media & technology



Poker interface

In the red after Christmas? You can make a fortune gambling on the Internet, but cashing those computer chips might prove tricky.

Words: Jonathan Trew

I won 3.935.000 playing blackjack over the Christmas holidays. That‘s about £2().()()(); a nice little earner and enough to pay the rent on my flat for the next eight years. Sweet. Even better. I didn’t leave the flat to do it no costly trips to Vegas. no freezing slogs to the local betting emporium. Too bad that it was virtual money won in a virtual casino. No risk and consequently no rent money.

As tabloid headlines constantly and predictably point out. all sorts of vices are available on the World Wide Web. Those with a porn penchant can satisfy their desire for a five knuckle shuffle. so it‘s no shock that other forms of compulsive behaviour are also catered for. Fancy a flutter? Around the clock. 365 days a year and with no membership fee. you can experience the thrill of the gaming tables on any number of virtual casinos operating on the Net. lf watching James Bond scoop a fortune on roulette is the closest you‘ve come to a casino. then the on-line versions will happily fill you in on the rules of the game. Try logging on to the Virtual Vegas site. Here you can test your blackjack skills against Karen whose game is described as ‘cheap and easy‘ (can you guess which sex this site is aimed at'.’). Biff for a spot of ‘mid-stakes beefcake~ or Anna who accepts VIPs only.

There‘s just one thing wrong: gambling with pretend money provides bugger all buzz compared to the heart-stopping terror of putting 50 quid on an even chance bet and hoping that Lady Luck isn’t feeling vindictive. No pain. no gain and. for a gambler. the lack of risk makes this sort of gaming as satisfying as an Internet-inspired hand shandy compared to the real flesh and blood experience.

In fact. you (‘rm gamble for real money on the Net. Simply register on-line and send an international money order or wire a cheque to the casinos address and they will open an account for you. Alternatively. you could just decide on how much you want to


'l would not bet one dime where i can’t watch the dealer work or where there is not some watchdog watching the operators.’ Ken Hale, former magnet

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Martin Scorsese's Casino: Sharon Stone is a millionairess, virtually.

gamble and set fire to the dosh. The end result is likely to be the same.

All the real gambling Internet casinos have addresses in places like Dominica or (iranada where the laws regulating gambling are somewhat laxer than in Britain or the States. There is absolutely nothing to stop the casinos‘ organisers from pocketing your money and doing the electronic equivalent of instructing the bouncer to polish the floor with your face. They don't even need to do that; should you have a startling hand at blackjack then you can bet your bottom dollar that your electronic dealer will go just one better and you have no recourse.

lleed Ken llale. former croupier. pitboss and player: ‘I would not bet one dime where I can‘t watch the dealer work or where there is not some watchdog watching the operators.' he says. ‘In the instance of on-line casinos. who is to say what might be done to electronic games‘.’ There is

no regulation of their activities and no way to tell if

you are getting a fair shake for your moneyf

Virtual Vegas Web site


Games oWeb Sites 0CD ROMS

WEB SITE Samplenet

http://wwwsamplenettouk/ Sa/ripi'enet is part of the Mus/t Fv'etwork, whith in turn is part of the ever-qrowmq Futurenet, the online outpourinqs of maqa/ine empire, Future Publishinq Aimed squarely at the bedroom ter‘hno-musician, it provides a useful resourt’e which miqht Just deliver that hiqh-hat sound you've always looked for Also Ill( Iuded are rewews on samplers, sequencers and other relevant software, as well as a variety of tutorials and interwews With the professionals The site has several dist ussion forums, althouqh there seemed to be little evrdent‘e of any real traffit, and therein lies the rub Samplenet needs more material to make it really worthwhile

GAME The Curse Of Monkey

Island pc CD-ROM £29.99

Curse marks the completion of the stunninq Monkey Island Trilogy Revolvmq around your failed pirate hero's attempts to win bark his true love, Curse offers a much simpler interfate than in preVious incarnations alonq with some of the most stunninq (artoon—style 2D qraphits ever seen The t ut st enes and attion merqe beautifully and the animation perfet tly 'Ilustrates eat h (harat ter's personality As well as point and tlitk settions, there are also others whith require more unusual partir'ipation alonq the 'ines of fiqhtinq v/ith rhyminq ('ouplets With but kets of humour and attention to detail, Curse definitely lives up to Monkey Island's heritage


Duke Nukem 64

N64 £54.99

Stranqe qame this, (onsiderinq that the N64 has been (f!i|( ised in some quarters for beinq a kids' fTidLiilflO With briqlnt \ T)|()U.’S and giiveniie tontent Most o. the oriqinal PC Duke is here, with a few extra levels and weapons What's different is the (ontent Gone are the swear words, (hained-up virqins and porn shops, yet despite this typital Nintendo tensorship, the blood and quts has been int reased

dram. tit aily \Vithout the oriqinal dark humour however, the decision to

int lude delit arms like (hests burst by spinal (ords seems odd As far as {onsoie versions of Duke qo, it looks lzke Saturn has won the War


Jol‘n Henderson

9—22 Jan 1998 THE lIST 97