Live dealer casino games
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Free Bet Blackjack Table Game by evolutionVideo Review
The history of gambling dates back to very ancient times and the first civilisations. Humanity loves to gamble and play “everything or nothing” games. It invented hundreds of games allowing one to have fun, wile away the time and win fortune; some of them, for example, roulette, blackjack and baccarat, have survived the ages and are still widely used today in one form or another. Live dealer online casinos are a new round of development of the gambling ecosystem, enabling one to experience classic card and wheel games on a brand-new technologic layer. Visiting a casino live online, you seem to be carried away to a real casino with croupiers, buzzing crowds, glitz and glamour. Live roulette, live blackjack, live baccarat, and live game shows will dash you across the space to your favourite gambling destination, no matter your budget and the type of player you are. Live casinos are not a new trend, but it will surely be way bigger over time.
Live casino games: Where online and offline meet
At the beginning of the 1990s, the Internet went public, and online casinos began to appear widely a few years later, offering a handy alternative to distant, expensive and difficult-to-access physical casinos. Online casinos were and are abundant of various table games, roulette variants and video slots that either replicate real-life games or are brand-new solutions; however, their major shortcoming is the absence of realism since the players cannot see the croupier and the entire gaming process: a spinning wheel, the shuffling of cards or the placing of chips on the table.
The first live dealer casinos materialised in the early 2000s, propelling the online gambling experience to the next level of excellence. With the dramatic growth of technology, communication tools and video equipment, the video stream quality became much higher and more realistic, without pixelated video, slow speeds and other issues typical at the early stages of Internet development. Now, online live casinos provide a true-to-life gaming environment because players can now see a live croupier who runs the roulette table or deals cards right before the players who keep an eye on the action in the comfort of their homes.
Live dealer games explained
So how do live games work? Let’s suppose you are going to play live roulette. On registering at an online casino and funding your account to play for real money, you select your preferred roulette variant and launch it. You will see a real-life video featuring a roulette table and a dealer on the screen. There are also user controls, buttons, indicators and information panels to help you place a bet or set up the game to your preferences. Popular tables may be attended by hundreds of players at a time, yet they do not bother each other since one table can room virtually an unlimited number of players, which is another undeniable advantage of online live casinos.
All betting decisions you would make at a physical table, such as putting chips on the table, instructing the croupier to take your call bets or asking the dealer to get dealt one more card to your hand of cards, are made possible by clicking respective buttons on the user interface. Your current money balance at the live casino online is displayed on the indicator inside the game, and if you win a round, a respective amount will be added to your balance. Virtually all games available at the best live casinos come with detailed rules that clarify all gaming aspects, including UI, screen elements or betting principles.
Variety of live dealer games
The top three live games by player count are roulette, blackjack and baccarat, though some casino providers also offer live Texas Hold’em and craps in their software collection. Live dealer roulette is available in three basic variations such as American, European and French roulette. Each of these games is further subdivided into more specific solutions, for example, Auto Roulette, Playboy Live Dealer Roulette or Common Draw Blackjack, and this is another reason why you should give a close reading of game rules before you proceed to place real-money bets. At present, live dealer games are produced by tens of vendors that have proven to excel in their software development efforts; these companies are Evolution Gaming, Play’n GO, LuckyStreak, Ezugi and some other developers. We, on PlayEmLive.com, review the most popular live dealer games you may find at the best online live casinos.
Players flock to live roulette casino tables, attracted by the authentic action and true-to-life casino experience. In live roulette run by croupiers, you have the same classic rules, RTP, and chips (though virtual ones), while everything is made as close to a land-based roulette atmosphere as possible. When you open a live roulette on your mobile device or desktop, you will hear the dealer greeting you. You will also see a live chat (it can be hidden but expanded in a click) for easy communication with players. Depending on the provider, the roulette table is located at a studio or inside a real land-based casino crowded with visitors.
In live casino roulette, the chips are virtual, and you make bets by tapping on your desired chip denomination or dragging & dropping it on your preferred betting spot on the table. The action is often fast, with players given about 30 seconds to place chips. As a rule, live roulette is based on classic settings; however, some studios have released games with a twist, e.g. the well-known Lightning Roulette, where the traditional single-zero format is augmented by random bonus multipliers of 50 to x500 applied to Straight Up bets. Racetracks for call bets are also commonly available. Maximum bets are about $5000 to $10,000, with the limits envisaged inside each game. Some of the best live roulette games are delivered by Evolution (Immersive Roulette, Lightning Roulette), Playtech (Age of the Gods roulette), and other top studios.
This classic fast-paced game got a second lease of life in live casinos that offer dozens of variations of this thrilling game. Blackjack is more diverse than roulette and other live titles, as even the slightest rule modifications affect the gameplay, player’s decisions, and the theoretical return, which is about 98 to 99.5 per cent in most games. Live blackjack uses different tools to ensure players’ peace of mind and game fairness. Each card has a barcode (or QR code) scanned when the dealer extracts it from the shoe. Dealers toss the cards using a shuffling machine, and the shoe is burnt with a deck penetration of about 50% and higher. Most live blackjack games have an unlimited number of seats or a 7-seat format featuring a Bet Behind functionality. Anyway, you will always find a table with vacant seats.
Bet sizes usually are no different from online blackjack, starting at around $1 and reaching hundreds of dollars. Some BJ variations, especially those from Evolution (Infinite Blackjack, Power Blackjack), have several side bets for a more advanced gambling experience. 21+3, Perfect Pair, Bust It, and other side betting options enable one to get more than a typical 3:2 payout. Moreover, some live casino blackjack games have an unlimited number of seats, thus allowing every player to join the fun.
This is the most recent category of live games that emerged courtesy of Evolution Gaming. Today, you get access to tens of live shows produced by Playtech, Pragmatic Play, and other prominent vendors. Most live shows are based on the Wheel of Fortune concept, where players bet on numbers and sometimes on bonus sections. For example, Monopoly Live from Evolution features segments 1, 2, 5, and 10 in addition to 2 Rolls and 4 Rolls that trigger a 3D bonus game replicating the iconic board game. One of the recent live shows, Funky Time, has a number “1” segment, 12 letter bet options, and 4 bonus segments, all scattered on a vertically mounted wheel. Live shows provide a really joyful, entertaining, and highly immersive live experience like no other.
Besides wheel-based shows, studios also release games of other formats, e.g. a well-known Cash Or Crash, where players are taken to a zeppelin that awards multipliers with each green ball extracted from the lottery machine. Another fantastic multi-layered game show, Deal Or No Deal, mimics the same-name television show. Players are confronted with 16 briefcases and can win large amounts (x75-x500 in the most valuable briefcase). If you want to experience the utmost entertainment, visit an Evolution-powered online casino since this is the only company featuring fully digital wheels (created by their affiliate studio DigiWheel).
This Asian game looks gorgeous in live casinos online. Combining Oriental elegance with modern technology, live baccarat offers the standard three bets (Player, Banker, Tie) and many side bets that increase payouts. Some baccarat versions come with a Squeeze feature that adds suspense to each round. Instead of drawing cards face-up, some cards are laid on the table face-down, and the croupier opens it very slowly, revealing small parts of the suit or number, thus making players feel the thrill of anticipation. Live baccarat has high winning odds, almost 99%, thus making it an ideal option for everyone.
Most all live baccarat games have a 5% commission on Banker bets (which does not prevent it from being the best bet of all the three). Still, some studios offer a no-commission baccarat version where both main bets pay 1:1 without any deductions, though the Banker bet pays 0.5:1 with a 6 score. There’s also a rare variation, Peek Baccarat (e.g. in the Evolution catalogue), in which a player is allowed to take a peek at a face-down card and, if they find the card beneficial, to increase the initial bet by x2 or x3. In other words, live baccarat offers many layers of interest and excitement to all live casino visitors.
What do you need to play live casino games?
If you have never played live casino games before, you might wonder what you need to have to enjoy a full-fledged quality experience. The list of must-have things is not that long. Below are the minimum requirements that you should be concerned with:
- Suitable device. This is not a problem because everyone has a smartphone or a desktop (laptop). The specs of your device are of little account because live games are pretty tolerant to device performance.
- Internet connection. This is perhaps the most crucial part of the live casino experience, as poor bandwidth can deteriorate the video quality and result in a choppy or jerky feed. If you have issues with video freezing or low quality, the first thing to do is to verify your network speed. If it is deficient, enter the game settings and degrade the video quality. Reducing this parameter means the video output will have a lower resolution and—in some live games—a smaller active video screen.
- Payment option. The live casino of your choice should support the payment option (credit cards, crypto, etc.) you want to use to transfer funds to the casino. So before signing up, ensure the live dealer casino does operate with your favourite cryptocurrency or electronic wallet.
Getting started with live casinos
Before playing any live game for real money, a player must create an account in a reputable online casino. The importance of signing up with a reliable platform can scarcely be overestimated if you want to feel secure about game fairness and timely payouts of your winnings. So to put your mind at ease while playing and unleash the game’s potential beyond short-term perspectives, you should follow a few simple steps below:
- Locate one of the top online casinos that has the live games you want. Create an account there.
- Deposit money to your account using the preferred option on the Payments page. Look at the min/max limits and pick the option that suits you best. Note that crypto options typically have friendlier deposit limits.
- Go to the live casino lobby and find a game you want to load. If the list of game thumbnails is too long, use the Search line to find the game if you know exactly what you are looking for.
- When you are in, do not rush into real money betting right off the bat. Take time to open the Help page and read the guide. Even if you play a familiar game, e.g. blackjack, chances are this live blackjack has minor rule variations that differ from what you know.
- Play for real money and withdraw winnings at any time.
Advantages of live casino games
Live casino games are often treated as a bridge between all-virtual online games and land-based casinos. Here, you literally hold the game action at your fingertips due to the use of augmented reality, cameras, and video technology. Below are the most mouth-watering benefits of being a member of the best live online casinos.
Authentic casino experience
The experience you get when playing live games from top-notch studios is similar to what you could enjoy in Macau or Vegas. Sure, this is not the same as sitting at a real table and watching everything with your own eyes, but live games are very close to it. So when you play any live casino online game, you can see the croupier dealing cards, spinning the roulette wheel, talking to you and other players, and so on. Everything at the studio tries to look like a real-life casino. If you change your video settings to the max HD mark, you will certainly get the wow feeling.
As all live casino action evolves in real time, all communication between the dealer and players is also streamed live. You can drop a message to the dealer in a live chat and hear them reply in a few seconds. All card deals and roulette spins occur as you watch it, without any time gap.
Enhanced trust and transparency
The problem with online games is that players cannot see the RNG. They have to rely on the reputation of the online casino and game providers, but all the computations—fair or rigged—are behind the scene. With live dealer games, every dealer’s move is clearly visible on the screen in real time. Blackjack cards have a QR code on each; a card is scanned the moment it is extracted from the shoe, eliminating any risk of fraud. In live roulette, the equipment, particularly the wheel, is regularly audited for integrity. Technical experts check its calibration and ensure it really delivers unbiased results. There’s a risk of facing some manipulations in live games, but the probability of this is extremely low, almost negligent.
How live casinos work
Live casino online streaming begins at a dedicated studio replicating a traditional casino's atmosphere. The studio is equipped with multiple high-definition cameras strategically positioned to capture the gameplay from different angles. These cameras are operated by software ensuring every game aspect, such as card dealing or roulette wheel spinning, is captured precisely and clearly.
Live games are broadcasted from a studio or a land-based casino. Studios are decorated, furnished and equipped to make their design as close to a real casino as possible. If this is blackjack, the tables have the same markings and betting areas as land-based blackjack. In live roulette, you can see a typical wheel and table with a numbered grid and outside bets. Dealers speak professionally, making one feel welcome and at ease. Some companies (e.g. Vivo) use Chroma Key to create a studio illusion, but most install tables at real, physical premises that can handle tens of game sessions at a time.
Companies have studios in different cities, mainly in gambling-friendly countries with favourable taxation regimes. For example, Vivo streams its games from eight locations (Bulgaria, Uruguay, Malta, Colombia, etc.), while Evolution has studios in Pennsylvania (US), New Jersey (US), Lithuania, Georgia, and 10+ other territories.
Cameras and control rooms
Two or three cameras normally serve each table: one gives a general picture of the table, another one focuses on the croupier, and the other one makes close-up shots. Cameras are managed automatically, moving and zooming in/out at specific game situations. For example, at the beginning of a roulette round, one camera makes a wide shot. When the ball lands, another camera closes in, showing the close-up view of the ball and the winning pocket. Players can also control this aspect by changing video settings: they can play with a front view enabled or watch the table from another angle—these video options depend on the studio equipment. A pit boss or assistant monitors the studio operation from a control room. Here, they can watch the live chats and keep track of the situation around the tables.
Video and audio streaming
Live studios utilise video encoding and compression technologies to transmit the live video feed to players' devices. The raw video data captured by the cameras are encoded into a digital format using codecs that efficiently compress the video data without significant loss in quality, allowing for smooth transmission over the internet.
In addition to high-quality video, casino live streaming relies on clear and crisp audio to enhance the overall gaming experience. Professional-grade microphones are strategically placed to capture the dealer's voice and ambient casino sounds accurately. Audio mixing consoles are used to balance and adjust the audio levels, ensuring that the players can clearly hear the dealer's instructions and any game-related sounds.
Augmented reality in live dealer casinos
Solid companies (Evolution, Pragmatic Play, Playtech) employ costly technology to add to the visual appeal of their live shows and other live games. In Funky Time (Evolution), you will see a virtual robotic bartender that mixes cocktails revealing a bonus prize. The dealer interacts with the robot as if the latter is really standing at the bar counter. Another game show, Monopoly Live, features a cartoonish Mr Monopoly lounging and reading a newspaper a few meters from the dealer. As soon as the wheel stops on a bonus wedge, the dealer turns to him, inviting him to run the bonus round.
The elements of augmented reality are used in almost every live dealer game because remote players have to interact with the physical objects of the game in one way or another. The casino chips are virtual, but players click on them and put them on the real table. A betting grid (inside/outside bets in live casino roulette, bet spots in live blackjack) is also virtual, but players deal with it as if it were real. Augmented reality gains momentum in live dealer games, and in the future, it can become an integral part of live casinos powered by top live game providers.
Live game dealers
Dealers, also known as presenters in live shows, are the face of every live game. They are trained extensively before the studio lets them go to the field. They are the face of the game brand, so serious companies apply efforts to raise their professional level in several areas:
- The way they behave: Dealers and presenters are trained to acquire excellent soft skills. They have eye contact with the camera, so players feel dealers are looking at them. They know how to talk, what topics to avoid, and how to help players who ask for help. Some studios (Evolution, LuckyStreak) run courses for applicants, teaching them all intricacies of this job.
- Knowledge of game rules: Some games can be more complicated than others, e.g. live craps, but dealers must act fast and unerringly. Serious studios, like Evolution, Pragmatic, and LuckyStreak, train their presenters in all skills required for seamless game flow.
- Finding a silver bullet: the game runs smoothly most of the time, but unexpected things do happen. When taking the card from the box, a blackjack dealer can forget to read a card with a scanning device. There can be short video stream interruptions because of software problems. A smart dealer must know how to cope with these situations and set players’ minds at rest.
Live casino bonuses
Many live casinos offer alluring bonuses to players who reside in Canada, the US, Australia and other countries and parts of the world. After registration with the live casino, a player is entitled to claim a welcome bonus, which is normally a match deposit bonus calculated against the real-money cash amount deposited by the player up to a certain maximum limit. The welcome package often incorporates match bonuses on the first few deposits, not only on the initial top-up. Besides, live casinos eventually run highly awarding tournaments and other events that involve playing live games.
As a rule, online casinos exclude live games from bonus wagering. Visiting any average casino, you will see a plethora of deposit bonuses, cashback, and other kinds of offers, including tournaments. However, you should do some research and read the bonus terms and conditions to determine whether live games are eligible. In most cases, they are not. In some other cases, live games are allowed for wagering but have low contribution rates, e.g. slots normally count as 100% towards the WR, while live games give only 10%. There are online casinos that calculate wagering on some live games as 50% towards the bonus playthrough.
If you are patient and risky enough to claim a bonus, given their generally hard-to-fulfil wagering requirements, mind that you can use the money on live games after the successful completion of the WR.
Mobile live casinos
The developers of live games try to make their solutions accessible from many devices and operating systems at one time, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Today, you can play live casino roulette, blackjack, live shows and other live dealer games on your Android tablet, iPhone or iPad and still find the same easy-to-read interface and stable video streaming as you enjoy when playing their desktop versions. Not all platforms are mobile-friendly. Further information about the mobile compatibility of major game developers can be found on this website.
Some live casino houses allow downloading a native mobile app for Android or iOS by tapping a link when visiting the mobile casino site or scanning a QR code on a desktop casino version. Alternatively, some live casinos offer an APK file for Android devices. Whichever way you choose to visit a live casino, nearly all games have perfect mobile compatibility. While your gut feelings tell you that the landscape mode is the best format, some live games zoom the picture to full screen, distorting the video and making the portrait mode the only good option. Anyway, mobile live casinos, which you can play in a browser or a mobile app, are perfect entertainment while on the move.
Choosing a live casino
With hundreds of casinos live in the market, picking a venue that suits your gambling habits is challenging. Besides a poor selection of live games, one risks facing a rogue site that never pays out the winnings. Some fake casinos can draw guests with flashy bonuses and hard-to-reject promotions, but ultimately they will never pay you what you earn. Anyway, you should have a number of solid criteria to apply when deciding in favour of one or another live casino. So below, you can find the factors to consider when selecting a live casino platform.
Evaluate the reputation and licensing
Some casinos are developed and owned by long-established companies with flawless reputation, such as Dama N.V., Hollycorn N.V., and Rabidi N.V. Seeing their names on the casino footer guarantees hassle-free experience with bulletproof no-nonsense payments. Guys new to online gambling can find it hard to identify the reputation of one or another owner behind the casino. Anyway, you can always look at our top casino picks featuring only the best sites.
Licensing is another essential thing that has direct relevance to players’ safety and security. Sites holding value their reputation are always backed by at least one gambling license issued by MGA, Curacao or other regulatory bodies. Playing in a non-licensed live casino can be a touch-and-go affair.
Explore the variety of live games
Live casinos typically host games from a few providers—or, rarely, from a single studio. For many players, diversity is a key to entertainment. That’s why you should visit the casino lobby and look at what they offer. Use a search field and type the game type (e.g. baccarat) or filter the page using the available tools. Ideally, the more providers are on offer, the better the overall experience. The great selection of studios means you can switch to any other game if you are tired of playing a current one. For example, after playing classic blackjack, you may want to try Blackjack Party (Evolution) or BJEP by Visionary iGaming, both having a unique twist. If you are not satisfied with the bet limits of one provider, you can always switch over to another.
Check the Banking page
Free play is not allowed in live games. Your casino balance must be loaded unless you are going to only watch the game instead of betting. There are many ways of injecting money into any casino site; however, not all the options can be present. Furthermore, the live casino you have eyes for because of the awesome game catalogue may not have your preferred banking option, e.g. Tether. Additionally, other banking terms and conditions should also be considered for the best experience, e.g. the withdrawal limits, payment timeframes, and other things. Without properly organised banking options, your gambling adventure can go downhill.
Live games providers
With over fifty active live dealer providers, finding high-quality games is not a problem. This gambling vertical gained momentum about 15 years ago after the foundation of Evolution in 2006, which revolutionised the live dealer platform. Visiting a real money live online casino, you can find dozens of games from the most famous studios explored below.
In 2021, Evolution won Live Casino Supplier of the Year for the 12th year running at the EGR B2B Awards. Its collection of live games is so immense and superb that you will hardly find anything on a par with them. Featuring more than 20 live casino blackjack games (e.g. Free Bet Blackjack, Blackjack Party, Lightning Blackjack), 20+ premium live roulette versions (Immersive Roulette, Speed Roulette), and more than ten amazing live shows that have become a benchmark for quality (Funky Time, Monopoly Live, etc.)
One of the reasons for Evolution’s success is an aggressive expansion over new markets and territories, as well as the acquisition of other game development brands. In 2018, they inked a deal with Ezugi, thus gaining access to some Latin American and Asian countries. In 2020, they bought NetEnt’s assets and added over a hundred superior video slots to their catalogue. Besides, they created a fascinating Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt live show based on the iconic slot game. Another provider, Big Time Gaming, which became part of the Evolution Group in 2021, contributed to a Mexican-styled Extra Chilli Epic Spins show featuring elements of BTG’s renowned Megaways slot.
The company is known for their dedicated studios that are decorated and customised to specific casino brands. Their pit bosses and dealers have years of real-life casino experience. Vivo Gaming is not the sharpest tool in the shed, as it does not hold many professional awards: on their website, you can see they were shortlisted for SBC, Sigma, and a couple of other trophies, and the only prominent achievement was the EGR B2B Live Casino Supplier Winner in 2022.
Vivo Gaming uses the Chroma Key technology but not extensively; it is offered as an option to casino brands that want to see the visual of their choice in the background. Today, the company has eight studios in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, employing local dealers to fully accommodate the preferences of their players. The catalogue is below average in the number of games, featuring four roulette and four blackjack variations, live baccarat, a couple of Hindi games (Teen Patti, Andar Bahar), Casino Hold’em, Sic Bo, and Dragon Tiger. So the suite is less than 20 titles, but the total number of tables for these games is over 100.
Living up to its “Twist. Transform. Elevate” motto, Pragmatic Play is rightfully considered a top-tier provider of live game and video slot solutions. They try to merge the classic experience with state-of-the-art technology, adding a unique twist to some of their games. They have a common-draw ONE Blackjack where every connected player can see the same hand. Making the game more exciting, the blackjack has four side bets and a rare Six-Card Charlie rule. Pragmatic Play seeks inspiration in its massive catalogue of slot games, creating amazing live shows, e.g. Sweet Bonanza Candyland with three bonus games. PowerUp Roulette is another popular game offering a retro take on European roulette with PowerUp bonus rounds.
They are also mindful of Hindi-style game enthusiasts, offering them Andar Bahar and Dragon Tiger. Consistent with their approach to twist, transform, and elevate, Pragmatic Play came up with Snakes & Ladders Live, which brings the popular board game into the live casino world. Featuring a familiar 8x8 board in the bonus game, the live show delivers the x10,000 maximum win. Pragmatic Play is touted as a well-respected live game provider found in top online casinos worldwide.
The company offers only six live games: classic live roulette (AmR, EuR), blackjack, and baccarat. Their live streams are known to have a picture-in-picture feature where the player can see a full-screen video with another video displayed in an inset window. Besides, they use standard-sized playing cards as used at land-based casinos, which (they claim so) increases trustworthiness.
ViG is perhaps not the top of the list on everyone's minds, but it has one game that is unique in the market, Blackjack Early Payout. Along with a significant 99.5% player’s return, BJEP allows the player to save a portion of the bet at the beginning of the round if the dealer’s hand has an increased chance of having blackjack (e.g. with the dealer’s face-up card being an Ace). Live Baccarat is another distinguished live game from ViG since it features a 9:1 payout on a Tie, compared to the normal 8:1 in many other titles. Overall, Visionary iGaming is quite an average studio with a small selection, but some of its games are worth recommending.
Do’s and Dont’s for successful live casino gaming
Live games resemble the land-based casino experience in many aspects, including the house edge, so players must know that it is tough (or almost impossible) to get an edge over the casino in the long term. However, occasional big wins are a highly probable outage in your short gaming sessions. Consider following these tips to amplify your winning chances in live dealer games:
- Some providers can extend one game (especially live blackjack and roulette) to tens of tables. These tables are run by different croupiers and sometimes have various betting limits. So if you are a high roller, the first thing to see is the max table limit there. High-stake games often have the word “VIP” in the name.
- Study the game settings and interface before playing. This tip may seem self-evident, but many players ignore it. The game you are in can have some helpful features you might not be aware of, e.g. last rounds history, hint pop-ups for beginners, access to the provider’s lobby without leaving the current game (Evolution has it), switching between camera views, and so on.
- Apply “winning strategies” with caution and a full understanding of their imperfection. Martingale, Parole, and other notorious systems are not fail-safe and can result in a significant loss.
- Mind your bankroll. This is also a piece of trivial advice, but it is still essential, given the inherent format of live games. The long and the short of it, live casino games are speedy. A ticker on the screen counts seconds between rounds (usually 20 to 40 seconds in live roulette and 15 seconds in live blackjack). You must place a bet during this time unless you want to skip that round. Some players let it slide and lose bankroll in no time.
- Check your game for video settings if you have internet connection problems. Live casino games usually allow downgrading the video feed, reducing the picture quality in case the player’s internet bandwidth is subpar.