Are you Getting a Fair Game? The House Edge of Online Live Casino Games
Live casino games are one of the most popular forms of online casino gambling. It’s easy to see why – purely digital representations of games such as blackjack and roulette do have their advantages, but the experience of playing those games is worlds apart from that of sitting down at a physical table in a land-based casino. Live casino representations of the same games feature real dealers, creating a much more immersive game that feels much more lifelike and above all – trustworthy.
Blackjack and roulette were obvious candidates for the first attempts at creating a live casino game, and whilst those two classics remain the most popular games amongst online casino players at the best live casino in Canada, there are now dozens more fantastic live casino games worth trying if you enjoy the experience of gambling with real cards dealt by human dealers.
Today, we will investigate the house edge, also known as the tRTP* (theoretical return-to-player) percentage of the live dealer implementations of Blackjack and Roulette as Canada’s highest ranked online live casino. This site offers dozens of variations of these games, but what we want to know is: are these live dealer games better value for money than their land-based counterparts? Let’s investigate.
Let’s kick things off with the simplest of the bunch; the first form of Roulette dates all the way back to 18th century France, although some historians believe that a primitive form of the game even existed during the 17th century. The modern game is very different to these early implementations however, but if you have an interest in the history of casino games, the story of roulette is one of the most interesting tales to research.
If you visit a land-based casino on the Las Vegas strip today, finding a European or single-zero roulette table can be a real challenge. The double-zero American variant is still widespread in many land-based casinos, but a disturbing trend of triple-zero games is rapidly growing in popularity too. Why is this disturbing? Look at the relative house edge for all three types of Roulette table:
Single Zero (European Roulette) 2.7%
Double Zero (American Roulette) 5.4%
Triple Zero (Official Name TBC) 8.1%
Every online live casino offers primarily European tables, making online roulette the obvious winner in this category.
Things get a little bit more complicated when it comes to blackjack. Unibet offers 45 different types of live blackjack table, many of which feature different rule sets with resultingly different house edge calculations. Card gaming experts such as Michael Shackleton have spent years researching every variation of blackjack, so we can turn to this incredibly useful calculator tool to work out whether playing live dealer blackjack at an online casino represents value for money.
Although there are 45 tables available at this online casino, it turns out that there are only six different rules variations. Each variation has different table stakes, and it turns out that games with low table stakes are much worse for the player in terms of their RTP. Here is a list of the primary blackjack variations offered online:
|Decks||Soft 17||Double On||Double After Split||Re-split to||Surrender||Blackjack Pays||House Edge||Blackjack Pays 6:5|
|8||Dealer Hits||10 or 11 Only||No||2 Hands||No||3:2||1.00055%||2.35853%|
|8||Dealer Hits||9/10/11 Only||Yes||4 Hands||No||3:2||0.74890%||2.01531%|
|4||Dealer Stands||9/10/11 Only||Yes||4 Hands||Yes||3:2||0.38085%||1.74396%|
|2||Dealer Hits||9/10/11 Only||No||2 Hands||No||3:2||0.59933%||1.91902%|
|2||Dealer Stands||Any Two Cards||Yes||4 Hands||Yes||3:2||0.26985%||1.55181%|
|1||Dealer Stands||9/10/11 Only||Yes||4 Hands||Yes||3:2||0.07224%||1.46701%|
The highest house edge is for the 8-deck game where table stakes begin at one dollar, whereas the lowest house edge of less than one tenth of a percent is reserved for those betting more than $50 dollars per hand. This may seem unfair, yet it still compares extremely favorably to the games offered at many Las Vegas casinos.
All online live casino games still pay 3:2 for a blackjack – this should not be a surprise, as it has always been the rule in the past. Unfortunately, finding a 3:2 game on the Las Vegas strip is becoming close to impossible in 2022 – almost every casino now pays 6:5 for a blackjack instead. The effect this has on the house edge is enormous – the house edge is often multiplied by a factor of between 2.5 and 4.0x, as you can see in the final column of the above table.
So far, online live casinos have resisted the urge to be greedy by implementing 6:5 tables on their platforms. If this remains the case, live casinos are far better value than most land-based casinos.
Of course, there are other live casino games; eight game shows to choose from, 29 variations of live Baccarat, and two variants of live poker. We took a quick look at several of these alternative games too and found similar results. No matter what type of game you enjoy, the odds offered at online live casinos are always better than those offered at land-based casinos. If you want to make your bankroll last longer, the choice is obvious – play online.