Live Blackjack Comparison
The first thing most players want to do when they start thinking about playing live dealer online blackjack is find the games with the best odds.
Most sites include all of the information you need, but they force you to read through individual blackjack review pages to find the details you need.
Did you ever wonder why someone didn’t just make a nice chart so you could find what you needed in a few seconds?
You’re in luck.
The chart below includes important details about each of the seven main providers of live dealer blackjack games on the Internet at this time.
Following the chart is additional information about each blackjack platform, an explanation of how rules change the odds, some information about basic strategy, mobile blackjack information, and other important details that you can use to improve your online blackjack experience.
|Evolution Gaming||MicroGaming||NetEnt||PlayTech||VIG||GG Labs||Ezugi||Extreme Live Gaming|
|US Players||No||No||No||No||Yes - Rich Casino||Yes - BetOnline||Yes - mBIT||No|
|Dealer Hits Soft 17||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Double||Any 2||9-11||Any 2||9-11||Any 2||Any 2||Any 2||Any 2|
|Double On Any Number Of Cards||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Double After Split||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|BlackJack Pays||3 To 2||3 To 2||3 To 2||3 To 2||3 To 2||3 To 2||3 To 2||3 To 2|
|Insurance Pays||2 To 1||2 To 1||2 To 1||2 To 1||2 To 1||2 To 1||2 To 1||2 to 1|
|Hit Split Aces||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Playable At||RedBet||32Red||BetSpin||Bet365||Celtic Casino|
|7Bit Casino||Energy Casino|
How the Rules Change the Odds
Every rule at the blackjack table changes the odds and the house edge. Rules are either better for the house or better for the players.
One problem is that all of the rules have to be combined to find a true house edge. If every other rule is exactly the same you can see clearly which rule is better for the player and which one is worse. But rarely will you be able to find two identical games with the exception of a single rule.
The house edge percentages listed in the table include all of the rules and list the exact edge the casino has if you play perfect strategy.
A simple way to understand what the house edge means is to base the expected amount you get back and the expected amount the casino keeps from every $100 you bet. If the house edge is .49% you multiply that times $100. .49% is .0049 when you convert it to a decimal from a percentage, giving a total .49, or 49 cents, out of every $100. This means the casino keeps on average .49 and you get back $99.51.
Of course in the short term what you keep and the casino keeps is all over the place, but in the long run the percentages will play out.
Looking at the other percentages in the table and our $100 example, at .52% the casino keeps 52 cents and you get back $99.48, at .44% the casino keeps 44 cents and you get back $99.56, at .67% the casino keeps 67 cents and you get back $99.33, and if the percentage is .42% the casino keeps 42 cents and you get back $99.58, and at .46% the casino keeps 46 cents and you get back $99.54 out of every $100 wagered.
The chart above lists the major rules differences between the live dealer platforms, but here’s a list of what each individual rule means and if it’s favorable to the player or house.
Number of decks in play – The general rule of thumb is that the fewer the number of decks in play the better it is for the player. So the six deck games are slightly better than the eight deck games if all of the other rules are the same.
Dealer hits or stands on soft 17 – When the dealer hits on a soft 17 it’s favorable to the house. When the dealer stands on a soft 17 it’s better for the player. Notice on the chart the only platform that has the dealer hit on a soft 17 is the game with by far the highest house edge.
Player can hit split aces – When you split aces you receive one more card on each ace. Many blackjack games don’t let you hit these hands. If you’re allowed to hit split aces it’s favorable to you.
Player can double after split – When you’re allowed to double after splitting its favorable to you.
Player can double on any two cards – The best rule for the player is the ability to double on any two cards. Some blackjack tables only let players double on a total of nine, 10, or 11. This is slightly better for the house.
Player can double on any number of cards – When the player can double on any number of cards it’s better for the player. At this time none of the live dealer blackjack platforms allow players to double on anything other than two cards.
Surrender – Surrender is better for the player. Notice on the chart that the only platform that offers surrender is also the one with the unfavorable dealer hits on soft 17 and has the worst overall house edge. This is a good example of a single good rule not making up for a number of poor rules.
Live Blackjack Platforms
The following seven summary reviews cover the current live blackjack dealer’s online platforms. These are just summaries because each platform has its own complete review page. You can click the links along the top of the table to go directly to each platform’s full page review.
Net Entertainment Software Review
NetEnt, or Net Entertainment, is a newer player in the live dealer casino game, but just like their other great games, their online live dealer platform doesn’t disappoint.
US players aren’t accepted at this time and they have the second lowest house edge of .44%.
You can double on any two cards, double after split, they don’t offer surrender, you can’t re-split, they don’t let you hit split aces, and use 6 decks in their shoes.
BetSpin Casino is the recommended NetEnt provider. The casino is owned and operated by the same people who own Guts Casino, so we trust them.
Evolution Gaming Software Review
Evolution Gaming was the first online live dealer platform to grab a strong market share and is still one of the leading options for online casino owners looking to add a real dealer solution.
At this time they don’t accept United States players and offer a set of rules that gives them a .49% house edge.
You can double on any two cards, double after splitting, they don’t offer surrender, don’t let you hit after splitting aces, and use 8 decks.
We recommend RedBet casino for Evolution Gaming live dealer play. They currently offer 22 tables of live gaming action.
Microgaming Software Review
Microgaming is one of the biggest and oldest software providers for the online casino industry. They’re also one of the most trusted vendors in the industry and now offer live dealer casino platforms to all of their licensees. Not all of the Microgaming casinos offer live dealer play, but enough of them do that it’s one of the most used platforms in the world.
They have a house edge of .52% and don’t accept US players.
Microgaming live dealer blackjack uses an 8 deck shoe, allows hitting split aces, and doesn’t offer surrender or doubling after splitting. They only allow doubling on totals of nine through eleven.
Our recommendation for the Microgaming live dealer blackjack tables is 32Red Casino. They’re one of the most trusted names in online casinos and they accept PayPal deposits. Not many online casinos accept PayPal, even though it’s one of the largest and most trusted online payment wallets.
PlayTech Software Review
PlayTech is another company that is best known for their casino software platform of digital games. Like MicroGaming, PlayTech has a long history of online casino games and service and have been able to get a share of the live dealer market by launching their own platform.
At this time PlayTech casinos don’t accept US players and their online live dealer blackjack house edge is .49%.
You can only double on nine, 10, and 11, you can double after splitting, you can’t surrender, you can’t hit after splitting aces, and they use 8 decks in their shoes.
The major bookmaker Bet365 is our recommendation for live dealer blackjack play using PlayTech software. In addition to blackjack, their live dealer solution includes baccarat, Sic Bo, Casino Hold’em, and Hi / Lo.
Visionary iGaming Software Review
Visionary iGaming, also called ViG, is one of three main players in the online live dealer blackjack market that accepts players from the United States. Sadly they also have the highest house edge on the list of 67%.
They let you double on any two cards, double after split, don’t let you hit split aces, and use 6 deck shoes.
Notice that ViG is the only game on the list that has the dealer hit on soft 17. Though this isn’t the only reason, it’s directly related to why they also have the highest house edge on the list.
On the plus side they’re the only blackjack game that offers surrender in the live dealer market.
The best place to play ViG live dealer blackjack is at 5Dimes. The popular sports book has a full casino that includes real dealer games. If you live outside the US you can also play at Celtic Casino or Rich Casino.
Global Gaming Labs Software Review
Global Gaming Labs is another live dealer online platform that’s available to US players.
They offer the lowest house edge on the list at 42%. You can double on any two cards, they use an 8 deck shoe, don’t let you hit split aces, let you double after splitting, and don’t offer surrender.
BetOnline is the leading sports book and casino that offers Global Gaming Labs live dealer blackjack. They accept US players and have minimum bets of only $10 per hand.
Ezugi Software Review
One of the newest entrants into the online real dealer market, Ezugi has a house edge of .46% and accepts players from the United States.
They use 8 deck shoes, do offer surrender, let you double after splitting, double on any two cards, don’t allow re-splits, and don’t allow hitting split aces.
The only casino we recommend at this time that has Ezugi live dealer blackjack is 7Bit Casino. You need to use Bitcoin to play, as we don’t recommend any online casinos that use normal currency that offer the Ezugi platform at this time.
The Importance of Basic Strategy
The house edge percentages listed in the table above are all based on the expected return when you play perfect blackjack strategy.
In order to learn how to play perfect strategy while playing blackjack you need to use a chart that has been developed using a mathematical formula or computer program to find the most profitable play in the long run. Some plays lose money no matter how you play them, but you still need to make the play that loses the least amount of money in order to maximize your chances of winning in the long run.
Here’s an example:
When you have a hard total of 15 against a dealer face card the correct play is to hit. You lose money in the long run if you hit or stand, but you lose less money by hitting than by standing. If the game offers surrender the correct play is surrender.
One of the best things about playing online live dealer blackjack is you can keep a strategy chart with you. You can look for the best play on every hand.
When you check the play for every hand you’ll quickly start memorizing the correct plays and only have to check rare situations occasionally.
Most players simply guess at the best plays at the blackjack table or play hunches. These players often give the casino a 2 or 3% house edge instead of 1% or less that’s possible with most blackjack games.
Don’t give the casino any extra edge. The lower the edge the longer you can play and the better your chances to finish any single session with a positive outcome.
Every single situation at the blackjack table has exactly one correct play. These are based on your two cards and the dealer’s up card. If you know perfect strategy you’ll always make the correct play.
Make up your mind to never play another hand of blackjack without making the right play and you’ll save yourself potentially tens of thousands of dollars over your life.
Watch Live Blackjack
The other day someone asked me why there were so many television shows about poker and none about blackjack.
The truth is I’ve seen some shows about blackjack, but they aren’t very popular. The best ones are televised blackjack tournaments, but even these lack the excitement of televised poker tournaments.
I think the main reason is most casual observers can quickly understand poker and feel like they may be able to do what the players on TV are doing. They like to see the bets, raises, and bluffing, and can see themselves doing the same thing.
But blackjack tournament play requires a complicated strategy based on how much money you have left, how much your opponents have, how many hands are left in the round, when you play in relation to your competition, and other factors.
Not only is this hard to follow, it’s also hard for the announcers to explain quickly and easily.
In the past if you wanted the opportunity to watch live blackjack you had to go to a casino and stand behind the players at the table.
Now you can watch some live dealer action by logging into a live dealer online casino.
Play Live Blackjack Online Free
Most live blackjack casinos reserve their seats for real money players. Just like when you walk into your local casino, the real dealer online casinos don’t let you play for free.
If you want to play free blackjack you need to play on one of the video blackjack games run by the online casino software.
The online casinos have a real cost in offering live dealer games. Someone has to pay the dealers, buy the blackjack tables and other gaming paraphernalia, and take care of the video equipment, and streaming costs.
The online casinos contract with one of the live dealer providers, but the bottom line is these games have a hard cost to run.
On the other hand, the video blackjack games run by the casino software have a sunk cost that’s already been paid in order to offer all of the games. The only real variable cost to offer free blackjack is bandwidth and it’s so small that pennies, at most, are the cost of another free player.
The truth is that enough free players convert to real money players that the limited extra cost is quickly covered for video blackjack games. The same isn’t true for the real dealer games.
Another issue is most live dealer games have a strict limit to the number of players who can be served. You only have so many seats per table and the ability to have a certain number of tables open.
The video blackjack software can host an almost unlimited number of players.
I theorize that most online casinos could offer free live dealer play and still turn a profit on live dealer play overall, but casinos aren’t in the business of squeaking by on minimum profits. They’re in the business of maximizing their profits in every way possible.
With all of this being said, I’ve seen a few opportunities over the years to play free live dealer blackjack. Online casinos run specials and have promotional activities from time to time. You may be able to play a few hands for free from time to time. Sign up for a few different live dealer blackjack rooms and check in from time to time to see if they have any free play tables open.
When live dealer online blackjack play was first launched many card counters thought their ship had come in. But the casinos quickly put measures in place that kept the counters from gaining an edge.
At this point you can’t do anything that I know of to get an edge against the casinos playing live dealer online blackjack. You can count cards but most platforms won’t go over the 50% penetration mark so you can’t get far enough into the shoe to be profitable.
The only thing you can do to keep the house edge as low as possible is play the best basic strategy you can, just like I covered in the earlier section about strategy.
If you want to get a feel for counting cards in a real casino environment without worrying about getting caught and barred the live dealer games are great choices. But make sure you have basic strategy down pat before you start practicing counting or you’ll get confused and run the chance of messing up both your strategy and your count.
Mobile Live Dealer Play
Of course live dealer online blackjack is a technological marvel in itself, but when you combine it with mobile possibilities you really have the best of all worlds.
When you consider playing mobile live dealer blackjack you have a wide range of possible devices. These include
- Windows Live Blackjack
- Android Live Dealer
- iOS Blackjack
- Blackberry Real Dealer
More live dealer casinos are combining mobile play all of the time, but even for the ones that don’t you have a few options. Currently Visionary iGaming has a few licensees offering mobile live dealer play. For other providers you can check the individual accounts once you sign up to see if they’ve added mobile options recently.
Your other option for mobile play is using a tablet on the go. Simply use the browser on your tablet or notebook computer to access the live dealer games just like you do on your computer at home or your lap top computer.
The software and online casino don’t know the difference and the screen is usually large enough to play blackjack without any problems.
Of course most mobile phones have a type of web browser as well, but most of them have screens that are too small to play effectively. Even the mobile live dealer apps I’ve seen are too small for my tastes. This may be an issue with my age and eyes as much as anything, but I suggest checking out new mobile real dealer options for a low buy in before you play for high stakes.
This way you can make sure you don’t have any problems with the controls or seeing the game play when you play for higher stakes.
If you make just one or two mistakes per 100 hands you can cost yourself a great deal of money.
Here’s an example:
If you have a face card and a 6 but think you have an 8 it can lead to many incorrect plays. Many plays call for hitting 16 where you stand on 18. Every time you make a play that isn’t perfect strategy it costs you money in the long run.
It’s challenging enough to play perfect strategy when sitting in front of your desktop computer. When you add the distractions that come up when you’re on the go it makes it even more difficult.
On the other hand, it can be good practice for playing basic strategy in a loud casino environment.
Even if a live dealer casino offers a mobile app that works with your mobile device, compare how it looks and plays with just using your browser. You may find that you prefer the browser based blackjack game over the app solution.
When you decide to play live dealer online blackjack your options are limited depending on where you live and which casinos you choose to trust.
Players in some countries, like the US, have limited options for live dealer play. But even if you live in a country or area where you have access to all of the available real dealer options you still need to find options that you can trust.
If you can, sign up for at least two different live dealer providers so you can see how the different platforms work and how they look. Most of the platforms end up operating and looking much the same, but if you don’t try the other options you won’t know if you’ll like one of them better.
The chart above shows the ones that offer the lowest house edge, but the truth is that they’re all so close that over the course of a year the difference in the amount you win or lose will be miniscule.
If everything else is the same and you don’t have a preference of platform you should play the software that offers the lowest edge, but I’ll play any of the games listed above. A house edge of less than .7%, or 7/10 of one percent, is low enough for me.
Notice that the only one that has the dealer hit soft 17 is the one that has a higher house edge. So if you need a single thing to look for when choosing a live dealer online blackjack game, play one that the dealer stands on soft 17.
If you only look at those options the difference between the top and bottom house edges is only .1% or 1/10 of one percent.