Something that’s becoming more popular in the online gambling industry are live dealer games. These are games that are handled by casino staff – real human beings – and streamed live to various online casinos.
You get the perks of playing online – convenience, lower costs, freedom – but you also get some of the perks of playing live – community, trust, beautiful women/men and higher limits.
It’s a great mix. Especially if you prefer playing live, but can’t get to the casino as often as you’d like.
If that’s you, then you’re going to want to stick around.
Because this page is going to go into live dealer games in a bit more depth. More specifically, live dealer blackjack.
We’ll cover things like finding the best live blackjack sites, what to expect, the differences from regular online (RNG) blackjack games, and answer the most commonly asked questions.
What we won’t be covering are blackjack topics revolving around:
We cover this stuff already elsewhere on this site, and it’ll all apply to live dealer games. There’s no sense in repeating ourselves.
But, if you want to know more about playing live dealer blackjack online – including how to find the best live casinos – then continuing reading below.
Okay, let’s talk about how to find the best live blackjack casino.
Honestly, much of this comes down to what you want or need from a casino. You need to determine what you’re looking for. Are you looking for specific variants? Betting limits? Types of dealers? Because there’s just no way we can make everyone happy with our recommendations.
One size doesn’t fit all.
So, what we’re going to do is teach you how to fish. We’re going to tell you what we look for in a live blackjack casino – and why – so that you can go out on your own and find a casino, just in case our recommendations don’t work for you.
In no particular order…
There are a couple of things we look for here:
As for the first point – some casinos offer live dealer offers. The most common offer I’ve seen is a rebate – if you play in the live dealer casino for the first time, make a bet and lose, the casino will reimburse you.
If you can’t find a live dealer offer, that’s okay – you can claim any casino bonus, so long as it’s okay you play blackjack to clear it. The terms will let you know for sure.
While you’re there, you’ll want to make sure the terms for blackjack is reasonable. If the default playthrough for the offer is 35x the bonus, but blackjack games only contribute 20%, that means you’ll need to wager 175x to clear the same offer.
But it’s reasonable when compared to the same offer where the playthrough is on both the deposit and bonus (350x), or where blackjack only counts as 10% (350-700x) or 2% (1,750-3,500x). And yes, before you ask – these aren’t made up – these are actual contribution percentages you may find from an online casino.
The higher the playthrough, the more likely I am to pass on the offer …and possibly the casino altogether if I’m really jonesing for a bonus.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that bonuses will take longer to clear since you’ll play fewer live dealer hands than you would regular blackjack. This is even MORE important if there’s an expiration date on the offer.
Pretty straightforward – we look to see if the casino accepts American players. In all cases these are offshore casinos with questionable licensing and regulations, but that’s your only option if you want to play live blackjack from within the US.
Many of these casinos are adding live dealer games, including BetOnline, Bovada and 5Dimes. Blackjack is a staple option, too.
A few years ago you were lucky to find a casino who offered live dealer games. Between that and mobile not being as popular or common as it is today, and mobile live dealer games were simply a rarity.
Thanks to mobile overtaking desktop – and casinos picking up on it – you’ll find that more options are available to mobile casino players – including live dealer blackjack. Not only that, but between apps and mobile responsive programming (HTML5), it’s never been easier to access these games.
Many blackjack rules; such as whether you can surrender, split or double down; when you have these options; and how much a blackjack pays; are rules you want to look as they vary from casino to the next. The reason why is because they use different software companies.
But there’s more.
Another thing you may want to pay attention to is whether the casino has rules for counting cards. Card counting is most definitely an option now since the decks aren’t infinite, you can see them being dealt, the penetration percentage, and so on.
Most rooms I’ve come across have rules that make it clear they’ll close your account if you’re caught counting cards. But it’s worth checking for regardless (if this is something you want to do).
This rule isn’t something we base our decisions on – as to whether the casino is worthy to join – but we do pay attention so we can let you know. And we pay attention to the other rules so that we can find a casino with as many player-friendly games/rules as possible.
LiveDealer.org has made a comparison chart that compares basic blackjack rules between the different live dealer software companies.
Software determines both what variants you can play, as well as the blackjack rules you’ll be following. Here are some examples of how a software provider will impact your experience.
These vary wildly from casino to casino. For example, you can play for up to $500 per hand on one site, while you can play for as much as $5,000, $10,000 or even $25,000 per hand on another.
Depending on where you live – such as the USA – you might not have too many options. You might have to take whatever casino will let you create an account.
However, if you live in Europe, Asia or the UK, and if you want higher limits, you most certainly should compare blackjack games from one casino to the next before you join any of them.
This is another thing that varies because of the software a casino may use. All sorts of variants are available including live blackjack, blackjack w/early payout, VIP blackjack, unlimited blackjack, perfect pairs (side bet), different dealer ethnicities, genders, and more.
Here are a few examples of actual live dealer blackjack variants:
These are all things we’d look at before signing up anywhere. And keep in mind that’s on top of the common stuff we check for, such as the casino’s reputation, banking options, terms, software compatibility and so on.
There are a few other things we look for, too. These things won’t make or break a live blackjack casino, but will earn the casino a few brownie points.
Can you play for free? Most live dealer casinos don’t let you because they have limited seating and higher overhead. But few casinos do let you play for free.
If a casino doesn’t let you play for free, you can usually still watch.
We look to see if the casino lets us customize any options. For example, can we setup auto-bet so we don’t have to setup our bet every hand? Can we turn on/off the dealer’s voice? Can we go to full-screen?
Can you chat with the dealer? Do they chat back? Can you chat with the other players?
These are essential to some players, so you should check what they offer before signing up.
Can you play multiple tables/games at the same time? Few live dealer software companies let you do this. But it’s a solution to the slower games (if that bothers you).
If the casino doesn’t make it clear what their options, features or variants are, there are a couple of things you can do:
And there you have it. Those are the things we look for when trying to find the best live dealer blackjack casinos.
Wondering what some of the biggest differences are between a regular and live dealer blackjack game are? Here are some of the things you can expect:
Live dealer blackjack games are shuffled and dealt by a real person. This means you’ll play fewer hands per hour compared to a regular online game. However, that also means you will spend less per hour assuming your bets are the same.
You’re not going to have time to Google the best strategy for your specific hand because there are other people at the table waiting to play their hand. So, any charts you want to have or strategy you want to learn will need to be done beforehand, between hands, or will need to be easily accessible.
The limits at a regular blackjack game are usually as low as $1. And you can almost always play for free. Live dealer games will usually start between $3 and $5, and playing for free is often not an option.
Regular blackjack games don’t use dealers, but live dealer games do. And dealers need days off, breaks, and so on. This means that if you want to play with a specific dealer, you’ll need to figure out their schedule. Many casinos post these on their websites.
This also means that live dealer games may not be available 24/7. People need to sleep, after all.
Another difference is seat availability. Regular games aren’t a problem – you’ll always be able to find a game. However, with live dealer blackjack games there’s usually limited seating – less than 7 seats. If all the seats are full, you’ll need to wait your turn, or find another table or game to join.
Live dealer blackjack can be a change of pace if you’re used to playing regular blackjack games online. They can be a load of fun, too, but only if you find the best casinos. And we showed you how to do that, including what we look for and the biggest differences you can expect.
The bottom line – you should have no problem finding a great live blackjack casino now.