10,000, or $10 to take home a $100,000 jackpot!
Although casino gaming clearly takes center stage at this site, among the 180 options at VIP Casino are a handful of scratch card games for players who are looking to blow off a little steam. Two of their featured scratch games are “High Fashion” a six symbol shopping themed game, and “Money Farm” a multi-denomination game with prizes concealed behind a barn’s shuttered windows. Special features include auto scratch, which automatically uncovers the gaming area after clicking “Play,” and auto play, which allows players to automatically play the number of selected games.
Ladbrokesgames.com is a division of the respected UK gaming organization Ladbrokes. Among their selection of betting options is variety of highly entertaining scratch cards whose themes include the golf-inspired “Caddyscratch,” “Scratchball” and its high-powered soccer action, and “Scratch the Derby,” a racing-inspired game that lets players horse around on their way to riches. Like many of the traditional scratch games, three matching symbols are required to win a prize. Stakes vary with the game and range from a low $0.50 to as high as $1,000. Players may win up to 100 times their bet.
Will playing online scratch cards lead to celebrity and an exciting new career like poker has done for a lucky few? Nope. Will it lead to wealth and riches beyond imagination? Umm—I wouldn’t count on it. But what scratch cards can do is offer an entertaining, if momentary, diversion from the more arduous gambling disciplines. And who knows? You may even earn a couple of bucks to put towards your gaming bankroll.
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