Live online casinos games might sound like a contradiction, but it’s not. Thanks to innovative technology and a desire to making virtual casino gaming more immersive, the top live casinos now offer interactive games where you can faceoff with a real dealer.
Instead of taking on a faceless random number generator, live dealer casino games put you slap bang in the middle of the action thanks to webcams and RFID chips. In the following few paragraphs, we’re going to outline everything you need to know about this style of playing. From live casino bonus offers, the latest gaming options and whether or not these games are fair, our guide will have you playing like a pro at the best casino sites around with ease.
A GUIDE TO LIVE DEALER CASINOS
Put simply, a live dealer casino is a desktop or mobile platform where you can play alongside real people. By combining webcams, RFID chips and some clever software, you can connect to the best live dealer tables in the world and see everything play out in real-time.
The first live casino games were launched around 2010 and, since that time, the number of options has exploded. Today, if you’re a UK casino fan, you can now enjoy live casino games covering the following options:
Naturally, as the industry has evolved, so too has the games on offer. This means you can now enjoy classic and exotic variants of the above games when you join the best live casino sites around. Of course, not all platforms are created equal. Because of this, we’d suggest using our top rated live casinos to help you find the perfect starting point.
However, before you do that, let’s go through the nuances of the industry and how we can help you have the best online experience possible.
HOW LIVE DEALER CASINOS WORK
For anyone who is not played at a live casino before, there is no need to be anxious. It is not intimidating at all, and the steps to place a bet are very similar to playing standard online casino games.
Simply follow these steps:
- Log in and choose the Live Casino tab.
- Select your choice of live casino game, e.g Live Roulette. Note: the first time you play, you may be prompted to enter a screen name of your choice.
- Once the game is open, you will see an array of betting options at the bottom (or along the sides) of the screen. Select chips and bets as appropriate (by clicking on them).
- Confirm your bets.
- The dealer will inform you of time limits, i.e. how long you have to place and confirm your bets.
In addition to the simple steps above, there are other things you can do to set the game to your preferences:
- Turn the dealer sound on/off.
- Adjust the table limits.
- Enable auto confirm for your bets.
- Change the view/camera angle.
- Turn chat on/off.
- Make sure your microphone is working if you want to chat to dealer/other players.
If you have played live casino games over the last few years, you will notice that the quality of the streams, range of camera angles etc. have improved. Most games are now available in a smooth, HD stream. In addition, there are now plenty of cool close-up shots, such as those seen in Baccarat Squeeze, which add to the drama for players.
LIVE CASINO GAMES: WHAT TO PLAY AND WHY
Once you’ve decided that live dealer casino games are your thing, you need to pick a game that suits. Although the flow of action will be similar (because everything is controlled by real people), each game has its pros and cons depending on how you like to bet.
If you like tons of betting options and returns as high as 35/1, live roulette is for you. The only downside for newbies is that this can be a high variance game if you’re making inside bets.
If you are familiar with roulette, you will know that it is not all about spinning the wheel and hoping for the best. There are numerous strategies to apply to each roulette variant. Indeed, many live roulette games offer side bet options, which allow you to bet on a special outcome, such as a special number, often for a big reward. For example, Live Double Ball Roulette (Evolution Gaming) can offer odds of 1,300 to 1.
You can of course stick to the classic live roulette games, such as European and American Roulette. But, there are plenty of other variants to try. The list includes: Slingshot Roulette, Dual-Play Roulette, Vegas Speed Roulette and Prestige Roulette.
Live roulette games generally very smoothly at live casinos, However, some players cite the fact that they prefer to play rounds with quicker turnarounds. Casinos have responded to this by creating several variants which focus more on quick gameplay (Speed Roulette, Prestige) than player interaction.
The most affordable and simple live dealer game you can play, blackjack is perfect for those that like quick returns. Moreover, blackjack allows you to implement certain skills to improve your chances of success. The only negative is that your max return is 3/2.
Just like Live Roulette, there is plenty of variety when it comes to playing blackjack at a live casino. Again, it is not all about beating the dealer with a score of 21. Numerous live blackjack variants will offer 21+3 and Perfect Pair side bets. In a nutshell, these involve placing a bet on your hand (sometimes in combination with the dealer’s hand) getting a poker hand – flush, straight etc. The payout can be 100s of times your bet.
There are, of course, no end of blackjack options for live casino play online. Options include: Mayfair VIP Blackjack, Common Draw Blackjack and Macau Blackjack.
Live blackjack has been a smash hit with casino players, so much so that some of the most popular tables are very busy. For that reason, software developers like Playtech and others have implemented a ‘bet behind’ option. This means that you can observe the live game and bet on specific players’ hands.
This game is great if you like to combine skill and timing. The rules might be somewhat tricky for newbies, but there is a lot of scope for pressing home an advantage in this game.
There are, of course, many variants of poker, most of which can be found in some form on the online live casino format. The two most common games played are Live Texas Hold’em and Live Caribbean Stud Poker. There are several differences in rules between the two, with Hold’em arguably being the variant that requires more strategy. Both live casino versions involve playing against the house (dealer) rather than other players.
Hold’em is now the most popular poker variant in the world, played by millions in real casinos and online poker rooms. While playing against the dealer means you do not get the benefit of winning against poor players, it holds the advantage of having no limit of players on the table.
There are other advantages, most notably the chance to win a big jackpot with a side bet. For example, Evolution Gaming’s Live Casino Hold’em allows you to bet on Jumbo 7 Jackpot, which will pay a huge progressive jackpot (potentially the biggest on any table in the world) for a side bet on a seven-card straight flush.
The main downside to baccarat is that it’s often played by experienced gamers. Because of this, the rules aren’t always well understood by newbies. However, if you can master the basics, live baccarat is fantastic because it allows you to bank standard and bonus wins that can top 100X your stake.
The rules of baccarat (Punto Banco) are quite simple: You bet on your hand or the dealer’s hand, with the objective of getting a score closest to nine. The scoring works by totalling the value of cards and taking the final figure. For example, a 9 Spades, 6 Hearts, 4 Diamonds (9+6+4 = 19) would score 9. There are several rules which determine how the dealer (Banker) and you (Player) draws cards.
As with all popular live casino games, there are variants of baccarat that offer something different for players’ tastes. Live Baccarat Squeeze, for example, has zoomed-in cameras for the all-important squeeze.
Just like roulette, there may be more betting options to baccarat than you may have thought. Pairs and Perfect Pairs side bets, similar to those found in blackjack, can pay up to 200X your bet.
Live Three Card Poker has really hit the heights since it became available on the live casino format. It is widely available at the best live casino sites, including Betway Casino, 888Casino and Dunder Casino. Its beauty is found in its simplicity, with just three cards dealt to each player. It is arguably the best online poker game for new players looking to find their feet.
Players play against the dealer, who must achieve at least a ‘Queen high’ to qualify. The winner is declared by whomever holds the best three-card poker hand.
There are two great side bets offered in Live Three Card Poker: Pair Plus Bonus Bet will pay out up to 100 to 1 on getting a pair in your three cards, regardless if the dealer wins the main game. Six Card Bonus Bet is a side bet on the best five-card poker hand possible between your three cards and the dealer’s three cards. The top payout can be 1000 to 1.
Sic-bo is a dice-rolling game often given a compared with craps. There are several differences however. In Sic Bo three dice are rolled, with the player betting on a range of outcomes. For example, you could bet on the total score of the three dice being from 11-17 inclusive (a likely outcome in terms of probability), which usually pays evens on your bet. If you feel more ambitious, you could try betting on ‘Alls’, paying 180 to 1 for the dice throwing three of the same specific number.
Sic Bo at online casinos has grown in popularity in recent years but is still difficult to find live versions at major UK online casinos.
Beyond these traditional games, the latest live dealer gaming option to hit the market is Evolution Gaming’s Dream Catcher. Based on Wheel of Fortune, this game allows you to bet the spin of a wheel and win a series of prizes that can be worth thousands.
BRANDED VS NON-BRANDED TABLES
Online casinos rely on top software developers like Playtech, NetEnt, Evolution and Microgaming to provide the live games. Some tables will be generic, non-branded tables, whereas others will be branded for a specific casino. For example, if you play at Betway Live Casino, you may play non-branded tables or branded ‘Betway’ tables. These ‘branded’ tables are sometimes referred to as ‘dedicated’ tables.
The reason this is important is that branded tables can offer something extra, as they are ‘dedicated’ to the casino brand you are playing with. Benefits can include promotions, prize draws, bonus cash, instant spot prizes etc.
Generally, branded tables are very busy at peak times, so you might have to wait a little bit longer to get a seat on your favourite blackjack table, or choose to play on a non-branded one. Contrary to the opinions found on some review sites, dedicated tables are welcoming to players who play for both low and high stakes. For example, if you go to Betfair’s Dedicated Tables Page (found by clicking the Casino Live tab), you will see they offer three – Low, Mid and VIP – options for blackjack wagering levels. Playtech, NetEnt and Evolution all provide dedicated tables to online casinos like Betway, Betfair and 888.
UNDERSTANDING THE BEST LIVE CASINO SOFTWARE
Evolution Gaming and Playtech are two of the best live casino software developers in the game. As you’d expect, each developer has an identical range of games, but things start to differ when you look at their in-game features.
Although things aren’t hugely different, you will find the following options specific to each developer:
Evolution Gaming Software
Evolution Gaming and Playtech, are the two biggest players in live casino software and, therefore, you are most likely to find one of these powered tables at a UK online casino. You can rest assured that they’re good: Evolution was named EGR Live Casino Supplier of the year eight years running (2010-2017).
Examples of Evolution Gaming Live Casino games include:
- Live Roulette, including French and Speed Roulette.
- Live Blackjack, including Blackjack Party.
- Live Baccarat, including Speed Baccarat.
- Live Casino Hold’em, featuring Jumbo 7 Jackpot side bet.
- Live Three Card Poker, featuring Pair Plus and Six Card Bonus.
- Live Caribbean Stud Poker, featuring Progressive Jackpot side bet.
- Statistics, Chat, and Game History.
- Hot and Cold numbers.
- Favourite Bets menu where a total of 15 bets can be saved.
- Full-screen HD video on mobile.
The above is just a flavour of the many live casino games offered by Evolution. They offer 29 unique live casino games in total. However, many of these games are tweaked for branded tables at individual online casinos. You can find a range of Evolution live games at NetBet Casino and Betway Casino.
Playtech is also noted as being an industry innovator for live casino games: They have often been commended for their commitment to player experience, offering high-quality visuals, easy-to-use controls and cool features. The 10 games currently available:
- Live Blackjack, including Grand and Royale Blackjack.
- Live Roulette, including Age of the Gods Roulette (based on the popular range of casino slots).
- Live Baccarat, including Prestige Mini Baccarat.
- Live Hi-Lo.
- Live Casino Hold’em.
- Live Sic Bo.
Like Evolution, Playtech features modern, innovative live casino games, many of which are tweaked for styles and other factors (such as betting limits) at individual casinos. You can find the best choice of Playtech live games at Betfair Live Casino. They offer eight Playtech games in total, including Squeeze Baccarat, Casino Hold’em and Unlimited Blackjack.
Microgaming’s biggest coup was to launch the UK’s first branded live dealer casino, with their Playboy Live Dealer platform. The Playboy Live Dealer casinos offer:
- Live Blackjack.
- Live Roulette.
- Live Baccarat.
They boast 20 operational tables played in 4 studios. You can play Microgaming live games at casinos including Atlantis Gold and 32Red.
While NetEnt is an industry leader in casino games overall, they are new to the field of Live Dealer games, only launching live games in 2013. Nevertheless, their products have been thoroughly well received. Given their solid place in gaming generally, it will be exciting to watch them extend the range.
NetEnt Live Casino games include:
- Live Roulette, including Atomic Roulette.
- Live Blackjack, including Common Draw Blackjack.
NetEnt Live Casino special features include:
- Mobile play in landscape and portrait mode.
- Multilingual (25 languages) and multi-currency capability.
- On-screen table statistics, such as the dealer’s last 10 hand in Live Blackjack.
- Live Common Draw Blackjack where hundreds of users.
LIVE CASINO ON MOBILE
The top rated live dealer casino sites won’t just offer instant access to games via your desktop. To ensure you get to game on the go, Playtech, Evolution and the rest will offer mobile live casino games that offer the following features:
- Swipe to navigate and one-touch betting.
- Full HD web streams with multiple camera angles.
- Cross-platform compatibility so you can use one account to play via desktop and mobile.
There is a suggestion that playing live casino games on mobile might lack the ‘wow’ factor that is apparent when playing on desktop. However, software developers have been busy trying to make the experience as realistic as possible.
NetEnt, in particular, has raised the bar with their mobile live casino games. They use the latest Chroma Key technology to offer a better player experience. NetEnt’s commitment to providing beautiful HD video, with seamless syncing between audio and visual streams, has got rave reviews from players. This allows them to offer simple choices for augmenting player experience, such as switching between landscape and portrait mode, but also more tailored options, such as placing a roulette bet when the wheel is already spinning.
The majority of live casino game types are available to play on mobile. However, you may not get as wide a choice as when playing on desktop. For example, NetBet offer a choice of 31 different live casino games on desktop, with 12 of those available to play on mobile.
To put it into perspective, here is an overview of mobile live casino games available from NetBet:
- Roulette HD.
- French Roulette.
- Immersive Roulette VIP.
- Immersive Roulette Live.
- Auto Roulette VIP.
- Auto Roulette with La Partage.
- Auto Roulette. Live Blackjack.
- Evolution Live Blackjack.
- Extreme Live Blackjack Super 6.
- Live Casino Hold’em.
- Live Caribbean Stud Poker.
And some that are currently lacking on mobile, although this could soon change as software developers continue to invest in products for mobile platforms:
- Three Card Poker.
- VIP Blackjack.
- Evolution Live Blackjack.
As you can see, playing on mobile limits the choice to a degree. However, there are plenty of options still available.
To get the best out of mobile live casino it is recommended that you download the official app. Betway, for example, is a highly responsive mobile casino site, meaning you can play a good number of games instantly on their mobile site. However, you will get access to a broader range of games, especially live casino games if you download the free app.
Live casino games vary in terms of the amount of data that they use, but as they are delivering high-quality live streams they can use up a hefty chunk of data, especially if you are at the tables for a long time. For that reason, it is also recommended that you play with a good WI-FI connection.
FIVE TIPS FOR PLAYING AT A LIVE CASINO
- Choose a live casino that specifically suits your favourite game or offers something interesting and unique. For example, you can look for a casino that rewards you if you mostly play blackjack. For something special, 888casino Xtra Blackjack table shuffles 12 Bonus Cards into the decks each day from 1pm-1am. Reveal a Bonus Card to win up to £100.
- Chat and interact with dealers and other players – that’s part of the reason for playing live. The idea is to feel that you are at a real casino, so be sociable and do things like tip your dealer if you are winning. Building your profile as a ‘good customer’ can only be beneficial when it comes to earning rewards and freebies.
- Try playing on branded tables at off-peak times. Playing when it is less busy may allow you to reap the benefit of lower table limits, promotions, prize draws etc. when there are fewer players on the tables.
- Check out which games offer side bets, especially those with progressive jackpots. Age of the Gods, Jumbo 7 and other progressive jackpots are regularly valued at several hundred thousand pounds.
- Hone your skills and build your strategy by playing on tables with low stakes, before moving on to the tables with higher stakes. If you want to practice for free, Betway have lots of options, including Hold’em Poker and High Limit Baccarat, where you can play practice games.
LIVE CASINO FAQ
Yes. Because these games are tested by third-party companies such as eCOGRA and the UK Gambling Commission, you can be confident that every game not only uses the latest security provisions, but is 100% fair.
Are live casino sites legal?
As long as a site has been licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, its games and bonuses are totally legal.
Do I need a high speed connection to enjoy live casino games?
Many of the best live casino games allow you to adjust the quality of the stream to suit your connection speed. Although you’ll get the best quality experience with a high speed connection, it’s not necessary.
Can I play via my mobile?
Yes. All of our recommended live casino sites will have desktop and mobile gaming options.
Can I play live dealer casino games for free?
Unfortunately not. Because these games have higher running costs, operators won’t let you ante-up using play money chips. However, you will be able to watch games for short periods of time to get a feel for the action.
HOW WE CHOOSE OUR TOP5 LIVE CASINOS
Choosing the top live dealer casinos is one part art, one part science. The art part for you to work out, but before you can paint yourself into the perfect spot, you need to know the science behind a great live dealer casino.
Essentially, what you need to do is paint by numbers and, in the list below, we’ve outlined the numbers we use to pick our recommended casinos. Using this information in conjunction with our list of suggested sites, you should be able to blend them with your own preferences and find a live casino site that really suits you.
Software and Accessibility
There are some well-established players in the live dealer casino world and our top rated sites typically contain products from one or more of them. As a general rule, the best online casinos should have software that’s desktop and mobile compatible and from the likes of NetEnt, Evolution Gaming, Microgaming and Playtech.
Safety and Security
If an online live dealer casino isn’t regulated and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), we’re not interested in it. The UKGC is not only a marker of quality, but a sign that your funds and personal details will be 100% safe at all times. Moreover, as part of the UKGC’s licensing conditions, all virtual and live dealer casino games must be certified as random and fair by a third-party.
Games, Games, Games
The live dealer world has grown massively over the last few years. As well as the basics, you should find bonuses, progressive jackpot and multiple language variants of the following games: Live Dealer Roulette, Live Dealer Blackjack, Live Dealer Baccarat and Live Dealer Poker.
When an operator really wants you to ante-up in a more authentic session, they’ll give you an exclusive live casino bonus. Whether it’s a no deposit free bet when you stake a certain amount or you get something back for making a deposit, our best sites will give you added value at every opportunity.