In last year’s reviews of New Jersey online casinos, I complained about the limited number of games on offer. Finally, that is no longer an issue, and there is no better example of that than Golden Nugget.
For online gaming, variety is key, and the Nugget really delivers. Any gambler should find his favorite games well represented here.
With the highest number of games of any online casino in New Jersey at the time of this review, I really loved this place. Everyone will find something to play here. Engaging slot titles, attractive table games, and a wide variety of video poker make this one of my top two casinos in NJ.
More Games Than Any Other NJ Casino
The current list of games at Golden Nugget NJ eclipses any other in the state in sheer volume. They have more slot games than any other casino has of all games included. Although recent changes reduced the number of video poker games, they still remain my #1 recommendation for video poker players too.
Because many games have appeared first to market in NJ at Golden Nugget, they tend to offer a large number of “exclusive” games, unavailable elsewhere. Over time, some of these new games eventually appear at competitors, but as I am writing this, there are nearly two dozen titles only available at Golden Nugget.
I usually begin my reviews by looking at slot machines because they are often the most popular games in the casino. But in this case, I want to begin by looking at the wide variety of table games offered at Golden Nugget instead. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to the slot games.
Table Games: From A to Z, Almost
From American Roulette to Casino War, you can get your bets down in a lot of ways. OK, so American Roulette may not be your best choice. (Why play a double-zero wheel when they offer a good alternative single-zero European rules wheel?) But my point is that having choices is always good. And with several games created by industry leader SHFL Entertainment (previously known as ShuffleMaster), the quality is excellent as well.
I’ll pick Let It Ride as an example. You know this game from the casino floor, and the implementation here at Golden Nugget is flawless. The table is attractive…
(You can click the images to enlarge them, if you’re viewing on a desktop or tablet.)
I love that zoom-in effect when the table opens up.
The base game paytable is standard, and even the 3 Card Bonus bet has a good paytable with a house edge of under 4.5%. The simple things are well-implemented here too, like the “Pull” and “Let It Ride” buttons. They are nice big buttons in the right places.
Between hands, you get easy access to Rebet or Change Bet. Simple, easy, effective. It’s surprising how much the little implementation details can matter. When they are done right, you hardly even notice them. When they’re done wrong, you can think of little else while you play.
I do have one complaint. The only baccarat game offered is No-Commission baccarat, which has a higher house edge on the banker bet than regular baccarat. If you play it, I recommend sticking to the Player bet.
How About Blackjack?
The most surprising thing I found when looking at the Golden Nugget blackjack offerings was that all eight of their blackjack versions have a very similar return, despite rules that vary widely. The payouts range from a low of 99.54% to a high of 99.66%. So you can freely wander among their various games without worrying about settling on a poor choice. Just be sure that you adjust your strategies appropriately if you switch games.
(Not sure about the correct strategy? Check my Blackjack Basic Strategy Engine for free custom strategy charts.)
The highest return version of blackjack was also my favorite in terms of quality and gameplay. The best of the bunch is “American Blackjack”. It’s a solid 6-deck game, with resplitting up to 3 times including Aces, and double after split is allowed. Just be sure to steer clear of the side bets in the game, especially King’s Bounty Blackjack, which has a treacherous 23% house edge!
For you blackjack fans, here is a quick rundown of all of their blackjack games:
- American Blackjack: 99.66% return:
Blackjack pays 3:2, 6 Decks, Dealer Stands on all 17s, Split up to 3 times including Aces, Double any 2 cards, Double after split.
- Blackjack Micro Limit: 99.62% return:
Blackjack pays 6:5, except Suited Blackjack pays 2:1, 7-7-7 pays 3:1, 5+ card 21 pays 2:1. 8 Decks, Dealer Stands on all 17s, Split only once, Double any 2 cards, Double after split. You can also hit or double after splitting Aces, an odd and useful rule. There are 2 versions of this game, that differ only in the betting limits. Minimums are $0.10 or $0.25.
All the bonus rules make up for most of the 6:5 payoff on blackjack, but be aware that this game will be more volatile than the others because much of the return comes from rare hands.
- Vegas Blackjack: 99.60% return:
Blackjack pays 3:2, 4 Decks, Dealer Stands on all 17s, Split only once, Double any 2 cards, Double after split.
This game allows you to bet up to 5 hands. This is easily my second favorite for quality of gameplay too.
- Blackjack: 99.59% return:
Blackjack pays 3:2, 6 Decks, Dealer Stands on all 17s, Split up to 2 times, Double any 2 card, Double after split.
Boring name, eh? This game is from IGT, and it allows multiple hands. I don’t see much reason to choose it though as the buttons and graphics aren’t as polished.
- Blackjack European: 99.59% return:
Blackjack pays 3:2, 6 or 8 decks, No dealer hole card (European rules), Dealer Stands on all 17s, Split only once, Double 9,10,11 only, Double after split, Early surrender against 2-10, No surrender against an Ace.
The rules don’t specify the number of decks here, but it’s either 6 or 8. The no hole card rule hurts, but is partially offset by the ability to surrender against a dealer ten before he might have blackjack. Adjust your play accordingly.
- Sidebet Blackjack: 99.54% return:
Blackjack pays 3:2, probably 6 decks, Dealer stands on all 17s, Split only once, Double any 2 cards, Double after split.
A basic version of blackjack, but with lots of choices of sidebets. Just remember that sidebets may be fun, but they are also expensive over time.
- Win-Win Blackjack: 99.54% return:
Blackjack pays 3:2, 6 Decks, Dealer Stands on all 17s, Split only once, Double any 2 cards, Double after split.
Same blackjack as the previous game, but this one has a new sidebet feature called Rescue Bonus that lets you play a 5-card poker hand if you bust. It’s an odd mix, but there are same nice size payouts if you get lucky after busting. I have not yet seen this sidebet analyzed, but I’m sure the house edge is pretty high on the sidebet.
All in all, it’s a respectable selection of blackjack. I’d love to see a good single or double deck game added though.
Video Poker Players Will Like It
Video poker has been a weak point in many of the casinos I have reviewed, but here again Golden Nugget has delivered a product that raises the bar. Actually, their games are quite good. The paytables on several of the games are strong and the play quality is excellent.
The staples of the VP slate are on IGT’s GameKing platform. The classic Jacks Or Better (9/6 @ 99.54%), Bonus Poker (8/5 @ 99.17%), Double Bonus Poker (9/7/5 @ 98.11%), and Double Double Bonus Poker (9/6 @ 98.98%) are exactly like the games you’ll find in the land-based casino.
In addition to the IGT games, there are several games developed by NYX (formerly Amaya). A few of the games are duplicates of the IGT offerings, but there are some additional choices as well. The best of those is Aces and Faces (8/5 @ 99.26%). If you like wild-card games there is a 15/9 version of Deuces Wild, but the paytable is a bit sneaky in shorting the Wild Royal to pay only 20 coins instead of the usual 25. The result is a poor payback of only 97.97%. Other games include All American (98.11%) and Tens Or Better (99.14%).
When playing the NYX versions, I really miss the keyboard shortcuts present in the IGT games. (In those, you can press 1-5 to hold cards, and spacebar to draw.) The payout sound in the NYX version wears thin pretty quickly too. But with the extra game types they offer, I’m glad to have choices.
Slots, Slots, and more Slots
I’m loving the slot choices here. In the few days I’ve been working on this review, each day I checked there were new games being added. I don’t know where they’ll stop, but I like it. Now, I’m all for trying out new games, but I also like to see some well-known and popular slot titles that players will recognize from their visits to land-based casinos. You’ll get both here.
Some of the more popular additions include Bally’s Quick Hit Platinum…
and IGT’s Water Dragons.
Or how about Hot Shot, with its engaging soundtrack and the game-inside-a-game bonus round?
Did I mention the cool fireball graphic effect?
With so many titles, there is a lot of variety. I’ll just throw some names at you… Cash Spin, Double Diamond, Wolf Rising, Battleship, Chilli Gold, Cats, Samurai Princess, Aladdin’s Legacy, Night Jasmine. And the list goes on.
Quality and quantity? Check, and check.
Signup Promo and Bonuses
The Golden Nugget signup bonus is a two-step bonus that is probably becoming familiar to you from other casinos. The offers are a free $10, plus a 100% deposit match up to $1000.
First, be sure to use our exclusive code when you register, and you will get a simple free $10 to try out the games. The exclusive bonus code is NJOC10. If you click through from this review, the code should be automatically filled in for you. If not, just type it in. $10 will be credited to your account to try out the games. The wagering requirements on the free $10 is 20x or $200, but after that amount of play whatever you make is yours to play or withdraw.
If you choose to make a first deposit, you can get a 100% Match bonus ($30 minimum, $1000 maximum). The terms on that bonus are typical for NJ, with wagering requirements that are substantial. If you play slots, you’ll need to wager 40X the bonus. For example, a $100 deposit to get a $100 match would need $4000 in wagers on slots before a full withdrawal could be made. If you play table games, video poker, roulette, or blackjack, your wagering only counts at a 20% rate. If you were to do all the needed wagering on those games, the same $100 bonus would require $20,000 in wagers.
As always, weigh the benefits of a bonus against the convenience of being able to withdraw without worries. If you plan to play a lot anyway, accepting the bonus is an easy decision. If you tend to hit and run, you might be better off without it.
Note that bonus offers and their terms and conditions can change frequently. While my bonus description was accurate at the time of writing, you should always check the casino website for the latest details.
While it is always good to have a loyalty program where you can earn cashback for your play, the Nugget’s Golden Rewards Player Club has pretty dismal earning rates for cash. You get $1 in cash back for each $2000 you wager on slots, or $10K wagered on VP or tables. You get some bonus points for each day that you play, and each day that you deposit, but the numbers are small.
It’s better than nothing, but the rewards program is perhaps the weakest feature of Golden Nugget.
However, if you are already have a players card at their land-based casino which is the Elite or Chairman level, be sure to check out the VIP Rewards program. Contact casino support to be signed up for that, which will get you special programs, weekly bonuses, and access to exclusive bonus offers. If you plan to play a fair amount, it would be worth contacting support about membership in the VIP program regardless of whether you have the land-based elite tier card.
You can also get VIP status by earning 3000 points in the casino, and that includes the effect of any multiple point promos too.
Deposit and Withdrawal Methods
All the usual banking methods are available…
My favorite deposit method is ACH, a bank transfer that makes the funds available in your casino account almost immediately. You can also deposit with Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards. I always advise caution when using credit cards for depositing. Some credit card companies will treat a deposit at a casino as a cash advance, and charge extra fees on the transaction. If in doubt, contact your card issuer first. And, although the issue is improving all the time, there are still issues in New Jersey with some credit card transactions being declined by the issuing bank.
You can also mail in a personal check for a deposit, or deposit with cash at the Golden Nugget cashier cage in Atlantic City.
In addition to those typical methods, Golden Nugget also offers another option that is unique. You can sign up for a Golden Nugget Prepaid Card, which is basically a prepaid Discover debit card. You can fund the card with a variety of methods, including other credit or debit cards, or ACH. You can then use the card to fund your account at the online casino and you can also use it anywhere that Discover cards are accepted, including to withdraw cash at an ATM. The main benefit is that withdrawals from the casino are immediately available for use on the card. It’s an interesting concept, and one that some people may find an effective choice.
In addition, at least for now, they are running a promotion that gets you 1% cashback on any debit or credit card reloads to the prepaid card.
Clearly, Golden Nugget impressed me with their product. Competition is fierce in the New Jersey market, and we players are starting to benefit from the battle for our attention. The Nugget’s impressive inventory is a strong reason to give them a serious look.
Sure, I’d like to see even more video poker versions. How about SpinPoker, or Super Times Pay? Someone should be working hard to make agreements with those game publishers to get their innovative games available online.
And yes, there are still rough edges in a few of the games. Some of the blackjack versions are more pleasant to play than others. And while we’re at it, how about adding a good single deck game?
But wow, there’s so much to like here. I’ll leave it at that!Click here to visit Golden Nugget Casino.