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Live casinos offer gambling fans the chance to enjoy classic table games such as blackjack, roulette and poker from the comfort of their own home. But more than that, live games are streamed directly to your screen, giving you the chance to experience the buzz of a game taking place in a brick and mortar casino.
These games cost more to invest in, as they require one or more cameramen, several dealers to run the games, an IT manager to ensure technical issues can be fixed promptly, and a pit boss who will resolve any disputes between players and dealers. Additionally, the technology required to live stream games is not cheap, and some casinos will only offer live games during particular time slots each day. Some live games will be hosted on a casinos’ television channel, while others will be offered on their website.
Online casinos first appeared in the late 90s, but it wasn’t long before people wanted a way to merge virtual gambling with real world casino games. Although the exact date for the first live casino is contested, what we do know is that to start with, live casinos would have one dealer, one table and one game – blackjack. Although there are plenty of variations now, such as roulette, dream catcher, dragon tiger, poker and more, this wasn’t always the case. As demand grew, casino operators invested more in the technology, with the industry growing to accommodate more games, high quality, extra features and increased amounts of time where live casino games would be streaming.
There are not usually bonuses available specific to live casinos, but if you are a new player, you can enjoy bonuses such as a welcome bonus, deposit bonus and no deposit bonus.
Welcome Bonus – often the same as or similar to a no deposit bonus. Players typically receive an amount of money to be used on games, plus other incentives such as free spins on particular games – usually slots. These virtual cash bonuses are usually subject to wagering requirements.
Deposit Bonus – players are rewarded for depositing real cash into their online casino account by receiving enhanced gameplay features. These include a virtual cash match for the real money deposited, loyalty points or free spins. Either this type of bonus or the welcome/no deposit bonus can also feature free entries into competitions, draws, progressive jackpots or live casino games, so if you want to take advantage of the final option, do your research before signing up to an online casino to find the right deal for you.
Access to statistics
Being able to view additional information while playing is a big plus for punters, as they can evaluate statistics in order to enhance their gameplay and work out strategies moving forwards. Here are some of the statistics available with the biggest software developers around:
Multiple game play availability – There are people who enjoy the feeling of attending a casino in person, people who like to play virtual games without needing to interact with anyone, people who like to play a few rounds of blackjack with a live dealer, and people who want the option to play multiple live games at once. This experience is particularly thrilling, as there is lots going on at once – ideal for multi taskers. For example, Evolution Gaming offers players the ability to play or monitor up to four live games at once in a master window. This is beneficial both to players, as they will have more excitement and winning potential, and operators, as players will be providing several revenue streams simultaneously.
If you want unique gameplay options such as multiple games running at once, it’s worth checking out live casino software providers such as Evolution, and seeing which operators use their products.
Get social – The ability to interact with other players and live dealers is hugely beneficial, especially to those who can’t get to a brick and mortar casino or don’t get the chance to socialise much. It feels much more immersive and sociable to watch a real live dealer spinning the roulette wheel or dealing cards, and most live casinos will have a live chat function enabled, allowing you to speak with other players who are also enjoying the game in real time. This is arguably one of the main reasons why live casinos have become so popular, as the ability to combine human interaction with technology is highly sought after in many parts of life.
Play anytime, anywhere – People who work unsociable hours or travel a lot may want the ability to gamble, but previously couldn’t find any immersive experiences that suited their schedules. Fortunately, with the arrival of live casino, there will always be a stream available, no matter the time of day or night, and they will largely be accessible anywhere there is a stable internet connection, making it easy for more people to play at any time or in any place.
Experience advanced technology – Casinos who have invested in live games will be sure to go the extra mile so their operations exceed that of their competitors. Therefore, players will find highly advanced systems in place with the aim to improve the quality of the gaming process. There is also a high level of protection and security which gives players peace of mind that their personal information is being kept safe, especially when financial transactions are made as part of the gameplay.
Games can be slow – If there is an issue with another player during a live game, the overall experience may be subject to delays while this is dealt with. Although there will often be restrictions on how much time can be spent on actions such as placing a bet, the benefit of live casinos is that it allows people to make decisions in real time, just as they would at a physical casino. The downside of this is that other players may be put off from continuing to play due to boredom while waiting.
Small selection of games – For the most part, live casinos will only really provide the classic table game options, sometimes along with a limited few extras. If you’re more of a slots player, live casino isn’t for you, as there isn’t a live slots game available to play live and you would need to travel to a brick and mortar casino for this experience. The reason behind this selection is that, due to the expense that comes with live streaming games, casino operators can only go with the most popular games in order to generate a substantial enough return on investment.
Technical issues are possible – In a physical casino, there isn’t as much technology to think about, and if a game malfunctions, there will be a member of staff on hand to help you have any lost money returned. In an online casino, if your internet disconnects or there is another technical issue with a game, you can simply wait for the internet to reconnect or speak with customer services. But with a live casino game, if you experience any technical issues such as your connection dropping out, you will miss out on the action of the game, which is the main point of appeal for players engaging in this style of game.
These days, most of the major live casino software providers have developed mobile adaptations for their products. Roulette was the first live game to be rolled out on this platform, and now many varieties are available.
In order to experience the best quality of gameplay, it’s advised to use either WiFi or 4G, and to be aware that using mobile data may incur additional charges after extended gameplay or large downloads.
Here’s a rundown of the mobile live casino games offered by major software providers:
It’s easy to make a deposit or withdraw money with any online casino, whether you are playing a virtual game of slots or live poker. There are usually many transaction methods available, and you can choose from a large portion, if not all, of the following:
Roulette is generally the most popular table game played in a live casino, and due to the large volume of players getting involved, live dealer sections will usually offer several versions of the game to cater to demand. There are a number of variations to choose from with live roulette, such as Slingshot, Double Ball Roulette, Immersive Roulette, Speed Roulette and Dragonara Roulette. Once you’ve decided on a game, the basic premise is simple: bet on a number or colour you think the ball will stop on after spinning around the wheel. If you’re using an American wheel, there will be 38 numbers to choose from. If it’s European, there are 37. There are red or black numbers, and the 0 is coloured green.
In live roulette, there will be time for players to place their bets, and this is where you decide which type to make. For example, you could bet on the ball landing on a particular colour (red/black), predict that an odd or even number will be the winning slot (odd/even), estimate that the ball will land in a high or low number range (high/low), or bet on columns, dozens and more.
Once betting time is over, this will be announced, and this is when the dealer will spin the wheel. Watching the ball spin around, slowing down over time, and seeing if you’re about to win a big payout, is the thrill that keeps people playing roulette over and over again. The lost bets will then be removed from the table, usually by getting swept off with the dealer’s hand and placed in a collection hole located off to one side
Finally, winning bets are paid out. Here’s some more in-depth information about the types of live roulette on offer:
The main pull, when it comes to live blackjack, is that the game is incredibly similar to playing a real-life game. Upon joining a live casino to play blackjack, you’ll face the main dealer, who will be positioned behind the betting table. This person will draw cards from the shoe – the box where cards are drawn in blackjack and lay them down before your bet, face up. It’s also possible to view the cards of other players in the live room, which enhances the social aspect of the experience. You can enjoy a set time between rounds to decide on a wager and place your bets. When this time is up, the dealer will draw the next round of cards.
When playing live blackjack, remember that the cards between 2 and 10 have a value matching their numbers. The Jack, Queen, King etc, are worth 10, while the Ace is either one or 11, making it a good card to have in your hand. If your hand is over 21 at any point, this is described as going ‘bust’, whereby you lose your wager.
Here are the options available after your cards have been drawn in live blackjack:
There are sometimes side bets available, too:
21 + 3 – You are in with a chance of receiving a payout if your first two cards and the dealer’s upcard are made up of one of these combinations:
These side bets can be played at 888 Casino. When it comes to payouts with live blackjack, this will vary according to the game version you’re playing. But if you make use of a basic strategy alongside a game of live blackjack, it’s possible to reduce the house edge to 0.5% – one of the lowest percentages in live casino.Live blackjack payouts are fairly simple to grasp – a win in live blackjack is 1:1, so if you put down a £10 bet you’ll receive £20 in return. A natural blackjack win results in a payout of 3:2 – this is the highest return bet you have the chance of winning in the game. The insurance bet has a payout of 2:1 if the dealer subsequently draws a natural blackjack.
In traditional poker, players are matched against each other, but a live version sees the play unfolding against the house or dealer. While trying to teach his wife how to play Texas Hold’em poker, Stephen Au-Yeung developed a table game called Casino Hold’Em, which is the version of live dealer poker that first made its way into the online world for virtual players to get stuck into. This version only makes use of one player hand at once, which works well for online play due to the fact that unlimited numbers of players could play this hand simultaneously. Although this isn’t the only version of live poker played online these days, it’s still one of the most popular modes of play with poker fans.
When you play a game, a single deck of 52 playing cards will be involved. Every new round sees a shuffle of the cards to make the results as random as possible, and this process is often carried out by a machine. Many players will advise side bets and bonus bets, as these all have higher payout odds. There is a lower RTP with these, so if you want to play high risk, high win, this is the option for you. Another option to enjoy on the side of a game of poker is a progressive jackpot. Evolution Gaming offer this on their games of Caribbean Stud Poker, Texas Hold’Em Bonus Poker and Casino Hold’Em. Before selecting a game, think about the RTP. Every poker game has a different return for bets made, and it’s seen as more advantageous to play the poker version with the highest RTP possible.
Here’s a breakdown of the poker games available:
Live Casino Hold’em – This was the first live dealer poker game to be made available in a live casino. The basic goal is to try and achieve a better 5 card poker hand than the dealer. To start, the player places an Ante bet, plus an optional Bonus bet, which is a side bet. Next, two cards are dealt face up to the player, and the dealer receives two face down cards. 3 cards are then placed in the middle of the table, which are shared between both parties. At this point, the player needs to decide whether he will play the hand by placing a bet that’s double the Ante, or fold the hand. Then the river and turn cards are dealt, by which point it’s time for the dealer to display his two cards. At this stage, both parties will make the best 5 card hand they can, and the best one will be the winner.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em – To get started with this poker edition, place an Ante bet first. A bet equal to this one, called the Blind, is also placed. It’s optional, at this point, to place a Trips side bet, and these will pay out if you receive 3 of a Kind or higher in your hand. The next stage involves the dealer and player being dealt two cards. There are two decisions available to the player following this step: betting 3 or 4 times the ante, or checking. Then the dealer deals the flop, and if the player hasn’t bet yet, they can bet up to 2 times the ante or check. Following this, the dealer deals the turn and river, at which stage the player can either bet 1 times the ante or fold. Finally, the dealer will reveal his cards, and the best 5 card poker hand wins.
3 Card Poker – Many describe this version of poker as the easiest to understand, due to its simple format. The first step involves the player placing an initial ante bet. They also have the option to place a pairs plus, and/or a 6 card bonus side bet. Then they will receive cards face up, and the dealer gets his face down. The player then has to decide if he will play the hand by making a bet equal to the ante, or if he will fold the hand. The dealer then reveals his card, and the best hand wins.
Caribbean Stud Poker – 5 cards are dealt, face up, to the player. The dealer’s cards are face down, but the first card is face up. This difference in setup means that players can decide whether to bet or not. In this poker version, there is only one decision point, and it happens here: the player decides whether he is going to play or fold. If they play, the dealer reveals their other four cards, and the best hand wins.
Progressive Jackpots in Live Casino Poker – The three main well-known progressive jackpots available in live casino poker are Casino Hold’em Jackpot, Texas Hold’em Bonus Jackpot and Caribbean Stud Poker Jackpot. When a Royal Flush is dealt to the player’s hand, the jackpot is activated, and all players playing the jackpot bet at this time will receive an equal share of the prize money.
There are many versions of live baccarat available to play in a live dealer casino:
The goal in baccarat is blissfully simple, and translates well to live gaming. A player wants to predict whether he or the banker will win. How do you win? By having a hand that’s worth, or as close as possible to, the value of 9. These are the values each playing card has:
If after adding the two cards together, the total is a double digit number, the hand is given the value of the second digit. So if the hand added up to 12, the subsequent value calculated would be 2.
When can a third card be drawn? There are specific rules surrounding this step. If a hand has a total value between 0 and 5, drawing again is permissible. But if the value is either 6 or 7, the hand must remain. A total of 8 or 9 is called a ‘natural’ and will win by default, meaning the game is over. If both hands result in the same value, the bets are returned to the players as a Push.
Here’s a breakdown of the various baccarat games you can play in live dealer casinos:
Roadmaps are seen in the game of baccarat, and are used to predict which hand will win – player or banker. They help players to see what has happened over the history of the game, so they can identify any trends and attempt to foresee what result will be coming up.
These trends are recorded on ‘roads’ which are pictures representing the results and trends of each hand as it’s dealt. Here’s a lowdown of the main roadmaps used in baccarat:
If you like baccarat but want to enjoy a version of the game with simpler rules, then Dragon Tiger is for you. It is commonly seen as one of the simplest games to play in a live casino, so it’s a good option if you don’t want anything too taxing. The rules are as follows: two cards are dealt, with one going to the Dragon and the other going to the Tiger. The player needs to bet on which one will be of higher value.
Alternatively, there are alternative bets that can be made in addition:
If you bet on Dragon/Tiger and the value is a tie, you receive 50% of your bet back, with the rest taken as commission. Software providers offering this game include Evolution, Vivo Gaming and Playtech. It is becoming increasingly popular with live dealer casinos due to the ease of gameplay. There are usually eight decks involved when playing Dragon Tiger. They’re only shuffled when a single deck remains. In terms of card values, an ace is low, while a Queen is 12, a King is 13, and so on.
In a Texas Hold’em tournament, a cash game is played with two to ten players on a single table. There are three main parts – the setup, the betting rounds and the showdown. Once all the players have their chips, a player is selected to start with the dealer button. This is because Hold’em is operated with a rotating dealer, which means it’s a different player with each hand. This is still the case in a live dealer game, as the dealer on the other side of the screen will be dealing the cards and the player with the button is viewed as the dealer for the hand in question.
Putting out the blinds is the next step. You can either put out a small blind or a big blind. Generally speaking, this term refers to the forced bets that two players have to make in order to ensure there are chips in the pot that are worth playing for. According to traditional rules, the player who is right next to the dealer will put out the small blind, and the big blind is put out by the player on the left of the small blind. The big blind is usually an amount double that of the small blind. The size overall of these two blinds will give a guide as to the stakes of the game that is about to be played by all involved.
Once the blinds have been put out, the size of the chips will be determined. Now it’s time to deal the first hand. The dealer will deal to the left and rotate clockwise around the table, with each player getting one card each until they all have two cards, which are placed face down.
These are known as the hole cards, and they’re to be used when you make your final 5-card poker hand. Each game will have at least one round, and four at most. You will know a hand is over as all players but one will have folded, or the fourth round is over with more than one player still in the hand. Whichever comes first is the indication in this instance. Players will then enter the showdown, where players all reveal their hands to see who has won the pot.
Here’s some of the terminology you should know for gameplay:
Sic Bo is Chinese for ‘dice pair’, and this ancient Chinese game is particularly popular in Macau. It is essentially a dice game that’s based on luck, and it’s being increasingly offered by online casinos in their live dealer section. There are a wide variety of betting options available for the roll of the dice, and depending on where you play, there will be a different table layout and varying odds. The house edge for each spin varies wildly – there are great odds for some bets, but while the house edge can be under 3% for some, the highest is over 30%. It’s therefore important to compare which online casino offers the most favourable in-house rules and payouts for their live Sic Bo games.
To get started with Sic Bo, you’ll log into the game and be presented with a live dealer and three dice. The objective is simple – make a bet on what kind of result you’ll get after the dice have been rolled.The dealer will press the button once the bet has been made, and this causes the dice to roll in the box. The player will win if the result they bet on appears. There is only a certain amount of time to place a bet when a round is started, so be swift in clicking the amount of chips you want to bet, then clicking a bet area on the table to place your wager. These are the types of bet available:
|4 - 60:1||11 - 6:1|
|5 - 30:1||12 - 6:1|
|6 - 17:1||13 - 8:1|
|7 - 12:1||14 - 12:1|
|8 - 8:1||15 - 17:1|
|9 - 6:1||16 - 30:1|
|10 - 6:1||17 - 60:1|
Many people consider craps to be an exciting table game in the live dealer section of their favourite online casino. It’s different from other table games as the player is the one who starts the round, not the dealer. With online craps, there are usually two dealers at the table. One will roll the dice for the shooter and the other will operate the stick.
The game will begin once players have placed their bets by clicking on the chips they want to wager. The first round roll is called the Come-Out Roll. In the live version, there will be time to either combine the value of chips, change the amount or withdraw the bet. Once bets are closed, the dealer will roll the dice. To find out the results, either see the screen which will be zoomed in to show them, or listen to the Stickman, who will announce them. If there is a result of 2, 3, 7, 11 or 12 then the round is over. But if the total is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10, this is known as the ‘point’ being rolled, and the dice will be rolled again until either a 7 or the point number is displayed again. There are many bet types in craps – here are some examples:
Players who load a live game of Football Studio will find themselves in a live studio which features animation, presenters chatting about the action and live match commentary. All players have to do is bet on one of three options – Home Win, Away Win or Draw.
Once you have placed your bet, two cards are dealt onto the table, face-up. One will go to the Home position, and the other goes to the Away position. The winner is determined by which card is higher.To understand card values in this situation, remember that Aces have the highest sum, then it’s King, all the way down to two, which has the lowest ranking.
Spin a Win is an exciting game for many live players. It is led by a presenter and involves a wheel like the ones seen in Wheel of Fortune in land casinos. Essentially, the presenter will spin the wheel, and you simply need to guess which number you think the wheel will stop at.
The wheel is separated into 53 sections. There are 6 numbers – 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 40. Additionally, there are multipliers – the symbols 2x and 7x are scattered in between the main number sequence. Here’s how often each number appears on the wheel, and its respective payout:
If you hit a multiplier, your first bet is left live for the next spin. All payouts are then multiplied by the multiplier. If you have more than one multiplier come in, the payouts can be massive. There are three ways to bet in Spin A Win:
As for the payouts:
Players can enjoy an RTP between 90.67% and 97.22%, with the latter appearing if you bet on the Odds side. This is a similar RTP to the one seen in European Roulette.
This depends on whether you have found an online casino or not. If you are just starting out, do your research and look for a casino site which will offer you the best live dealer games. If you want to play exclusively roulette or poker, look for sites which specialise in this game and offer a variety of editions to choose from.
Once you’ve made your decision and signed up for an account, navigate to the live casino section of the site and scroll through the options to find the game you want to play. Make sure you have cash in your account and get started!
The most important consideration, as just stated, is to check you have real money in your online wallet’s cash balance. You can’t play with virtual money, unless you have received a bonus designed specifically for live games. Another option is to play in demo mode, where you will have play money, but you will not be playing these games with live dealers.
Once you’re set up, find the stake range which suits your budget in the lobby, then click on the most appropriate game. Choose an available seat at the table, then wait until the countdown timer starts, which is the betting window. Place your chips on the table to make a bet by simply clicking the location on the table you want to put a wager on.
A regular online casino game will be played between yourself and the computer, which is ideal for players who want a few quick games on their own.
Live casino, on the other hand, involves live streaming of real games, with real life dealers hosting the tables and facilitating the game action. You can enjoy talking to the dealer and other players, plus the authentic feeling of being in a land casino, from the comfort of your own home.
Software providers can specialise in streaming live games from land-based casinos, or providing live dealer games to online casinos. Games are playable on mobile, tablet and desktop and they are licensed in various locations, such as Malta, Denmark and the UK. There will be a range of tables available to suit various skill levels, including VIP and high roller options.
Evolution Gaming – Many consider Evolution Gaming to be the leading developer when it comes to live casino games. They offer a range of games, such as blackjack, roulette, baccarat, 3 card poker, dragon/tiger, dream catcher and football studio. Furthermore, they are licensed in several jurisdictions, including Alderney, the UK, Malta, New Jersey and Canada.
One of the main advantages of going with this provider is the fact their HD streams are the best on the market. They also have dealer training academies, which results in the staff being the most highly trained and professional possible.
They specialise in the games Dual Play Roulette, Blackjack Party, Baccarat Squeeze, Immersive Roulette, Lightning Roulette and the jackpots for Casino Hold’Em, Caribbean Stud Poker and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker.
They have a stunning 13 versions of roulette available, and their Lightning Roulette game won Game of the Year in 2018. With five types of poker on offer, Evolution offers more than any other developer, and it has released special titles such as Dream Catcher, which was crowned Digital Product of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards in 2017.
Special features seen in Evolution Gaming live casino include the following:
Microgaming – This provider offers classic table games in its live casino offering, which include blackjack, roulette, baccarat and sic bo. Based on the Isle of Man and founded in 1994, it’s believed that Microgaming released the world’s first dedicated live dealer games in 2004. In 2015, they set up a deal with Evolution Gaming whereby Evolution would provide live games to all of Microgaming’s European customers moving forwards.
They are licensed in the UK and Malta, and have studios in Kahnawake, Buenos Aires and Manila. They specialise in their Playboy Live Dealer game and have a good range of features including:
NetEnt – This online casino software supplier features live games with a sleek, modern aesthetic. They specialise in blackjack and roulette, and are licensed in the UK, Alderney, Gibraltar and Malta.
Founded in 1996, the Swedish company has over 100 slots games in its library, plus roulette games which have some of the highest maximum allowed bets out there. For example, some casinos allow a player to bet up to £75,000 per spin on VIP Live Roulette.
The firm is particularly interested in live gaming, and partnered with Mr Green to produce a system called Live Beyond Live. This setup allowed players to experience a fully immersive casino layout, including the ability to move between different tables from directly within a game.
There are several great features linked with this provider:
Playtech – After launching their first live casino in 2003, Playtech have amassed an expansive library of live casino games such as blackjack, roulette, sic bo, dragon/tiger, baccarat, spin a win and 3 card brag. They have over 600 titles and more than 5000 employees, and are headquartered on the Isle of Man.Many of Playtech’s games are available for mobile play, and players can enjoy up to three tables at once – a feature they and Evolution Gaming have in common.
Discovering you’ve disconnected from the internet during a live game won’t be an issue with Playtech, as when you reconnect, an automated version of the game will be loaded, allowing you to complete your round with the same setup as before.
Despite the limited selection of live poker, there are 10 roulette variants available, which includes Age of the Gods. They are licensed in the UK, Alderney and Gibraltar, and have these special features available: