Live Dealer Blackjack

One relatively recent development in the world of Online Gambling is the spreading of, ‘Live Dealer,’ casino games, and Blackjack is one of the more popular of such gaming options. This development is recent, not because the casinos didn’t want to do it previously, but simply because of technological limitations, such as live video streaming speeds and network reliability.

With the advances in the technology required to make these games successful, we have seen Live Dealer gaming spread across many websites that did not previously have it, as well as some new sites pop up that are devoted primarily to Live Casino gambling.

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Given this development, Online Casinos are able to deliver something that more closely resembles the Brick & Mortar (or, Land-Based, if you prefer) casino experience to all who choose to play at their casinos. Internet speeds and the reliability of Internet connections is even such that live video can stream successfully to mobile devices as well as more traditional laptop and desktop computers.

Live Dealer Blackjack Differences

Other than the most obvious difference, the presence of a live dealer being video-streamed to you, there are a number of other differences between Live Dealer Online Blackjack Games compared to the traditional Online Blackjack games that resemble electronic blackjack games located in Brick and Mortar casinos. That should be expected because Blackjack games can vary from table to table even in the same Land-Based Casino, such as some tables offering 6:5 on a Natural as opposed to those that offer the traditional (and much better) 3:2 pay on a winning player Natural Blackjack.

The first difference between playing Online Blackjack in terms of the video version as opposed to the Live Dealer version is that the table minimums tend to be higher for those playing with a Live Dealer. In fact, $5 (US) seems to be the minimum for many Live Dealer games at online casinos, and that is the sort of minimum that can be found at many Land-Based casinos in the United States, though, admittedly, the Rules (and resultant RTP) are often worse in B&M Casinos when one is talking about a $5 minimum, though they are better, in some cases.

When it comes to Online Blackjack games that are comparable to the electronic blackjack games found in B&M casinos, the minimum bet on those is usually $1 (US) and, interestingly enough, lower minimums than that can often be found in actual B&M casinos.

For that reason, if a player is trying to stretch out a very small amount of money into a lot of playing time, or if a player wants as little Variance as possible grinding out playthrough requirements at one of the few Online Casinos that still allow a player to do that on Blackjack, then it is perfectly conceivable that the standard online Blackjack version of the game could be preferable for that player.

However, absent any other reasons to play lower minimums, and there often can be perfectly valid reasons to play the electronic blackjack version of the game instead, some players might have more fun playing the Live Dealer version of the game.

Another difference between the Live Dealer version of the game as opposed to the electronic version, at least in some cases, is the set of Rules under which the game of Blackjack is being played. As we discussed in our page detailing different Blackjack variations and rule sets, it is the rules under which the player is playing that result in the game having a particular house edge, assuming Optimal Strategy, which many Online Players refer to as, ‘Return-to-Player.’

Just to clarify these terms, the House Edge and the Return to Player are the exact same thing, just stated differently. In the event that a game has a house edge of any kind, then 100% less the house edge result in what is termed the RTP. A game with a house edge of 0.5% has an RTP of 99.5%, for instance. In the event that a game has a player edge, then the player edge added to 100% will result in the RTP. A player edge of 0.5% results in an RTP of 100.5%.

In any event, most Online Casinos offer a wide variation of not just Blackjack variants, but of Blackjack base games that can be played under different rule sets, and each unique set of Rules will yield differing house edges. For players who are, above anything else, concerned about the House Edge of the game that they are playing, then it is important to look at the set of Rules offered by the Live Dealer Blackjack game in question and compare it to the set of Rules on all of the Electronic Blackjack games to determine which game results in the lowest house edge working against the player.

So far it sounds like these differences can only be negative, but there is one positive difference between online electronic Blackjack and online Live Dealer Blackjack, and that is (for those who are concerned that the electronic games are rigged) it is more difficult to gaff a Live Blackjack game. For one thing, there is usually a TV on in the background of the live dealer feeds with some sort of sporting event or newscast so that the player knows the game in question is being played in real time. Furthermore, the dealer may even be viewed inserting the cards into the shoe and/or shuffling them, but that probably varies from casino to casino.

Depending on the licensing jurisdiction of the online casino in question, there can be requirements of varying stringency in order to even be permitted to conduct a Live Blackjack game, and many jurisdictions require a game to be conducted out of a physical facility located within the jurisdiction that could theoretically be inspected at any time, which is also subject to regular inspections. When choosing an online Blackjack game, it is important to research the licensing requirements of the jurisdiction in question to determine whether or not you, as a player, feel comfortable playing there.

As you can see, there are several differences between the electronic variations of online blackjack offered by casinos as compared to the Live Dealer versions, so when deciding which version is the best for you, it is important to understand these differences and keep them in mind when making your choice.

Internet Connection

The game must go on!

While the ability for an online casino to offer a Live Dealer game, as well as the ability of the player to play a live dealer game is incumbent upon the technological advances that have taken place to allow the game to be transmitted (as well as the player’s decisions) at a nearly instantaneous rate, it is exceptionally important for a player to ensure that he/she has a fast and reliable Internet connection if he/she wishes to play such games.

The reason for this is because a player generally has a fixed amount of time within which to make a playing decision, and in the event of a disconnection, different casinos (as is made clear in the Terms & Conditions) may handle the situation in different ways. One of the more common ways I have seen is that the player (if he has been dealt his initial two cards) will automatically stand and the game will play out as though that were the player’s decision. Obviously, if a player is dealt a hand total of eleven against a dealer showing ten, (Yay, double!) then standing is literally the worst decision that the player can make.

The casino is not going to use this as a means to rip the player off, there will be a game and video log of the hand in question, (if disputed) so that the player knows that he lost the decision (if that happens) as a result of standing. However, the casino cannot allow the wager to be returned because that could subject the casino to have a player seek an unfair edge by making a huge bet and manufacturing (read: faking) a disconnection if the player is dissatisfied with his original cards against what the dealer is showing. Of course, the player would tend to make a bunch of table minimum bets prior to taking this shot, and it would appear (otherwise) as though the player were legitimately taking a shot at having a big hand, as players are often wont to do.

When it comes to the video version of an online Blackjack game, this is something that the player does not need to necessarily worry about quite as much. Because the game long is saved, and because it is not a live game, in many cases, the player can simply return (after reconnecting) and play the hand out as though the player never got disconnected in the first place. For that reason, the quality of the Internet connection is not quite as important because the player may not necessarily be forced into an unfavorable playing decision as a result of being disconnected from the server.

Therefore, it is essential to be as sure as possible that your Internet connection is reliable if you are going to be playing online blackjack in the live dealer mode. This is especially true because you could be locked into an unfavorable decision as a result of the inability to transmit the correct decision, or the decision that you actually want to make, for a particular hand. If you combine this with a higher table minimum, or maybe you are a player who legitimately does, ‘Take big shots,’ from time-to-time, and an Internet disconnection that is technically not your fault can become somewhat costly.

So what happens if your internet connection drops while you’re in the middle of a hand? The hand simply goes on without you being able to make any decisions as if you were to opt to stand.

While most technology-savvy readers are already aware of this, I definitely want to throw out a warning to those who want to use their mobile network to play live dealer blackjack. While other casino games do not require the usage of a ton of data, live dealer online blackjack, as well as any live video streams, tend to eat up data in a serious hurry.

The Experience

In addition to the obvious goal of making money, online casinos have always striven towards a secondary goal of offering games that are as realistic as possible. This has always been a simpler task with slot machines and keno games than it has been with something like blackjack. With other electronic games, it is simply a matter of having sufficient technology to generate a smooth display of the reels and/or Keno draws, whichever is the case.

Generating a table game experience comparable to that enjoyed by players in brick-and-mortar casinos has, until recently, been much more difficult because none of the physical implements have previously been present in order to effectuate such an experience. Unfortunately, an electronic representation of cards, dice or a roulette wheel will always be precisely that, and while graphical details might exist to make some websites have a better appearance than others, (different action on dice, more intricately designed cards and/or table layouts) prior to the advent of live dealer gaming, there was nothing that could make the game, ‘Feel real.’

While the actual experience of a live dealer game still pales to the actual brick-and-mortar casino experience in many ways, for instance, one is not surrounded by other players and/or other surroundings common to a casino, such as slot machines; having a live dealer working with actual physical implements closes the gap significantly.

In addition, some of the dealers are actually quite skilled in the area of player interaction, they make eye contact with the camera, congratulate the players on winning hands and do other things such as verbally ask what decision a player wants to make after being dealt his/her first two cards and looking at the dealer’s upcard. While online casinos are not yet able to replicate other aspects of the casino experience, such as a player’s surroundings, at least the direct interaction between a player and the dealer can be more reminiscent of the live casino atmosphere.

Furthermore, many of these games enable the players to chat with one another in a chat box while the game is taking place. While not all players choose to be, ‘Chatty,’ the experience is still even more reminiscent of that in a brick-and-mortar casino, because certainly not all of those players talk either. Players can discuss strategy, but not their individual hands during a hand in play (obviously) as well as celebrate any occasions upon which the entire table wins or lament any occasions during which the entire table loses, perhaps due to a dealt dealer natural.

Furthermore, touchscreen technology is a somewhat minor step in making the game more like the real thing. While the actual hand motions of standing, doubling down, splitting, hitting and standing are not necessarily used, certainly using a touchscreen to make decisions feels more real than clicking on a mouse separate from the display. In fact, with the spreading of electronic tables with a live dealer, as well as, ‘Stadium-like,’ displays of dealers dealing the game in brick-and-mortar casinos, maybe touchscreen technology actually does mirror the live casino experience that people will come to expect!

Even though the game still remains a far cry from the actual experience of physically being in a casino, it attempts (successfully) to mirror some aspects of that experience. As Internet speeds become even more reliable and technological resources improve, we might live to see an even closer facsimile of the brick-and-mortar casino experience.

Conclusion

As we have discussed, there can be many differences between the electronic blackjack games and the live dealer blackjack games offered from one casino to the next, and most of those differences (other than the presentation) mainly pertain to the rules under which the game is being played as well as the minimums. Again, the live blackjack games often have greater minimums because the online casino still has to pay the dealer to deal the game, so money has to be made somewhere.

Secondly, even though some casinos with live dealer blackjack offer bonuses, those bonuses often tend not to be as potentially lucrative for the player as bonuses that are offered for the standard blackjack games. In fact, some casinos do not permit any bonuses to be played on any blackjack games whatsoever. Of course, this is not always the case, and as we have seen with Royal Panda Casino, there are a few casinos out there that will employ bonuses specifically for the live dealer versions of their games (to promote them) that may not necessarily be available on the standard electronic versions of the game.

The advances in technology have enabled the dealer to livestream the video feed to the players and for those same players to communicate their decisions to the casino almost instantaneously, though it is important to ensure, as a player, that you have a reliable internet connection so that your communication to the server is not disrupted during the hand. Again, it would, quite frankly, totally suck to lose a decision on a hand in which you have bet a substantial amount of money (or any money, really) because you were playing with an unreliable internet connection and the feed or your communication to the casino was disrupted.

Finally, the live dealer experience, and the technological advances that have made it possible, exist in order for the casino to effectuate what was always the goal, to make the game of blackjack seem more authentic for online players. That was always the goal, but until recently, there was really no way to effectuate it given the limited technological resources available on both the end of the player and that of the casino. We can expect that any future technological advances will also be utilized to the same ends: in order to make the online casino blackjack experience more comparable to that enjoyed by players in brick-and-mortar casinos.

In any event, we will continue to monitor the development of live dealer blackjack at the various online casinos, as well as to keep an eye out for any good promotions that are being offered for live blackjack games. We will also occasionally play these games for ourselves in order to report on which casinos are offering the most immersive live dealer blackjack experiences.