Gaming technology has greatly improved over the past decades, making it possible for blackjack fans to enjoy their favorite game in real-time from the comfort of their surroundings. These days, nearly all online casinos offer live blackjack tables where players can have their cards dealt by professional dealers.
This brings a social aspect to the game since you can converse and banter with fellow blackjack buffs while playing the game at a more relaxed pace. Live blackjack enables players to enjoy the ultimate real-life experience as the live action is streamed in HD straight to the screens of their desktop and mobile devices. The cards are dealt by highly professional and attractive dealers who often converse with patrons in their native language.
If you are interested in giving live dealer blackjack a try, you have landed on the right page. The following article by SuperCasinoSites covers everything you need to know about live blackjack and emphasizes the pros and cons of playing the game online against professional dealers.
How Live Dealer Blackjack Differs from RNG-Based Games
Online blackjack is nothing new since the first web-based casinos launched over twenty years ago. Online blackjack games originally ran solely on Random Number Generators (RNG). The RNG is a piece of software that uses an initial seed value and complex algorithms to compute the random outcome of every single hand.
It relies on long sequences of random numbers devoid of any discernible patterns. In turn, this ensures the result of each and every hand is completely independent of the rest. There are two types of RNGs, hardware-based and software-based Random Number Generators. Online casinos commonly utilize the second type. The algorithm here starts with a seed that is derived from repetitive yet random computer-based actions such as mouse clicks, keystrokes or the PC clock.
However, it is impossible to create absolute randomness this way because the RNG relies on an algorithm that sooner or later will begin to repeat itself. Furthermore, one can reproduce the computations as long as they know the seed value the number sequence originally started with. With that said, the algorithms are so complex that recreating them or predicting the outcomes of the hands dealt is practically impossible.
RNG-Based Games Are Insusceptible to Advantage Play
This process of random number generation continues on and on even if no one is playing the respective online blackjack game. Perhaps more important is the fact that blackjack games that run on Random Number Generators are insusceptible to any existing form of advantage play.
The software would automatically reshuffle all cards in play at the end of each round so that you are always playing against a neutral deck or shoe. The best you can do under such conditions is to use proper basic strategy. Of course, the RNG software used by all reputable online blackjack sites undergoes regular audits by independent testing companies to ensure it has not been tampered with.
By contrast, live blackjack enables fans of 21 to play against professional human dealers in real-time, with the live action streamed in high quality directly to their computer or smartphone screens. The dealers either reshuffle the cards manually or use shuffling machines to ensure randomness and unpredictable results.
The player uses the gaming interface to post bets and make playing decisions. The live tables rely on the Optical Camera Recognition (OCR) technology that reads the values of the cards appearing on the table and converts them into an electronic format on the screen. Each live blackjack table also has a Gaming Control Unit (GCU) attached to it.
The latter encodes the game information and provides visual support to the dealers who run the table. Advantage play at the live blackjack tables is theoretically possible although online casinos take all the necessary precautions to hinder such practices as you shall see later.
Multiple cameras are used for the transmission, allowing players to choose from different camera angles. The entire experience is far more realistic than what RNG-based blackjack games could possibly offer. There is also a built-in chat feature that facilitates the sociability and communication between players and dealers.
Rule Variations in Live Dealer Blackjack
Similarly to RNG-based 21, rules vary across live dealer tables depending on where you play and who powers the live-streamed action. There are differences in regard to the number of decks in play, the standing rules for the dealers, doubling, splitting, surrendering, and so forth.
Players should not underestimate the importance of the rules in blackjack since they have a direct impact on expected value and the house edge. We suggest you carefully research playing conditions before you join any given live blackjack table since certain rules yield a bigger house advantage than others. We list some of the most common rule variations you need to consider in the paragraphs that follow.
Side Bets at Live Blackjack Tables
Some live blackjack tables feature a range of side bets that aim to make the game more exciting for the players and more rewarding for the casino. Said side bets carry huge house edges and are altogether disadvantageous for the players. However, it won’t hurt if you post them on rare occasions as they are optional.
The first common set of side wagers comprises the so-called Perfect Pair bets. Extra payouts are awarded to players whose first two cards form specific pairs. The lower the probability of forming the respective pair, the greater the payout.
A perfect pair consists of two suited cards of identical numerical value like [Qs][Qs]. This is possible because live blackjack typically plays with multiple decks. Colored pairs pay less because the probability of getting them from multiple decks is higher. A color pair comprises two cards whose suits are of the same color, like [Qs][Qc], for instance. Finally, there is the mixed pair where the two cards are equal in numerical value but are of different suits like [Qs][Qh].
Some live tables also feature the second major set of side bets, the 21+3 wagers. Here blackjack borrows from poker because the player is required to form a three-card poker hand with their first two cards and the upcard of the dealer. Payouts are again proportionate to the probability of forming the respective poker hands.
Players who post the optional 21+3 side bets receive additional payouts for flushes, offsuit and suited trips, straight flushes, and straights. The payouts in the Evolution Gaming games range from 5 to 1 to 100 to 1, depending on the winning poker hand.
Common Variations of Live Blackjack
The beauty of live blackjack is that the gameplay can be configured to introduce new and exciting elements rule-wise. Of course, there are multiple live tables that cater to purists and play under the standard set of rules. Those interested in diversifying their gaming experience can try the live blackjack variations we cover in the next paragraph.
Comparison of Live Blackjack Software Providers
It is not difficult to see Evolution Gaming is by far the largest and most productive software provider of live blackjack. It has a massive suite of live blackjack variations that spans over seventy tables. Of course, the exact number will vary depending on where you are playing.
Other notable providers of live dealer blackjack include NetEnt, Playtech, Extreme Live Gaming, Visionary iGaming, and Ezugi. Pragmatic Play recently joined the family of live casino providers but is yet to expand its selection of live blackjack variations. We suggest you go through the table below for all the details about these providers’ blackjack games.
|Features and Rules||Evolution Gaming||Ezugi||Playtech||NetEnt||Visionary iGaming||Extreme Live Gaming|
|Number of Live Blackjack Tables||Over 100 tables||Over 10 tables||Over 100 tables||Over 10 tables||Over 20 tables||Over 20 tables|
|Payouts for Naturals||3 to 2||3 to 2||3 to 2||3 to 2||3 to 2||3 to 2|
|Decks in Play||8||8||8||6||6||8|
|Dealer Standing Rules||S17||S17||H17||S17||S17||H17|
|Doubling||On any two cards||On any two cards||On any two cards||On any two cards||On any two cards||On any two cards|
|Doubling Following a Split||Allowed||Allowed||Allowed||Allowed||Allowed||Disallowed|
|Hitting Split Aces||Disallowed||Disallowed||Disallowed||Disallowed||Disallowed||Disallowed|
|Surrendering||Disallowed||Later Surrender||Disallowed||Disallowed||Late Surrender||Disallowed|
|Supported Languages||English, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, German, Norwegian Spanish, French,Dutch, Latvian, and more||English, Spanish, Turkish, and more||English, Russian, French, Spanish, Romanian, Italian, Chinese||English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, and 20 more languages||English and Spanish||English, Italian, German, and 27 more languages|
Perks and Downsides of Playing Live Dealer Blackjack
As good as live blackjack is, it is not entirely devoid of flaws. Some players prefer the fast pace of RNG-based blackjack and consider the live version way too sluggish. Speed is an issue for some people and so are the (sometimes) full tables and the countermeasures online casinos take to protect themselves from advantage play.
However, live dealer blackjack clearly offers multiple advantages to players, including increased convenience and a highly authentic gaming environment that replicates the atmosphere in actual landbased casinos. Check out the main perks and downsides of live blackjack below.
Convenience and authenticity are the biggest claim to fame of live blackjack. You get to see how real professional dealers are dealing your cards while you are relaxing in your home and sipping on a cold beverage. Of course, live blackjack is also available on mobile devices so you have your favorite casino game at your fingertips at all times. Moreover, you can tip your friendly dealer just like you would at a landbased casino. There is also a chat feature that facilitates the communication between players and dealers, further adding to the authenticity and sociability of live blackjack.
Reduced speed is a trait inherent to many live blackjack variations since you have to wait for other patrons to make their playing decisions before you finally get to act on your hand. Of course, this is also the case in landbased casinos.
While annoying to some players, this more relaxed pace is not necessarily such a bad thing. It causes you to play fewer rounds per hour which results in lower hourly losses for basic strategy players. Then again, if you insist on speed, you can always try some of the faster-paced live variations like Speed Blackjack and Pre-Decision Blackjack.
Similarly to their landbased counterparts, live casinos take all the necessary precautions to stop advantage players from exploiting the game through techniques like card counting and shuffle tracking. Many live blackjack tables use Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSMs), with the dealers putting the discards back in the shuffler after every couple of rounds. Of course, it is impossible to count cards or look for shuffling patterns in such conditions.
Yet, there are live tables where the decks are manually shuffled by the dealers and cards are dealt out of a regular shoe. Card counting is possible albeit useless at such tables because the dealers give you a very shallow penetration between reshuffles, usually 40% to 50%.
Full tables can also be an issue at certain times. You take a comfortable seat on your comfy sofa, grab your phone, log into your account, and open your favorite blackjack variation only to find out all the seats are already taken by other players.
If betting behind is unavailable or you are altogether averse to the idea, you will have to creep around and wait for a player to vacate a betting spot. However, this is but a small issue you can easily remedy by playing variations that support an unlimited number of players, like Infinite Blackjack, for example.