Live casinos are one of the most important additions to any online casino. They have been around for more than a decade, at the time of this writing, and have certainly left their mark on the online gambling industry. It is certain that any online casino that does not offer some form of live dealer games is not up to modern standards and ever more gambling websites have begun including live titles in their gaming libraries.
The sheer popularity of live casinos makes them one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an online casino, as they are often indicative of a gambling operator’s commitment to their user base. In this article, we will go over all major aspects of this online casino game genre and give you some insight into how it works behind the scenes.
Live Casinos Explained
Live dealer games are a unique online casino game genre in their own right. They represent the best that the online gambling industry has been able to create in the last decade and they are also indicative of how much it has progressed since its inception more than twenty years ago. Live dealer games are significantly different from their virtual counterparts and will provide a much different gambling experience. Unlike virtual games, live dealer ones are hosted by a human professional dealer or croupier who will lead the game, much like at a land-based establishment. The tables are placed in a professional studio environment and the footage is streamed over the Internet to your computer or mobile device. All of the action takes place in real time, giving you a sense of urgency and involvement.
The software provides you with much of the same actions as a virtual game, however, there are some stark differences between how the two types are played. One thing that you should be aware of is the limited time frame in which you can place wagers. Since you will not be alone at the table most of the time other players must also be given the opportunity to play, therefore each person will have a limited time to think and act. This has much more significance in certain games such as blackjack or casino poker, while roulette players will likely not be affected as much. Additionally, for most table games there will only be a certain number of seats available. The dealer can only deal so many cards in a single game, therefore for most card games, the table will normally have up to 7 or 8 available places. Other games such as roulette can theoretically accommodate an infinite number of players, so this is not a factor in such situations.
Since you will not be alone at the table, it only makes sense that the casino would allow you to communicate with other players. All live dealer games feature some form of chat system, which you can use to talk to the dealer and the other participants, making the experience much more socially involved. However, this is entirely optional and you may chat as much as you wish or not at all.
When you go to the Live Casino section of a gambling website there are several games which you can expect to see. Most often you will have the opportunity to play popular table games, such as blackjack, roulette, baccarat and casino poker. Some casinos choose to include some more obscure games such as Dream Catcher, but these are few and far between. Below, we will provide you with descriptions of some of the most commonly found live dealer game types at live casinos.
Baccarat was at one time the game of the high class, being played by aristocrats and rich people, with a large amount of money changing hands each night. Nowadays, online casinos have made this game type accessible to the masses and just about anyone can indulge themselves in a few bets. Baccarat does not have as many variations as blackjack or roulette so more often than not you will be able to play the traditional version. However, there are several highly popular baccarat games that change things just enough to feel different. One is Live No Commission Baccarat, where the game does not charge commission on certain bets, and the other is Live Baccarat Controlled Squeeze.
Blackjack is highly popular among the online gambling community regardless of what form it takes. Virtual blackjack titles are some of the most played out there and live dealer blackjack draws in even more players. A typical live dealer blackjack table will have anywhere between 5 and 8 seats, depending on the software provider that runs the game. Most live dealer blackjack games represent the game in its original form and software providers do not stray too far from the norm. You will be treated to the classical blackjack experience and not have to deal with something too outlandish.
Casino poker may not enjoy the same levels of popularity as blackjack or roulette but it is no less entertaining to play. This game type follows standard poker rules but the players are pitted against the dealer rather than against each other. The goal is to have a better hand than the dealer. In fact, this game type is somewhat similar to video poker, making it instantly familiar to anyone who has played that genre. The most popular variations of casino poker include Texas Hold’em, Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud.
Roulette is slightly different from other live dealer game types since it can be played by any number of players at the same time. There are no seats which you have to take when playing roulette and therefore, you will not have to wait for a position to open up. Live roulette is very popular among online gamblers and there are multiple sub-genres of the game that you can play. Typically, most online casinos will include at the very least European and American Roulette and there may also be some other less traditional variations. Dealers usually wait up to 20 seconds between each spin so that players may place their bets and they later announce the winning numbers.
Online casinos may feature live dealer games but they are not the brains behind the operation. If every online casino was to set up its own studios and streaming equipment, the cost of playing would be too high and the player pool would be too segregated to be profitable. Instead, gambling websites rely on third-party companies to do the work for them.
These are commonly referred to as software providers and they are the ones who operate everything, which includes hiring the staff, setting the streaming equipment, and managing the finances. In turn, software providers loan their product to online casinos and everyone is happy with the outcome. There are many software providers out there that supply online casinos with live dealer games and below we will list some of the most popular ones.
Playtech is considered by many to be the largest software provider in the industry in terms of virtual games and that seems to hold true for live dealer games as well. This company has been at the forefront of the industry since 1999 and it has established quite a name for itself. Playtech is able to offer just about any live dealer game type available and it is the primary provider of live casino software for many online casinos. With three studios spread out across as many countries, the sheer scale of operation that Playtech is responsible for is nothing to be scoffed at.
Microgaming is one of the oldest software provider companies in the industry, running strong since 1994. When live dealer games entered into the mainstream, Microgaming was one of the first to develop their own live dealer platform and offer players top-quality content. Since then, it has remained on top of things and is now responsible for some of the most played live games on the Internet. Their titles are characterized by their excellent visual quality and top-tier payout rates. Moreover, Microgaming is the entity behind the Playboy Bunnies series.
Evolution Gaming is considered by many to be the company responsible for pushing the live dealer genre into mainstream gambling. It is one of the first to develop their live dealer platform and is currently the largest proprietor of live casino software, developing exclusively in this genre. This company offers some of the best live dealer games on the market and users are more than happy to play them. Evolution Gaming’s live games portfolio includes many of the popular sub-genres such as roulette, blackjack, baccarat, casino poker and many more.
NetEnt is one of the top software providers where virtual games are concerned, but in the case of live casinos, it has failed to keep up in the past. It developed its live casino platform a few years too late when Evolution Gaming, Microgaming and Playtech had already established themselves as the genre’s leaders. Since then the company has struggled to maintain a good market presence, despite the fact that their games are able to match those of other software providers in terms of quality. The live games selection of NetEnt is arguably small, but those that are available are certainly worth playing.
Extreme Live Gaming
Extreme Live Gaming is the youngest company on this list, being only established in 2013. Much like Evolution Gaming, Extreme Live Gaming focuses only on live dealer games and it has shown that is has perfected its craft. Extreme Live Gaming is one of the top providers of live casino software in the industry and the quality of their games is as good as any. Operating from a studio in London, Extreme Live Gaming is able to rival any of the other software provides and even outmatch a few of them.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Playing at a Live Casino
Playing at a live casino certainly comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages, at least for some users. Now, we will take a look at some of the most important factors of live dealer gaming.
In terms of advantages, we would be remiss not to tell you of the high immersion that comes from playing live dealer games. The ability to see the dealer and the table on your display makes this the most enticing game genre out there. Virtual games have come a long way in portraying a good gaming hall, but they simply cannot match the level of detail and realism that live casinos are able to offer.
Additionally, players will have the option to communicate with the other participants and the dealer using the live chat system. This level of involvement is not present in any virtual game, save for a few obscure ones. The social element plays an important role in immersing you in the casino atmosphere and the fact that you can communicate with others alone may be enough for you to keep playing. After all, it is always better to celebrate a big win with other people than by yourself.
Of course, live casinos are not perfect and there are some negative things which we will have to consider when it comes to playing at one.
The cost of playing is something which may players overlook when choosing a live casino. The fact of the matter is that a live casino is an expensive venture, with costs piling up for equipment maintenance and staff salaries. Therefore, software providers have to make back their investment. As a result, the table minimum for a live dealer title will usually be slightly higher than that of the average virtual game. Of course, since winnings are proportional to wagers this should not be too much of a detriment, but a long losing streak may cause you to bleed chips.
Something else that may impact certain players is the bandwidth required to play at a live casino. Since the footage is stream directly to players the amount of Internet bandwidth required may be too much for some people. Live streaming requires a stable and fast Internet connection which unfortunately not all users have access too. Moreover, it may also hinder mobile users who are playing using their mobile data plans as it may cause them to run out of full-speed data before too long.
Finally, one also has to take into account the fact that a live dealer game will go much faster than a virtual one. Since there are many players all waiting to play, you cannot simply put it on hold to do something else. Live dealer games require you to put down your bet and make a decision in less than a minute. Therefore, you will not have half an hour to look up the perfect strategy for your current hand in blackjack. Some players may feel rushed from the quick style of play.
Banking is an underrated aspect of the online gambling experience, but one that is of vital importance in the grand scheme of things. After all, how would you manage your bankroll if you were not properly informed about the available options? There are many ways that you can fund your casino balance and later withdraw your winnings. Below, we will outline some of the more prominent service types that can be of use to you.
Credit cards are highly popular with the online gambling community as they allow for instant transactions and relatively speedy withdrawals. Moreover, credit cards are convenient to use and easy to acquire, making them one of the best options when it comes to choosing a payment method. Usually, the often supported brands are Visa and MasterCard, but some websites also accept Diner and Discover. Something that you should note is that withdrawals cannot be issued to MasterCard holders.
Cryptocurrencies have really risen in popularity over the last few years and online casinos are gradually starting to accept them as a valid payment method. Cryptocurrencies are unlike any other payment service since they are completely separate from fiat money. Moreover, they will provide you with complete anonymity when making a deposit. The number of online casinos that accept cryptocurrencies is not too large at the moment, but every day more and more websites are coming around. Some of the most popular supported cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, and Bitcoin Cash.
Electronic wallets have a special place in online gambling, as they are one of the most convenient services to use to manage your casino balance. When it comes to making a deposit, you will find that the transactions will clear within a few seconds. Withdrawals, on the other hand, will take no more than a few hours after the casino has approved them. Popular eWallet services include Skrill, Neteller, ecoPayz and more.
Prepaid cards are an excellent deposit method for players who do not want to commit to a particular service or simply wish to have a one-time method to fund their balance. Deposits made via prepaid cards are processed instantly, but withdrawals are impossible. To cash in your winnings you would have to make use of a different payment service such as a bank transfer. One of the most commonly supported prepaid cards is Paysafecard, which is available for purchase at thousands of retail locations.
As with most online casino games, this would depend entirely on the software provider and the extent to which an online casino is willing to provide mobile support. Generally, software providers adapt their newer games to be perfectly playable on both desktop computers and mobile devices. This is the case will all new releases and mobile support for online casino games has never been better. That being said, online casinos also try to be as inclusive as possible. Therefore, you will have no problem playing on your smartphone or tablet in the vast majority of circumstances.
While not unheard of, this does not happen very often. In fact, it is highly improbable that the dealer will make a mistake. Every now and then, a card may fail to scan which could ruin the flow of the game. In such an event, be sure to contact the casino’s customer service team, who will help you sort out the issue.
Unlike virtual casino games, in live dealer titles, you only have a limited time to make a decision. If you are in the middle of a game and you become disconnected, you will have the standard time to make your play. If you do not reconnect within that time frame, the game will carry on without you.