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The technology is truly purpose-built to re-create the high roller experience you get from a Live Dealer turning the cards or spinning the wheel at an actual casino table but staking levels are set to suit the players' requirements making it an all-inclusive option for online casino customers.
If you can’t get to the glamorous strip of Las Vegas any time soon or prefer the comfort of home whilst interacting around the blackjack or the fast-paced roulette wheel this is most definitely the winning ticket.
You may have already tried Live Casino but if you haven’t then there are some key things to know before making your first deposit at an online Live Casino.
The choices are vast, so you will need to find the best live casino for you with the best offerings in tables, game types, high and low stake limits, bonus choices and those much sought after VIP clubs and loyalty programmes to maximise your overall player experience.
Access to Wi-Fi or 4G data are essential to ensure uninterrupted high-quality gameplay for the Live Casino player and whilst most live casino operators cater for all types of games those that are available often depend on the provider.
Let’s break it down further before you take your first step into the online lobby or the virtual casino pit floor with your preferred Live Casino operator.
Leading online Casino operators will generally have their version of Live Casino delivered from the best developers and providers in the business. The most common are outlined below but you can always expect seamless and interactive Live Casino play day or night and with customer service and user experience at the centre of attention.
NetEnt would consider the sum of its parts as a game changer in Live Casino, as the tag line reads it’s “Better Live Gaming”.
They are responsible for the familiar NetEnt Live Rewards programme allowing their partners to customize their player rewards and offer unique promotions to a huge NetEnt family of operator’s players on their platforms. This often means quicker rewards and streamlined user experience.
Playtech caters for some of the biggest Live Casino operations online with Sky Live Casino, Paddy Power/Betfair and the Coral Live Casino where they have developed bespoke environments for those operators’ customers with fully immersive branded action.
The Playtech studio design is truly immersive, players will visit the tables, scour the room and play all the different variations of the games they love with expert dealers and state of the art chat and engagement features. Chat to the dealer, chat to the players and feel part of the bricks and mortar set up at their state-of-the-art facilities housed in purpose-built casino studios in Riga.
If you want faster play and less glitz then a “lite” version provides less camera angles, more rounds per hour and can be altered to suit your playing style. The opposite is also true, more angles, more options and slower traditional play so they really do cater for all types of live casino play under one roof.
Playtech’s best in class products include online blackjack, Roulette and Speed Roulette, Poker, Hi-Lo, Sic Bo and the Grand Royal, considered the flagship live experience for Live Casino players across the internet. All variants of side bets covered and readily available for the more seasoned Live Casino players.
888 is one of the best on the market for Live Casino and they invest in delivering this directly to their customers themselves. Taking you to the heart of the bespoke 888 Casino floor they have mastered the art of the Live Dealer interaction through their live chat application that arguably sets the bar in the industry.
With six main categories of Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat, Poker as well as the Live Dream Catcher and an exclusive Elite Lounge there is something here for everyone.
888 take considerable care over their Live Casino VIP customers with a dedicated VIP team all available on the home page, detailing the VIP events, the Loyalty Rewards and how to get in touch to announce your arrival
Players at 888 will be treated to the latest interactive experience initiatives in Live Casino with the “pit boss” addition where you will encounter interaction across the tables from the traditional bulldog in charge of the Casino floor. Expect the unexpected in specials, live engagement and more which truly adds to the Live Casino experience.
With table limits that start at just 0.10 of your native currency and range all the way to upwards of 10,000 and even up to 15,000 on their exclusive 888 Casino Clash.
The Casino Clash is their replica of the Live Casino favourite Dragon Tiger – where just two cards compete for supremacy, the highest wins and with a whole range of side bets available on the tie, suited matches and more it’s obviously a nice addition to the library of usual live casino games on offer at 888.
Evolution have led the way in Live Casino provision to the leading online operators for several years and developed Live Casino staples like Dream Catcher, the wheel where your lucky numbers can come up and the previously explained Dragon Tiger, the fast play, two card competing masterpiece.
With development priorities at its core and working consistently with several top-tier brands you will come across Evolution Gaming software everywhere you go in the Live Casino marketplace.
Evolution fund their very own Progressive Jackpot programme for side bets across the Live Casino spectrum with staggering jackpot pools of up to 1m Euros at any one time.
This allows players in each game to have the chance to potentially place very lucrative and boosted pot wagers into pooled jackpots increasing the chance of hitting big on the Live Casino games players already enjoy each and every day.
With a superb studio setting as the norm, Evolution Gaming actually go even further offering “on Premise” land-based Casino solutions where you can actually interact with a functioning casino floor rather than the studio-based gameplay.
This can take the form of “dual play” roulette where on-site players and externally active online players are playing at the same table. A unique and growing interest for Live Casino operators and their customers, where the regulations allow.
Access to statistics and game round information has become paramount for Live Casino players. It’s well worth noting when considering the advantages of Live Casino versus a bricks and mortar casino that extensive game round history, indicators such as hot and cold numbers and extensive individual player data are available to peruse and use as you see fit whilst playing at an online casino.
Ok now it's time to talk about the actual Live Casino games!
Blackjack is probably the most popular form of the live table experience at a Live Casino.
The house edge is very low, around 0.5%, which in comparison to other forms of Live Casino offerings is seriously appealing from the outset to new players and experienced frequenters of the casino floor.
This is to say that of course you need to follow basic Blackjack strategy otherwise the House Edge can be greatly increased.
We are not talking about card counting or “rain man” techniques, it’s more etiquette, standard knowledge of the rules and ensuring you get the most out of the hands you are dealt in the usual course of a blackjack round.
It is important to note the house rules at different casino operators will vary slightly in certain circumstances. Whether the dealer must stand on 17, if you can split that pair of beautiful aces and so on. Be sure to check them, make yourself aware of any differences and play accordingly.
If you know already when to double down, split and re-split and have mastered the art of side betting then you’re already well ahead of the curve.
Try your luck with a low limit table if you’re just getting started – games are generally available at just £1 per hand up to £5,000 but for the more experienced and strictly high rollers among you the option to join a VIP table and exclusive Live Casino areas exist with most operators. Stakes at these tables can reach 6 figures for a single hand of blackjack.
Not getting a seat at the table of your choice can be an issue with the smaller limit tables, especially where operators are using the same software provider for the live dealer studio format.
To curb this, we suggest operators that have their own tables where only customers of that Live Casino can play. They are more receptive to demands and that usually assures all a seat during busy times.
Hot on the heels of the Blackjack tables comes the immersive thrill of the Roulette wheel.
Most leading operators offer several types of the famous game and although several strategies have emerged for making the most of your chances there are no explainable techniques that can increase a player’s odds of winning, apart from the physical differences presented in differing types of roulette wheel.
French Roulette (or European Roulette) is the most authentic version, with numbers 0 to 36, they don’t feature the 00 that you will find on the American version of a Roulette wheel and therefore players have a slightly higher advantage of winning over the American variety.
The odds of winning with just one number selected are 37/1 on a European style table and 38/1 on an American table with the additional 00 pocket.
Inside and Outside betting are two terms you will become familiar with instantly as those playing the numbers are betting on the inside and those playing the groupings of numbers or the Red or Black options are betting on the Outside. This reflects the simple lay out of the betting area on the roulette table.
Players will find multiple speed roulette options available, allowing bets to be placed on the spin, and increasing the number of rounds players can get involved with by eliminating the waiting that takes place between settlement and the next spin.
Live Casino Operators have truly embraced Roulette with expert dealers, immersive camera angles, slow motion ball drops and live chat facilities that really do offer a true casino experience.
Low stakes tables are available and a great way to learn the ropes, but the high rollers are suitably catered for with VIP tables exclusively available with much greater limits at all leading live casino operators.
Remember to always play responsibly but if you don’t like the limits at a table let the live chat team know or reach out to your VIP customer support and see what they can do for you!
Huge in Asia and already an online casino stalwart Baccarat is one of the most well known and most traditional card games available to the live casino player.
Originally favouring the high roller stake levels but now commonly available to low staking players who want to experience the thrill and majesty of elite status the game enjoys in Casino’s around the world.
The basic aim is to have the highest score with the cards dealt and compete against the dealer. There are set base of points available per card – numbers 2 – 9 carry their face value whilst aces are a point a piece as you would expect but the picture cards are 10s or 0’s. You must get to 6 or 7 to stand or draw a further card but don’t be confused as we have a Live Baccarat strategy guide that can help explain this further.
Live Casino’s have added several variations to the Baccarat theme and that now includes the famous ritual of the Baccarat Card Squeeze.
Most who have encountered Baccarat before will have had their cards dealt face up and counted in an instance, but the squeeze is a very different offering with the cards face down on the table.
Building the tension of the reveal to boiling point as the dealer shows just a slight portion of the card before it’s turned, and some will say the method in the squeeze can transform the card in the croupier’s hand. With a range of dynamic camera angles, the dealer’s obvious expertise and the stakes high then Baccarat is always a crowd favourite.
Clearly the art of the squeeze can’t change a cards value – but it does mean a lot of cards get properly bent out shape and disposed off at the end! Premium Playing card manufacturers around the globe rejoice.
This is a lower stakes version of Baccarat and the simplicity it offers are what make Mini Baccarat so much fun in the online Live Casino environment. Typically, only two hands are dealt regardless of how many seats are at the table. It’s fast paced, perfect for learning the nuances of the game and great for interaction.
This is most interactive version of Baccarat online as the players see each other’s bets, chat about the play and the bad beats whilst all the stats of the players are live for each to see. With a huge array of side bet options, it can get very competitive and excitingly immersive for those at the table.
This is the closest thing to the real Baccarat tables in a traditional land-based casino.
Live Casino’s offer a variant of many different types of Poker at the live tables. With straight up versus the dealer play and the options for high value progressive jackpots it’s a casino floor classic for players online.
Stakes can vary from low to high levels and the famed Texas Hold’em is a favourite thanks to its celebrity players and television boom in the noughties. Here you can fold them, raise them and wait for the flop and the river cards as you bet incrementally through the rounds of game play.
3 Card Poker is the traditional format and ideal for novice players and experts alike. Possibly the most popular live casino game of all time with several ways to win and the possibility of additional wins at the end of hand as side bets are common place and players can focus on pair bonuses and six card bonuses where you combine dealers and players cards to make the best possible poker hand.
Caribbean Stud poker, which is a straight up deal 5 card version allows for progressive side bets with varying levels of progressive pay tables.
With different staking tables available at all online live casinos from high to low you will find a suitable level and enjoy possible the greatest casino game in the land, well for card lovers that is.
Looking for something a bit different in the Live Casino market place then Dream Catcher is a whammy of an instantly fun casino game.
This is basically a vertically mounted numbers wheel where your live host will guide you through the options for the bets and spin the wheel to reveal the winner. Money wheel live gaming is taking off accompanied by a colourful host, music and shenanigans it’s all the fun of the fair.
Another live casino phenomenon is the Evolution software inspired Live Football Studio.
Born out of the huge hype around the World Cup of 2018 but has outlasted its tournament structure and now caters for card lovers and football fans as the Live Studio environment is transformed to a Football setting where players can enjoy Win, Away Win and Draw bets on the cards drawn in the style of football themed match ups.
Expect commentary, the odd goal celebration and lots of football chat along the way.
As we have touched on already a Live Casino quick play classic was born in the simplistic and brilliant Dragon Tiger. Replicated too by the 888 version of Casino Clash. Two sides compete with one card each, one for the Dragon and one for the Tiger and the highest wins.
Players can beat on either side and the action comes thick and fast.
A typical sign up bonus for an online casino is not aimed at the Live Casino player as lots of the games involved don’t qualify for wagering and therefore use of the funds to the point of a successful withdrawal can be frustrating and time consuming.
They are still of use if you are new to the Live Casino environment and want to try multiple games and tables at small stakes because you will get the most time out of the bonus funds as you learn and fell your way around the live casino floor, as a player or an observer of the table etiquette and the styles and pace of the game play.
Once established with an operator you can enjoy more specific Live Casino bonus options such as Cash Back on losses up to a specific amount, Deposit Bonuses and invitations to major events or even trips to Las Vegas and beyond.
These are typically reserved for the high rollers and regular players but lots of Live Dealer Casinos operate loyalty programmes that will offer opportunities to play in exclusive events, earn reward points and weekly remuneration is not uncommon for even lower stake players based on their regular activities.
Also, be aware of the table limits and choose your games carefully to match your intended levels of spend and tools like reality checks, deposit and stake limits are part and parcel of all Live Casino player options to ensure responsible gaming and sensible play.
"More than 30 years working in online gaming and sports journalism. I hope to explain the growing US online casino market to help those new to internet gambling have a better understanding."
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