One of the big developments in Online Casino World over the last couple of years is the growth of the so called Live Casinos online. So what are they, these live games, and how do they differ from other online casino games?
When you play roulette online, for example, you can play a virtual roulette game that is basically a computer program that accurately mimics a real wheel. Or you can play live roulette, where you place your bets on your pc just as you would at virtual roulette, but the action takes place in a casino on a real wheel. You watch the action over a webcam.
In addition to roulette, other popular games that can be played live include baccarat, blackjack and sic bo. Slots is obviously not on offer (actually, come to think about it this would be quite good! You bet and watch someone pull the arm on the one armed bandit). Anyway, you get the theory.
So what is the appeal of live casino games? They are slower to play (but no slower than playing in a real casino) and the visual appeal will depend on where you are playing.
Well, for some people, a computer simulation is not enough and live casinos offer a more entertaining expereince and one in which you can interact with the dealer and other players.
Webcam casinos solve this to a certain extent. You can see the reactions of your fellow players: there is more of a feeling of “being in the thick of it”.
Another reason that many players prefer the live casino option, is that they do not trust casino games run by a computer. (On this point we would have to see that their fears are ungrounded. As long as you play with a reputable company, the odds you receive should be equal to or better that those that you would get at a casino in Las Vegas or Monaco. It is in the casino´s interest to ensure that they provide fair games and the good ones all employ independent auditors to monitor the pay out rates of their games).
But a fear like this is not a rational one, and is unlikely to be smoothed by numbers from accountants. The live games seem more real somehow, and they go along way towards assuaging people´s fears.
The final reason that players often cite for playing at cam casinos, is to do with dealer signature, card counting and game bias- this is particularly relevant for roulette and blackjack of course. It is widely believed that physical roulette wheels cannot be manufactured 100% perfectly and will have a bias (ie very slight fluctation in the odds for different numbers and sectors). And the other theory is that a croupier will inadvertently impart a “dealer signature” onto the wheel. Again, this is not going to happen on a virtual roulette table, as there is no croupuer, but it may on a live roulette table. Once again, the belief is that this gives a bias to the wheel. Of course the difficult thing and some would say impossible thing) is to be able to identify such minuscule biases and turn it to your advantage.
It´s been done with technology in the past (like the Hungarian team who won £1,000,000 at the Ritz casino in 2004- they got caught but kept the cash), but whether or not you can spot the variations on a live game, let alone when you are sitting 3 foot away from the wheel, is a mute point.
And if you are a card counter at blackjack, you are not going to want to do this playing virtual roulette. you are going to want to see when the deck is shuffled, or replaced so that you can estimate how many 10s, jacks, queens and kings are sitting in the pile. Playing single deck obviously helps. And the beauty of doing this at a live blackjack game, is that no-one is going to see you doing it. (Casinos are not espcially fond of card counters.)
So should you play live or virtual? Well, if you like speed play virtual. If you like atomsphere play live- or test both.