Where to Play Real Money Live Dealer Casino Games Online
Article Summary: Here you'll see how live dealer casinos work (the relationship between the casinos and live-streaming services + how to play), the games offered including links to detailed guides for each which include strategy - plus my recs for the best live dealer casinos for both US and Non-US players.
Online casinos first appeared in the mid 1990’s and by the end of the decade the online casino boom was well and truly on, the sites already generating in excess of £2 billion dollars. However, the virtual nature of the games offered did lead to some players doubting the integrity of the games, figuring it was easy for the sites to fix the game. This certainly wasn’t the case, but persuading these dubious customers to sign up wasn’t an easy thing for online casinos. Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue for the casino sites, as streaming has improved immeasurably in the last decade, enabling the sites to stream their ‘live casino’ offerings to players.
How a Live Dealer Online Casino Works
When you play at a live dealer casino, you’ll find live casino action streamed directly to your desktop or device. You’ll enter a real life casino setting and the games are usually hosted by friendly and attractive dealers, which has proved be very popular. You’ll place your bets in exactly the same way as you would at a virtual casino, but all of the action you are betting on is real and in front of your eyes. For example, having placed $5 on red at the roulette tables, you’ll be watching the wheel in real time and hoping to see the ball land in red. When the action stops, your casino account will be updated automatically, once again, just like when playing a virtual game.
When you enter a live casino game you’ll find a number of options. Many sites will offer you a selection of views when playing. For example, when playing roulette at the 888 Casino, you’ll find three different camera options at many tables, including the classic view with the betting layout below the wheel, a 3D view which would be exactly the same as you would enjoy if you were actually standing at the table and an immersive view, where the camera will switch from close ups of the wheel, before zooming in on the dealer and even go into slow motion when showing a replay of the ball landing. You’ll also find a social aspect to the gaming. The dealer/croupier will welcome players to the table and if you want to interact you can talk via the chat box, the dealer replying audibly. Other options include changing the definition of the stream (which will usually depend on the speed of your internet) and the option of playing a number of games at once is available at some select sites, BetOnline being a prime example.
Selection of Games at the Live Dealer Casinos
Roulette and blackjack are the most popular games and you’ll find several tables (including variations) of these games at popular sites. These include rules, various table limits or even games hosted in a different of languages. You will also find a small selection of rapid roulette games at some sites, where a camera is focused on the wheel alone, with no dealer, designed so the time between each spin is lower than at the other games. Other games available in live online casinos include baccarat, casino hold’em and 3 card poker.
Most games are played one-to-many. This means that the dealer plays a single hand, and multiple people will bet on this. You can see from the list of winners at sites which show these that there can be 100's of players betting on a hand (for example of casino holdem) at one time. The exception is Blackjack, where you get to make the decisions on whether to hit, stand or double on your own hand. These are multi-player tables - where 7 players face the dealer just like in a bricks and mortar casino. I should note that there are Blackjack variations where just one hand is bet on by many players (these are faster, though not popular with the blackjack 'purists' !)
The following guides cover these games in detail, and include the variations, strategy and best games available:
Advantages and Disadvantages of Live Dealer Casinos
The obvious advantage of a live dealer casino is the life like experience. Virtual tables can lack atmosphere at times, simply you and a bunch of computer generated images and sounds. The live dealer casino is real and it can genuinely feel like you’re actually standing in a casino. The interaction with the dealer adds another level to these games and you can even chat with other players at the table.
The speed of play is different at a live casino, as there will be a set time between each spin or before a new hand is dealt. Some players prefer this uniform speed of the live dealer casinos, ensuring a good amount of time to place your bet and the associated excitement that comes with watching the action slowly unfold. Virtual tables act differently in the fact that the action will start the moment you have completed your betting, making for a much faster game – the outcome of your bets being quicker too, as the cards will appear almost instantly and the spin of the wheel will usually be a shorter one. Many players prefer the former, as this offers a steadier pace of play which is exactly what you would see if playing at a live casino, although action junkies might prefer the faster pace of the virtual casino.
You’ll usually find that the table limits will be a little higher at the live dealer casino. This is because the cost of hosting a live dealer game is higher than simply hosting a virtual game. Although having said that, the hourly cost may be no different, because you’ll play many more hands at the virtual tables.
For some, the trust issue is a key advantage of playing at the live dealer tables. If these players can actually see real playing cards being dealt or a real ball spinning around the wheel, they will be much more trusting in the action than when looking at virtual action.
As a final note, the chat (though the dealer + chat does add that human element) can be annoying at times. When you get one or more idiots insulting the dealer or constantly whining it can take away from the experience. You can switch this off, though you'll still hear the dealer replying. Fortunately this is the exception rather than the rule, and there are usually several other tables to choose from!
Recommended Real Money Live Dealer Online Casinos
The biggest factor here is your location. Not only in terms of the offshore casinos serving US players, but the need to have the live dealer studios close to you to keep the stream fast and stable. US Live dealer studios are located in central America (Costa Rica is popular) while many of the European ones are located in Riga, the capital of Latvia. In Asia there are studios run by PlayTech which are located in the Philippines.
For European Players:
Unibet Casino offers one of the premier live dealer experiences, with their suite of Evolution Gaming Live Dealer games seamlessly integrated into their client (a new tab opens, the same as for their 'virtual' slots and table games). You’ll find roulette (including Immersive roulette), blackjack, baccarat, casino hold’em and three card poker, so there is certainly something for everyone there. Roulette and blackjack fans will find a large selection of different games, including designated Unibet Casino only tables and VIP games where you can enjoy the action with the high rollers. Unibet Casino also offers player promos which refresh every week + world-class player bonuses. Check out the live dealer casino games at www.unibet.com now!
For North American Players
The Betonline casino is my go-to rec for North American casino fans. At the site you’ll find roulette, blackjack, casino holdem and baccarat, dealt by attractive young ladies in black dresses (not that I noticed!). Roulette and blackjack fans will find a selection of different games with varied limits – head to the high limit tables and you can enjoy the action with the high rollers. A multi gaming interface allows players to enjoy three games at once, while dual video presentation is a nice extra at the roulette tables. BetOnline are fast becoming the portal for US gamblers, combining sportsbook, casino, poker, skill games and a live dealer casino (from Global Gaming Labs) into one account. Check them out before you place another bet at www.betonline.ag