Playing Online Poker vs. Live Dealer Games: What you should Know

Live dealer casinos combine online play with land-based casinos that feature a real person spinning the roulette wheel or dealing cards. A human dealer operates the game in real time from a casino gaming table, and players make betting decisions using a console on the PC or desktop. The operations are streamed live across the internet and players can enjoy or participate in the game from the comfort of their homes.

A camera is used to display the playing areas and the operator. Live dealer casinos use the same kind of interface used in regular online casino games as players can communicate with the operator directly. The results of the dealer’s and player’s decisions are translated into data used by software through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. The technology enables players to interact with the game just as in virtual casino games except that the results are determined by real-life decisions and not automated processes.

Live casino games are more expensive to host than regular casino games. The owner needs to set up a live casino studio that has one or more cameras, several operators, an IT manager and a pit boss who solves disputes between players and croupiers. Most live casinos feature a three-room setup that has a software room, a live studio and an analyst room. The high costs associated with running live dealer casinos explain why online casinos host a few favourite games- baccarat, roulette and blackjack. The studios take on different setups based on the type of game played. Some UK casino sites use large tables in one large room to create a brick and mortar feel that draws lots of players to participate in live dealer games.

Evolution of Live Games

Online casinos were first introduced in the 90s and relied on RNG (Random Generated Technology) to generate reliable results. The software is used to produce random results and is tested regularly to ensure transparency during gameplay. However, players began expressing distrust in the process as they could not observe the shuffling of the cards and other operations performed by the dealer. It resulted in the development of a more transparent method of playing casino games- live dealer casinos. The casinos displayed games with real people dealing cards and arbitrating the games.

Playtech was the first to provide comprehensive live dealing services to online casinos using a live video to connect the dealers and the gamblers. The industry has since grown as more online casinos set up live dealer studios. There is a live chat option where players ask questions and interact with other players.

Live vs Online Poker

The rules that apply to online poker are also used when playing live casino games. For example, a flush still beats a straight and players can bet, bluff, deliver and receive bad debts. Players who have engaged in both live and online games cite a few differences as highlighted next.

Heads-up vs Multi-way Pots

During live games, players adopt a loose play as they do a lot of calling. As such, more multi-way pots occur live than in online poker games where pre-flop wagering creates heads-up situations. Players should also expect more callers of a pre-flop raise during live cash games, which creates a multi-way situation.

The Size of the Bet

The bet sizes for live casino games are different when it comes to opening preflop raises. Online cash games feature players opening for 2x, 2.5x or 3x the big blinds but in live games, players open for 5x or 6x especially in lower-stake live games.

Calling vs Folding

Typically, online poker players are inclined to make big post-flop calls using weak-to-medium strength hands. As such, players should expect big river bluffs in live games than in online poker. The main reason for this trend is that is easier for players to click on the call button that to make a call on a live game. Online poker platforms save the player the embarrassment of making wrong calls.

The Pace of the Game

The pace of playing online poker is faster than in live poker. While the player is dealt 30 hands per hour in live cash games like casino hold’em, he gets 60 hands per hour in an online poker game. Online poker games provide multi-tables, which means that the player has to play more hands per hour than in a live game. As a result, the probability of getting bad beats is higher in online games because the player is dealt more hands.