In this section, we review the best live dealer casinos of 2021. Live Dealer gaming is of course where it’s at these days for millions of gamers around the world. To meet this burgeoning demand, and to ensure that they can provide a fully-rounded gambling experience, online casinos need to include live casino games more than ever before. Unless you are simply targeting online slots players, merely offering standard online versions of blackjack, baccarat and roulette is not really going to cut it. Read on as we now consider what makes a good live casino as well as taking a trip down memory lane to find out where it all began for live casinos.
What makes a good Live Dealer Casino?
The audio-visual thrill of spinning reels can be reproduced quite easily by casino game developers. Though online versions may not precisely replicate the sensation of inserting coins into a physical slot machine, the captivating colors and sounds of gameplay have been successfully ported over to internet browsers. The task has also been made easier by the solitary nature of slot games which lends itself very well to virtual play. However, when it comes to table games, it is more difficult to capture the sophisticated communal experience of the bricks and mortar casino.
Standard v Live Casino Table Games
Standard online table games, while offering a certain level of entertainment, just aren’t capable of offering the same kind of immersion. This is why live dealer casinos titles have become the go-to games for most serious players.
Live casino games are overseen by real life dealers that you can message and interact with. Sitting at a virtual table with fellow players inspires a sense of community and competition that’s just not present with computer table games. It’s also the case that many gamers are not convinced of the fairness and randomness of non-live table games. The concept of placing trust and money into a random number generating robot isn’t for everyone. But having a real life croupier, human and tangible, is a much more appealing prospect.
Although live dealer casino games have only been with us for a relatively short space of time, they’ve pretty much taken over iGaming. So where and how did it all begin?
History of Live Casinos
To understand live casino gaming in its present context, it’s useful to remember some of the technical challenges facing the iGaming industry in the early years. When the first online casino was unveiled by Microgaming in 1995, it wasn’t even possible to wager real money – securely transferring funds online wasn’t really a thing in those days. The solution was found in 1996 when Cryptologic introduced a method of money transfer that was safe and reliable.
Although things started to move rather quickly after this breakthrough, early websites, especially online casinos, were hamstrung by some pretty feeble connection speeds that were both slow and extremely unreliable. Mercifully, the introduction of broadband connectivity from 1996 onwards improved internet speeds and reliability in a big way. After its widespread adoption, online casino game developers had a solid foundation upon which to start creating the first interactive live casino platforms.
Planet Poker offers the earliest example of a successful live casino platform. Its poker room, which was launched in 1998, made full use of the broadband revolution. Games could now be played in real time thanks to better connections which were able (just about) to keep up with the transfer of streaming data. Although, data transmission speeds were pitifully slow by today’s standards, with video quality choppy and pixelated, Planet Poker was one of the first operators to show what could be achieved with improved internet speeds and more reliable connections. The ‘buffering’ of data was also crucial, ensuring that a stream remained uninterrupted, even if a connection was dropped.
The Modern Live Casino Experience
The continual introduction of more sophisticated online casino software over the years, not to mention vastly improved internet speeds, heralded the beginning of the end of poor quality video streaming. Today, thanks to these relentless advances, live dealer players can enjoy uninterrupted HD streaming technology and reliable platforms upon which to play the best live casino games.
Multiple Live Dealer Casino Platforms
Gone are the days of single game platforms too. Thanks to the emergence of software developers such as Microgaming and Evolution, players can now try their hands at multiple variants of traditional casino table games such as poker, roulette, blackjack and baccarat. In addition many online casinos are available 24/7. Game-play is far better as well with an extensive range of in-game features available to players including live chat and statistics.
These numerous advancements now mean that playing live casino games at an online casino is about as close as you’re going to get to participating in a land-based establishment.
Professional Croupiers and Dealers
Further proof of how far live casino gaming has come can be found in the way croupiers are prepared for the live environment. The standards expected of dealers in bricks and mortar establishments are now the same for live environments. To underline this point, specialist academies have been established such as Malta’s Online Live Casino Academy, which properly prepare dealers for a career in front of the cameras.
Most live providers now require their croupiers to undergo extensive training. Because of these high standards, some third party operators such as Nektan, source their live dealer games from companies like Evolution and Netent Live of whom both place stringent demands on their croupiers.
And these dealers are no slouches. Sometimes, things can get a little out of hand online with the antics of players often challenging their patience and casino gaming know-how. Regardless, the dealers add value, authenticity and color to the online gambling experience. In many cases, live dealers also work 8 hour shifts in order to meet the demanding 24/7 schedule
Unlike most online casino games, it’s not always possible to play for free. And if it is your first time, you may feel a bit anxious about jumping right in to a real money game. Our advice would therefore be to get onto YouTube now, and observe videos uploaded by real players playing real live casino games. They are informative, often hilarious and sure to give you the confidence to sign up and try it for yourself.
Alternatively, try to find live online casinos that allow you to sit in. Though not that prevalent, there are few which allow their registered players to observe live casino games. You’ll get a better feel for playing in a specific live environment than you would by watching a video.
Refining the Live Dealer Casinos Experience
Companies such as Evolution Gaming, NetEnt Live and Microgaming continue to push the bar when it comes to live casino gaming, harnessing the full potential of the very latest technologies. Some of these companies, Evolution Gaming in particular, have started to refine their live dealer casinos offering by increasing the streaming options for its players.
Streaming from Live Dealer Casinos Studios
Many specialists offer live casino game streaming from purpose-built production studios. These studios, which often feature an extensive range of table games, consist of dedicated rooms that have been specifically designed according to the brand requirements of online casino operators. Evolution is one of the more illustrious examples and actually features three different studios that are located in Latvia, Malta and Canada.
Live Streaming from Land-Based Premises
Then there are casinos who prefer to install and operate live casino suites on their own premises. This allows operators to use their own staff while projecting their bricks-and-mortar brand to live casino game clients. Providers such as Evolution even provide installation services as well as all the equipment that goes with setting up a live dealer casinos broadcast, such as camera, lighting, monitors and microphones. The best live casinos have actually become that big of a deal.
Live Casinos for Mobile
One of the most impressive indicators of just how far technology as brought us in the last twenty years, can be found in how live games are now available on mobile devices. Live specialists can actually offer optimized live dealer casinos games via tablet and mobile platforms. Developed for each device and operating system, these live environments comprise intuitive interfaces and closely match the capabilities of their larger desktop cousins. To think less than twenty years ago, players couldn’t even deposit money with an online casino. How times have changed.
Live Dealer Games and How They Work
Today, blackjack, baccarat and roulette are among the most celebrated live casino games. Read on as we now take a closer look at how they’re played in a live online casino environment.
Live Dealer Blackjack
Blackjack is probably the most commonly-played live casino game. As with its bricks-and-mortar counterpart, the dealer sits at a specially-marked empty table. To their left (your right) is the shoe which is regularly shuffled and slightly slanting towards a dull red light emanating from the table. This, you will soon learn, is a barcode scanner, and each card contains a code which feeds into the computer system and ensures that little can be left to human error.
The house rules are emblazoned across the faux felt table. Digitally superimposed “Sit here” buttons welcome the player to their live dealer experience. When everyone has taken their virtual seats, the dealer deals and the game ensues. Another widely-played live dealer game is the East’s answer to Blackjack,
Live Dealer Baccarat
Baccarat, widely played in the suave casinos of Macau, is a more quick-fire live game than blackjack. No limits are placed on player numbers – as many people as necessary can place their bets on the “banker” or the “player” and can join at any time.
Two cards are dealt face-up to the player and banker. The goal is to get as close to 9 points as is possible. There are three possible outcomes– a banker win, player win or a tie. Some of the best live online casinos incorporate dynamic camera cuts to emphasize the speed and thrill of game-play. This thrill is ratcheted up brilliantly with some live versions, especially those developed by Evolution, which enforce specific time limits within which participants must play their hands. This makes for faster-paced game-play that places an emphasis on sharp wits. Having a strong understanding of the fundamentals of this classic came is also extremely important due to the time pressure.
Live Dealer Roulette
Roulette is another fiendishly popular live casino game. The dealer and mechanical wheel are present and correct and bear a very close resemblance to bricks-and-mortar versions. However, the player has some control when it comes to the spatial geography of the virtual display. Either you can replicate the 2D betting layout of the regular online game, or opt for something approaching a 3D digital recreation of a land-based table layout.
Live Dealer Poker
Poker provides one of the more typical examples of a bricks-and-mortar game that’s successfully made the leap to web browsers. In fact, this is where it all began for live casinos. These days, the most common variants include three card poker, Caribbean stud poker and Texas Hold’em. All live versions follow the rules of their land-based cousins very closely and tend to be played with a single deck of 52 playing cards. With the exception of Caribbean Stud, only one player hand is dealt. Some of the best live poker versions are offered by the likes of Evolution and Playtech, although these are by no means the only providers out there.
Live Casino Games at Inside Casino
When writing online casino reviews, we make a point of evaluating an operator’s live dealer suite. After all, the ability to offer players a live casino suite is what sets a casino apart from its competitors. Those that don’t are at a significant disadvantage, especially considering that live gaming has become one of the most cherished form of online casino gaming.
The Live Casino Dealers
Trust us, these dealers are no slouches. If you’ve watched any of the multitude of amusing youtube videos capturing the antics of players and dealers alike on a live casino, you’ll know that they add a lot of value and colour to the online gambling experience.
The dealers share many attributes with their bricks-and-mortar counterparts:
– They undergo intensive training in an academy like environment
– They must look and dress sharp
– They work flexible 8 hour shifts that complement the 24/7 schedule – Sunrise, Sunset and Graveyard
A majority of live dealers are based in studios out of Latvia and Malta. Multiple casinos will source their live dealer games from companies like Evolution and their studios. Some of the larger, more well-known casinos will even strike deals so that their live games are bespoke and branded.
Unlike most online casino games, you tend not to be able to play for free and if it is your first time, you may feel a bit anxious to jump right in to a real money game. Our advice would be to get onto youtube now, and observe videos uploaded by real players playing real live casino games. They are informative, often hilarious and sure to give you the confidence to sign up and try it for yourself.