I spent all of last week with my family in beautiful Cape May, NJ, and did pretty much what you’d expect during a weeklong family vacation at the beach: extensive online gambling.
This was not my first time in New Jersey since online gambling sites launched in the state. On the contrary, I already had accounts at Borgata Poker, WSOP and PokerStars, as well as the defunct Ultimate Poker. This wasn’t even my first time playing online in New Jersey this year.
My experience on this trip was different, though, as in the past I’ve mostly stuck to poker. This time I made a point of trying out a wider variety of games in the state, and had a pretty good time doing it.
Bonus whoring at Betfair
I figured I’d start out by activating some of the best NJ online casino bonuses. There’s nowhere better to start with that than Betfair Casino, where NJ Online Gambling visitors get an exclusive free $30 just for signing up, three times what a typical new customer gets.
I didn’t have much luck starting out at the blackjack tables, and I plowed through the free $30 pretty quickly. I ended up deciding to make a PayPal deposit of $20, which immediately gave me $40 to play with, thanks to the 100% first deposit bonus.
Note that I could have gotten as much as $1,500 in bonus money, but buyer beware. The wagering requirement to clear a bonus is 20x, meaning if I’d taken a bonus that high, I’d have needed to wager $30,000 before I could make a withdrawal. I didn’t think I’d quite have the time for that on a family trip.
So I took a small bonus and was able to clear it pretty easily, mostly playing the Divine Fortune slot, which had just recently paid out a massive jackpot to a player on Golden Nugget. The jackpot bonus round is a rush every time you get there and I had one near miss at the progressive, but I ended up about even on my deposit and cashed out.
Back to poker – all about the spins
I play online poker whenever I get the chance, but that’s not particularly often. I live in Georgia, where the only options are offshore sites, and I don’t play online there at all. Also between two small kids and my businesses, I have a lot less free time than I once did.
I put some money into PokerStars within a day or so of arriving in NJ, and for the first time in my life I played a Spin & Go.
A Spin & Go is kind of like poker and kind of like casino gambling, and even though a player won $100,000 in one earlier in the year, I knew my odds of winning money weren’t all that great. The tournament has 3 minute blind levels and a winner-take-all structure, and a large percentage of them only pay out 2/3 of the entry fees to the winner. That’s a lot of rake.
The strategy in a Spin & Go is basically to get great hole cards, because people get their chips in pretty quickly. The backup strategy is to get bad hole cards but improve your hand after getting all your chips in. I guess it’s basically casino gambling after all.
I played 20-30 of these while in NJ and broke even almost to the penny. Even though I didn’t expect much out of it, I have to say I enjoy the game format. I mostly played while my kids were napping in the afternoons, and it’s great to enter a game that won’t last very long. I’m not really into online cash games, and traditional SNG’s or tournaments wouldn’t have worked.
More slots – Virgin, Tropicana and 888
I wasn’t really planning to play a lot of online slots in New Jersey, but I had a pretty good time the first go around and decided to try out a few more sites.
I was particularly attracted to Virgin and Tropicana because of their unusual sign up offers. Instead of a traditional first deposit bonus with a clearance requirement, these sites offer players up to $100 cash back on losses incurred after the initial deposit.
I tried them out partly out of curiosity about how this offer actually worked, and I was really pleased with the seamlessness of the experience. I put $100 into Tropicana via ACH, and pulled up the famous Wonderland slot. It didn’t go very well, and I was pretty quickly down close to the full amount.
When my balance dropped below $10, I immediately received an extra $100 to play with. There was no stoppage of play and no in-game notification. The cash was just there, and I could immediately use it or even withdraw it. Good deal.
I made the same deposit on Virgin via their mobile casino app, and everything played out similarly, with me cashing out after receiving my $100 cash back.
I tried out 888 Casino via the mobile app as well, but I wasn’t so lucky and lost my $20 deposit playing Pirates Millions before I was able to clear the bonus.
Mobile a great part of the experience
Something that’s really changed a lot since the time when I was playing regularly online is the quality of the mobile gaming experience.
I had actually never played mobile online poker for real money prior to this trip, and I was astounded by the usability of the PokerStars mobile app. It was one of the highlights of the entire experience for me.
Mobile casino games are easier to pull off, but overall I was impressed with how easy and pleasant it was to play on my phone.
I played primarily on the mobile apps at 888 Casino, Play Sugarhouse, Virgin, PokerStars and Betfair.
Deposits and withdrawals are so easy
As I mentioned earlier, this wasn’t my first experience playing online in New Jersey. But I once again enjoyed the ease of depositing and withdrawing in the regulated gambling environment. Whether depositing via PayPal or ACH, it never takes more than a minute or so to set everything up, and I had no issues at any time with denied payments.
When I cashed out, the money was typically available in my bank account within about a day.
Play Sugarhouse brought me back in
I thought I was done with my casino play for the trip when I got an email from Play Sugarhouse about one of the best online casino promos I’d ever seen. It was a cash back promo, capped at $500. I obviously had to try it out.
I didn’t take full advantage, only depositing $100 into the site, and I went for the big win and missed in my old favorite, Divine Fortune. A day later, I received a $100 bonus into my account with a tiny 1x clearance requirement. I was almost home.
But there’s the rub… My last $100 in bets didn’t go so well, and I took my first real loss of the trip. I cashed out only $50 of my initial $100, so despite Sugarhouse trying to give me free money, I wasn’t able to cash in.
Still, I had a great time trying out many of the online casinos in New Jersey, and despite not pulling off any big wins, I’m looking forward to trying again next time I visit!
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