There was a time where playing online casino games from your home was considered the pinnacle of gambling technology.
How times have changed, as now online casino players can watch their favourite games take place while interacting with the dealer and other players thanks to live casino games.
Live casino games have become popular with the sceptics among us who still believe that casino software is fixed (it’s not by the way). For them, watching the game take place with real people proves that the games are fair and random.
Benefits of Live Casino Games
- You don’t need to worry about the fairness of an RNG.
- TV quality presentation in real time to allow you to watch your game take place.
- Easy to use interface with options to tailor your game to how you want it.
- Allows for interaction with other players and the dealer.
- High quality service from professional casino dealers and croupiers (including some very pretty girls).
Here we aim to take you through the best live casino games around and tell you what to expect. Unlike other online casino games, you can’t play most live casino games for free so be sure to have a good read through the guide before you risk your hard earned money.
What to Look For
As always, the precise list of what makes a ‘good’ live casino depends on your personal taste, but there are a few factors you might want to keep in mind as the main things that can make a difference.
Speed of Play
How fast does the game progress, and are you happy with that? In particular, consider how long you have to wait between plays when seated at a fairly empty table, and at a fairly full one.
A good live casino should feel comfortable no matter if you’re the only seated player, or one of many; and you might also be keen to make sure the dealer gives you an equal amount of attention in either situation, too.
The pace of play might be influenced by, among other things:
- number of players;
- time allowed for each play;
- the specific dealer hosting the table;
- the game being played.
The amount you can bet is likely to play a big part in determining how happy you are with your experience – and that means how little, as well as how much, you can stake.
If you’re new to the game, or have an especially conservative staking style, you might prefer to look out for tables that allow particularly low wagers, and build from there towards higher-stakes games.
How does the site look? A visually appealing site is important for live casino gaming, so make sure the video stream is clear, but also that the computer-generated (CG) graphics make it easy to keep track of each hand.
Most sites will offer at least some form of customisation, often a choice between a ‘virtual’ table that places the video stream front-and-centre where a real-world dealer would be, and an alternative view that more closely resembles other online gaming rooms, but with the video stream included in a corner of the screen.
Can you watch other players as they play their hands – not on camera, of course (although certain sites may ultimately begin to offer this), but on the CG part of the screen?
Being able to see other players’ cards and bets might influence your own staking style, and even if you’re not planning on trying to count cards, it will at least give you something to watch whilst awaiting your own next turn.
Playing in several live casino rooms at the same time can be more challenging than keeping track of several RNG (random number generator) games, but if you’re keen to try, you’ll need to make sure you’re registered to a site that allows you to sit at multiple live-dealer tables at once.
This leads back to the question of pace of play – is there long enough between hands to switch to another table and back again? Do you get long enough to make your play that it would not be a disaster if your hand came around on two tables at once?
We’re not going to go into full reviews of individual platforms here, but remember that not all live-dealer rooms are powered in the same way, and finding a provider you like is an excellent starting point. In particular, some operators have live dealers based within the UK, while others may be elsewhere in Europe or even further afield than that.
You can usually communicate with the dealer in one way or another, but look out for platforms that give you plenty of options – from simple instant text messaging, to other methods, potentially including voice and video chat if you have a microphone or webcam.
There are several companies now running live-dealer games, so preview several if you can, and find one you like – and remember, their platform may be available via several different online casino sites, so treat the casino you play at, and the live-dealer platform you use, as two different considerations.
Most online live casinos are based in custom-made studios, with a large number of tables in one or more large rooms somewhere in the UK, Europe or elsewhere in the world, and a dealer for each table.
However, you may also see ‘live casino’ games that are associated with televised broadcasts – in these cases, you’ll usually get a video stream online that matches what you would see if you tuned to the appropriate television channel.
You can place bets online, or via the television broadcast (typically using a telephone number, for example) and all wagers will be counted together.
Most people will have seen late-night live-host roulette, which is broadcast on terrestrial television channels in the UK, and is generally supported by online casinos operated by the same brand, which allow you to bet on the same game you see on your TV.
A small number of online casinos may also allow you to wager on the outcome of real-world casino games, with a video stream showing you a table in a bricks-and-mortar casino somewhere, which ‘real’ casino gamblers can also stake on.
Live Casino Dealers
Players in land-based casinos will often find a dealer that they prefer to play with.
Whether this is down to superstition or simply because they enjoy having a chat with them, some will even go as far as to only play at the table where their favoured dealer is.
When online casinos first emerged, they took the dealer out of the equation as the play was determined by a random number generator. But now that live dealer casino games have increased in popularity the relevance of the casino dealer has returned.
Some live casinos have even begun to allow you to mark your favourite dealers so it’s easier to find them when you log in. One casino that definitely does this is bet365 and we’re sure we’ll be seeing much more of this feature in the future.
For the time being, we’ve put together a collection of some of our favourite live casino dealers, so have a look and see whether you agree.
Live Casino Games
Online live casino games are a bit newer than standard casino software. They began with live roulette and have now diversified considerably.
There are even casinos and software providers that specialise in live casino games. This is a reaction to increased demand and as more and more people want to play live casino games, the selection on offer has increased.
Below are some of the most commonly found live dealer casino games and a little bit about what you can expect when playing them.
|CWC Gaming||Evolution Gaming||Eurolive||Microgaming||Playtech|
To find out where to play the games created by the software providers above, head to our Live Dealer Software page.
Roulette is the original online live dealer game and can be found anywhere where live casino games are offered. Many even offer variations including games for high rollers and mini live roulette.
When playing, you place your bet on a virtual table displayed beneath the screen showing the dealer and a wheel. The dealer will then set the wheel in motion and drop the ball in. Once it comes to a rest a virtual dolly will appear on the winning number and your bet will automatically be paid out if successful.
Blackjack is another favourite of live dealer players. It’s particularly popular with high rollers so don’t be surprised to find VIP live blackjack games around for the big spenders.
Most live blackjack games allow you to text chat with fellow players as well as with the dealer who answers in person. The major benefit of live dealer blackjack is that you can see your cards and those of other players being dealt, so you know exactly what’s going on. Some games will also allow back betting and side betting to provide extra spice to your play.
Ever wondered what it’s like to be James Bond? Well now you can have a tiny glimpse into his world as you get to play his favourite game with a live dealer.
Live baccarat places you at a virtual table with fellow players and allows you to see the dealer as they play the banker and player cards. As there’s not much to in baccarat once you’ve placed your bet you can chat with others creating a multi-player feel to the game.
No you didn’t misread, live slots are really available. While there’s no way to change the main slot game, you can now play live slots where the bonus feature is interactive and can be viewed on a live stream.
This has been pioneered by Evolution Gaming who created the Mermaid’s Fortune slot. The live element appears in the bonus round which comes complete with a live mermaid. Her role is to introduce the round and interact with players who have been lucky enough to reach it. This adds a whole new dimension to online slots and we’re looking forward to seeing how they develop this further.
Live Asian Games
Playtech and CWC Gaming are the two main users of these types of games. The list of games that can be found includes Mahjong paigow, sic bo and keno.
Unfortunately, UK online casinos clearly don’t think these games will be particularly popular with their users so few offer them. Sic bo is the game that you’re most likely to find and can be played at Ladbrokes and bet365 among others. However, due to the complexity of sic bo we recommend that you play it in its regular online form at a suitable pace before you risk slowing down other players gameplay.
Live Casino Hold’em Poker
Despite not being one of the games originally adapted for the live dealer format, Live Casino Hold’em Poker can now be found in many online casinos.
Playtech were the main instigators of this with most of their casinos now including this poker variation. But before poker players get to excited we must stress that this is a poker variation where you play against the house and not against other players. But if you’re a poker fan looking for a bit of live dealer action then this will be ideal.
Live Casino Software
Just like all other regular casino games, live casino games are made by a number of different companies.
It’s similar to how Boeing and Airbus both make aeroplanes but airlines such as Virgin, British Airways and Emirates use them.
There tends to be two types of live casino software companies. Some also make regular online casino games and are trusted names such as Playtech and Microgaming. But there are others who specialise in live casino games and therefore have the advantage of focusing solely on these games.
Evolution Gaming is the biggest company dedicated to creating live casino software. With a large list of casino partners, high quality stream and a large range of games, they are the market leaders in live casino gaming. In fact, Evolution Gaming is so popular that they’ve had to move studios twice in recent times so that they can add more tables.
The Alderney-licensed company claim to have the fastest live blackjack online and have live VIP games as well. Roulette is another area where they have a particularly strong offering with five different versions including games based in London and in Venezia. Another plus is their native speaking dealers for plenty of languages. Finally, they have also created a live slot where the interactive bonus feature is played in the studio.
After rapidly making ground on their regular software competitors, the Israeli company set about creating live casino games back in 2003.
Over time they’ve been able to improve their live casino game offering and have tweaked the presentation to provide a sleek looking skin. They have a wide range of games including live Casino Hold’em, mahjong pai gow, sic bo, keno and many more. Their games are created specifically for European and Asian players and they have the dealers to match.
Ten years after the company formed, Microgaming live casino games hit the market in 2006. The company have chosen to stick to blackjack, roulette and baccarat games but at the rate that they roll out new games it would be no surprise if this selection increases.
A feature of the Microgaming live casino games is that they provide multi-table options on their roulette and baccarat games. Oddly though, they’ve opted to not have a live roulette croupier and instead a laser beam is used to provide exact readings – which all sounds very sci-fi to us.
CWC Gaming claim to be ‘the oldest, largest and most reliable live dealer casino provider on the internet’. While they do still have a fair number of casino partners, they’re not exactly a big name in the industry.
In spite of this, they do still offer a wide range of games including blackjack, baccarat, poker, roulette and sic bo. One of the major benefits of playing CWC Gaming live casino games is that you have the opportunity to play for free with baccarat, roulette and sic bo meaning that you can try them out before risking your own money.
Showing games live out of their studio in Latvia, EuroLive tend to keep a low profile opting instead to stick to providing their clients with some of the best live dealer games around. In fact, they’re so hard to get hold of that we couldn’t even get their company logo!
Multiple variations of blackjack and roulette as well as baccarat are available so EuroLive has the most popular games covered. Live Unlimited Blackjack is a particular highlight of the EuroLive games and allows an unlimited number of players to bet on any of the hands that are in play.