Live Dealer Blackjack
Undoubtedly, blackjack, also known as 21, Vingt-et-un, is as old as the hills. Since the first land-based gambling venues opened doors to welcome players, blackjack turned into one of the hottest trends. Tables were always fully-packed with people, who were hoping to hit the long-craved blackjack.
Even though the gambling industry has been significantly changed by the Internet boom, blackjack still takes a central place at each casino, be that virtual or land-based. Nowadays, players have a plethora of gaming options at their fingertips.
The iGaming industry has evolved to a level that brings the casino atmosphere straight to your living room. Live dealer games are among the most-sought products that virtual casinos offer. Many blackjack fans prefer to play their favourite games at a live dealer casino and there are several good reasons for this – convenience, fairness of the game, human interaction, ability to choose a croupier.
Live blackjack comes to us with its pros and cons. To provide our readers with objective information, we cannot help but note the downsides inherent to live blackjack, including a slower pace of the game, limited seats at the tables, and higher minimum betting limits. High rollers will also be disappointed that the maximum amount they can stake per round is quite narrow.
Basic Live Blackjack Rules
Players who know how to play blackjack in a land-based casino should not worry about the rules that govern its live counterpart as they are pretty much the same. In live dealer casinos, blackjack enthusiasts will immerse themselves in a plethora of the game’s variations. It is important to mention that some variations of the game might feature certain specifications.
Blackjack is famous for its straightforward rules. The game is played with a maximum of 7 players, who are pitting their wits against the casino dealers. The dealer waits for all players to post their bets and then the game begins. The croupier usually sits or stands opposite the players. The first player to receive his/ her two cards is the one who stays on the left side from the croupier.
After all players are dealt their first cards that are face up, the dealer receives his/ her hand. One of the dealer’s cards is faced up, while the other one is faced down. Each player, again starting from the left-sitting one, will look at his/ her cards and decide whether to take another card or stand with what he/she has. The player whose hand value is as close to 21 as possible, bags the pot. If your hand exceeds 21, you lose. Another way to win is to have a stronger hand than the dealer’s hand.
Live Blackjack Cards and Hands
To understand what is the total value of your hand, you should know the value of the cards. However, this is not a rocket engineering, having in mind that the number cards are coming with their face value.
The face cards, including the jack, queen, and king, count for 10 points, and the Ace can count for either 1 point or 11 points. The player can choose how many points to receive from an Ace depending on his/ her other card(s).
Generally speaking, there are three basic blackjack hands – natural 21 (a hand of two cards with an Ace and a card with a value of 10), soft hand (a hand of two or more cards with an Ace bringing 1 point or 11 points depending on the player’s preference), and hard hand (a hand of two or more cards with an Ace bringing 1 point).
The dream of every blackjack enthusiast is to be dealt an Ace and a card which brings 10 points. Technically, this is the real blackjack. On the contrary, the worst nightmare of every blackjack devotee is to receive a hand with a point value of 16. However, every cloud has a silver lining – if the hand is made up of two 8s, players still have a chance to win.
Live Blackjack Layout
There are several different software providers that power live dealer casinos. iGaming-involved companies are always struggling to launch something innovative that will attract the attention of as many players as possible. For that reason, we can say that each live blackjack game features a unique design.
Regardless of the software provider that powers the game, live blackjack layout remains almost the same for the different variants of the game. We must say that this could not be any other way, having in mind that a blackjack table is what it is, and it cannot be changed.
The live dealer format of the game tries to bridge the gap between land-based casino experience and virtual gambling. In its essence, live casinos are providing their players with the same atmosphere as in a real gambling venue.
Features of Live Blackjack Tables
Live blackjack players will see exactly what they are used to seeing in a brick-and-mortar casino – a half oval table, a shoe that holds the cards, betting limits allowed per hand, and the dealer sitting at the flat end of the table.
Live roulette tables offer information about the payouts of the game. There is also a “Help” function that provides information about the rules of the game. It is quite useful for newbies, who might find themselves confused at a certain moment throughout the game.
The major difference comes from the way bets are placed. In live blackjack, players need to use a special betting box attached to the interface of the game. They will be provided with a certain amount of virtual chips to post their wagers. Fans should click to select the chip denomination they want to wager and drag it to the betting box.
The UI offers user-friendly features, so casino aficionados are not expected to face some major troubles. Players have many options to adjust the settings of the live stream in accordance with their preferences and the capacity of the devices they are playing from. In addition to that, there is a tab with rules that will help beginners during the game.
To facilitate the gaming experience, live dealer blackjack platforms offer a “history” page that helps players to keep track of their gaming activity. Multi-tabling is yet another feature worth the attention as it allows players to join several tables and play at them simultaneously.
The live blackjack layout is easy and well-organized due to the nature of the game. Loading a live dealer blackjack, you will see that there are action buttons pinned to the bottom of the interface. These are used by the player when choosing to hit, stand, split, or double down.
Players’ Options Within the Game
Undoubtedly, blackjack is a game that is not entirely dependent on luck. Mathematics and skills are crucial to winning the game. There are 5 different playing options and live blackjack players should know how to use them properly.
By hitting, players show that they are asking to receive another card next to their initial hand. Live blackjack devotees can hit as many times as they need to until they stand or bust. One hits when he/she believes that the next card can improve the total value of his/ her hand without exceeding 21.
Stand means that players do not want to be dealt more cards until the game ends. Often referred to as freezing the round, it comes with a payout of 3:1 for the players who are lucky enough to strike natural 21. Cases in which the dealer and a player both strike blackjack or the total value of their hands is even are called a tie/push. Then the player gets back his bet and does not win or lose anything. Stand only if you are sure that the total value of your hand is high enough to win against the dealer.
By taking this option, the player will be dealt one more card until the game ends and his/her bet will be automatically doubled. Prior to taking this option, pay attention to the dealer’s faced up card. If it is an Ace, for example, it is not recommendable to double down.
This option is appropriate when one is sure that his/her hand will beat. Enthusiasts are recommended to double down when their cards total 11, when they have a soft of 16, 17, or 18, and when they have a hard of 9 or 10.
When a player is dealt a pair of cards of the same value, he/she can split them into two hands and play them separately. In such cases, the player’s bet is automatically doubled. This option is advisable when you have a pair of Aces and 8s. However, do not split if you hold a pair of 10s or 5s. Before taking this option, consider the dealer’s face up card.
Insurance is an option that is available only in cases when the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace. Live blackjack players will see a special button or a pop-up notification to announce them they can place an insurance bet if they wish to. Simply put, the people at the blackjack table bet on the possibility for the dealer to have blackjack. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, the insurance bet is lost and the game continues.
If you take the insurance bet, you need to place a bet equal to half of youр original bet. It is important to explain that the original bet stays and the player places a new bet called insurance. Insurance bet pays out 2:1, meaning that if you place £10, you can win £20. In case your insurance bet wins, you will lose your original bet. There is only one way to win the insurance and the main bet, and that is if you and the dealer both have blackjack.
Even money is yet another option that is available in cases when the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace and you have been dealt a natural 21. If you place such a bet, you will not leave the table empty-handed in case of a tie. Even money bets pay 1:1.
Surrender is not a common betting option as it is quite favourable to the players. It allows players to give away half of their bet and keep the other half at the beginning of the game. This is a good decision if you consider that your hand will .
There are two types of surrender – early (allowing the players to opt out of their hands before the dealer checks for blackjack) and late (allowing players to give up on their hand and save half of their original bet after the dealer checks his/ her hand for blackjack).
Bet behind allows players to wager on another player’s hand. The idea is that waiting players can play with the hand of a seated player and also decide if you want to split, double down or take an insurance bet. However, it is important to explain that the seated player takes the main decisions such as hitting or standing. Main seated players and fans that are waiting to take a seat can place such a bet.
This bet is quite simple and it gives a good introduction to the game. For that reason, players who just started to delve into live blackjack are recommended to take a bet behind as it will add an extra thrill to the game and bolster their bankrolls.
Live Blackjack Side Bets
As the name suggests, these types of bets are placed while playing your main game. Some players tend to stay away from such bets as they are considered to be quite distracting. However, many other casino enthusiasts are attracted by the idea to try to earn extra cash in the meanwhile.
Side bets have two main purposes – to spice up the game and make more money for the house. It is worth noting that side bets usually feature a higher house edge, but they are attracting many players with their simplicity and fun-filled nature.
Perfect pairs is the first side bet one can think of when it comes to live blackjack. Players place a bet on the first two cards and it pays out if they are a pair. The payout varies between different casinos, tables, and number of decks used in the game. So, we recommend players to check the terms of the live dealer casino you selected, instead of taking the numbers we provide for granted.
If you place a bet on two cards being of the same value but a different suit and colour (mixed pair), the payout is 5:1. Pairs of the same value and colour (coloured pairs) pay 12:1. The highest payout of 30:1 is paid for a pair made out of the same cards (perfect pair).
21+3 is another popular bet among blackjack fans. It is placed on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s face-up cards. What payout you will take depends on the combination of the three cards. There are 5 different options, coinciding with the poker hands, that will pay you some cold cash.
- Flush – it occurs when the player’s two cards and the dealer’s card are of the same suit. It has the lowest payout, approximately 5:1 (depending on the casino).
- Straight – all three cards are of sequential rank. Its payout is 10:1 (the number might vary).
- Three of a kind – as the name suggests, all three cards should be of the same value, but a different suit. This hand comes with a high payout of 30:1.
- Straight flush – the hand is made out of cards of consecutive value and the same suit. The payout is set at 40:1.
- Suited triple – this hand is made out of three cards that are the same. It represents the best possible scenario as it comes with a lucrative payout, and more precisely 100:1.
Other Interesting Side Bets
Apart from the aforementioned side bets, live blackjack offers some more betting options that are worth the attention. Super 7’s, also referred to as triple 7’s, allows players to place bets on whether there will be any 7’s in their first three cards. If you place a bet on three suited 7’s and you are lucky enough to see them on the table, you can walk away with a life-changing prize as the payout is 5000:1.
Another side bet that is worth its salt is Lucky Ladies. The bet is based only on the player’s first two cards that their total value will reach 20 in any combination. Depending on the combination of the cards, the ratio of the bet varies from 4:1 to 1000:1 for two queens of hearts when the dealer has a perfect 21.
Popular Live Blackjack Variations
In the beginning, there was only one variation of live blackjack. However, players’ demands keep on increasing and software companies are pushed to the wall in search of new ways to keep casino fans engaged. To pique the interest of the blackjack lovers, software providers came up with different variants of the game. In the lines below, we will discuss some of the most sought-after live blackjack variations.
Powered by a leading software company, and more precisely Evolution Gaming, Infinite Blackjack features the standard rules of the game. What is so exceptional about this blackjack variation is that an unlimited number of people can join the table. Moreover, Infinite Blackjack brags about its relatively low bet limit.
All players are dealt the same initial hand by a live dealer. From that point on, each player needs to decide what further actions he/she will take. To make the game even more unique, developers decided to incorporate the Six Card Charlie rule. Under this rule, the player who collects 6 cards without busting automatically wins the game.
Free Bet Blackjack
Free Bet Blackjack resembles the traditional Live Blackjack when it comes to rules, but there is one significant difference between the two variations – Free Bet Blackjack features the Push 22 rule. Under this rule, if the dealer’s cards make a total of 22, he/she pushes all players left in the hand. Players who are dealt natural 21 will receive their payout providing that the dealer’s hand value is 22.
Free Bet Blackjack has its name for a reason – players can double down on 9, 10, and 11 hands without risking their funds. It is important to mention that they can double down on another hand, but then blackjack devotees will need to double their original bet. In addition to that, this variation of the game allows players to split for free. That is possible only if there is no card with a value of 10 in the hand.
VIP Live Blackjack
VIP Live Blackjack is specially designed for high rollers, who would like to wager bigger amounts of money. This variation of the game offers faster-paced gameplay than the standard live blackjack tables. VIP Live Blackjack adopts the same rules as the standard Live Blackjack. This variation of blackjack is not appropriate for casino devotees who would like to benefit from the Bet Behind option.
Needless to say, VIP Live Blackjack rolls out the red carpet for its players, who will receive nothing less than special attention and first-class gambling experience.
Live Blackjack with Early Payout
Live Blackjack with Early Payout is highly-appreciated by casino enthusiasts due to its rules that allow players to leave the table while the game is still in progress. What is more, is that players will bag some money after all. The amount of money that one can walk away with depends on the value of the player’s hand as opposed to the dealer’s face-up card value.
Understanding Live Blackjack House Edge
The house edge is a percentage that benefits the casino. In live dealer blackjack, the house’s advantage comes from the fact that you need to play your hand before the dealer and you have the chance to bust before the croupier (in case when the player and the croupier exceed 21). The house edge ranges between software providers and blackjack variations.
Interestingly enough, NetEnt brags about its lowest house edge of 0.50%. This means that if you wager £100, you can expect an average loss of 0.5p. The next on the list is Playtech with 0.55%, followed by Portomaso with 0.56%. Evolution Gaming, Lucky Streak, and Ezugi offer a 0.61% house edge.
Players who are familiar with the game’s rules and have a successful strategy in use can minimize the house edge. By rule, the lower the house edge is, the bigger chance you have to win.
Tips for Successful Beginning at Live Blackjack Tables
When it comes to live blackjack, everybody would tell you that a player’s success depends not only on luck, but also on skills. Many people argue that if you are dealt bad cards, it is inevitable to lose. But even if you are dealt good cards, you still have a good chance of losing the game if you do not use a strategy. The following techniques will help you to improve the odds of winning live dealer blackjack:
- Select virtual casinos that offer live blackjack bonuses – when choosing a virtual casino, look for one that offers bonuses for live dealer games. Each reputable casino comes up with a certain package of promotions, but you should be searching for a gambling site that features incentives specifically designed for live dealer enthusiasts.
- Select properly your table – newbies are recommended to select tables with low minimum bets. Following this simple piece of advice will provide players with longer playtime at the table, without exhausting their bankrolls.
- Avoid multi-handing – multi-handing allows casino enthusiasts to bet on multiple hands at the same time. Players who just started playing live blackjack are recommended to avoid multi-handing as they are not that experienced and might lose a significant amount of money at once.
- Do not take insurance bets – we already explained what is an insurance bet in live dealer blackjack. This type of bet can be profitable for players who versed the skill to count cards and prefer playing at a land-based gambling facility. However, if you play live dealer blackjack at a virtual casino, card-counters will not be that successful as the method is inefficient. Moreover, if you play just for fun, you most probably did not master the art of counting cards.
- Avoid side bets – these are often lucrative for players, who are looking to add some extra adrenaline to the game. Side bets also offer higher payouts and live blackjack amateurs are often trapped by their charm. But what players should keep in mind is that such bets offer relatively high house edge. In other words, even if you win one or several times, you will lose your money in the long run.
- Consider to bet behind – this type of bet is considered to be the safest bet for newcomers. The reason for this is that amateurs do not need to use a certain strategy to improve the odds, but just to carefully observe the game. In fact, it is considered by many as a healthy bet as one can learn a lot from others’ live dealer gambling experience.