Enjoy Casino Games in Real Time at Live Dealer Online Casinos
Every big and reputable casino offers a live dealer option these days. These have become the go-to for table games fans around the world. The concept is simple. You bet on real casino table games, dealt in real-time via your PC or mobile device. Games offered include blackjack, roulette and casino poker variants.
This guide gives you everything you need to get started with live dealer online casinos in one place. Here is what you will find below:
- How to Access and Play Live Dealer Casino Games
- Games offered at Studios Around the World
- Individual Live Dealer Games Explained One-by-One
- Pros and Cons (compared to software-based table games)
- Real Money Live Dealer Games FAQ
Live Dealer Apps: How to Access Live Dealer Games?
You can access live dealer casinos in two ways. The most common format is simply to join an online casino offering real money games, fund your account, then visit the live dealer section from their homepage in your browser. You’ll see the different games and tables listed – and can pick one and get started right away.
Some casinos also offer downloadable apps. These give access only to the live dealer games (not the slots and software games at your casino). They are more stable for mobile devices. While these live dealer casinos apps and browser-based games will work on phones, the bigger the screen the better. The betting action gets fiddly without enough screen real-estate!
Studios Around the World that Provide Live Dealer Games
Most casinos are not big enough to run a full live dealer studio of their own. These games work by pooling the players from many different casinos.
The studios are located next to big population centers. For example, the main Evolution Gaming live dealer studio is in Latvia (Europe). There are further studios located in the Philippines and in Malta.
While the mix of games does differ depending on the market, there are some staples which appear in all real money live dealer casino sites. These are blackjack, roulette, baccarat and casino hold’em. You’ll find details on each of those below.
How to Play Live Dealer Casino Games?
Once you have accessed the live dealer app or window in your browser-based casino, playing the live dealer games is easy.
You select a table and will see the dealer in action. If a hand is in progress, then you’ll need to wait for the next one to begin. Table games are in two broad categories. Some blackjack tables have 6 seats. Individuals decide on the action for their own hand, and the hand is completed once everyone has acted. Other games like baccarat and casino hold’em are played one to many. This means all the active players get the same hand. You can elect to fold (in casino hold’em) and the action will continue for players who have not folded.
It is possible to interact with both the dealer and the other players in these games. This is via a text-based chat. Depending on the crowd when you join, some games can get lively. When the hand is over you will see a list of all the winners scrolling up the screen on some software clients.
One important factor to keep in mind for all live dealer games is that it is easy to time out.
Players are given 15 or 20 seconds to bet between hands, and a similar time to act on decision points. If you time out, your hand may be folded – or you may miss that roulette bet just as your numbers come up. There is a repeat bet button on most types of software to make betting again smoother.
Popular Live Dealer Casino Games #1 – Blackjack
This is the most popular live dealer game. At most casinos you will find a lot of active tables. The stakes will vary, with $5 a common minimum. Maximums can go as high as $1000 per hand in high-limit live dealer rooms.
Blackjack is played 7-handed. This means that you’ll need to find a game with a spare seat. It also means that the games require everyone to act before hands can be completed – making them slower than some alternatives.
Here is the flow on a typical hand:
- Following completion of the previous hand a line of chips appears in the middle of your screen. You can drag and drop those onto your betting square, including any side-bets. Alternatively, hit the rebet button.
- Next the dealer deals cards to herself and the active players – peeking at her down-card if needed with US rules. The dealer then points to each player in turn, giving them an opportunity to act. If you do not act within 15 seconds, you will ‘stand’ with your current hand. Separate decisions can be made for splits, and players are given the opportunity to double-down.
- After all players have completed their action, the dealer will reveal her down-card, hitting for more cards as required.
- Players are then automatically paid for winning hands, and the bet / rebet options appear on your screen once again.
Side-bets will depend on the studio, with perfect pairs a common option. Party blackjack, which has two dealers and a livelier, more social feel to it, is offered at some studios.
Playing alongside other people just like in a real casino gives live dealer blackjack a more social feel than the other games. This can also mean the games are slow – especially those times you get one or two players who are constantly timing down before acting.
Popular Live Dealer Casino Games #2 – Roulette
This game works brilliantly in live dealer casinos. There are several variations which include a live roulette wheel with no croupier (auto-roulette) and Immersive Roulette, a variation from Evolution Gaming with special effects and slow-motion replays.
There is effectively no limit to the number of players that can bet on each spin. You’ll see the betting overlay and can drag and drop chips into your preferred positions. Like with the blackjack games, this is timed. If you miss the count-down, then the spin of the wheel will simply happen without your bet.
When the ball stops, the croupier will put a plastic marker in position on the betting felt, just like on a real table. Bets are settled automatically.
You can rebet your current pattern with one click – or try something new for the next spin.
Popular Live Dealer Games #3 Baccarat
This game is popular among high-rollers in live casinos. You will often find it in high-limit areas of live dealer studios too. If your bankroll is smaller, you’ll be able to find bets starting at just $5.
With complex dealing rules and simple playing strategy, this is the ideal live dealer game for relaxing. It is played in one-to-many format. This means everyone playing at a table bets on the same hand. You can choose whether you bet on the ‘Player’, ‘Banker’ or ‘Tie’ outcomes by dragging and dropping chips. As usual, the betting will close – and the hand will begin when the timer reaches zero – whether you got your bet in on time or not.
Popular Live Dealer Games #4 – Casino Hold’em
This is one of several casino poker variations you will find at live dealer studios. Others are 3-card poker, Caribbean Stud and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
While each game has its own rules, the format is similar. They are played one-to-many. The croupier will deal a single hand for all the players. You can choose your decisions as you go along. This is usually to play (bet) or fold your hand. If you time out, you will effectively fold. The hand is played through to its conclusion anyway, as some players always ‘play’ regardless of the correct strategy.
The software keeps track, and you will see that list of players that won after each hand is completed.
Pros and Cons of live Dealer Casino Games
With this format taking much of the traffic from software-based table games, it does feel like everything about them is a positive. For me, there are both pros and cons – with some good reasons to enjoy the old-style table games.
This list will give you an overview.
Pros of Live Dealer Games:
- Social: Interact with the dealers and the other players
- No RNG: You’ll see the deck shuffled and cut, no nagging doubts about deals being unfair
- Range of Bets: You can enjoy a lot of bet sizes, with that real-casino feeling
Cons of Live Dealer Games:
- Slower: Compared to the software-based games, things can feel slow
- Bigger Minimums: Bets start bigger in the live-dealer studios
- Restricted for Bonuses: Many (though not all) casinos don’t count live dealer games towards bonus clearing.
The social and ‘reel casino feel’ are what make these games enjoyable for millions of players. If you have not yet tried them, I do recommend you give them a shot and make your own mind up!
What to Know Before You Play Live Dealer Games for Real Money?
This section is a FAQ for players who are new to playing live dealer games for real money.
What Happens if I Get Disconnected?
Your hand will usually be folded, though in certain games like blackjack you will simply stand with your current total. If you have placed bet on roulette, you’ll be paid even if you disconnect (assuming your numbers hit). For casino poker variants, if you don’t bet after placing the ante, your hand will be folded. If you disconnect after making the post-deal bet, you will be paid on the outcome. In all cases, any winning side-bet will be paid.
What are the Minimum and Maximum Bets for Live Dealer Casino Games?
These vary widely from casino to casino. You can bet on many one-to-many games (poker variants) from just $1 per hand. Baccarat and blackjack will often start higher ($5 is common). For roulette you can expect outside bets at $1 minimum and 25c on numbers.
Are Live Dealer Games Available to US Players?
Yes, regulated US casinos now offer live dealer options in New Jersey.
Can I Enjoy Live Dealer Games for Play Money Chips?
This is rare, though you can watch the games via your casino site to get an idea of how they work before you play for real money.
Do I Need to Download Software to Enjoy Live Dealer Casino Games?
No. There are live dealer mobile apps for tablets and larger smartphones, though most live dealer casinos work via your browser window.
Can I Play Live Dealer Games Without Knowing the Rules / Strategy?
I recommend learning the basics of strategy before you play. While there is no need to play correctly (in the one-to-many games nobody would know), this can get expensive. If you learn the rules, you will ensure that your mistakes do not cost money – staying true to the published house edge of each game.
Does Live Dealer Casino Play Count Towards Clearing my Bonus?
Most casinos either put a weighting on live dealer games for bonus clearing – or exclude them completely. Where games are weighted, this can be as low as a 10% contribution. I recommend you double-check the terms and conditions of your bonus before you play. Note that some casinos will give you a free chip or ‘no lose first bet’ as an incentive to try their live dealer games.
Which Live Dealer Games Have the Best Odds?
Baccarat has the lowest house edge (best odds for the player) of the live dealer casino games. This is just over 1%, you need to avoid the expensive ‘tie’ bet. Blackjack also has a low house edge, with the exact number depending on the details of the rules. Blackjack side-bets should be avoided from a mathematical perspective – though they can add some entertainment to the games.
Are Live Dealer Casinos Safe?
As with all online casino games, your safety depends on the brand you are gambling with. If you live in a State or country which offers regulated online casino gaming – then you should always choose the licensed brands. Live dealer casinos are licensed by the casino site operators to supply their games. Many studios already have long track records and excellent service. As long as you play at a trusted online casino, the live dealer options will be safe.