Why Isn’t Live Dealer Blackjack Free?

Online blackjack offers both real money gameplay and free trials. In the latter case, you simply register at an online casino and begin playing hands.

Free online blackjack is a nice way to enjoy this game without risking anything. It can also be a good route for practicing strategy before placing bets.

However, you can only play for free with virtual blackjack. Live dealer blackjack, which features human dealers, doesn’t allow you to play free.

You might wonder why one form of online blackjack is free and the other isn’t. The following guide explains why this is the case.

Live Dealer Studios Must Pay Dealers

The big difference between virtual and live dealer blackjack is the croupier. Live casino outfits use real dealers and, thus, must pay them salaries.

Given that live dealer studios need to pay their croupiers, they must make money from the games. They can’t simply allow some people to sit down for free while others are actually placing wagers.

The amount of available seats is another issue here. At a live casino, the dealer must actually deal out hands. Therefore, only seven players can sit down at each table (just like land-based casinos).

Of course, live dealer gaming sites offer a bet behind option. Bet behind allows an unlimited amount of players to participate by wagering on the seated gamblers’ hands.

Nevertheless, most people would rather play the actual hands rather than just bet on somebody else’s play. With that said, live dealer casinos don’t want somebody taking up a seat who’s not going to bet.

Free Live Blackjack Would Hurt Studios’ Profits

Live dealer outfits and the associated casinos they supply could always try running free blackjack games. This would be a good way to get people trying the casinos.

Free games, however, would ultimately hurt the developers’ profits. Live operators stand to lose more money by covering dealers’ salaries with nothing in return, versus what they’d get by attracting more players.

Here’s an example to illustrate this point:

  • A live dealer studio pays each dealer $20 an hour.
  • The same studio allows people to play free blackjack.
  • Four players at a table are playing for free.
  • Three other players are betting $10 per hand.
  • The table sees 80 hands an hour.
  • 80 x 30 = $2,400 wagered an hour
  • The house edge is 0.8%.
  • 2,400 x 0.008 = $19.20 in hourly winnings for the casino
  • 20 – 19.20 = $0.80 in hourly losses

Every live gaming studio differs in terms of how much they pay dealers. The hourly pay in the example above, though, provides a realistic look at what developers must cover to keep games running.

They simply can’t have multiple people taking up seats and playing free hands. Instead, they need to at least get some action from every player.

You Can Watch Live Games for Free

You might not be able to play for free at a live dealer casino. However, you can at least view the games without betting anything.

Assuming you’ve never played at a live dealer site before, you might find the viewing option helpful. It’ll familiarize you with the live blackjack process before risking anything.

After all, live casinos only provide so much time to place bets. Usually, you have just 15 seconds in between each hand to make a wager.

You don’t want to spend these precious seconds trying to figure everything out. Instead, you want to hit the ground running and know the betting/playing process right away.

Assuming you’d like a little action on the side while viewing games, you can use the aforementioned bet behind option. Bet behind lets you wager on another player’s hand; you win whenever they win.

Why Regular Online Blackjack Is Free

As explained earlier, live dealer casinos have to pay dealers. Nobody is going to volunteer to run these games.

Regular online real money blackjack, on the other hand, doesn’t require human dealers. Instead, it’s merely a software program that deals out the cards based on an algorithm.

Mobile casinos don’t need to pay anybody to keep an online game running. Instead, its software program can work around the clock to deal blackjack games without compensation.

Of course, online casinos also want you to make a deposit and play real-money blackjack at some point. They’re perfectly fine, though, with letting you play for free at any time.

Free blackjack gives you an opportunity to try out a gaming site. Assuming you appreciate what the casino has to offer, then you might consider placing a deposit.

Live Dealer Blackjack Is Still Relatively Cheap

You may like the idea of being able to play blackjack risk-free. However, you’ll also find that the live dealer version is relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things.

Depending upon the live dealer casino, you only have to wager between $1 and $5 to play. Contrast this to land-based casinos, which typically require between $10 and $25 minimum bets.

Here’s a comparison on your theoretical losses with live dealer and land-based blackjack:

Live Dealer

  • You bet the minimum of $1 per hand.
  • The table sees 80 hands an hour.
  • 80 x 1 = $80 wagered each hour
  • The house edge is 1%.
  • 80 x 0.01 = $0.80 in theoretical losses

Land Based

  • You bet the minimum of $10 per hand.
  • The table sees 80 hands an hour.
  • 80 x 10 = $800 wagered each hour
  • The house edge is 1%.
  • 800 x 0.01 = $8 in theoretical losses

Of course, you can always choose to bet more at live dealer casinos. The point, though, is that you don’t need to risk much to play.

The Live Blackjack House Edge Is Usually Reasonable

Besides not needing to wager much on live blackjack, you also have a pretty good chance to win. Most live developers feature a low blackjack house edge.

Here’s a look at a few live dealer studios and their house advantages:

  • Evolution Gaming = 0.72% house edge
  • Ezugi = 0.49%
  • Media Live = 0.70%
  • Microgaming = 0.51%
  • Net Entertainment = 0.50%
  • Playtech = 0.49%
  • Pragmatic Play = 0.72%
  • Visionary iGaming = 0.67%

Some land-based casinos also compare favorably in terms of house edge. However, many other brick and mortar establishments don’t provide as good of odds nor as low of stakes.

You Can Pick Up Live Blackjack Bonuses

Some live dealer casinos offer welcome bonuses. You can use these offers to earn extra money and boost your bankroll.

For Example:

A live casino might offer a 100% match bonus worth up to $200. You can either withdraw the bonus (cashable) or winnings (non-cashable) from the offer after meeting terms and conditions.

The terms and conditions can be a little tricky, though, due to the favorable odds behind live dealer blackjack. You may have to meet high rollover on these bonuses as a result.

Additionally, live blackjack doesn’t usually contribute as much to rollover as slots. Here’s an example on when this is the case:

  • You qualify for a $200 live blackjack bonus.
  • Rollover is 50x the bonus.
  • Slots contribute 100% towards rollover.
  • Blackjack only contributes 50%, however, thus making rollover 100x.
  • 100 x 200 = $20,000 must be wagered on live blackjack

Even with the tougher terms and conditions, live blackjack bonuses are definitely worth pursuing. They can reward you with extra money once you satisfy the terms.

Conclusion

Unlike traditional online blackjack, live dealer games actually feature real dealers that must be paid. Therefore, live operators can’t afford to let people sit around playing free blackjack.

Instead, they must get some action out of each player. They require every seated gambler to make bets to stay in the game.

Of course, you don’t have to risk much to play. Live blackjack games only feature minimum bets ranging from $1 to $5.

If you’re not ready to place wagers, though, you can always view the games for free. I recommend doing this anyways just to familiarize yourself with live dealer blackjack.

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